My father would have me stay willingly in my room. My lover would have me stay willingly locked in his house.
I’ll stay and stand where I want after tonight until I see my end. No matter if that means I’ll lose both men.
Even if the pleasure Carter gave me only an hour ago is still coursing through my veins.
I can hear Addison making something in the kitchen and I hesitate to go in to see her. I haven’t told her a damn thing and it feels like I’m lying to her by keeping these secrets from her.
As I step in to tell her I’m going out, the microwave beeps and the smell of chicken noodle soup fills my lungs. Comfort food, even though there’s no comfort here.
The air is easy between us, but I know it won’t last when she turns around and sees me. I’ve been struggling with whether or not I should tell her since I got the note. I want to lean on her, to confide in her, but I also want to save her from this awfulness that rages inside of me.
I don’t know what to do. I honestly have no idea what to do, but I know if she asks me, I’ll tell her about everything. And I’ll never lie to her.
“Dinner?” I ask her as she pulls the door open, not peeking back behind her to answer me. I wish she would. I wish I could get this part over with.
“You want some?” she asks softly, devoid of the cheeriness I anticipate from her. I watch as she sets the bowl down after removing the paper towel covering the top and trashing it. That’s when she finally looks up at me.
“Are you okay?” I ask her a question first, but she ignores it, asking her own instead.
“Where are you going?” Addison’s voice is thick with sleep. “Are you meeting Carter?” The deep crease in the center of her forehead is evidence enough of her concern, but she quickly fists her hands and places one on each hip as her chest rises. The act actually makes me smile and eases some of the nerves bubbling inside of my chest.
I love her and her protectiveness. I wish I could hide in it.
“I have a meeting with someone else,” I tell her and feel that unease rise up higher, into my throat and bringing true fear with it as she asks me, “Does Carter know?”
“Yes,” I answer her in a single unsteady breath.
Shifting her weight from one foot to the other, she doesn’t respond, and I watch as the fight in her subsides. I can read the questions on her face, but she chooses not to ask any of them. The biggest two being “who?” and “why?” I was so like her once in my life.
“I’ll be okay.” I can at least give her that to ease her worries, although it feels like I won’t be okay. It feels like I’m risking everything, and the consequences will be severe. I know it all already, I’ve weighed all the risks and thought of each outcome.
But I have to do this. “I have to try something to stop all of this.” I give her a little more, hinting at what I’m doing, but she doesn’t ask additional questions.
“You surprise me,” Addison admits, her lips turned down into a frown although I’m not sure why.
“What’s wrong?” I ask, ignoring the obvious and feeling my heart try to climb into my throat. I cautiously step closer, not wanting to hurt her or leave her feeling like she’s anything but my friend, my closest friend.
I have to clasp my hands together in front of me to keep from reaching out to her, but it doesn’t matter, because she reaches out to me first. Brushing her hand against my forearm, she gives me a hesitant smile.
“You handle it all so much better than I do, and I just…” As she trails off, her tone says it all. She feels weak.
I can’t stand her reaction and I squash her thoughts as quickly as I can. “I don’t handle it well; I barely handle it at all.” I try to joke with her, but it doesn’t work. She takes in a deep, unsteady breath and then looks back to the bowl of soup.
“Daniel asked me to forgive him yesterday.”
The sudden change in topic startles me and I don’t know if she’s upset with me or not. I ask in a near whisper, “What did you say?”
“I said that I didn’t know how I could. That when I fell in love with him, he was a different man.”
“I’m sorry,” I tell her as I grab her hand.
She’s choked up and I find it contagious as she looks up toward the tallest cabinet and speaks to it, rather than me to keep from crying. “He said I’m good at lying to myself but that it’s okay and that he still loves me.” She sniffles, wiping under her eyes even though the tears haven’t fallen yet. “Can you believe the balls he has?” Her lips twitch up into a sad smirk, but it doesn’t stay long as she gives in to the tears.