Last Name Unknown

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Chapter 4

Sam’s eyes practically bugged out of her head with that statement. I didn’t need a mirror to tell me that I was sporting the same look.

Sean spun on me so quickly I would have fallen over if I hadn’t already been seated.

“What the hell does he mean by that,” he bit out, nostrils flaring.

“I…uh, well…he didn’t mean…,” I responded, tripping over my own tongue.

I cleared my throat, hoping that my pulse would settle back down to a normal rhythm before it beat out of my chest.

“He didn’t mean it the way it sounded” I finally got out. “What he meant was that we live in the same building. Isn’t that right, Kade,” I said, shooting daggers in his direction.

He immediately picked up my message and gave me a quick wink before turning back to Sean.

“So what exactly are you doing here then,” Sean continued. “Somewhat of an intimate situation for her random neighbor to just be hanging out for no reason. She’s never mentioned you before and I know her friends. You’re certainly not one of them. Not that Addison would be friends with someone like you anyways. So what is your business here?”

“Sean,” I said, utterly shocked at his superiority complex that was clearly in full swing. “What the hell? You don’t even know him.”

Sean didn’t turn back to me, but I didn’t miss the quick look he gave me out of the corner of his eye that was his subtle way of telling me to shut the hell up.

“You’re being a complete asshole,” I whispered loudly.

That earned me a cold and disapproving glare from Sean. I could already tell we would be having one his infamous discussions of what is appropriate of someone of our (meaning his) social standing. Personally I didn’t have any social standing which was a continued point of contention in our relationship.

“Sean’s always an asshole,” Sam said as she brushed past him and sat in the vacated seat beside me.

“No one asked you, Samantha,” he said sternly, giving her one of his disapproving looks as well. Sam wasn’t on his list of favorites either so anything she could say would only make the situation worse.

“Well Sean,” Kade responded in a calm, but condescending tone, “what I’m doing here and how I know Addison falls into the ‘none-of-your-fucking-business’ category.”

Anger flashed in Sean’s eyes. He wasn’t used to being spoken to like that. His parents had money and influence so that meant people kissed his feet on a regular basis. Even after he went off to make his own fortune in the stock market, he still held an aura of power that people often catered to. Clearly Kade was not one of those people.

“I strongly suggest you get out of here before I call security and have you escorted out. That is, if I don’t have them arrest you on sight for stalking.”

“Stalking? Who is he stalking?” I asked in confusion.

All eyes turned on me.

Oh...duh.

“Sean, you’re overreacting,” I said, pinching the bridge of my nose. My headache was back in full swing. Where was Nurse Barbie when I needed more drugs? “Kade is my neighbor and the one who found me after I took a header down the stairs in the lobby, which was after having my brains bashed in by some invisible assailant in my apartment. At a very minimum, you should be thanking him for helping me. Not being a complete douche bag for no good reason.”

“He’s always a douche bag,” Sam failed to mutter under her breath.

Clearly being called a douche bag in front of a stranger (and Sam) didn’t bode well for his mood or my current wellbeing.

“Did it ever occur to you Addison, that maybe he’s the one who assaulted you,” Sean snapped. “Just look at him. He’s got trouble written all over him. I wouldn’t put it past him to have been the one going through your apartment. And you’re fortunate as hell that he didn’t rape then kill you while he had you at his mercy.”

The tension in the room had grown palpable.

“Are you fucking insane,” I said in shock. “How the hell could you say something like that? And how dare you say that right in front of him. If you want to be ass wienie supreme, then fine, I won’t stop you, but I will be damned if I’m going to just sit here and have you say such horrible and unforgivable things to the only person who helped me when I needed it.

“Kade was not the one who attacked me. Unless he has superhero abilities I’m not aware of, which includes the ability to jump three stories in a matter of seconds (without being noticed I might add) to somehow beat me to the bottom of the stairs, jump in the shower, and then reappear fully dressed after I landed on his door step, then your accusations are completely unfounded. Your whole attitude is unfounded and frankly, pissing me off.”

“Really,” Sean responded calmly.

Anger I could take right now. Calm? Not so much. It was an obvious indicator that I was in for the riot act the instant we were alone together, concussion be damned.

“You were bashed over the head Addison,” he continued. “Enough to split your skull open, and you expect me to believe you just got up and ran down the stairs immediately afterwards? I’m going to go out on a limb and venture a guess that you lost consciousness for a few minutes at the very least. Plenty of time for your boy toy over there to get downstairs and wait you out.”

It annoyed me to no end that he made a valid argument.

I looked at Kade, afraid he would see the moment of doubt that was advertised on my face as he watched me quietly. His muscles were tense, like he was using super human strength to keep himself from pole vaulting over the bed in order to bash Sean’s skull in. (Ew. Poor choice of wording considering the situation.) His expression was blank, as if he wasn’t fazed by the conversation at all, but the hardness in his eyes told me differently.

In the brief time that our eyes met I knew any doubt, no matter how small, I had at the very idea of him being my attacker was the stupidest thing I could ever imagine. Was he a stranger? Yes. Was he dangerous? Hell yes. Did I think that the guy who sat next to me for the past few hours so I didn’t wake up alone, the same man who hadn’t thought twice about stopping to help me as I lay broken and confused on the floor (even though I ended up ruining not only his morning but his clothes as well) was capable of doing so much harm and then turning around and being a shoulder to lean on? Hell no.

“It wasn’t him,” I said, never breaking eye contact with Kade.

“And how can you be so sure?” Sean asked, crossing his arms over his chest.

I shrugged and winced. “I just do.”

Sean opened his mouth to start another tirade. Being called out was already on the list of unacceptable Addison behaviors, but then again, so was telling him he was wrong. I was in for a world of hurt the instant we were alone. Not that Sean was stupid enough to hurt me physically, but this little display would be dissected and replayed for hours until Sean got his point across. He was not a man to be questioned or called out, especially when the object of his anger and frustration was sitting right in front of him. And it was never acceptable to do in front of Sam because it wasn’t in her nature to let him live it down.

“I think you’ve shared enough of your biased asshole opinion,” Sam said, standing up and giving Sean a small shove to the side, putting more distance between Sean and I. “If Addison says he didn’t do this, then that’s all there is to it. Believe it or not, before you came along, she was actually a good judge of character.”

“Sam,” I said in warning. I really did not need her adding to my problems right now.

“What?” she asked innocently. “Am I not supposed to point out the fact you could do better than Asshole Maximus here? Should I not point out that you would be better off with a serial killer hell bent on wearing your skin like a meat suit then dealing with Sean’s obnoxious God complex? Maybe it would do his royal pain in the ass some good to know that no matter what he says or think, it would be a vast improvement over your current situation if you were with him,” she said pointing to Kade, “then him.” She finished by pointing at Sean.

The corner of Kade’s mouth lifted in a smirk.

“Thanks for the offer, but my closet if already bursting at the seams with all the other meat suits I currently own,” Kade responded deadpan.

And that’s when I lost it. I don’t know why, and I sure as hell don’t know how, but I burst out laughing and I couldn’t stop. Maybe it was the pressure of the day. Maybe it was all the physical abuse my poor body had experienced. Maybe it was the after effects of the sex-a-thon I was forced to endure the night before. Whatever the reason, I mentally checked out and couldn’t contain myself any longer.

After what seemed like eternity, the tension was suddenly broken…well, put on hold anyways…by the opening of the room door.

Nurse Barbie came in and surveyed the scene. I could only imagine what was running through her head.

Sam stood beside me glaring at Sean like he was the lowest life form on the planet. Sean was glaring at Kade with his hands on his hips, hoping in inspire some sort of male dominance. And Kade…well, Kade was the only one who acknowledged her presence and winked at her, which caused her to melt into a puddle on the floor again.

After picking her tongue up off the floor, she came over to me with a look of concern all over her face.

“Miss Walker, how do you feel? Are you in a lot of pain??” she asked, adjusting my pillows again.

A quick swipe of my face revealed I had been crying, though I didn’t remember any tears falling during my laughing fit. And now that she mentioned it, I did hurt. A lot. Who knew that something as simple as laughing could completely exhaust my already mangled body?

“She’s fine,” Sean said curtly, finally acknowledging her.

I saw the brief flash of a frown before she turned back to Sean.

“I was asking my patient,” she responded just as curtly and turned back to me.

“If you need some alone time, let me know and I will remove them from the room,” she said quietly. “Or anyone in particular if they are giving you a hard time.”

And just like that, Nurse Barbie was like an angel sent from heaven, serving and protecting the down trodden and hapless klutzes of the world..

I smiled. “Thank you, but I’m okay.”

She gave my shoulder a comforting squeeze before exiting the room, the door closing silently behind her.

No one said anything for a few minutes and I was starting to get uncomfortable. The testosterone level was off the charts and I was afraid that Sean would say or do something stupid to piss Kade off. Sean is well built and no small guy, but based on the way Kade carried himself, I was willing to bet that Kade would win that particular fight.

“Well this is fun,” Sam said, sitting down beside me.

Leave it to Sam to make an awkward moment even more so.

“You want to know what I think,” she said to the room. “I think if Sean were actually stupid enough to hit Kade here, Sean would be laid before we could even blink. They’re both pretty big, but there is something about your friend here that just screams danger, and when there’s danger lurking, you usually get a guy who knows how to handle himself in any situation.”

I was wrong. This was the awkward moment.

Sean lasered Sam with his trademark you-really-should-learn-to-keep-your-mouth-shut look. (I know that look well. I get it every time we’re in public somewhere.)

“Ooooooh, I’m so scared,” she said in mock terror. She lifted her brow in a silent ‘bring it on’ challenge that Sean thankfully ignored.

“It looks like you’re in at least one set of good hands,” Kade said, nodding toward Sam, who beamed. “I should go. Let you rest and fill them in on everything that happened today.”

He walked over to Sam, who jumped up immediately.

“Take care of her,” he said to Sam.

“I always do,” she replied with a smile.

He turned to me.

“Take care of yourself Addison. If you need anything, you know where I live.”

I gave a weak smile, actually saddened by the fact he was leaving me with Sean who was watching our little exchange with an eagle eye glare.

Kade turned, giving Sean a threatening once over before walking over to the room door.

“Kade,” I called out suddenly.

He turned toward back to me, his hand on the handle.

I swallowed down the million things I wanted to say, none of which would have been appropriate in front of Sam and Sean.

“Thank you. I don’t know if I would have gotten through this so well without your help.”

“Anytime,” he said with a wink and then he was gone.

It took all my might not to fan myself because I was pretty sure I was on the verge of spontaneous combustion. Luckily for me, Sam and I were sharing the same thoughts.

“Dear Jesus, that man is hotter than sin,” she said, fanning herself with a menu she lifted from my tray.

The look on my face must have been a dead giveaway because she strategically shifted beside me so that I got the benefit of the cool air she was fanning herself with. (See? I told you there was a reason why I loved this chick. She knew me like no one else.)

“Sam, could you give us a moment alone?” Sean asked sharply.

I about swallowed my tongue at the sound of his voice. Between his anger at Kade for being here, his anger at me for having him here, his general anger at Sam for simply living, and the fact that my head was currently ringing in the New Year, I knew I was in for an unpleasant conversation that would undoubtedly turn into a roaring match that would eventually end with me tucking my tail between my legs to avoid his condescending superiority complex he always demonstrated in those moments.

“No,” she simply replied.

He glared at her again.

“You can glare at me all you want, but my answer isn’t going to change. Despite your completely wrong and totally inaccurate opinion of me, I’m not scared of you, and I sure as hell am not going to let you be any more of an asshole to Addison then you’ve already been today. Count yourself lucky that her new friend was here or else I would have kicked your nuts into your throat just for breathing. You’re a fucking prick, I can’t stand you and Addison will eventually realize she can do so much better then deal with your holier than thou bullshit attitude. If you have something to say to her, you say it in front on me. And I’m warning you now, you say anything to insult her or demean her, and you and I will be having a private conversation in which I will not guarantee all of your body parts will return in the same order in which they left.”

I really, really love this woman.

“I’m not going to argue with you about this, Sean,” I said defeated. “I get you’re unhappy that he was here and I know you are extremely unhappy with me for calling you out in front of him and Sam, but you were being a complete jerk for no reason other than you felt like it.”

“I was being a ‘jerk’,” he said with air quotes, “because I get a call from Sam telling me you’re in the hospital…again…and I walk into my girlfriend’s hospital room to find you and some random guy cozied up together. How the hell am I supposed to feel Addison?”

Well, when he put it like that…

“They were not cozied up together,” Sam pointed out. “He was sitting in a chair next to the bed. That’s hardly the same thing as finding them cuddled together.”

Score one for Sam.

“Stay out of this,” he snapped.

She stood up and got in his face.

“Make me,” she said, going toe to toe with him.

“Knock it off you two. I’m in no state to be dealing with this right now,” I said crossly.

I had more than reached my boiling point and if not for the fact my head was currently being split in two, it would be me facing off with him.

Sam glared at him another minute before sitting back in the chair. She sat with her right leg crossed over her left, and it bounced furiously.

I sighed and rubbed my eyes.

“You don’t make this easy, Sean,” I said quietly.

He gave me a questioning look.

“Us. You don’t make this an easy thing to continue when you do things like this.”

“Things like what?” he asked.

“Overreacting. Accusing. Threatening,” I replied as I ticked them off my fingers. “And that was all in the span of two minutes. Not to mention the fact that you didn’t appear the least bit concerned about my wellbeing. Instead, you seemed annoyed you got dragged down here. How am I supposed to feel about that? Someone destroyed my home today and then attacked me. I was scared. I was injured. And I was all alone. When I finally did regain consciousness, I ran for help. The help I found was Kade. And he stayed with me through everything that followed. The police questioning me, the EMT’s examining my injuries. He took care of me when I passed out again, stayed with me when they stitched my head closed and then sat here so that I didn’t have to wake up alone.”

I shrugged. “You’re right. I don’t know him. He’s a random stranger that just happens to live in my building, but he’s also a random stranger that took being a Good Samaritan to a whole new level today when I needed it. I am thankful for everything that he did. And you should be thankful that someone was kind enough to be here for me when I needed them.”

“What you mean to say is that he was there for you when I wasn’t,” he spat angrily.

The last of my energy was gone and I knew no matter what I said, he wasn’t going to see my side of things. He wasn’t going to see any side other than what he already believed.

I ground my teeth together in frustration and looked over to Sam who was currently shooting daggers at Sean.

“Oh my god,” I finally managed to say. “How is it that I’m the one who was injured and attacked and you are making this about you?”

“Oh come off it Addison,” he shouted. “You and I both know you kept him around just to piss me off. I really don’t appreciate the fact you were rubbing him in my face. Rubbing in the fact that he was here and I wasn’t. And how dare that smug bastard stand there and tell me, ME, that I don’t have a right to know who the hell he is and why the hell he’s standing in my girlfriends room as if he has more of a right to be here than me.

“And I sure as hell don’t appreciate the fact you made me look like fool in front of him by calling me childish names and talking down to me like I’m some kind of an idiot. It’s time for you to grow up, Addison. You’re an adult who handles herself like a damn child, so yes, I was frustrated when I found out you had another accident because if there is one thing I can rely on you being your best at, it’s falling down the damn stairs.”

“That is it!” Sam screamed, jumping up from the chair and landing a solid push on Sean’s back. He was caught off guard at the momentum and fell over my legs on the bed. “I have fucking had it with you, you small dick bastard! You will not say another goddamn word or I swear to fucking God I will fucking rip your testicles off and shove them down your throat.

“You don’t deserve someone like Addison. She’s beautiful, intelligent, loving and loyal. She’s too damn good for you. You’re a fucking cancer and I am tired of watching you eat at her self-esteem. So what if she has her moments where she’s a little less than graceful? That’s called being human. Every human on the planet has those moments, except for pretentious pricks like you that have sticks rammed so far up their ass they can barely walk straight, let alone manage to fall down.”

Sean’s face was turning red and I knew he was seconds from blowing his top.

“Stop!” I yelled, and grabbed my head as the echo of my voice split my skull open again.

I took a deep breath, and gritted my teeth.

“Just stop,” I said in a near whisper.

Sean and Sam were facing off, both with their hands on their hips as they stood toe to toe. Sean had a good four inches on Sam, but that didn’t stop her. The look on her face was murderous and I could tell from Sean’s expression he was seconds away from throwing out another random insult. Either way, I was pretty damn certain I felt an ultimatum was coming.

“Sam, can you give us a minute alone please?” I asked quietly.

She broke her staring match with Sean and looked at me like I had just grown a second head.

“Please,” I said with a meaning I knew only she would understand.

She sucked her teeth and turned back to Sean. “You say or do anything else to upset her, it’s on.”

Sean continued to glare at her as she spun on her heel and marched out the door, but not before stopping to do the cliché ‘I’m watching you’ gesture by pointing to her eyes and then him. Of course, this being Sam, she followed it up with a single finger salute and left.

I had to bite my lips to keep from laughing.

He was rolling his eyes when he turned back to me.

“Really Addison, what exactly do you see in her?” he asked in annoyance.

“Sam isn’t the issue,” I said quietly.

“What is the issue then,” he replied, crossing his arms defensively over his chest.

“I think we both already know the answer to that question.”

He rolled his eyes again. “Why do you always have to be so overly dramatic?”

I counted to ten silently to keep myself from calling him another playground insult.

“You know there are some very big issues in this relationship. None of which include Sam, Kade, or the fact that I am a total walking disaster at times. And yet, you’re always so quick to blame all of our problems on someone or something else.”

He sighed, pinching the bride of his nose like he had a headache coming on.

“I really don’t think now is the time or the place to have this conversation,” he said in a restrained voice.

“Really? When is? Because every time I try to talk to you about this, you find some reason to avoid it. Avoiding our issues aren’t going to make them go away. They aren’t going to change who we are or how we feed off each other. Ignoring them isn’t going to change the fact that…I want out.”

I looked away, unable to look Sean in the face as I finally said what I had been thinking but lying to myself about for quite some time.

For such a long time I had been deluding myself that Sean was what I wanted. Sure, he could be sweet and attentive, but those moments could never outweigh the other times. Those other tense moments where he made me feel, and often told me, that I didn’t measure up. When he made me feel like an idiot for trying to stand on my own two feet when I had money at my fingertips.

In all fairness Sean had made attempts to accept me for how I was early on in our relationship, but it hadn’t taken long before his overbearing personality kicked in and he tried to control who I was in much the same way he tried to control all other aspects of his life. Like himself, he wanted me to be perfect, like some 1950’s housewife. Unfortunately that didn’t mesh well for me. I was fetching no man’s slippers.

Lately things had really been falling apart. We had been spending less and less time together, and in those times we did spend together, we were at each other’s throats. I knew why he didn’t break it off with me, despite the fact I knew he also wasn’t happy. Sean wasn’t a quitter. He didn’t come from a family of wealth, or make his own wealth, by easily giving up on things. I was just another project that he wasn’t willing to quit because it would mean that something defeated him and Sean had never been defeated.

Now was the time for me to finally be honest and stomp down the urge to see the good in every situation. My optimism was a downfall that constantly got me in trouble.

Sean didn’t say anything, but watched me with a guarded expression. I couldn’t tell what he was thinking and it made me nervous.

“I’m sorry,” I said quietly after a moment of silence.

“You’re sorry,” he barked furiously.

I jumped at the expected, and yet quite unexpected, outburst.

“You think you can just suddenly decide that you’re done with me, and that a simple ‘I’m sorry’ is going to make everything okay?”

I felt my heckles rising. I was done trying to be the calm one.

“Yes, Sean. That’s exactly what I think.”

He shook his head and paced back and forth beside the bed.

“The answer is no,” he said after a moment of silent marching.

To quote Scooby-Doo: Ruh Ro!

“What do you mean ‘no’?” I asked with trepidation.

“I mean no, we’re not through. I’m not going to let you throw away this past year because of some stupid argument we’re having or because Sam has been filling your heads with random idea. You have a head injury and are in no frame of mind to make this kind of decision.”

Did he just…did he really just say…Oh. No. He. Didn’t.

“I don’t think I’m the one with the head injury right now because I’m saying plain as day and fully coherently that I want out of this unhealthy relationship. I am telling you unequivocally that I do not want to be with you. And I am telling you in one hundred percent certainty that ending things with you are in my best interest.”

“No,” he replied simply.

I bit my tongue hard enough I tasted blood.

“Well, I hate to be the one to break it to you Sean, but you do not get to decide if I stay in a relationship or not. Today demonstrated what I have known for a very long time, but have never wanted to openly admit to myself because I viewed it as a personal weakness. A shortcoming. But the truth is I was never cut out for this relationship. It became too intense too soon. In the beginning it was great. And don’t get me wrong, I loved those times when I was the center of your world, but all of that came at a high price when you started expecting me to be someone I’m not.

“I don’t live off my parent’s money. I have no intention of dipping into any trust fund to finance my life or my future. I like living on my own. I like supporting myself. I like the fact that I don’t have to rely on anyone or anything if I don’t want to. That’s a huge part of who I am and a part you have been trying to tear down since the beginning.

“I had hoped you would eventually change. That you would eventually be proud of me for everything I have done on my own, but it’s never good enough. And today? When you walked in…after everything I had been through...you couldn’t stop yourself from being an uptight and pretentious asshole for two seconds to ask me how I was feeling. Instead you rudely asked me ‘what happened now’? Who does that? Does that sound like the first thing a man should say to the woman he supposedly loves after he’s found out she’s been viciously attacked her in own home? No! That is the sign of a completely dysfunctional relationship.

“And believe me, after living with my parents for almost thirty years, I can attest to dysfunction when I see it, and you know what? Maybe someday I will end up in another dysfunctional relationship, and I’m okay with that, as long as he actually gives a crap about me and not his money, his appearance or his reputation. As long as he accepts me for who I am, I don’t give a shit if he walks dogs for a living. Because I would much rather struggle to pay the rent and be blissfully happy then live above my means with a man who could care less about what happens to me from one day to the next until he can pencil me into his busy schedule and then lavish me with gifts and a few hours of his time, all in a shallow attempt to keep me around.”

My tirade had taken a life of its own and I was out of breath by time I reached the end.

At some point, Sean had stopped pacing and stood by my side, mouth hanging open in disbelief. Clearly it wasn’t because I was currently in the running to win any beauty contests so I figured it had a lot to do with the fact that I was for once being honest about how I felt and how our relationship didn’t measure up and he didn’t know what to say. One of Sean’s charms was his ability to be able to talk his way out of anything, because he was damn good at preemptively determining what people were going to say so that he could remain one step ahead.

He glared silently at me for a minute before turning on his heel and walking out.

I breathed a sigh of relief. Relief over the fact that I had finally done what I had wanted to do for so long, but had constantly talked myself out of doing. Relief that breaking things off didn’t really result in another argument or lecture. Relief that everything was just finally over and finally I felt like I could breathe again.

Sam walked back in a minute later.

“You okay?” she asked, pulling the chair close before plopping down. “I saw Sean go stomping out of here. I don’t think I’ve ever seen him look so pissed off before.”

I sighed and rubbed my eyes. “Yeah, he seemed pretty upset when he left.”

“Seemed,” she snickered. “Since when has Sean not told you exactly how he’s feeling?”

“Since I broke up with him in the most ungracious manner…which means I basically told him he was pretentious dick and that our relationship was so dysfunctional that I would rather live on the streets then be with him. Or something like that. I don’t really remember now. The meds are finally starting to kick in,” I said with a sloppy smile.

She sat forward so fast she almost fell out of the chair.

“Seriously?” she asked with a grin.

“You could at least pretend not to be so happy about it,” I said as I sagged back against the pillows.

She shrugged. “True. I could, but what fun would that be?”

I rolled my eyes.

“You don’t seem particularly upset about it,” she stated matter-of-fact.

I shrugged. “Does it make me a horrible person to say that I’m not?”

“Under normal circumstances, I would say yes. But considering who you were dating, I would say you would have to be crazy to feel anything but relief.”

“It wasn’t that bad,” I said defensively.

Her only response was a raised brow.

“Okay, so maybe it was that bad. But let’s not make it seem like he was abusing me or something. It wasn’t that bad.”

“No, he just tore down your self-esteem and had you live your life around his schedule.”

I closed my eyes and snuggled under the blankets. “Give him some credit. He was very attentive to me when we were together. He even lavished me with expensive gifts.”

She nodded. “Uh huh. What I heard was that he was overly attentive every couple of months because normally that’s how long you went without seeing him because of his business trips, and generally it only lasted a night before he was off again. If I didn’t know better, I would actually think you were his kept woman.”

“Sam,” I said, staring at her in horror.

She shrugged. “What? You know it’s true. I told you every chance I could. Just because you didn’t want to hear it didn’t make it any less true.”

I snorted at her response, mostly because what she said was true and I didn’t want to admit it.

Yes, she was correct in the idea that I had started to feel like the other woman, even though we had been seeing each other exclusively for a year. Deep down, I knew Sean had been faithful but it didn’t help our relationship that I always felt like I was around more for convenience because he didn’t really want to put in much effort. And stupidly I was always willing to drop everything at a moment’s notice.

The idea that our relationship could be summed up so crudely really annoyed me. I had done nothing to change the dynamic of our relationship and I wondered if deep down inside it was because I secretly liked the arrangement, or because I had been in that type of relationship my whole life so it came naturally. My father was that exact same type and my mom was fine with it as long as she maintained all the perks. Like my mother, I had sat back quietly and let him call all the shots and keep me on a string because those moments we were together he made me feel like a queen.

Sigh. I tried really hard to convince myself that it was all worth it and that our relationship was healthy and strong enough to get over it. A year later, we were still at square one.

Surprisingly it had only really been in the last few months that we were constantly at each other’s throats. Probably because right before we hit our one year anniversary our parents had been pressuring both of us to get married. It’s what was expected of us and soon after they had openly shared their unsought after opinion, Sean started acting weirder than usual. More uptight. More annoyed. He went on longer trips, spent more time at work, spent fewer days or nights with me until I was lucky enough to have one night a week of his attention. The really bad part was that it was the other days I enjoyed the most. Spending time with Sean, even one night, had become a chore that I didn’t enjoy. I suspected shortly after the idea of marriage started floating around, he freaked. I didn’t take offense. If I did, I would have to explain how the idea of marrying him had me breaking out in hives every time it crossed my mind. And I don’t mean that figuratively.

I looked back over to Sam, mouth open, ready to come up with some witty, but completely BS response, but she held up her hand to stop me from interrupting.

“Don’t. Don’t even try to deny it. I know you like no one else. You chose to ignore it for the sake of your relationship because he had torn down your self-esteem for so long you thought you couldn’t find better.”

I blew out the breath.

“Sometimes I hate when you’re right,” I grumbled quietly.

She grabbed my hand and gave it a small squeeze. “Oh Sweetie. You act like there are times I’m ever wrong.”

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