“Well,” I start but stop when he lifts his hand.
“I’m not saying it’s a bad thing.” He shakes his head. “Trust me, it’s fucking great. I’m just surprised is all.”
I nod, taking another sip of water, and walk to the kitchen table. Pulling out the chair and sitting down in front of him, I know I have to give him the truth. “I will be honest … when I got here, I was broken, empty, shallow. I felt like I wouldn’t be able to go on the next day. It was like I was the one who was dead. I was the one buried in a box with everything crashing down on me, crushing me. Every single time I took a breath, my chest hurt; my heart beat, but nothing else came out of it. It was beating to beat. But then I came into this broken-down house, and let me tell you, it was broken down. I thought Crystal was going to hightail it back home, but I went to the beach and I sat down on the cold sand, the waves crashing into the shore, and I felt as lost as the waves did. But then I felt something else even though at the time I didn’t know what. Now that I look back, I think I just felt at peace. So even if the house was in shambles, I knew this was where I wanted to be. It was where I had to be. So I moved in and the house was a disaster, but in a weekend, it was perfect.” I swallow. “And every day, I used to sleep maybe two, three hours tops, but I would wrap myself in a blanket and go outside, and I would watch the waves crash into the shore. I would think of all the little things Eric did to try to understand why.” I look down at my hands, thinking of how far I’ve come. “I would wonder what I could have done differently to be that person he needed. Or I would try to see if I missed any signs he had another woman. I mean seriously”—I laugh but the tears get me also—“how could I not know he was with another woman? How could I not see the lies that came out of his mouth? How could I not be that one person who made him complete?” I swallow as Blake squeezes my hands.
“You were not the problem,” he tries, but I stop him.
I nod my head. “Oh, I know that now, but I didn’t back then. I went through every memory and dissected it to see if I missed something. A clue, a word, something to see if it was in front of my face this whole time, but”—I shake my head as my thumb wipes away a tear in the corner—“but it wasn’t there. No matter what I did, I couldn’t see it then, and I couldn’t see it now. I loved him. I really did, with all my heart, but then I hated him.” I swallowed past the lump in my throat. “I hate him. I hate him more than I loved him. And I hate that I hate him; I hate that he did this to me. That he took what I thought was the love of my life and made me hate it. I hate that he took the love I gave him and made it into a lie.”
“It wasn’t all like that. He did love you.” Blake reaches out, and I put one hand on top of his.
“No, he didn’t because if he did, he would never have done what he did.” I shake my head. “He would never promise to love me till we grow old together when he already made those promises to someone else. When he already promised her more. Fuck, he had children with this woman.” I throw my hands up. “You see, he didn’t love me. He was just selfish. He didn’t love me; he loved himself.”
“No,” I slam my hand on the table. “There are no words you can say that will make what he did okay. Nothing you can do or say will change my mind on that. There are no pictures you paint that will make it okay, but”—I inhale—“with all these memories and thoughts, I came to a conclusion. I deserve the fucking world. I deserve to have a man who will not only love me and only me but also won’t have to look elsewhere to be complete. That is what I deserve. I deserve to be put on top of the pedestal and kept there.”
“You think that guy can do it?” Blake points at the door.
I inhale and answer the loaded question as honestly as I can. “All I know is that I would never have to doubt Jensen. I know he calls me just because. I know when he has a shitty day, he talks to me about it instead of saying, ‘I don’t want to talk about it.’ I know he would never take off for work and not call at least once a day, and most of all, I know he would never lie to me. I haven’t known him that long, but I know in here”—I point at my chest—“that my heart trusts him. That what he says is what he means. And that means everything,” I tell him, and he nods at me.