I shook my head back and forth. “Nothing, nothing. Do you think… Will you just hold me for a few minutes?”

His arms wrapped around my body, and he held me tight. I breathed in his scent, almost certain that if I told him the truth—which I knew I had to do—I would lose that moment. I wouldn’t be held by him anymore, I wouldn’t be touched by him, I wouldn’t be loved by him. Tristan’s fingers slowly started rubbing my back in a circular motion as I pulled him closer, trying to hold onto something I felt as if I’d already lost.

“You know you can trust me, right? You know you can always tell me anything. I’m always here for you,” he swore.

Pulling away from him, I gave him a tight smile. “I just need rest, that’s all.”

“Then let’s go to bed.” He nodded, slowly placing his hand on my lower back to guide me to my bedroom.

“I mean alone. I just need a night by myself.”

The disappointment swimming in his stormy eyes broke my heart, but he gave me a sad grin. “Yeah, of course.”

“We’ll talk tomorrow,” I promised. “I’ll stop by Mr. Henson’s shop.”

“Yeah,” he agreed. “Sounds like a plan.” He apprehensively rubbed the back of his neck. “Are we okay?” he whispered, his nerves loud and clear in his tone. I nodded once. He wrapped his hands around my head and rested his lips against my forehead. “I love you, Lizzie.”

“I love you too,” I replied.

He flinched. “Then why does it feel like we’re saying goodbye?”

Because I think we are.

Chapter Thirty-Five


April 6th, 2014

One Day Until Goodbye

“I’m dead,” I whispered to myself, staring into the bathroom mirror. The pint of whiskey sat emptied on the counter, the orange pill bottle lay on its side, and my vision blurred. I could hear my parents outside the bathroom, talking about last minute details for the day, the plans for the service, and our transportation from the church to the cemetery.

“I’m dead,” I repeated. My tie hung around my neck, waiting to be tied. I blinked once, and when I opened my eyes Jamie was standing in front of me, tying my tie.

“What’s wrong, baby?” she whispered, as water filled my eyes. I lifted my hand and ran it against her soft cheek. “Why are you falling apart?”

“I’m dead, Jamie, I’m dead,” I sobbed, unable to control my howls. “I want this to be over. I want this to stop. I don’t want to be here anymore.”

“Shh,” she whispered, placing her lips near my ear. “Baby, I need you to breathe. It’s okay.”

“Nothing’s okay. Nothing’s okay.”

I heard pounding on the bathroom door. “Tristan! It’s Dad. Son, let me in.”

I couldn’t, though. I was dead. I was dead.

Jamie looked down at the sink and picked up the emptied pill bottle and whiskey pint. “Baby, what did you do?” My back slid down the wall and I sat against the tub, sobbing. Jamie rushed over to me. “Tris, you have to throw up now.”

“I can’t… I can’t…” My hands covered my face, everything a blur. My mind was playing tricks on me. I was fading. I could feel myself fading.

“Baby, think of Charlie. He wouldn’t want you like this. Come on.” She moved me to the toilet. “Don’t do this, Tris.”

I started to throw up. Everything inside me burned, and when the whiskey and pills rose up from my stomach, my throat was set on fire.

I fell back against the wall once I finished. My eyes opened, and Jamie was gone—she had never been there to begin with. “I’m so sorry,” I whispered, running my hands through my hair. What was I going to do? How was I going to survive?

“Tristan, please, let us know you’re okay!” Mom and Dad shouted from outside.

“I’m good,” I managed to lie to them. I heard Mom’s sigh of relief. “I’ll be out in a few.”

I could almost feel Dad’s hand on my shoulder, trying to bring me comfort. “All right, Son. We’ll be right here when you’re ready. We’re not going anywhere.”

Elizabeth had said she would meet me at Mr. Henson’s shop the next day, but at the last minute she had a change of plans. Five days passed without us actually speaking. Her window blinds had been drawn all week, and whenever I knocked on her door, it seemed as if she was on her way out, or simply pretending I didn’t exist.

I stopped in at Savory & Sweet to see if she was working and ran into Faye yelling at a customer about how the scrambled eggs were not super runny. “Faye, hey,” I said, interrupting her argument.

She twisted around on her heels and placed her hands on her hips. I could see the uncertainty in her eyes. The last time we’d seen each other was when I attacked Tanner at the bar, and I could tell she was still unsure how to address me. I’d been hearing everyone in town whispering about me, and I was sure lies had somehow crawled their way into Faye’s eardrums.

“Hey,” she replied.

“Is Elizabeth working today?”

“She’s out sick…she has been for a few days.”

“Oh. Okay.”

“Why didn’t you just walk next door and check on her? Did you guys get into a fight or something?” She tensed up. “Is she okay?”

“We didn’t get into a fight. At least, I don’t think we did. She just…” I brushed my finger under my nose and cleared my throat. “She’s just not talking to me, and I’m not sure why. Did she happen to say anything to you? I know you’re her best friend and…”