“You might have a concussion,” he says, matter-of-fact. “You have a small cut on your lip. I just bandaged up the cut on your eye. You don’t need stitches.”
His voice is cold.
“Does it hurt anywhere else? Your arms? Legs?”
He sounds just like a doctor and nothing like a husband.
“You pushed me,” I say through tears. It’s all I can think or say or see.
“You fell,” he says calmly. “About five minutes ago. Right after I found out what a fucking liar I married.” He places something on my pillow next to me. “If you need anything, I’m sure you can call this number.”
I look at the crumpled up piece of paper by my head that holds Atlas’s phone number.
“Ryle,” I sob.
What is happening?
I hear the front door slam.
My whole world comes crashing down around me.
“Ryle,” I whisper to no one. I cover my face with my hands and I cry harder than I’ve ever cried. I am destroyed.
That’s all it takes to completely destroy a person.
• • •
A few minutes pass.
I can’t stop crying. I still haven’t moved from the bed. I’m scared to look in the mirror. I’m just . . . scared.
I hear the front door open and slam shut again. Ryle appears in the doorway and I have no idea if I’m supposed to hate him.
Or be terrified of him.
Or feel bad for him.
How can I be feeling all three?
He presses his forehead to our bedroom door and I watch as he hits his head against it. Once. Twice. Three times.
He turns and rushes at me, falling to his knees at the side of the bed. He grabs both of my hands and he squeezes them. “Lily,” he says, his whole face twisting in pain. “Please tell me it’s nothing.” He brings his hand to the side of my head and I can feel his hands shaking. “I can’t take this, I can’t.” He leans forward and presses his lips hard against my forehead, then rests his forehead against mine. “Please tell me you aren’t seeing him. Please.”
I’m not even sure I can tell him that because I don’t even want to speak.
He stays pressed against me, his hand wrapped tightly in my hair. “It hurts so much, Lily. I love you so much.”
I shake my head, wanting the truth out of me so he’ll see what a huge mistake he just made. “I forgot his number was even there,” I say quietly. “The day after the fight in the restaurant . . . he came to the store. You can ask Allysa. He was only there for five minutes. He took my phone from me and he put his number inside of it, because he didn’t believe I was safe with you. I forgot it was there, Ryle. I’ve never even looked at it.”
He breathes out a shaky breath and begins nodding with relief. “You swear, Lily? You swear on our marriage and our lives and on everything that you are that you haven’t spoken to him since that day?” He pulls back so he can look me in the eyes.
“I swear, Ryle. You overreacted before giving me the chance to explain,” I say to him. “Now get the fuck out of my apartment.”
My words knock the breath from him. I see it happen. His back meets the wall behind him and he stares at me silently. In shock. “Lily,” he whispers. “You fell down the stairs.”
I can’t tell if he’s trying to convince me or himself.
I calmly repeat myself. “Get out of my apartment.”
He remains frozen in place. I sit up on the bed. My hand immediately goes to the throbbing in my eye. He pushes himself up off the floor. When he takes a step forward, I scoot back on the bed.
“You’re hurt, Lily. I’m not leaving you alone.”
I grab one of my pillows and throw it at him, like it could actually do damage. “Get out!” I yell. He catches the pillow. I grab the other one and stand up on the bed and start swinging it at him as I scream, “Get out! Get out! Get out!”
I toss the pillow on the floor after the front door slams shut.
I run to the living room and dead-bolt the door.
I run back to my bedroom and fall onto my bed. The same bed I share with my husband. The same bed he makes love to me on.
The same bed he lays me on when it’s time for him to clean up his messes.
I tried salvaging my phone before I fell asleep last night, but it was no use. It was in two completely separate pieces. I set my alarm so I could get up early and stop and get a new one on my way in to work today.
My face doesn’t look as bad as I feared it would. Of course, it’s not something I could hide from Allysa, but I’m not even going to try and do that. I part my hair to the side to cover up most of the bandage Ryle had placed over my eye. The only thing visible from last night is the cut on my lip.
And the hickey he gave me on my neck.
Fucking irony at its best.
I grab my purse and open the front door. I stop short when I see the lump at my feet.
It’s several seconds before I realize that lump is actually Ryle. He slept out here?
He pulls himself to his feet as soon as he realizes I’ve opened the door. He’s in front of me, pleading eyes, gentle hands on my cheeks. Lips on my mouth. “I’m sorry, I’m sorry, I’m sorry.”
I pull back and scroll my eyes over him. He slept out here?
I step out of my apartment and pull my door shut. I calmly walk past him and down the stairs. He follows me the entire way to my car, begging me to talk to him.