Every Little Thing

Page 10


I should have been burning with hurt. Deep, anguished hurt.
Any normal woman whose lover pushed her away would feel deep, anguished hurt.
Mostly my pride had been hurt.
Mostly I felt pissed off.
And that’s how I felt now, lying on Jess and Cooper’s couch. I’d known that night that Tom and I were over. I just didn’t want to believe that I’d spent ten important years with a man who wasn’t right for me.
The fear, that fear of starting over crept upon me again, and my chest tightened in panic. Sucking in a lungful of air I sat up. Even though it was only four forty-five in the morning, I decided I might as well get on with my day. I left a note for Jess and Coop, promising them I’d see them later and thanking Jess for being there for me. And then I got in my car and drove home.
Although I was awake I also felt like I had a hangover even though I hadn’t had any alcohol. I felt that empty nausea/hunger in my belly, the faded energy in my limbs; something I hated since on normal days I found myself blessed with a boundless amount of energy.
I wasn’t in the mood to deal with anyone today, but no matter what, I had a business to run. My intention was to go home, shower, eat, and get to the inn.
It was not my intention to have to deal with Tom.
Unrealistically, I had expected him to just slink away and accept my pronouncement that we were over. But his car was parked in my driveway and since he had a key I knew he was waiting inside my small house for me.
That made me angry on many levels, but mostly because I’d made my mind up—no matter how scary it was—that I was starting over without Tom Sutton in my life. Right away. Immediately. Which meant I wanted him gone immediately. I didn’t want him in my small house, taking up too much room, touching my things.
Yet, I knew that was unrealistic. I had to get out of my car and deal with him.
I felt that horrible nausea rise up toward my chest and took in a shuddering breath.
My front door led straight into my sitting room. Tom sat on my corner sofa, chalk white, dark circles under his eyes. He stared at me, pained, haggard.
It soothed my pride that hurting me at least caused him pain.
“You’ll need to give me back my key,” I said.
His gaze turned pleading. “Babe, please, let’s not do anything rash.”
The fact that he thought I could forgive him for his disloyalty renewed my anger. After ten years he didn’t know me well enough to know that I considered loyalty of the utmost importance in any relationship?
“Speaking of ‘rash’ . . .” I put my hands on my hips, glaring at him. “I’m guessing I’ll need to be tested for STDs since you were fucking someone else while you were fucking me because I know last night wasn’t just one mistake and that you’ve probably been fucking her for a while and how many others were you fucking?” I rambled, something I tended to do when I was either excited or enraged.
I also didn’t think I’d ever used the word “fucking” so many times in one sentence. But I think I could be forgiven on this occasion.
Tom stared at me wide-eyed. “It was a mistake.”
That didn’t answer my question. “Having an affair with a twenty-two-year-old. Yes, definitely a mistake.”
“She’s twenty-three.”
“Oh, that makes it all okay then!” I yelled, wondering if he’d hit his head on the way over here.
Tom flinched. “I’m sorry, babe. But please believe me when I say it was a mistake. It was stupid. I don’t even know what we were thinking. She loves Rex. I love you. It was so stupid!”
“How many times have you made this stupid, stupid mistake?”
His expression turned wary at my dry question.
“It had definitely happened two nights ago when you pushed me away, right?”
Guilt flooded his eyes.
And in that moment I hated him. I never thought I could feel that toward Tom but I hated him for doing that to me. For being able to do that to me. I could never hurt someone like that. No matter how attracted to someone else I was, I could never betray someone. I didn’t have it in me.
And I hated him for his cavalier treatment of my affection and loyalty.
“Get out,” I said, exhausted. Done. “Just get out. I don’t want you anymore.”
“Ten years, Bailey.” Tom strode toward me and I stood my ground this time, frozen as he clutched my hands and squeezed. “You’re not going to throw away ten years.”
I stared at him in disbelief. “I didn’t. You did.”
“It was a mistake.”
I wrenched my hands from his grip. “If I hear that one more time! It wasn’t a mistake, Tom. A mistake is a onetime error. This was calculated. This was disloyalty. And I just can’t look at you the same way.” I shook my head and admitted, “And it’s not just your fault. It was mine, too. For sticking it out this long, for giving you the best years of my life, waiting for you to commit, stuck in limbo with you . . . when the truth is I knew all along we weren’t right for each other.”
“I don’t believe that.”
I scoffed.
“Bails, you’re right, I admit it. I’ve found it scary to commit but I’m more scared of losing you. I’ll do it all. I promise. A house. Marriage. Kids.”
“Because I love you.”
“What do you mean why?”
“Why do you love me?”