I gave up and turned to face him. “What is it, Finn?” I whisper-shouted, not wanting to draw any attention to us.
“I…” He raced his hand over his buzzed haircut. “I think we need to talk about things. I know you’re angry, but we’re still married, Grace. You can’t just avoid dealing with me.”
“You mean how you avoided dealing with me for the past eight months?”
“I know I didn’t handle that well, and I want to apologize for that. Things have been a bit complicated.”
“Autumn’s pregnant with your kid. Plus, she told me you told her that I left you. Really, Finley? Is that how you get women to bang you? By making me out to be the monster?”
He lowered his head and cringed a bit. “I’ve made a lot of mistakes, but I’m trying my best to learn and own up to them. I owe you more apologies than I can even express, and I just want to have an open dialogue so we can talk. I think maybe marriage therapy… Or maybe we could start praying together again? Remember when we used to pray together?”
“Yes, and then each night you told me you were too tired to kneel beside me.”
“I’ve been so lost, Grace. I just…I need you back. I don’t do well without you in my life.”
I was baffled.
Completely baffled by his words.
“You disgust me,” I told him, turning around and walking away.
There was nothing therapy, prayer, or apologies could fix between us.
He shattered our relationship all on his own, and the pieces would never fit back together.
“Why are you sleeping with him?” Finn asked, his voice not low at all, forcing me to turn back around.
“Is it to get back at me? Because I hurt you?”
“I cannot believe you right now.”
“He’s dangerous, Grace, and like, what? Half your age?”
“He’s twenty-four, Finley. That’s nowhere near half my age.”
“Yeah, but he’s pretty much a kid compared to you. Plus, he sleeps with everyone in town.”
“It seems that you two have something in common,” I remarked, rolling my eyes.
“Do you really want to be just another number to him? You’re not being smart, Grace, or safe. He could have caught something from those other women. He could be passing it on to you.”
He didn’t see it, did he? How ironic it was that he—my cheating husband—was telling me how I was being unsafe when he had the nerve to crawl into bed with me many nights after his countless affairs.
“We’re not talking about this,” I told him.
“Okay, well, it’s clear that you won’t talk to me or your mom, but you need to talk to someone. Maybe Judy? She’s always been levelheaded. You need an outlet that isn’t Jackson Emery.”
“You don’t get to have any input on my life anymore. You are no longer involved in what I do during my free time. The same way I’m no longer involved in yours.”
I walked off to Judy’s house, trying my best to shake off Finn and his words.
He was like a nasty tick that wouldn’t leave me alone. Worst of all, he seemed delusional. Almost as if he expected me to simply let his infidelity slide because my love should be strong enough to forgive any wrongdoing he bestowed on me.
As I returned to Judy’s place, I paused on her front porch as I glanced through the window. My sister stood behind a podium with a wooden spoon in her hand as if it were a microphone, and she projected her voice as if speaking to a packed auditorium. The more I listened, the more I understood what she was doing: she was giving a sermon.
My heart jumped a little because she was doing amazing, too. I’d never seen that side of Judy. I didn’t even know she was interested in preaching.
When she turned to look out the window and saw me, she quickly dropped the spoon. Rushing in my direction, she flung the door open. “What are you doing, Grace?” she asked, red in the face.
“Judy”—I stared at her with my eyes wide—“you’re preaching.”
“I’m not,” she snapped, smoothing out her dress. “I’m not a preacher. I was bored and just messing around.”
I shook my head. “Well, you looked and sounded like a preacher for a second there.”
Her eyes glassed over, and a flash of hope filled her gaze. “Really?”
She puffed out a breath of air. “It’s just silly,” she told me. “I just play around a bit, that’s all.”
I walked into the foyer and gave her a small grin. “But if you did want to do it as more than playing around, I could talk to Dad…”
“Please don’t,” she said quickly. “It’s not worth it. I’m happy teaching Bible study and running events around town.”
“You deserve more than that, though,” I told her. “Before Dad found out I was going to be a teacher, he talked to me about taking over the church after him. Lord knows that’s something I would never want, but you’d be great at it! I mean, if you just—”