That late morning, she’d developed a cough.
“Do you need me to look at the engine?” Finn asked, but I wouldn’t look at him. I couldn’t, not after he snapped at me and made me feel awful just for being me.
“No. I’m fine,” I told him.
“Will that thing even make it all the way to Chester? You should’ve gotten a rental car and trashed that piece of junk.”
“It’s fine,” I told him, turning the key and hearing that nasty sound once more.
“Gracelyn—” he started, and my nerves were at the edge of panic.
“Just go, Finn. You made it perfectly clear that you don’t want to be here, okay? So, just go.” Unless you stayed…
He frowned and stood a bit taller. “All right, I guess I’ll go.”
“Yes. You should.” Unless you stay…
I was pathetic.
His lips turned down. “Bye.” He left me there along with our history, closing the door on the chapter of our story, one I was still trying to rewrite.
My chest tightened, and I called after him. “Finley,” I shouted, making him turn my way.
My fingers wrapped around the steering wheel. Those fighting words in my mind wanted to escape. They wanted my lips to be their battleground, but I couldn’t do it. I couldn’t beg my husband to stay with me, not after all we’d been through. “How did this happen? Where did we go wrong?”
“I don’t know.” He grimaced. “Maybe some things just aren’t meant to be forever.”
But what if we were meant to be, and instead of trying to pull our boat back to shore, we were willingly letting it slip away?
Tears fell from my eyes, and I hated that he saw them, but at the same time, I needed him to witness my pain, to witness how he’d hurt me. I needed him to see me aching, and I needed to remind myself he was no longer the man who could comfort me.
He rubbed the back of his neck. “Grace?”
“I love you.”
I nodded slowly. “I know.”
I believed him, too. Judy would call me foolish to believe in my husband’s love, but I knew a few things about love that my little sister had never learned. Love was a messy emotion that didn’t walk a straight line. It worked in waves and loops of ups and downs. It was a screwy emotion that could somehow still exist amidst the ultimate heartbreak and betrayal.
Finn loved me, and I loved him back in a twisted and painful way. I wished there was a way to stop it—to shut off the love faucet, and make my heart stop feeling.
But still, it felt.
Still, it burned.
In the dark trunk of his car sat five pieces of mismatched luggage, all of which were tattered and torn, all of which held a part of me within them.
I watched them all drive away.
I sat there in the parking lot with only a wish and a prayer that my car would start, but luckily, my parents taught me that that was all one needed in life. You just needed faith the size of a mustard seed that no matter what, things would work out.
I kept trying to turn the engine and then paused for a moment.
Dear God, it’s me, Gracelyn Mae…
When Rosie finally started after about five more attempts, I closed my eyes and took a breath before I drove away. “Thank you,” I said softly.
It was nice to know that even when I felt alone, there was something bigger than me to believe in.
* * *
“I hope this is the right choice,” I muttered to myself as I began my drive to Chester. Back where we came from, everyone believed Finn and I were still in love, living our happily ever after.
He hadn’t told a soul, and I hadn’t either. Maybe because we knew the type of people who lived in the town where we grew up. Maybe we hadn’t told anyone because we both weren’t ready for their judgments, their thoughts, their opinions.
Chester was a small town in Georgia about five hours from Atlanta, and when I said small, I mean everybody knew everybody’s middle name and when they had their first kiss—at least the fairy-tale romance story of it, not the actual truth.
In a place like Chester, everyone lived on semi-truths—you know, where one only told the side of the story that made them look like a proper lady or gent.
Everyone knew I was coming back to town because they knew Finn had landed the position at the hospital, but what they didn’t know was that when I came back, I wouldn’t be laying my head right beside his.
I hadn’t made plans for where I’d stay; a silly part of me thought Finn would come back and we’d somehow end up back in love. Even though that wasn’t how it went, I wasn’t too worried about finding a place to lay my head that night. My family would be there for me, always and always.