“Okay, bye, ladies!” Susan said, waving to Emma and me as we left her house. “Remember, in two weeks make sure you’ve read Fifty Shades of Grey! And bring notes!”

I waved goodbye to everyone. By the end of the night, we hadn’t spoken one word about Little Women, but I felt extremely belittled by these women.

August 23rd.

It was just a date to most people, but to me, it was more.

Steven’s birthday.

One of the big moments.

I was supposed to be better at the big moments. The little moments were what were supposed to hurt me the most.

I leaned against the tree in my backyard and looked up at the bright sky, the sunrays shining overhead. Emma was playing with Zeus in the small plastic swimming pool I’d bought her, and Tristan was working outside his shed building a dining room table.

Out of nowhere, a white feather came floating past me. A small, tiny feather that somehow stung my soul. An overwhelming feeling of loss flew through me as I hit the palm of my hand against my head repeatedly. My heart was pounding against my chest as memories of Steven came flooding in, suffocating me, drowning me. I couldn’t breathe as I slapped myself repeatedly and slid down the tree trunk, my body shaking uncontrollably. “I’m sorry,” I cried, to myself. To Steven. “I’m sorry I couldn’t…” I howled, shutting my eyes.

Two hands landed on my shoulders and I jumped in fright. “Shhh, it’s me, Elizabeth,” Tristan whispered, falling to the ground and wrapping his arms around me. “I got you.”

I pulled on his T-shirt, pressing my body against him as I soaked him with my tears. “I couldn’t save him, I couldn’t save him,” I wailed into his shirt. “He was my world and I couldn’t save him. He fought for me and—” I couldn’t talk anymore. I couldn’t get my scrambled thoughts to leave my choking heart.

“Shh, Elizabeth. I got you. I got you.” His voice soothed me as I fell apart, having the first breakdown in a long time. I held on to him, silently begging him to never let me go.

That was when he held on tighter.

Then I felt two tiny hands wrap around me, and Emma pulled me close to her.

“I’m sorry, baby,” I whispered, shaking against Tristan and my little one. “Mama’s sorry.”

“It’s okay, Mama,” she promised. “It’s okay.”

But she was wrong.

It wasn’t okay.

And I wasn’t sure if it ever would be.

That night, it began to rain. For a while I sat in my night robe, just watching the deluge of raindrops hitting hard against the ground. I cried with the rain, unable to hold myself together. Emma was sleeping in the other room, and Tristan allowed Zeus to stay the night with her.

Make it stop, I begged my heart. Make the pain go away, I pleaded.

I crawled out my window and over to Tristan’s. I was soaked within seconds, but I didn’t care. I tapped lightly on his window, and he wandered over, shirtless, staring at me. His arms held the edge of the windowsill, showcasing his toned arms.

“Not tonight,” he said, his voice low. “Go home, Elizabeth.”

My eyes still burned from all the crying. My heart still hurt from all the longing. “Tonight,” I argued.


My fingers wrapped around the string holding my robe together and I untied it, dropping the fabric to the ground, standing in the rain in only my bra and panties. “Yes.”

“Jesus Christ,” he muttered, sliding his window open. “Get inside.”

I did as he said. A puddle of water formed around my feet, and I shook from the cold. From the hurt. “Ask me how I want it tonight.”

“No.” His voice was stern, and he wouldn’t make eye contact with me.

“I want it like you love me.”


“You can do it hard, if you want.”


“Look at me, Tristan.”


“Why not?” I asked, walking close to him as he turned his back to me. “Don’t you want me?”

“You know the answer to that.”

I shook my head. “You don’t think I’m beautiful? Am I not as pretty as her? Am I not as good as—”

He shot around and placed his hands on my shoulders. “Don’t do this, Elizabeth.”

“Fuck me, please…” I cried, running my fingers against his chest. “Please make love to me.”

“I can’t.”

I hit his chest. “Why not?!” I cried, my vision becoming blurry. “Why not?! I let you touch me when you wanted her. I let you screw me when you needed it. I let you…” My words faded off, becoming sobs. “I let you… Why not…”

He grabbed my fists, stopping me from pounding all my anger against his chest. “Because, you’re broken. You’re extremely broken tonight.”

“Just make love to me.”


“Why not?”

“Because, I can’t.”

“That’s not an answer.”

“Yes, it is,” he said.

“No, it’s not. Stop being a coward. Just tell me why not. Why the hell not?!”

“Because I’m not him!” he shouted, my body shaking in his grip. “I’m not Steven, Elizabeth. I’m not what you want.”

“You can be, though. You can be him.”

“No,” he said, sternly. “I can’t.”

I shoved him. “I hate you!” I shouted, my throat burning as tears fell against my lips. “I hate you!” But I wasn’t talking to Tristan. “I hate you for leaving me! I hate you for leaving me. I can’t breathe. I can’t breathe.” I lost myself in Tristan’s arms.