A romance that starts at the end, and ends at the beginning.He’s not coming.
He said he would always be here for me.
Except this time, when I really need him to be here, he isn’t.
He isn’t f**king here.
Quinn met Hunter five years ago at age eighteen. It wasn’t love at first sight. In fact, it was the complete opposite. But they did make a promise that day. If times ever got sh**ty again, all either of them had to do was text each other for help. For five years, they had always been there for each other until…they weren’t.
He’s not coming.
He said he would always be here for me…
Except this time, when I really need him to be here, he isn’t.
He isn’t fucking here.
I glance down at my watch, and he is only twenty minutes late. Something could have happened. His flight could have been delayed. Yeah … that must be it. A delay in his flight.
I lean back in my chair and glance out the window of the bar in the Denver airport at the perfect day. It’s sunny here with not a cloud in the sky. The weather here wouldn’t cause a delay in his flight. But it is possible his flight was delayed from wherever he is. I know he lives in Dallas, but he could have been anywhere this week, depending on if he had a home or away game.
I wouldn’t know, though, because he doesn’t talk to me. And I don’t look up where he plays each week. I know if I did, I would be on the next flight out to see him. And once I saw him, I’d never leave even though he chose a different life than I chose. He chose a life where he could be free—live for the moment—while I chose to live for someone else. A life he made clear he didn’t want.
I take a sip of the red wine sitting in front of me, wishing I would have ordered something stronger as the liquid goes down my throat. I didn’t want to be drunk when I saw him again, but now, I don’t know. Now, I wish I was drunk because I’m afraid he isn’t going to show up, and I’m going to need something to deal with the pain.
I glance out the window and watch another plane land, hoping it is his flight. But I know it’s not. If he were coming, he would have been here on time or he would have texted and told me he was going to be late. He wouldn’t leave me stranded and worried like this.
I down the rest of the expensive red wine that I ordered, and I glance at my watch. It’s thirty minutes until three. He should have been here a half an hour ago, so I’m giving him until three and then I’m leaving.
I shift in my seat in the booth and glance over at the woman smiling at me from behind the bar across the room. Initially, I didn’t want to sit close to the bar because I wanted some privacy to talk to him when he came. Now, I wish I had chosen a seat at the bar—at least until he came—so I could talk with the bartenders. That might have distracted me from the fact he isn’t coming.
The woman walks over. “Another?”
“No, I need something stronger.”
She smiles sadly like she knows what I’m going through. Except she has no idea. She has no idea what I’m hiding. No idea the pain I will feel if he doesn’t come.
“What’s your poison? Whiskey, vodka, tequila …?” she says in a soothing tone.
“I’ll have vodka.” I choose the one drink that gives me no memories of him. I never drink vodka and neither does he.
She gives me one final sympathetic look and hesitates for a second like she’s trying to decide if she is going to hug me before heading back to the bar.
I continue to stare out the window and count the planes as they land. Thinking every single one of them could be him flying in to see me. Each time one lands, my heart does a little flip, hoping and wishing.
My heart is stupid, though. It doesn’t understand what my brain already understands—he isn’t coming.
The bartender brings me my drink. It’s a double even though I didn’t ask for it, but she knows I need it. She must be able to tell my heart is about to break.
I take a sip of the unfamiliar liquid. It burns a little, but it’s a good kind of burn.
I glance down at my watch again. It’s 2:47. Only thirteen minutes left.
I pull out my phone and read the text I sent him.
Me: It’s too much. I need you. Meet me at the Denver airport tomorrow at 2pm.
I scroll through our previous messages and count about fifteen. We have only had fifteen conversations by text message in five years. That doesn’t seem like a lot, but it is when you only text each other after life-altering events, and usually happy life-altering events. We have texted things when life is too hard, painful, difficult. We say I need you. Followed by a time: now, later, ASAP, tomorrow, next week. It’s always the same. And we always come. We are always there for each other. Even when we hate each other. Even when we are with other people. It’s been our unspoken promise for the past five years. The one constant. That if life gets too hard—which it always does because life isn’t fair to either of us—we will be there to help each other. Not really to save each other—although that has happened—but just to be on each other’s sides. No matter what.
I texted him yesterday like I always do, expecting him to come. It’s never something I have questioned before. He just comes whether he responds to the text or not. I can count on him.
A single tear rolls down my cheek. I don’t wipe it away. I feel the pain. I embrace it. I’m used to pain, but I just never thought he would cause me this much pain. I never thought what we had would ever end.
We broke up, yes. I expected that. I expected to break up. We didn’t want the same things in life. We didn’t want to live in the same place. We weren’t in the same place in our life. We fought, a lot. He wanted freedom, and I wanted to settle down. All reasons for our breakup, among other things.
But just because we broke up doesn’t mean anything. He promised he would always be here for me no matter what. No matter if he married someone else or if I did. No matter if we hated each other; he promised he would still come.
He didn’t come.
He’s not coming.
I just wish he’d had the balls to tell me why. I deserve an answer. I deserve to know the truth. I deserve to know why he is no longer in my life. I thought I knew the truth, but now, I’m not so sure.
Instead, what I get is silence.
Silence from a man who I have loved since the moment I met him. Not always romantically, but with his soul, we connected. We just always have. And I thought he felt the same way.
I guess not. I guess I was just like every other girl who has come in and out of his life. And there have been a lot of them. More than I want to count. More than I even know about or want to know.
He said he was done the last time we were together, but I didn’t truly think he meant anything other than our romantic relationship. He said we couldn’t keep doing this—that this was all too much—but I never believed him. I thought he was just angry and saying things he didn’t mean.
Now, I believe him. Because he knows if he doesn’t show up today that I’m done too. I’m not a forgiving person especially when he fucks up like this. He knows I won’t be able to forgive him for this.
I glance down at my watch and watch the minutes tick by until only seconds are left. Only fifteen seconds to be exact.
With each tick, my heart breaks a little more.
With each tick, the pain becomes worse.
With each tick, my heart breaks—not just for me but for him too—because he’s wrong if he thinks he can face the world alone.
I hold by breath through the final ticks, wishing time would stop.
But they continue anyway. It’s not what I expect when the final tick passes. It’s not an explosion in my heart so much as a slow break. A tiny crack that has formed, and although it hasn’t destroyed my heart yet, it makes it weaker. It makes everything painful. And I know it’s a pain I will carry with me for the rest of my life.
I pick up the glass and drink the rest of the liquid. I pull out my purse, hoping I have cash to pay, but I have none. I sigh.
I can’t stay here any longer, so I get up from my booth, running my hand through my long brown hair as I do. Hair that I hate to admit I spent some time curling before I came. Not because I want him back—I know that boat has sailed—but because I wanted him to see that I am happy and healthy. But he needed to hear the truth from me. He needed to hear what I had to say before it was too late.
Now, he will always think of me as the weak one for texting him. He will think of me as broken. And that is the furthest thing from what I am. Even though he has seen me most at my weakest, just as I’ve seen him at his weakest.
But worst yet, now he will never know the truth. And if he ever finds out, it will be too late.
I walk over to the bar.
“I’ll take my check, please.” I dig into my purse to grab my wallet.
“Don’t worry about it. We got you covered,” the bartender says.
I glance up in confusion and see her motion to the three other bartenders standing behind her with understanding nods and sadness in their eyes. They don’t know what happened. They don’t know why I’m sad, why my heart is breaking, but they can feel it. And I know better than to argue with them about paying my bill.
“Thank you,” I say as sincerely as I can.
They all smile and nod in understanding as I glance back at the booth I was just sitting in like somehow he might have magically appeared. That his hard, cut body is sitting in the booth in his tight jeans, T-shirt, and ball cap trying to blend in, but he would do anything but blend in. He would look at me with his piercing blue eyes and run a hand through his blond hair and make every girl here swoon. I wish it were true. That he is sitting there. But he isn’t.
I take a deep breath as I look back at the door. As soon as I leave, it’s over. We are over. And it’s too hard to face.
It takes everything I have to take a step toward the door followed by another step and then another. Each step is painful and scary. I haven’t faced the world alone in a long time.
But that’s not why it’s scary; it’s scary because if he ever finds out the truth, he is going to regret not coming to see me today. My guess is he thought this was for the best. That our relationship was no longer healthy. That we needed to stop relying on each other to survive and get through life when it’s tough.
I understand. I’ve felt the same way. But he’s wrong.
Because today isn’t about needing him; at least, not in the same way as before. Today was about telling him something that would have changed everything.
I take another step, and I’m at the door. I don’t hesitate now because it doesn’t matter. It’s over.
I walk through the door and begin the long walk to my car and then the long, lonely drive back to Boulder, sealing the fact we are over. That I have to forget about Hunter Metcalf. That he no longer exists in my world. I have too many other things to worry about now and too much life to live for.
Still, I can’t escape the pain that will follow me forever. Because I never thought he would be the one who hurt me worse than life ever did.
Ella Miles writes sexy romance with strong females that could kick your butt if you piss them off, which they often do to the men that fall for them. She’s currently living her own happily ever after near the Rocky Mountains with her high school sweetheart husband. Her heart is also taken by her goofy two year old black lab that is scared of everything, including her own shadow. Ella is the author of the Aligned series. Get a free book by visiting her website. Or by stalking her on Twitter or Facebook.