- Beautiful Redemption
“Bad idea,” Thomas said.
“You don’t think he should tell her?” I asked.
“Not if he wants to keep her.”
“I didn’t cheat on her,” Taylor said. “She dumped me.”
Thomas looked at him, impatient. “She doesn’t care that she broke up with you. You were supposed to be sitting at home, thinking of ways to get her back.”
Taylor shook his head. “I was, and then I started feeling like I was going to go crazy, so I bought a plane ticket to San Diego.”
Thomas shook his head. “When are you dumbasses going to learn that you can’t go off and sleep with someone the second you’re rejected? It’s not going to make you feel better. Nothing will make you feel better but time.”
“Is that what made you feel better?” Taylor asked.
My breath caught.
Thomas craned his neck and glanced back at me. “Maybe now isn’t the best time, Taylor.”
“Sorry. I just…I need to know—in case she doesn’t show. I can’t feel like that again, man. It feels like death. Liis, do you know how to get over someone?”
“I, um…I’ve yet to have my heart broken.”
“Really?” Taylor asked, looking at me in the rearview mirror.
I nodded. “I didn’t date much in high school, but it’s avoidable. One can analyze behaviors and observe markers that tip off the end of any relationship. It’s not that hard to calculate risk.”
“Whoa,” Taylor said, looking to Thomas. “You’ve got your hands full with this one.”
“Liis has yet to figure out that it’s not about math,” Thomas said with a smile. “Love isn’t about predictions or behavioral markers. It just happens, and you have no control.”
I frowned. In the last three weeks, I’d had a glimpse of what Thomas described, and it was becoming obvious that it was going to be something I would have to get used to.
“So, you’ve only dated guys who didn’t make you feel too much,” Taylor said.
“Definitely no one I was…invested in.”
“Are you invested now?” Taylor asked.
Even from the back, I could see the grin on Thomas’s face.
“You’re going to let your little brother do your dirty work?” I asked.
“Just answer the question,” Thomas said.
“I’m invested,” I said.
Taylor and Thomas traded glances.
Then, Thomas turned to me. “If it makes you feel better, I’ve run the numbers. I’m not going to break your heart.”
“Oh,” Taylor said, “intellectual foreplay. I don’t know what the fuck y’all are talking about, but I’m feeling a little uncomfortable right now.”
Thomas smacked the back of Taylor’s head.
“Hey! There will be no molesting the driver on this trip!” Taylor said, rubbing the sting from the back of his head.
The plane left the runway just after sunrise. Flight was an amazing thing. In the morning, we could see our breath, and just being outside had hurt our skin. In the afternoon, we were peeling off layers and putting on sunscreen to shield our faces from the bright Caribbean sun.
Thomas opened the sliding glass door and stepped out onto the balcony of our second-floor room at The Ritz-Carlton where Travis and Abby were getting married—again.
I followed Thomas, resting my hands on the railing and scanning the scenery below. The grounds had been meticulously kept, and there were so many colors and sounds. The birds were calling to each other, but I couldn’t see them. The muggy air made taking a breath feel like effort, but I loved it.
“It’s beautiful,” I said. “Look through the trees. You can see the ocean. I would live here in a heartbeat if the Bureau had an office here.”
“We could always retire here,” Thomas said.
I looked up at him.
He cringed. “Too honest?”
“Is that what that was?”
He shrugged. “Just thinking out loud.” He bent down to peck my cheek and then returned to the room. “I’m going to hop in the shower. Wedding is in ninety minutes.”
I turned to take in the scenery again, breathing in the salty thick air. I had just agreed to try a relationship with him, and he was talking about the rest of our lives.
I followed Thomas into the room, but he was already in the shower. I knocked on the door and then opened it.
“Don’t say it,” Thomas said, scrubbing his hair.
“What you’re about to say. You’re overanalyzing.”
I frowned. “That’s part of who I am. That’s why I’m good at my job.”
“And I accept that. What I won’t accept is you using it to push me away. I know what you’re doing.”
Anger, humiliation, and devastation hit me at once. “And I accept that you’re gifted at seeing people for who they really are but not when you point it in my direction and avoid using that talent on yourself.”
He didn’t respond.
“We’ve already been over this.”
“What Taylor said this morning, about how to get over someone—”
“You don’t even know what I’m going to ask.”
“Yes, I do. You want to know if I am using you to get over Camille. The answer is no.”
“Then, how did you get over her? You weren’t over her before.”
He was quiet for a moment, letting the water run forward over his scalp and down his face. “You can’t just stop loving someone. I don’t know how to explain it to you if you’ve never been in love.”
“Who said I’ve never been in love?”
“You did—when you said you’ve never had your heart broken.”
“A lot of people on this earth have been in love and haven’t had their hearts broken.”
“But you’re not one of them.”
I winced. “Are you over her?”
He hesitated. “It’s hard to explain.”
“It’s a yes or no question.”
He wiped his face and opened the door. “Baby, for the tenth time…I don’t want to be with her. I want you.”
“Would you still be with her if Trent hadn’t come along?”