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Broken Love Story (Love 3) Natasha Madison 2022/8/3 13:53:47

“I’ve never seen you annoyed before,” she says, laughing. “It’s okay, really.”

“It so isn’t okay. What the fuck is it showing the girls?” I ask her, and I see her eyebrows pinch together. “It’s disrespectful not to invite you.”

“Honestly, it’s good to just be by myself,” she tells me. “We spent the day at the park taking pictures.” Her eyes light up. “I think I got some good ones.”

“Really?” I ask her, and she gets the camera to show me the ones she took. “Is that you doing a cartwheel?” I ask, laughing.

“Yeah. I tried anyway,” she tells me. “I gave Elliot Eric’s clothes.” She puts the camera down while she picks up her coffee cup and takes a drink. “It was a little tense there but …” She puts it down and comes closer to the phone, her face filling up the screen. “I showed him the letter. He wanted to take the picture of Hailey and Eric,” she says, and the hair on my neck goes on alert. “I didn’t let him take it or the letter.”

“You did good,” I tell her, not sure why it was the right move, or why it was a good idea not to have him hold it.

We chat for two hours when I hear the door open and the girls yell. “I’ll call you back in a bit,” she tells me, disconnecting, and I toss the phone to the side. I scroll through my phone, looking for Elliot’s number. I’m so close to calling him and fucking telling him what an asshole he is, but I don’t. Something stops me.

For the next two weeks, we continue our chats. More FaceTime conversations when the girls aren’t around. On Friday, her face isn’t the same. She looks worried.

“What’s the matter?” I ask her right away.

She looks at me. “The girls are going camping with Elliot tomorrow for the night.”

“Okay?” I ask her. “Do you not want them to go?”

“It’s not that; I know he would never hurt them,” she says. “It’s just I haven’t been without them overnight since before Eric.”

“Do the girls want to go?” I ask her, wondering, and she nods.

“Even Lizzie is looking forward to it,” she says, and I try to tell her that everything will be okay. “Yeah, yeah, I know,” she tells me, and we quickly get off the phone.

I look at the phone and then up again, taking a pull from the beer I had on the table. I won’t be talking to her tomorrow, and I haven’t told her yet. I’m not sure I can.

The next morning, I wake up, dread filling me right away. I get out of bed, and for the first time, I don’t look at Frankie’s picture. I put on my jeans and get into the truck. The phone rings right away. Looking down, I see it’s Samantha, but I don’t answer. I send it straight to voicemail. Not today, I can’t today.

I pull up at the cemetery with the bouquet of red roses on the seat next to me. I grab them and carry them with me as I walk to Frankie’s grave.

“Morning,” I say to the black granite stone that holds her name.

“I brought you flowers,” I tell her as I place them down on the middle of the stone.

I sit down, bending my knees, and rest my arms on my knees as my hands hang. “Do you remember when I asked you to marry me?” I ask her and close my eyes, taking me back to the moment.

“I don’t understand.” I looked at her as she stood there in the middle of the hospital room, one frail hand holding the IV pole that she wheeled around with her when she walked. A blue satin scarf wound around her head where her beautiful, thick curly hair had been. In its place, she had patches of hair growing back.

“I will not marry you,” she said with her head held high, the blue cotton robe hanging off her. She hadn’t been well this whole week. No matter what we did, she couldn’t fight the cold she was coming down with. Her immune system was too depleted from her treatment.

“Do you not love me?” I asked her, with tears running down my face. I was on one knee in front of her with a ring, asking her to be my wife, to be mine.

“Don’t do that,” she said, not moving from her spot in the middle of the room while holding the red roses that I brought her in her spare hand. “Don’t make this harder on me than it has to be,” she said with tears running down her beautiful face. She had lost so much weight, her cheekbones stuck out now. She held her head high on her slender neck, so slender I was afraid to put my arm around her when we sat down.