“Lily,” he says. “I don’t . . .”

“No!” I yell, spinning around again. “I am not finished! You don’t get to say your truth until I’ve said mine!”


He’s grabbing at his jaw, squeezing the stress out of it. He drops his eyes to the floor, unable to look at the rage in mine. I take three steps toward him and drop to my knees. I place my hands on his legs, forcing him to look me straight in the eyes while I speak to him.

“Yes. I kept the magnet Atlas gave me when we were kids. Yes. I kept the journals. No, I didn’t tell you about my tattoo. Yes, I probably should have. And yes, I still love him. And I’ll love him until I die, because he was a huge part of my life. And yes, I’m sure that hurts you. But none of that gave you the right to do what you did to me. Even if you would have walked into my bedroom and caught us in bed together, you still would not have the right to lay a hand on me, you goddamn son of a bitch!”

I push off his knees and stand up again. “Now it’s your turn!” I yell.

I continue pacing the room. My heart is pounding like it wants out. I wish I could give it a way out. I’d set the motherfucker free right now if I could.

Several minutes pass as I continue to pace. Ryle’s silence and my anger eventually just fold together into pain.

My tears have exhausted me. I am so tired of feeling. I fall desperately onto my bed and cry into my pillow. I press my face so hard against my pillow, I can barely breathe.

I feel Ryle lie down next to me. He places a gentle hand on the back of my head, attempting to sooth away the pain he’s causing me. My eyes are closed, still pressed into the pillow, but I feel him gently rest his head against mine.

“My truth is that I have absolutely nothing to say,” he says quietly. “I’ll never be able to take back what I did to you. And you’ll never believe me if I promise it won’t happen again.” He presses a kiss against my head. “You are my world, Lily. My world. When I woke up on this bed that night and you were gone, I knew I would never get you back. I came here to tell you how incredibly sorry I am. I came to tell you I was taking that job offer in Minnesota. I came to tell you goodbye. But Lily . . .” His lips press against my head again and he exhales sharply. “Lily, I can’t do that now. You have a part of me inside of you. And I already love this baby more than I’ve ever loved anything in my whole life.” His voice cracks and he grips me even harder. “Please don’t take this away from me, Lily. Please.”

The pain in his voice ripples through me, and when I lift my tear-soaked face to look at him, he presses his lips desperately to mine and then pulls back. “Please, Lily. I love you. Help me.”

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His lips briefly meet mine again. When I don’t push him away, his mouth comes back a third time.

A fourth.

When his lips meet mine the fifth time, they don’t leave.

He wraps his arms around me and pulls me to him. My body is tired and weak, but it remembers him. My body remembers how his body can soothe everything I’m feeling. How his has a gentleness in it that my body has been craving for two months now.

“I love you,” he whispers against my mouth. His tongue sweeps softly against mine and it’s so wrong and so good and so painful. Before I know it, I’m on my back and he’s crawling on top of me. His touch is everything I need and everything I shouldn’t.

His hand wraps in my hair and in an instant, I’m transferred back to that night.

I’m in the kitchen, and his hand is tugging my hair so hard it hurts.

He brushes the hair from my face and in an instant, I’m transferred back to that night.

I’m standing in the doorway, and his hand is trailing across my shoulder, right before he bites into me with all the strength in his jaw.

His forehead rests gently against mine and in an instant, I’m transferred back to that night.

I’m on this same bed beneath him when he slams his head against mine so hard I have to get six stitches.

My body becomes unresponsive to his. The anger begins to roll back over me. His mouth stops moving against mine when he feels me freeze.

When he pulls back and looks down on me, I don’t even have to say anything. Our eyes, locked together, speak more naked truths than our mouths ever have. My eyes are telling his that I can no longer stand being touched by him. His eyes are telling mine that he already knows.

He begins to nod, slowly.

He backs away from me, crawling down my body until he’s at the edge of the bed with his back to me. He’s still nodding as he comes to a slow stand, fully aware that he’s not getting my forgiveness tonight. He begins heading toward my bedroom door.

“Wait,” I say to him.

He half-turns, looking back at me from the doorway.

I lift my chin, looking at him with finality. “I wish this baby wasn’t yours, Ryle. With everything that I am, I wish this baby was not a part of you.”

If I thought his world couldn’t crumble more, I was wrong.

He walks out of my bedroom and I press my face into my pillow. I thought if I could just hurt him like he had hurt me, I would feel avenged.

I don’t.

Instead, I feel vindictive and mean.

I feel like I’m my father.

Chapter Thirty-One

Mom: I miss you. When am I going to see you?

I stare at the text. It’s been two days since Ryle found out I’m pregnant. I know it’s time to tell my mother. I’m not nervous about telling her I’m pregnant. The only thing that scares me is discussing my situation with Ryle with her.

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