“The idea was for you to get home, correct? And someone needed to drive your truck, am I right?”
Gray nodded with displeasure.
“Then shut the fuck up and show me where you parked.”
“Maybe I should ride with Brett.” He stumbled over the words and almost fell on his face standing still.
“Yeah, that’s a bright idea, Gray. Get in the car with your ex-girlfriend’s husband, who you called at two in the morning to come pick your drunk ass up. Make sure you let him know you asked if I missed you while you’re at it. I’m sure it will make for lively carpool conversation. Gah, you’re insufferable. Where is the truck?”
He started walking, so I followed. Brett pulled out and drove down the side street until we came to the vehicle we were looking for. Gray handed me the keys when I stuck my hand out.
Once in the car, I prayed Gray would keep his damn mouth shut. I didn’t know how we’d gone from his giving me advice at Applebee’s to this. Nothing had changed with Gray, but something had snapped inside me. My response to Gray had been completely over the top. I guess in my mind, our texts had been platonic, but maybe in Gray’s they were something more.
“Have I given you the impression I missed you, Gray?” I tried to keep my tone even. I didn’t want to start a fight…not that Gray would engage in one. God knew he would never fight for me.
“It’s just us, Bird Dog. It’s who we are. We’re meant to be together, and the universe is going to put us back that way.”
He put his hand on the inside of my thigh and leaned toward me. I swerved at the intrusion and swatted him away.
“What are you doing?” I screeched.
“Just trying to be close to you. You used to like it when I touched you. Loved getting my calls at night. Having me with you in your bed.”
“You’re a jackass.” I was tempted to pull over and swap cars with Brett, but even though Gray was ticking me off, I didn’t want him dead—Brett would kill him. “Do you care about me at all, Gray?”
“Of course. I love you.”
“You’ve never loved me, but if you care about me—don’t fuck up my marriage!”
“You don’t love him. You settled for him because I married Amber. The sooner you admit that the sooner this charade stops.”
I’d just put the truck in park in his driveway when I pursed my lips and slapped the taste right out of his mouth. Never in my life had I hit anyone, but Gray Dearsley had pushed me to my breaking point.
“You son of a bitch. I don’t know who the fuck you—” My door flew open and Brett’s arms caught mine.
He somehow managed to unbuckle my seatbelt and pull me from the driver’s seat, but he’d only derailed me. He hadn’t shut me up.
Gray met me at the front of the truck, and Brett let me go off like a rocket, or a redneck, I’m not sure which. I got right up in my ex’s face, my finger pointing hard into his chest. “You screwed up. You picked wrong. Not me. I’m not the girl you used, anymore. Do not call me looking for sympathy, do not text me wanting pity. You did this to yourself, Gray. Your life, your marriages—they are a reflection of what you put into them. You will not drag me down with you again.”
He ran his tongue over his teeth under his lip, contemplating a response, but apparently thinking better of it. Even drunk, he wasn’t stupid enough to cross me in front of Brett. With a jerk of the head, he turned around and staggered toward his front door. Just once, I’d kill for him to engage in a verbal spar with me. One time, I wanted to be worth the argument.
With a quick gust of air out of my nose in a huff, I shook my head. “That right there is why you’re where you are, Gray. Nothing was ever worth the fight—it’s easier just to walk away.”
I threw his keys across the yard and onto the front porch. I refused to give that asshole one more tear. Instead, I turned toward Brett’s SUV and respectively, my back on Gray.
I moved on.
I couldn't hold on to what was deteriorating, devastating, destroying,
And now, I have real love.
The kind that means something,
Rocking in chairs and growing old.
But, choosing between the past and future is too painful.
I was bound to Gray, but he lost me,
Let me slip through his fingers.
That was then.
This is now.
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