Laces and Lace

Page 20


As he lay crying in his bed, he thought about what this was going to do to her, knowing this was going to break her. He was going to be responsible for shattering her, and he had to live with that for the rest of his life.
But what other choice did he have?
Lacey was standing in front of her mirror, looking over the sweater dress she had paired with a pair of black boots, hoping that she looked good enough to meet Karson’s parents. She was nervous, but nothing could wipe the grin off her face. She had spent the night wrapped in her boyfriend’s arms. The same boyfriend she was going to leave Chicago for and continue to love for the rest of her life. She was so glad she took the chance two months ago. She had promised to live life to the fullest, and she was doing just that.
Nerves coursed through her. Not only was she meeting his mom and dad, but he was also supposed to get word that day if he was going into the draft. Everyone believed it was a done deal, but at the same time, there was a chance that no one would want him. It was a 2% chance, but still, it was there. She had the confidence that he was going, and he would be a first-round pick. Everyone would gush about him, he’d get a great deal, and he’d rock the hell out of the league. That was the plan, and while he did all that, she’d get her degree and then open the best lingerie business in the country. Those were her dreams, and she knew that they were within reach.
As long as she had Karson standing beside her.
When the knock came at the door, she smiled because Karson was early. Reaching for the door, she pulled it open to find her delicious boyfriend on the other side. She was surprised that he was wearing jeans since they were going out to dinner at some ritzy restaurant, but she ignored it as she reached for him, placing a kiss on his sweet mouth.
“Hey!” she gushed as she shut the door behind him. “You’re early. Give me a minute; I gotta fix my makeup. Did your dad find out if you are going into the draft? I’m so excited. I feel good about it.”
When Karson didn’t answer, she looked back at him to find him watching her. “What?”
“You look beautiful.”
A grin pulled at her lips as she said, “Well, thank you, but really, are you going in?”
Slowly, he nodded. She squealed before wrapping her arms tightly around him. “I’m so proud of you! You’re going to rock the big leagues!”
When he didn’t hug her back, Lacey pulled back, surprised, and looked up into his face, immediately seeing that something was very wrong. His eyes were bloodshot, his face red, and she wasn’t sure if it was from the cold or from crying. But why would Karson cry? He was her big, burly boyfriend. He made other guys cry. “What’s wrong?”
Closing his eyes, he undid her arms from around him and took a step back. “We need to talk.”
Dread filled her chest as she looked up into his face. “About?”
“About us.”
Her heart picked up in speed as she continued to look at him. He was looking everywhere but at her, another sign that something was horribly wrong.
“Lacey, we have to end things.”
“With me going to the pros, I’m going to be so busy, traveling and training and shit, and it isn’t fair to drag you into all that.”
“What are you talking about? We’ll be fine. That’s why I’m going with you, so we can see each other when you have downtime.”
“No, you need to stay here. Go to school for free and be with your family.”
Shaking her head, she said, “No, I need to go with you. I need to be with you. Everything else will fall into place as long as we are together.”
Still not looking at her, he said, “Lacey, I can’t ask you to follow me across the damn world. You need to think of yourself, what is best for you, and that’s to stay in Chicago.”
“Who are you to tell me what I need? We’ve been together for two months, and you’ve never told me what I need. Except for maybe you, and you were right, so stop and look at me! What is going on?”
Slowly, Karson met her gaze and let out a long breath. “You’re right, we’ve only been together for two months. Maybe we are rushing into this. I’ve been having second thoughts, Lacey, and I can’t help but feel like I’m dragging you from everything you know. I don’t feel right about that. This is your life, and we don’t know what could happen. Your cancer could come back or I could flop when I hit the big leagues, and then what? How would I support you?”
Not able to hold them in any longer, Lacey’s tears rushed down her face as she slowly shook her head. “As long as we have each other, everything else will fall into place.”
She could see the pain in his eyes, but that still didn’t stop him from saying, “Love won’t put food on the table, or pay for your college, or start your business, Lacey. I’m sorry, but I have to end things.”
A sob ripped from her as she looked away, gasping for breath. What changed? How did they go from promising to be together forever to him breaking up with her?
She’d slept with him.
Looking up at him through her tears, a sob was caught at the base of her throat as she cried, “Is this about my breasts? Are you breaking up with me because I have no boobs? I trusted you! I showed only you, and now you’re breaking up with me?”
He was in front of her before she could even take in another breath. Squeezing her arms in his hands, he shook his head quickly, tears welling up in his eyes as he held her gaze. “God no, Lacey. Don’t you ever think that! I love you, I love your body, and I love every single thing about you, but I can’t do this. I can’t guarantee you the future when I have no clue what mine is. As much as I want to say we can get back together once I figure it all out, that isn’t fair to you. I want you to have the life you deserve, and I don’t think I’m the man to give it to you.”