“I need your help.”
Four words. Words I never imagined saying to anyone, let alone her. But it was desperation in its most delicate form. It was a heart-wrenching, breath-stealing, crippling truth I hadn’t wanted to admit but was forced to face. We were at the lowest of our low—well, Lennox was—and she was the only person I could call on. The one person who might break through to him. Lord knew that person wasn’t me, so with a tiny shred of broken and mangled hope, I prayed this would work. It has to. We’d surpassed the end of our unraveled rope.
“Who is this?” As if this wasn’t hard enough, that was a sharp stab in the chest. Had she really forgotten about us? Buried the memories so deep below her hurt? I certainly hadn’t. I never would. Shit like that didn’t disappear; it lingered and haunted you until the day you died. Or until you were granted forgiveness, whichever came first.
Summoning whatever dignity I could, I confessed, “It’s me. It’s Violet. Lennox is in bad shape. I didn't know who else to call.” That was the understatement of all understatements. This was killing me. In so many ways.
The phone stuck to my ear with deafening silence bleeding through from the other end. Funny how silence could bring comfort at certain times and torment in others. Would she really shun us and pour salt in the wound?
“Hello? Are you there?” My voice was laced with agony. She had to recognize this. There was a time when she could tell what I was thinking just by being in the same room. There was a time when she was my everything. Now we were nothing to each other—strangers—and it was all my fault.
After a lingering exhalation of air—the first sign that she was actually still on the line—she finally spoke. “Yes, I’m here.” There was nothing telling in her tone. Stoic. Not the Eden I remembered. This was the Eden she’d become. Because of us.
More unrelenting silence. I could tell this wouldn’t be easy. Not that I imagined it ever would be. But humiliation and disgrace aside, she was our last resort. She once held the answer to any question, no matter how insignificant or grand; I prayed that now was one of those times.
“Eden, please. If you won’t do this for me, do it for Lennox.”
Eden – Present
Lennox. Now there was a name I never thought I’d hear again. Regardless of the fact it was tattooed near my heart. Lennox was a dirty word and the only word filthier was Violet.
Hearing her voice stole the breath from my lungs. And hearing his name pulled all gravity from underneath my feet. What did she want? How could she have the audacity to call after all this time? Hadn’t I been through enough? Hadn’t we all? It was easier to imagine they were dead. That’s how I coped—if that’s what you wanted to call it.
I was so dumbstruck by the phone call I had to lie and pretend I didn’t know it was her. “Who is this?” I knew. Did she know I knew? I hoped she did. Maybe that made me evil, but too fucking bad. We either turned our pain into strength or let it rule our every waking breath. I wore my pain like a hardened shell, a suit of armor. Oh, well. My life, my heart, my rules.
“Eden, please. If you won’t do this for me, do it for Lennox.” She sounded desperate. Pull out all the stops, V. Go ahead, dig the knife deeper. She’d always been good at that. And while I didn’t want to fall into old habits, Violet was as much of a weakness as Lennox once was. Still is, I reminded myself.
My heart traitorously galloped in my chest at the thought of either of them in trouble; especially if it was a destruction only I could protect them from. But three years wasn’t long enough to erase the pain. I was sure an eternity wouldn’t be, either. Betrayal was fucked up like that. It left the kind of scars on your soul that were so deep and permanent they were a constant reminder of the battle you endured.
“What do you want from me, Violet? Why now?” I pushed the lump of bile down my throat, mentally commanding my unshed tears not to go any further than pricking the corners of my eyes. I would not cry over them. No more. Never again. I’d already wasted far too many tears on their undeserving hearts.
“You think this is easy for me? You think it’s not the most humiliating thing I’ve ever had to do? Crawl to you, of all people?” It was a pathetic yet powerful bark.
You, of all people. As if I was the monster in this nightmare. “Don’t you dare.” Rage replaced my threatening tears.
“I’m sorry,” she added quickly. “I didn’t mean to—”
Oh, but she did. She meant every hurtful, despicable thing she did to destroy me. Her sorrys meant shit to me. Not that she ever truly apologized.
I was one second away from hanging up. Anyone else in my position would have. But that tiny, empty part of my heart that still beat for them begged me to hear her out. “Cut to it, V. What kind of trouble has that asshole gotten into now? How can I possibly help either of you when you’re already so fucking lost?”
A sob wracked through her. It was not only audible through the poor telephone connection, but I felt it radiate off her, even across the long, unending distance. Like old times. Connected by invisible ties. It hurt to feel anything toward her at all, and what came out of her mouth next debilitated me in ways I couldn’t have expected.
“He’s going to die. This time there’s no turning back, Eden. I can’t break through, but I know you can.”
GARDEN OF GOODBYES is an unconventional love story with heavy themes including drug abuse and cheating. This is not a romance, but it is a tale of love just the same.
Loss, betrayal, addiction . . . on their own, each of these heartaches can break you, but mix them all together and the concoction will ruin you.
When I closed the door on my past I didn't expect it to come back and haunt me. But when you're the sole person who can save the only man you've ever loved, you rush through that door, face your fears, and pray for the best.
Only, anything good has been long forgotten. In its place is destruction, devastation and enough regret to last a lifetime. I was appalled when she called for my help. I went willingly in hopes to make things right. But I never expected this. A broken man, a hopeless future, the beginning of the end.
She's to blame for the mess of a man in front of me and I'm to blame for walking away.
Can things ever go back to the normal the three of us once knew? Or am I too late to fix the damage we've caused together?