Our plan was working until we found that small slip of paper inside our apartment. A promised message that I would never truly be free. Now, the life I thought I’d have with Logan was quickly becoming no life at all. Cutting ties with everyone I know; Logan and I decided to start a new life, hoping to leave the past behind us, along with that piece of paper.
Three thousand miles and one year later, Logan and I were still struggling with the choices we’d made. The guilt I had for leaving my best friend, Abby remained, devouring me from the inside out. But then, in a twist of fate, Abby came back into my life, offering a chance to mend our broken friendship.
But just like Abby’s unexpected return, the demons from my past quickly began to resurface. Pieces of my past continued to haunt me, forcing me to question whether the life Logan and I had built was real or whether everything wasn’t as it seemed.
My past had returned, determined to prove my life wasn’t truly mine.
It never was.
“What happened after she took off her dress?” Max asks between laughs.
Logan stays silent, sitting back in his chair. His hand rests on the table, clenched into a tight fist. The knuckles on his hand are now ghostly white from the pressure.
“All three of us got kicked out of the club,” Abby says lightly. She lifts her wine to her mouth, taking a sip.
“The three of you?” Max waves his finger between us. “Who else was with you?”
Abby grins and turns to look at me. “Lena’s boyfriend at the time. He had to find her dress in the crowd before we were allowed to leave.”
Heat rises in me, my chest pounding like the constant beat of a drum. I want to vomit like I did the other day in my driveway. I can feel the chunks rising in my throat.
Max starts laughing, clearly unaware of how abusive my ex-boyfriend used to be and the consequences I dealt with because of that night.
“Excuse me.” I stand up, sliding my chair back. The legs of my chair slide against the hardwood, squealing through the entire restaurant. All eyes land on me. “I’ll be right back,” I mutter.
I cross the dining room, walking as fast as I can before vomiting all over someone’s nearly one-hundred-dollar steak dinner. I bump into a chair and nearly trip as I get closer to the bathroom. Pushing against the door to the bathroom, I lock myself inside a stall and bend over the toilet. Nothing comes out. A complete contradiction to the way my stomach feels.Once I feel like the sickness has subsided, I leave the stall and rinse my mouth out in the sink. Looking up into the mirror, I stare at my reflection. My hair is still curled around my face and my makeup is mostly still intact. The only difference is the tears lining my eyes, threatening to spill. I press my hands on the edge of the counter and look down, releasing a heavy breath. I try not to think about Julian. I also try to not think about Abby. My chin quivers and I know if I don’t pull myself together now, I’ll lose it.
Why would Abby do this? She knew what Julian said to me that night. She was there standing on the sidewalk as he pressed me up against a brick wall, screaming in my face, telling me he’d never been more embarrassed in his whole life. She knew he never let that night go, always reminding me that I needed to stay in my lane, pretending to be the perfect girlfriend.
I take a few minutes to bask in the silence and to get myself together. The combination of the email and Abby’s story had me feeling like my life was shifting in a direction I had no control over. Julian was everywhere, yet nowhere at the same time. I haven’t seen him in over a year, much less spoken to him. But he remained a constant wedge in my marriage and in my own head.
Once the tears in my eyes have dried, I wash my hands, telling myself to let it go. I push open the door to find Logan leaning against the far wall. It’s unfair how good he looks standing under the dim lights of the hallway. The walls are lined with an intense dark tobacco colored wood, making the hallway feel smaller than it is. We’re standing three feet apart, but I feel like he’s directly in front of me. His hands are pushed deep inside his pockets. The sleeves of his jacket stretch across his muscles. He swallows, his Adam’s apple dipping as he pushes himself off the wall, coming to a stand.
“I wanted to make sure you were okay,” he says, quietly.
I stare into his azure blue eyes. They’re filled with a sadness and hesitation. A look I’ve seen on him way too many times tonight.
“I’m fine.” I tuck my hair behind my ear, unable to look him in the eye.
Logan ducks his head, trying to catch my attention. “Are you sure, Len?”
Slowly, I look up. His too perfect lips are closed, the stubble on his jaw peppered around them. His face is casted in shadows, highlighting the gorgeous planes of his face.
I steel my gaze on his. “I said I’m fine, Logan.”
He leans back, surprised by my answer. “Okay.” I feel the guilt build up in me once again. But I also can’t look at Logan, knowing I haven’t told him about the email or that I’m wishing he’d tell me more about Natalie. I wasn’t sure if I was making it more than it was. But after my relationship with Julian, I was finding it hard to trust anyone in my life. Including my own husband.
“Abby shouldn’t have told that story.”
I sigh, wanting this night to be over. “I don’t—” I surprise myself by choking on my words. I don’t want to get into this right now, discussing this with Logan in the hallway of his restaurant. Shaking my head, I clear my throat. “Can we just go home?”
“Yeah.” Logan removes his hands from his pockets and sighs. “I think that’s probably a good idea. Come on, let’s go tell them we’re heading out.”
He tips his head in the direction of the dining room, offering for me to go first. The only comfort I get is Logan’s hand resting on my lower back the entire walk back to our table.