“Look at my face, Grace. How kind could he be?” Finn argued.
“You started that fight.”
“I was drunk. He did this sober. Besides, I know you. I know you better than you know yourself. He’s not the right move for you, Grace. You’re better than him.”
I snickered. “That’s funny.”
“That you think you know me. The truth is, the girl you knew died the moment you betrayed her.”
“He’s a monster, Grace. He’ll keep hurting you and letting you down.” I walked away without responding as a tear rolled down my cheek. Yet Finn kept calling my way. “I’m not giving up on us, Grace! I’m not going to stop fighting for us.”
It was insane to me how life worked.
As Finley was going on and on about “us,” my mind was locked on Jackson and what scarred his heart.
“Gracelyn Mae,” Autumn said, sitting at the reception table. She stood slowly, revealing her growing baby bump.
Every time I saw her, a part of me wanted to die.
She hurried around the desk in my direction. “What are you doing here? Is someone hurt?”
“Don’t act like you care, Autumn,” I softly spoke.
“But I do. I…” Her eyes watered over, and a chill raced over me. The last thing she needed to do was cry. I didn’t have time for her tears. “Were you talking to Finn?”
I raised an eyebrow but didn’t reply.
She continued as her body began to shake. “I know it’s not really my business, but, well, everything’s a mess. My own family won’t hardly talk to me, and now Finn is so distant. Are you two…is there something…?”
I crossed my arms. “Are you asking me if my soon-to-be ex-husband is cheating on you with me?”
Her tears fell.
I hated her beautiful tears.
“I just… I’m so lost. I don’t even know how to deal with it. Finn made all of these promises to me about a future, and I just can’t—”
“No,” I cut her off. “You do understand why none of this is my concern, right? I’m not your person anymore, Autumn. You don’t get to confide in me when you’re the one who stole my life. You get that, right?”
She took a few steps back. “Yes, of course. I’m sorry.”
As I started to walk away, I heard her break into a sob, and my stomach knotted up. Even though I hated her, a part of me that still felt sorry for her. Call it stupidity, or call it ignorance, but her loneliness was something I once lived. The place where you wonder about all your faults for Finn not coming home to you. The place where you doubt every heartbeat in your chest.
Autumn wasn’t a good friend. She hurt me to my core in more ways than one, but those words that Dad taught me slowly danced through my head.
If you turn your back on one, then you turn your back on all.
“Do you love him?” I asked as I looked up at her.
With such unease, she nodded, ashamed to admit her love. “Yes.”
“Do you love yourself?”
More tears fell as she shook her head. “No.”
I sighed because, for the first time since the news came out about Finn and Autumn, I saw her. I truly studied her beyond her beauty, beyond her being everything I thought I was supposed to be. I saw the cracks in her soul and the scars on her heart.
She made a choice, just as Finn had. They decided to betray me, and their choices changed the course of all our lives. Now the two of them had to deal with those consequences, the same way I had. In her eyes, it almost seemed like she hadn’t known who she was, or where her life was heading. On top of that, she had to somehow find a way to be strong for the child she’d be bringing into the world someday soon.
In those eyes, I saw her regret.
Autumn hadn’t a clue what she was doing.
She was broken, shattered, and alone. Her family turned on her, and the father of her child was pining after another woman. Autumn had hit rock bottom, and she didn’t have a clue who or what she was anymore.
I knew what that was like—to be in such darkness that you forget what the light feels like.
“You can’t love him if you don’t love yourself, Autumn. It’s impossible,” I swore to her.
“I know, I know. It’s just…I’m so lost,” she cried.
“I know,” I said in understanding. Even though she wasn’t my friend, and she hurt me, I understood the meaning of being lost. Maybe more than most. “But it’s not my job to find you. It’s not Finn’s job to find you. The only one responsible for you is you. You have to find yourself. You have to have your own back. Otherwise, you’ll spend your life trying to be everything for everyone else, and one hundred percent of the time, you’ll still not be enough. So, you gotta choose yourself. From this point on, you have to be your first choice. Otherwise, you’ll drown.”