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“It’s snowing,” she said as she walked into the kitchen.

“Yeah, it’s been doing that since I got down here. Hopefully it doesn’t stick or we’re not going anywhere anytime soon,” Brady said.

“That doesn’t sound like such a bad thing.”

He smiled and her heart stopped. “I hope you like oatmeal, because that’s pretty much all we have.”

“Oatmeal is fine.”

They ate in a peaceful silence. Both knew that the conversation to come was an important one, but each wanted to prolong the state of bliss they were in for a little bit longer. Brady reluctantly cleared the dishes, and Liz sat there sipping on the water he had poured her.

“So,” he said, leaning back against the counter.

“So,” she replied.

“We have some things to talk about.”


“Maybe we should start at the beginning.”

“Living room?” she asked, standing and backing into the room.


Liz took a seat on the couch again, but this time Brady sat across from her. She hated the space between them already, but she knew why it was necessary.

“I guess I should preface this conversation,” she began, “by letting you know you probably aren’t going to like some parts.”

“I doubt I’ll like much of it,” Brady said, leaning back into the seat and crossing his leg at his ankle.

Well, at least he knew. Maybe he wouldn’t kill anything along the way.

“So, the beginning, right?” He nodded and she tried not to avoid those dark eyes. Liz took a deep breath and began. “I guess the story starts after I left your primary. I wanted you to be happy, and I didn’t want to jeopardize your election. So I left and was miserable the rest of the semester. I never told anyone what happened, and I never let anyone in. Not even my roommate. I guess after you won I realized there was no hope for us, and I just wanted to try to forget. That’s when Hayden and I started talking.”

She cringed at Hayden’s name, and she saw Brady’s jaw clench. She didn’t blame him. Not one bit.

“Fast-forward to October. Well, you know what happened that night.”

“Yes. I do,” Brady said stiffly.

God, she hated this.

“Well, when you closed that door, I decided that nothing else really mattered. It was only the first argument Hayden and I had ever had, so I forgave him and we put it past us.”

“Just like that?” he asked, frustrated. “I f**king broke up with Erin the next day and you just forgave him?”

“I’m not you, Brady. I made my own mistakes,” she said softly. “I thought it would be okay.”

Brady shook his head. “You’re entirely too forgiving. That guy is a jackass.”

“He is. But you have to understand that Hayden had never once acted like that with me before. And you were gone.” He opened his mouth to say something, but Liz beat him too it. “I know. I left. I know. Trust me. Can I just tell the rest?”

He breathed out heavily. “What happened?”

“Everything was fine with my relationship, but nothing was okay with me. I beat myself up for months about cheating on Hayden with you.”

“Over our kiss?”

“You and I both know it was more than that, Brady. We wouldn’t be here right now if it was just a kiss.”

He nodded, acknowledging her statement, and she continued.

“I had a breakdown and told Victoria. She said that I should tell Hayden, because the worst thing that could happen was that he would leave me. At the time, I really thought that was the worst thing that could happen. I just wanted the weight off my chest. I wasn’t going to tell him it was you,” Liz said. Her body ached as she thought about what happened next.

“But you did.”

“Yes. He figured it out and I don’t even know how to explain what happened. He wasn’t himself. He turned scary.”

Brady’s eyes narrowed considerably and looked on edge. “Scary how?”

Liz shook her head. She couldn’t look him in the eye. She couldn’t relive what had happened. She didn’t want to tell him. She just wanted to get on with everything else.

“Liz, scary how?” he demanded.

“It doesn’t matter,” she peeped.

“I don’t like the sound of this,” he said gruffly. Standing and striding over to her, he grasped her chin softly in his hands and tilted her face up to him. “Look at me. What do you mean by that?”

Liz’s bottom lip trembled as she stared up into Brady’s concerned brown eyes. “He just freaked out and demanded details. When I gave them to him, he just . . .”

“Just what?”

“He made me feel even guiltier about what happened, had sex with me, and then left in the morning.”

Brady stood very still at her words. She couldn’t read all the emotions rolling through his body, but she could see underneath it all he was pissed. “Did you want to . . . ?”

Liz swallowed. She wanted to shake her head, but she just stared at him, the fear still reflected in her eyes.

“Fuck!” he cried, dropping his hand and storming across the room. “Fuck!”

“Brady . . .”

“I’ll kill him, Liz.”

“No,” she said, jumping up and rushing toward him. “You can’t do that.”

“Where are my car keys?” he asked, looking around the room.

“Brady,” she pleaded. She pressed her hands into his shoulders as he tried to walk toward the door. “Please.”

“You want me to stay here and just let him get away with raping you?” he demanded.

Liz shook her head. That word. She couldn’t hear that word. No. That wasn’t what it was. It wasn’t. It had been different. Just angry sex. Just hate sex. Just guilt sex. Anything but that. She could still hear Hayden shushing her as he pushed her into the mattress. A tear fell from her eyes even as she tried to hold them at bay.

“Oh, baby,” he said softly. He wiped the tear from under her eye and pulled her into his arms. “I’m not going to leave.”

“You can’t go after him,” Liz said, wrapping her arms around his waist.

“I want to kill him for ever touching you.”