My heart drops and my stomach plunges to my toes. Right when everything is finally all out in the open with Leo, I’m standing here in front of him while he waits for me to admit I don’t have any more secrets, wondering if my best friend could have been the one responsible for this whole mess. I can’t bring myself to tell him this, no matter how much it will kill me not to. I can’t hurt Emma Jo like that. I can’t put that seed of doubt in Leo’s mind and force him to investigate her. I won’t do that to her.

“At least answer this,” Leo finally speaks when he realizes I’m not going to. “Were you really never engaged to that jackass, and did you really not spend the last week while you were here with me planning your wedding?”

I let out the breath I was holding when he asks me something a hell of a lot easier than what I thought he would.

“I swear on Baby Cecil’s life, I was never engaged to Benjamin, and I’d rather shove a rusty fork in my eye and live without coffee forever than plan a wedding with him,” I reply.

Leo sighs with relief and I’m so happy the conversation has moved away from murderers that I continue talking without thinking. Something I should never be allowed to do and honestly, I don’t understand why someone hasn’t assigned me an adult so I can be supervised at all times.

“I’m sorry I didn’t tell you about Benjamin, but honestly, I didn’t see the point. We broke up before I came home, and it’s not like this thing is serious and we need to tell each other about every person we’ve ever dated before,” I say with a nervous laugh, remembering the whole ‘falling in love with you’ thing he said inside all over again and suddenly feeling like someone is choking me.

Leo is dangerously quiet for a few seconds, and I quickly realize I should have just kept my mouth shut because every time I open it around him, I seem to say something stupider than the last time.

“Who said what we have isn’t serious?” he finally asks.

“Well, I mean, you never said it WAS serious, sooooo…,” I trail off, once again ignoring the falling in love with you thing because holy shit! I’m pretty sure my best friend might have killed her husband and all of these monumental things are happening all at once and I’m in a full-blown panic right now.

“I kind of thought I made myself clear when I said I was falling in love with you just a few minutes ago,” he replies. “I didn’t say it sooner because I knew it would freak you out.”

He gets right up in front of me, his body as close to mine as he can get without actually touching me, and I hold my breath for whatever he’s about to say next, knowing it’s probably going to ruin me all over again.

“I was serious the first time I saw you in that hospital room, even though you didn’t remember me. I was serious the first time you found out who I was and couldn’t stop picturing me naked.”

I want to roll my eyes, but my face is frozen in shock, so I stand here like a mute as he continues.

“I was serious the first time I kissed you, I was serious every time I covered for you and put my job on the line when I thought you might have known something about Jed’s death, and I was serious the first time I buried myself inside you and every single time after that. I’ve been serious this entire fucking time, so now it’s your turn. Are you going to freak out, or are you going to tell me you feel the exact same way?”

I can’t speak and I can’t stop the tears no matter how much I want to. I need to say something; I know I need to say something but I have no idea what the hell to say. I don’t know what to do and I don’t know how to make such a life-altering decision after a handful of days when my best friend might be going to prison. I know I should articulate all of this, but I can’t. I can’t do anything but stand here in front of him, ripping both of our hearts in half because I’m scared and I’m a coward.

“That’s what I thought. Have a nice life back in Chicago,” Leo mutters.

He turns and walks away from me, crossing the street to his car, and I just watch him go. I stand here in the middle of the yard and I let him go, knowing without a doubt that I am now officially and completely ruined.


Coffee: A warm, delicious alternative to hating everybody every morning forever.

—Coffee Mug

“You have to get out of bed, this is very unhealthy,” Emma Jo complains, moving over to the window and opening the blinds.

“GAAAAAAAAAAH, CLOSE THEM, IT HURTS!” I scream, covering my hands over my eyes like a vampire being burned by the sun.

I feel like the undead right now, considering I’ve done nothing but curl up under the covers and cry for the last week. Okay, that’s not true. I got up a few times, once to take a shower and another time to go down, grab Baby Cecil and bring him up to bed with me.

“Also, this is a fire hazard,” Emma Jo scolds, moving Baby Cecil from the top of the bed to the nightstand, pushing aside the twenty or so dirty coffee cups that litter the surface.

“But he loves me unconditionally and never lets me down. I need him,” I whine, reaching for the machine as Emma Jo smacks my hand, unplugs it, and scoops it up into her arms instead.

“And if you want him, you’re going to have to come downstairs into the kitchen and drink your coffee like a normal person.”

I huff, pushing myself up to lean back against the headboard and cross my arms over my chest.

“You’re mean, and I don’t like you very much right now.” Copyright 2016 - 2024