December 12th 2017
Audrey absolutely hated herself for going back to him, but she loved him. Or, she thought she did. She wasn’t quite sure anymore.
But the fact that she couldn’t stop thinking about him had to count for something, right? The nagging voice inside her head said no, but she chose to ignore it. It was easier that way.
It had been less than 2 weeks since she had left him and here she was, standing outside their marital home. Her nerves got the best of her as she stood in the driveway with no bags or luggage as she hadn’t intended to come here when she got into her car a few hours ago.
There were no other cars in the drive way and when no on opened the door after she had rang the doorbell, she determined that he simply wasn’t home.
She couldn’t help but wonder if he was with Jane right now.
When she rang the doorbell for a second time and still no one opened it, she sighed dejectedly and turned around. She had wasted hours of her day to drive over and see a man who wanted absolutely nothing to do with her; her ex-husband at that. And if that wasn’t bad enough, he wasn’t even home.
How pathetic of her.
In all the shows and movies that she had watched, she always berated the women for coming back to their ex despite how abusive and/or terrible they were but now, she was one of them.
With her head bowed down in both disappointment and shame, Audrey reached out to open the door and step back into her car when suddenly, her ears perked up at the soft rumble of an engine coming towards the direction of the house.
Could it be him?
She knew that it was highly unlikely that an unknown vehicle which she could only hear – as it hadn’t approached the drive way yet and she couldn’t see over the other houses – would be her ex-husband or even coming to the house, but nonetheless, she held her breath and crossed her fingers, desperately wanting it to be him.
When a familiar car pulled up behind hers in the driveway, she released her breath and let go of the car door. Her breath faltered as she cautiously approached the vehicle, her eyes locked with his, unable to look away.
“Kade. What are you doing here?” She stared at him, unblinking. While his familiar face wasn’t completely unwelcome, this was not the brother whom she wished to see right now.
Calvin’s brother frowned and got out of his car before closing the door behind him.
“I’m here to check up on Calvin. What are you doing here?” He asked, but then rushed to continue before she could say anything. “Are you two getting back together?” He questioned, seemingly unhappy with that thought. He the pulled a face, as if the question had left a rotten taste in his mouth.
“No.” She shook her head. “Where’s Calvin?”
“He isn’t home?” Kade questioned and stared over her shoulder at the house, though he didn’t seem all that surprised.
Again, she shook her head.
“What are you doing here Audrey?” He asked when his gaze returned to her.
Once again, she struggled to read the expression on his face. While his words and tone of voice weren’t particularly malicious or unfriendly towards her – in fact, the opposite as he seemed a little relieved to see her – she couldn’t help but feel that he didn’t want her here.
“I came to see Calvin.” She admitted quietly, suddenly feeling very embarrassed.
Why had she thought this had been a good idea in the first place? There was a reason she had given him the divorce and left everything behind. Why was she so desperate to sabotage herself and everything that she had been trying to work through this past two weeks by going back to him?
How was that helping herself in anyway?
The short answer was that it wasn’t. Instead of helping herself, she was making things more difficult as going back to see Calvin was akin to taking a thousand steps back, even more when compared to the little progress that she had made.
“That makes me and you both.” He chuckled quietly before glancing behind him at his car.
When he turned back to face her, his eyes looked conflicted.
“Do you want to get a coffee with me?”
“Coffee?” She sounded aloud; her mind perplexed.
She had assumed that there would be a lot of things Kade would want to say to her now that she was stood in front of him, but asking her to accompany him for a cup of coffee hadn’t even made the list.
He nodded warily with a hopeful look in his eyes, almost as if he feared that she would deny his request.
“Please.” He pleaded with her.
When after a moment, she nodded her head, a small smile graced his lips. After they had decided to visit a local coffee shop a few streets over, he drove ahead of her while she followed behind him in her car.
Audrey ordered a latte for herself while Kade got a coffee and a slice of cake. He had insisted that she get one for herself, his treat, but she wasn’t in the mood for food.
When she had first driven down here, she fully intended to beg Calvin to take her back but once she stepped out of the car and gazed upon what once used to her home, she started having second, third and then fourth thoughts. She almost had to force herself to knock on the door the first time and while she had anticipated that it was Calvin pulling up to the driveway and not Kade, she couldn’t help but feel relieved.
“Now that you’ve got your coffee, was there something you wanted to say or?” Her voice trailed off into a question.
Kade chuckled, though the sound of it was strained and far from humorous.
“I’m assuming you’re staying with your brother?”
“Yes.” She nodded. She had temporarily moved in with Isaac and his wife Claire, but after today, she was determined to get away from this city. There was nothing but sadness and gloom for her here anymore, despite her only family residing here.
“Ever since I found out you left Calvin, I wanted nothing more than to reach out to you but I feared that you wouldn’t want to speak to me.”
He wasn’t wrong about that last part. Audrey wanted nothing to do with Calvin’s family, even if they hadn’t directly been involved in the trouble and pain that he had inflicted upon her. And to think that this was the kind of man she had tried to come back to.
Audrey never thought she would feel like this, but she was grateful for Kade for showing up when he did. If he didn’t, she didn’t know what she would have done.
“Why would you want to speak to me?” She asked, confused.
“Just hear me out, first.” He smiled softly at her, warming his hands around his hot coffee mug. “I’m sorry for everything that you’d been through, for everything that my brother had put you through. You didn’t deserve any of it and I don’t want you to blame yourself, because none of it is your fault. I don’t care what my brother says but I know that not all of it is your fault.”
Audrey’s eyebrows shot up in surprise but she held herself back, as per his request. However, she hadn’t been aware that any of his family knew about the troubles of her and Calvin’s marriage, and had no doubt about the fact that Calvin would let all the blame fall on her for the divorce. Not that she could bring herself to care anymore. As fond of his family as she was, they were his family and not hers. Calvin had made sure to point that out to her on numerous occasions.
“I should have done something as soon as I found out how my brother was treating you. I should have tried harder to get him to stop sleeping around, and I shouldn’t have hidden all his wrongdoings and mistakes from everyone.” He sighed and bowed his head in shame. “Maybe things would have been different today if I spoke up and made him face all the mistakes that he had made. Maybe you wouldn’t be suffering like this today if only I didn’t try to hide his faults.”
“There wasn’t anything you could have done.” She shook her head, suddenly feeling conflicted.
In front of her sat Calvin’s brother, Kade, apologising to her for his brother’s actions and foul, disgusting behaviour towards her yet she couldn’t bring herself to feel any animosity or hatred towards him. Looking and speaking to him now, she could tell that Kade was nothing like his brother and couldn’t help but think how lucky his wife is to have him as a husband.
At that, she sighed sadly but allowed him to continue as it appeared that Kade had quite a lot left to say.
“There was so much that I could have done over the years, but I always listened to him and chose to keep my nose out of your marriage.”
“Kade, none of this is your fault. There was absolutely nothing that you could have done to change things. Whatever happened, it happened between Calvin and I, and we can’t possibly blame anyone but ourselves.” She sighed sadly and allowed her eyes to trail down to the table, afraid that if she looked at him any longer then she would burst into tears.
As different as the Paynter brothers were in terms of their personality, they looked so similar and just gazing upon his brother hurt her. Looking at Kade reminded her of the man that ruined her.
“You can’t blame yourself for anything that happened.”
“What?” She questioned, her head rushing up to stare at him, confused with the tone of voice that he had used.
“I know my brother and even from his version of the story, I know that everything that went wrong during your marriage is his fault, and I can only imagine just how worse everything would be if I were to hear it from your point of view.” He sighed, his lips turned down in a deep frown, misery swirling around in his eyes. “Don’t blame yourself for anything because that’s not fair. None of what happened is your fault, so don’t burden yourself into thinking that it is. My brother had made his bed and as much as I love him, he needs to lay in it. He’s done so many things wrong and it’s only fair if he were to bare the consequences of his actions. He shouldn’t be able to get away with all that he’s done to you.”
Audrey blinked at him, both shocked and taken aback by his words having not expected Calvin’s brother to be on her side, especially not to this extent.
“I was planning on going back to him today.”
“You can’t go back to him, Audrey.” He sighed. “Whatever you do, just don’t go back to him. Please.”
“He hates me that much?” She chuckled, the sound of it dark and heavy.
“I don’t think Calvin hates you, though for a long time he thought he did. All for childish reasons which he could have solved and worked past if he actually sat down and listened to what you had to say.” He shook his head and sighed heavily. “I’ve spoken to my brother and right now, he wants nothing more than to get you back, but I also know that with the off chance that you do take him back, he’s just going to make your life a living hell all over again.”
“I did plan on going back to him today but when I pulled up outside the house, I became so unsure, like I didn’t know what I was doing there.” She admitted honestly, surprised with herself for opening up to Kade. “I felt like I was making a big mistake so I’m glad that he wasn’t home and that you showed up when you did. If I ran into Calvin today, I don’t know what I would have done.”
“I’m so sorry for everything that you’ve been through, and I’m sorry for not stepping up to help you.” Kade bowed his head in shame, deeply regretting of his actions or in this special case, for all the things that he didn’t do.
Audrey’s eyebrows shot up in surprise when Kade reached out and placed his hand on hers, but when she looked up, she saw nothing but sorrow and repentance in his eyes, so she allowed it.
“I’m not sure where you’re going next or which direction your life is headed, but I wish you the absolute best. I sincerely do. And if you ever need help, or even just someone to talk to, give me a call.” He slid a paper across the table and when she glanced down at it, her eyes fell on the 7 digits. “I can’t fix my brother’s mistakes and I don’t intend do. I will be there for him because he’s my brother, but I also will be there for you if you need me to. Just whatever you do, please don’t go back to Calvin. You deserve so much better.”
Audrey placed her other hand on top of his, and gave it a gentle squeeze, thankful for this conversation she hadn’t realised she needed.
Next chapter will be up on TUESDAY!
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