It had been nearly two months since I’d seen or talked to Colin. His calls and messages continued for a couple of weeks after the night I’d stormed out, but when it became evident I wasn’t going to return them, they tapered off until there were none at all. Every day, at least once, I’d pick up my phone, click on his name in my contacts, and stare at the picture of the two of us for a few minutes, longing to hear his voice, desperate for his touch. Then, before temptation got the best of me, I’d shut it off and toss it to the side, reminding myself I deserved more. I was worth more than being somebody’s dirty little secret, no matter how much I loved him.
But now, if something had happened to him… my throat began to close as I waited for her to answer.
“He’s okay, he’s okay. Don’t freak. It’s not life-threatening, but he thinks it’s a pretty serious injury to his shoulder and arm,” she quickly clarified, as my body slumped against the wall, sliding all the way down until I was sitting on the floor.
Air flow returned to my lungs as my heart began to beat again while she went on to explain he’d dislocated his shoulder in a game of pick-up basketball with some kids. As she spoke and the fear and concern gradually dissipated, anger and resentment flared inside of me and I cut her off, bitterness dripping from my tongue.
“Monroe, I don’t mean to be rude,” which I truly didn’t, at least not to her, “but I’m not sure why you’re calling me right now. I feel really terrible this has happened, because I honestly want the absolute best for him, but something like this doesn’t concern me anymore. I told you a while back at the game that I’m moving on. I can’t continue to fall back into something I know is going nowhere, and that’s exactly where Colin and I are headed as long as he wants to continue living a lie.”
She didn’t need to know that my “moving on” was more like a “stalling out.” Monroe wouldn’t judge me for my actions, but that didn’t mean I wanted her to know I was bed-hopping my way across New England.
“But… but he’s sorry,” she contended, “and you know he lov—”
“Did he ask me to come?” I interrupted her again. “Does he want me to be by his side to support him as his lover? As his boyfriend?”
Blowing out a frustrated sigh, she answered, “No, but—”
“But nothing, Roe,” I urged, sick of her defending him. “I’m tired of being his dirty secret. I deserve more, just like you do.”
She didn’t say anything right away, and I wanted to ask if anything had come of the whole Oliver thing, but didn’t think it was the right time.
“I understand. Sorry I woke you up,” she finally whispered.
“No need to apologize, baby girl,” I assured her softly, reminding myself there was no reason to be upset with her. “If you need me, call any time. You’re still my number one girl.”
“‘Kay, I will.”
“Bye, Roe. I love you.”
“I love you, too. Bye, Seth.”
I hung up the phone, but didn’t move. Closing my eyes, I tried to clear the onslaught of emotions warring inside of me, unsure if I was doing the right thing by not going to see him. I knew I was being a dick, but dammit, I was still pissed. After agreeing to give him another chance to make things work with the two of us, we had spent a couple of amazing weeks together. I really thought we were back on track… then all to have it ripped right out from under me. How could he be so thoughtless? So self-centered?
Clinging to my anger ensured that I didn’t fall back into his arms. After over seven years, it was time I stood up for what I wanted. Things that were important to me. But I knew if I saw him, there was a good chance he’d draw me back in. My brain was no match for the needs and desires of my heart and body. Not yet at least. I needed as much time as possible to build up my defenses to resist him. Like maybe forever.
Unfortunately, forever was right around the corner.
Erin Noelle is a Texas native, where she lives with her husband and two young daughters. While earning her degree in History at the University of Houston, she rediscovered her love for reading that was first instilled by her grandmother when she was a young child.
A lover of happily-ever-afters, both historical and current, Erin is an avid reader of all romance novels.
Her titles published include the Book Boyfriend Series, the Dusk ‘Til Dawn Series, the Luminous Duet, Conspire — co-authored with SE Hall, Surviving Us, MILF: Wrong Kind of Love, Spark and Flame.
Her books have been a part of the USA Today Bestselling list and the Amazon and Barnes & Noble overall Top 100.