Two weeks later . . .
“Where are we now?” I asked Tripp as I got off the back of his bike—without his help this time.
“What have you been doing back there? Sleeping? We’ve passed several signs announcing our arrival at the home of the King,” Tripp said as he grabbed our bags and headed for the hotel to get us a room.
“The King?” I asked, following him.
“Yeah, you know . . . hunka hunka burnin’ love,” Tripp said.
“Elvis? “You mean we’re in Memphis?”
“Yep,” Tripp said as he pushed open the door to the hotel and held it for me so I could go inside. Our first night I had tried to stay in my own room, but the night terrors had come fast and hard. Since then, we got rooms with two beds and Tripp helped me when the dreams came, which was every night so far. We were both so tired this week that most nights we ended up falling asleep in the same bed once the terror was over, sleeping that way through the rest of the night.
“One room, two beds,” Tripp told the lady, and she glanced over at me, then back at Tripp and flashed him a flirty smile. He got that a lot. When females realized we weren’t together they started throwing themselves at him. He ignored it for the most part. Sometimes there would be a girl he couldn’t ignore. He would flirt back and take her number, which I thought was pointless since we weren’t coming back. But he said he might just come back one day.
Tripp got the key to our room and we headed to the elevator. I didn’t feel like talking much. I had called Braden earlier and she’d told me that Woods still hadn’t called her. That bothered me. I should have been relieved. But I wasn’t. The longer I was away from him without his calling Tripp or Braden, the more I realized this was what he wanted. Deep down, I’d given him his out. I didn’t want to think about his being in pain. It made it easier to function each day knowing that the never-ending ache in my heart was something I suffered alone.
“You’re quiet today,” Tripp said as the elevator door opened and we stepped out onto the second floor. That was as high as Tripp would go. He had a thing about being too high up in a hotel. He said that if the place caught on fire he wanted to know he didn’t have too many flights of stairs to take to get the hell out. I hadn’t really thought about it but he had, apparently.
“Just not in the mood to talk,” I told him.
“Your talk with Braden go okay?” he asked.
Sure. It had gone fine. She hadn’t brought up Woods. She had only asked me where we had gone and what we were doing. Nothing more. “Yeah, it was fine.”
Tripp opened the door to our room and glanced back at me. “You okay if I go out and get a drink tonight?”
This was code for “You okay if I go out and get laid tonight?” He didn’t know that I had this figured out and I preferred that we keep it that way.
Every night he went out for a drink he came back around two in the morning smelling like perfume. He would have made a horrible cheating husband.
“I want to order a pizza and watch cable. Go, do what you want,” I told him as I walked into the room.
“Thanks,” he said, stepping in behind me.
“No problem. I need a shower. You leaving now?” I asked, taking my bag from his hands and heading for the bathroom.
“Yeah, I think so.”
“See you in the morning,” I told him. I stepped into the bathroom and closed the door behind me. I waited until I heard the hotel room door close and he had sufficient time to get away before I let the tears come. I’d been holding them back for hours. Crying didn’t make the pain easier, but for that one moment I could lose myself in my sorrow. I didn’t have to hide it. I could let it out freely.
Deep down, I knew what I had done was right. I’d let Woods go. My fear that I would hurt him no longer haunted me. He was okay. He was living his life and he would find that someone who could be his perfect fit. What we’d had was never going to be perfect. Love should be simple. I wasn’t simple.
Woods deserved someone like Blaire Finlay. He needed a woman by his side who could pull out a gun and take care of herself. A wife who could give him babies that he could love and know they would be mentally healthy. The fear that their mother could snap would never be there.
I would never be a Blaire. I wanted to be more than I wanted my next breath, but it would never happen. I wasn’t Woods’s simple perfection. He would find it one day with someone else. Maybe one day I would find a way to be happy again. Maybe living life would help me find my place.
I refused to believe I would end up damaged like my mother. I might not have been wife-and-mother material, but I was a person. I could be something. I could make a difference in this world. I just had to find out what that something was. Thinking about Woods and his disinterest in finding me wasn’t doing me any good. Crying wasn’t healing me.
It was time I healed myself. I didn’t need a man to hold my hand and cuddle me. I needed to do this on my own. Woods had wanted to help me and I’d wanted someone to cling to.
Tripp and I had pooled our money together and it had been enough for a while, but it wouldn’t last forever. It was time Tripp went back to his place in South Carolina and I found a life. One that I lived alone. One in which I depended on myself.
I stood up and turned on the shower and undressed. I would wash away my tears and I wouldn’t allow myself to do this again. There was a bravery inside of me that I was going to find and nurture.