THE DOOR SLAMMED behind me and rocked the frame. I stood on the porch and leaned against it, unable to move. I was chained to the porch feeling the lowest of low.
Why do I have to be a major fucking dick?
I made her cry. I was sure of it because I knew Shelly and she’d cry for me. Tears I never wanted her to shed again because of me. I didn’t deserve them. I wanted more but it wasn’t because I didn’t think I had enough. On the contrary. My family made me crave more. I finally felt as if I had something worth giving, and I wanted them to have it all.
I heard a sniffle and looked up, searching out the sound. Our bedroom window must have been open because I heard a sob and a moan follow.
I couldn’t do this.
I stormed back into the house and took the steps two at a time.
Why did he have to be such a dick?
After he had walked away, I’d fallen on our bed, that seemed entirely too large without him, and pulled the blankets around me for comfort.
It didn’t work, and I only ended up crying harder.
Getting married tomorrow now felt wrong.
Thinking we could have a loving future seemed impossible.
My groom had walked out on me and left me shattered in pieces. Was I naïve to think we had grown past this? He’d once again managed to make me feel like that stupid sixteen-year-old girl who had willingly fallen for his tricks.
If he were in front of me now, I’d probably throttle him or pummel him or—
My eyes, which I’m certain were bloodshot, opened to see him standing in the doorway clutching the handle as if he needed the support. He pleaded to me with his gaze to accept his apology, but I wouldn’t make it so easy for him.
I sat up and hid my shaking hands under the blanket. “Why would you be sorry? For trying to impregnate me without asking or for making me feel like Istole something from you?”
“I think it would be more efficient to say I’m sorry for not being someone you deserve—again.” He took a seat on the edge of the bed and pulled me to him. I reluctantly let him because, let’s face it—he was stronger physically, and I was just plain stupid and weak for him.
“Is this what I have to look forward to for the rest of our lives? You being you and me being me?”
His eyes narrowed and his nostrils flared at my question. “What does that mean?”
“It means are you ever going to grow up?”
“I don’t know what to say.”
“Pretty words can’t fix what is wrong with us.”
We fell silent, each lost in our own thoughts, but in that silence, I somehow heard what he was thinking, and I knew when he dipped his head to peck my lips he must have heard me, too.
“One day, when you’re ready—when we’re both ready—would you give me another chance?”
I met his gaze and hated seeing the insecurity that once plagued him back in his eyes. “That was never the question.”
A cocky grin broke across his face, and he moved in for another kiss. I stopped him with a finger to his lips, and he frowned back with confusion. “But you have a chance to be a great father now. Don’t pass that up chasing waterfalls.”
His frown deepened and then he barked out a laugh. “Did you just quote TLC?”
I felt my eyebrows lift and cocked my head, studying him. “Why do you know the lyrics?”
“Are you kidding? They’re swell.”
“Their music or their bodies?”
His face scrunched as if genuinely confused. “There’s a difference?”
“So who’s your favorite?”
“Left Eye,” he answered without hesitation.
“She’d eat you alive.”
“Maybe but I like a challenge.”
My phone vibrated on the nightstand before I could answer him. He pulled me into his lap and handed me my phone, which was lit with a text from Lake.
“What’s wrong,” he asked, already peering over my shoulder.
“Lake is on her way over to go over last minute details. If she catches you here after the deadline, your ass is grass.”
He smirked and began to kiss on my shoulder while sliding his hand under his shirt I still wore. “I’m not afraid of Lake.”
“She’s bringing my mother.”
“Later.” He tossed me off his lap, snatched a shirt from the dresser and was gone before I could right myself.
Fuck, that was a close one. I couldn’t stand her mother, but more importantly, I finally felt the tightening in my chest give way, and I could breathe easier.
I stopped short when I saw my little princess standing in the hall with a grin and her hands clasped over her mouth. “Daddy’s in trouble,” she giggled.
“No way, munchkin. I talked my way out of it.”
“No time out?”
I scooped her up because I could never resist an opportunity to be close to the best part of me. “Nope. You could learn a thing or two.”
“But, Daddy, the ‘Mangelo needed a bath.” I smiled at the way she pronounced Michelangelo.
“So I suppose he wanted to smell like Mommy’s Bath & Body Works?”
She shrugged and said with wide eyes, “I s’pose.” She laid her head on my chest and snuggled closer in my arms.
I couldn’t help it. I melted for my little girl.
“I wouldn’t trade you for all the prince and princesses in the world.”
“Does this mean I not punished any more?”
“Talk to your mother, my little gerrymander.”
“Whose Gerry? I not Gerry.” She pouted and wiggled from my arms to storm into her room and slam the door.
With a chuckle, I pulled out my phone and opened the note app. There was already a note titled, ‘Fuck-ups to make up.’ I added two entries to my latest fuck-ups and closed the app.