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“But you don’t feel the same,” I hazard a whispered guess.

His eyes snap up to mine and his gaze is sympathetic. He even leans forward and gives me a soft kiss before saying, “I’m sorry…I feel something. I’m just not sure it’s love, Vale.”

Chapter 25


“You seriously can’t be leaving,” I say as I watch her helplessly put another suitcase into the trunk of her car.

“It’s for the best,” she says quietly, refusing to look me in the eye. She stuffs a duffel bag into an empty nook beside the suitcases. I want to rip them out and toss them to the ground, slam the trunk, and demand she stay.

“So everything that we’ve been building back up…that’s not worth staying for,” I growl at her, my frustration starting to overtake my emotions.

“I’m sorry,” she whispers, and places the last bag in place. When she shuts the trunk, she turns to look at me with sad eyes but a clear conscience. “But it’s for the best.”

I don’t beg. I will not beg. But I come close when I ask, “Is there anything I can do to get you to stay?”

If I thought her eyes were sad before, they go positively morose. She looks as if her entire world just got plunged into darkness. And she tells me the one thing I cannot give her. “You can tell me you love me.”

I jerk awake, the strains of “Let It Be” by the Beatles ironically filtering from my earbuds to my consciousness. I rub my eyes, pull the minispeakers from my ears, and look to my right. Max sits in the plane seat next to me, staring at me with a knowing look in his eyes. “Bad dream?”

“Something like that,” I mumble.

“You okay?”

“Sure,” I say as I wind the cord of the earbuds around my iPhone and stuff it in the seat pocket in front of me.

But I’m anything but fine.

Things are fucked up.

Fucked up so bad I feel absolutely helpless and without any clear direction on how to make it better.

I haven’t seen Vale in four days. Since that awful fucking night out by the airport when I had the best orgasm of my entire freaking life, and then proceeded to lose the girl. I’m not sure that’s how things are supposed to happen.

I’m not kidding.

Best. Fucking. Orgasm. Ever.

So powerful it sucked everything out of me and left me momentarily desolate of feeling. I was confused by the force of the response to Vale and the way in which we were fucking. The exquisite sensitivity to her; the solid connection of our bodies and even something more than that.

She told me she loved me, and based on how perfect those moments were right before those words tumbled forth, I should have been throwing a dance party on cloud nine. Instead, those words pierced through me like a molten poker straight from the fireplace, filling me with the burning pain of betrayal. It wasn’t something that lasted long, but a finite stab of anger pulsed within me toward Vale. That she could dare go back to that revered place we both shared once long ago. I wasn’t the same. She wasn’t the same. What we had was different now, and in a moment of absolute shocked confusion over what she was saying, I refused to let myself believe that love was even possible.

And I told her such.

Things clearly eroded from there. There was a mad scramble by Vale off of my lap where she awkwardly pulled her clothes on while I tried to make things better with a multitude of idiotic statements.

I’m sorry. We have something here. Let’s talk about this.

I care for you, Vale. Surely you can see that.

Wait a minute…take a deep breath and let’s figure this out.

These lame attempts to spark a conversation fell flat. She refused to look at me as she got dressed, and when she was fully clothed and I was still bare-ass naked, she said in a soft voice, “I’d like to go home now.”

I sighed and rolled over, pulling my clothes on slowly. I felt that with every article I put back on, I was heading faster toward the demise of what we had become so far and I didn’t know how to fix it. The only thing I could think to do was smack myself on the forehead and blurt out, “Silly me…I was confused. I do, in fact, love you too.”

But I couldn’t do that. It simply wasn’t true, and the only explanation I had for this innate feeling of not being able to reciprocate was because I didn’t trust Vale not to hurt me again. So I, in turn, hurt her.

Yeah, I’m pretty much a douche.

After an awkwardly silent start to the journey back to her apartment, we were able to get a modicum of conversation going. She’s actually the one that started it.

I jerked when she said in such a confused voice, “I don’t understand. I thought I had it figured out.”

I seized the opportunity to try to get this turned around in a positive manner. Like a moron, I said, “Look…I’m sure you were just caught up in the moment. It’s easy to do that during sex. We have feelings for each other, and sometimes they can seem multiplied when you’re in the middle of—”

“No,” she cut in on me quietly. “I’m not mistaken in how I feel. I do love you. I’m just confused on about why you don’t love me back.”

That shut me the fuck up, for all of about two minutes. Then as carefully as I could, with all hope still surging that I could still salvage this with her, I said, “I can’t explain it, but something inside of me just rebelled against it, Vale. I’m just not ready to say it back.”

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