Breaking Love Page 83

“And you weren’t going to return to Seattle either,” I continued, not really requiring an answer. “You were going to run.”

“Don’t be ridiculous.”

“I’m not so ridiculous. What is ridiculous is why you would condemn me for being engaged when you were engaged, too and for the very same reasons.”

“I never agreed to marry him.”

“So did you run?”

“I didn’t, Dash. I—”

“You did!” I roared. I swear my voice could have shaken the world.

“Why would I run?” she screamed back. “It was a stupid idea. Where would I have gone? There was nowhere for me to go!” Her screams turned into sobs, never realizing she had confessed. One thing that hadn’t changed in the week since I found her in the hospital was how I hung on her every word.

“You thought your father would make you marry him, so you ran, and you came to say goodbye, didn’t you?”

“Yes,” she cried, finally admitting the truth. I should have felt victorious, but I didn’t. Like I’d said… I was dead inside.

I looked into her eyes and held them. I needed her to know what she did to me. “Well, then I guess this is it.”

I saw the shift in her eyes. The fear that was in them was painful to watch, but I couldn’t bring myself to console her. “What are you saying?”

“I’m saying I can’t survive you walking away for a second time. This time it could be for ten years or twenty.” It could be forever.

“What are you saying?”

“I’m saying that I’m choosing myself this time. I’m saying that I’m the one walking away.”


“Goodbye, Willow.” Her name tasted bitter on my tongue, but I couldn’t bring myself to call her Angel anymore.




I STARED DOWN at the little white stick and shook it as if that would really change the result.

This could not be happening.



I was positively pregnant.

There was no doubt about it.

I had effectively ruined my life and that of my baby. I could just add it to the list of things I had ruined in the last four years, including my only true chance at love.

When I decided to drop out of school, I had no direction. I figured if I couldn’t pursue my dreams there was no point in trying at all so I packed up my things while, in the back of my mind, I knew there was nowhere for me to go. I couldn’t show up to my mother’s home a college dropout. She would be even less accepting of my failure to finish school than she was of my dream. So I did what I had never been brave enough to do before. I found my father.

He wasn’t particularly hard to find. My mother had never bothered to hide exactly who he was or where he lived. She’d even gone so far as to give me a paternity test she illegally managed to have taken without his consent. It’s almost as if she needed me to hate him as much as she did.

Ironically, the only person I hated in the end was her.

I resented her.

I mourned the loss of a real mother-daughter relationship.

Six months later, I accepted for what it was and always will be only to realize I was too late.

When my mother couldn’t get her way with me, she did the unforgivable and gave Pepé away to an animal shelter three towns away. I didn’t find out until three months after arriving in Seattle when Buddy finally came home and grilled her about him.

I hated her for what she did but not as much as I did for leaving him behind. I still had no idea what became of him. He was six years old and reaching the end of his life span and I would never get to say goodbye.

My father had done all he could to break me out of the depression the loss of Pepe caused but to no avail. Sadly, my father and I had no real connection. I could tell he cared for me as I did him but a part of me felt as if it were too late to cultivate a bond expected between a father and daughter. After nearly four years of trying, we’d failed but I couldn’t deny he’d been supportive ever since I showed up on his doorstep uninvited.

The only hiccup had been when he attempted to marry me off to a business associate’s son. He felt it was his right and duty since I wasn’t enrolled in school. After his attempt to play matchmaker, I convinced him to find me a position and so he did as an assistant at my fake father in law’s firm. There I met Thomas, my enforced intended, and we became good friends. However, that solution lasted only about three years when my father’s insistence became a demand. Everyone had been on board except me.

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