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Broken Love Story (Love 3) Natasha Madison 2022/8/3 13:53:43

“Hey,” I say, smiling.

“Sorry I didn’t text you back. I had to save a cat.”

I throw my head back and laugh. “What do you mean?”

“I mean, the fucking cat went into this tree and wouldn’t fucking come down, and then when I finally got to the fucker, he hissed at me and bit me.” I can’t stop laughing while I picture him in a tree chasing a cat. “Luckily, I had my gloves on, but yeah, so why isn’t yellow a good idea anymore?”

“My mother-in-law came in when I had just started painting.”

“Oh, fuck,” he says. It’s funny how he’s never really met me, and he doesn’t know any of us, but he knows it’s bad.

“Yeah, well, it went downhill,” I say softly. “I think what hurt the most was when she said I was nothing without Eric.”

Blake hisses, but I continue, “I grew up a child of the state, so I’m used to all the names. But I figure in twelve years, I loved your son and had his children, which are your grandchildren. I think I’m someone.”

“You’re more that someone,” he tells me. “To those girls, you are the world. You’re showing them that you live even when it’s hard. You’re showing Lizzie that you can be sad and then dust yourself off and survive.”

“You think so?” I ask him. “Do you know I don’t even know what Eric’s least favorite color was.”

“Green,” he says right away. “He fucking hated green.”

“Fuck,” I say and laugh. “I wanted to paint my bedroom his least favorite color, but green …?”

He laughs now. “Yeah, I don’t know about that.”

I look at the clock. “Shit, I gotta get the girls,” I tell him. “I’ll call you later.” I disconnect and run to the bus stop, getting there at the same time as the bus pulls up. The girls and I walk back to the house, and I know right away I made the right choice because my girls love the new kitchen.

So all the doubts are gone when I get to see the smile on Lizzie’s face as she does a circle in the room and her eyes light up. Totally worth it, I decide as I smile to myself and not once do I think about Eric.

We end up making grilled cheese for dinner while I finish painting, and when it’s finally done and everything is put back into place, I take a picture and send it to Blake with the title, My Sunshine.

I put my phone away and smile as I fold my arms across my chest and take in what I just did, and by myself, no less. I smile the whole time I walk upstairs and take a shower and then smile even bigger when I see that Blake has sent me fifteen Pinterest ideas for a green room.

I call him as I get into bed. “I think you should go with mint,” he says softly when he answers.

I laugh. “Well, if I have to pick between the moss green and the mint, I would pick the mint.”

We talk about our days, and I tell him how happy the girls were when they came home. “See, you hang the moon to those two.”

“If you could change one thing in your life, what would it be?” I ask him when we both yawn.

“That we found Frankie’s cancer earlier,” he says without skipping a beat. “What about you?”

“That I found out about Eric before he died,” I say softly, and we are saved by the bell when he leaves for a call and disconnects.

“I can’t believe we sold everything,” Hailey says to me as she puts her bag in the front seat of her car, and I follow with her two suitcases, putting them into the trunk. In the past week, she has donated Eric’s clothes to the homeless shelter, sold her house, and had that yard sale where she sold everything except Eric’s tools. She gave those to me under protest—I didn’t want them—but then I thought about who I would give them to, and I knew that it would be only right to give them to Samantha. If she didn’t want them, she could give them to the girls.

Samantha, who like Hailey, is trying to purge Eric from her system, has single-handedly repainted her whole house. After her kitchen, she painted her living room. That conversation still makes me laugh.

“I’m moving on to the living room, and I think I’m going to take the picture of us down,” she said late one night, later than usual since I was out on a call.

“Did you talk to the girls about it?” I asked her as I lay in bed thinking about her in her own.

“Not yet,” she answered with a yawn. “I’m going to take it down to paint, and we can talk then.”