“I think you should go, Tristan.” I could tell she didn’t believe me. I could tell she didn’t believe that I hadn’t hurt Elizabeth from the way every inch of her was alarmed.

I nodded, and as I opened the door to step outside, I paused. “Faye, I love her. I get why you’re wary of me, and I understand why you might even hate me. For a long time I was a monster. After Jamie and Charlie died, I turned into this beast that I didn’t even recognize. I’m sorry if I scared you the night of her birthday party, and I’m sorry I snapped, but…I would never hurt her. She’s…” I pressed my fist against my mouth and bit the inside of my cheek to keep my emotions at bay. “Last year I died right alongside my wife and kid. I checked out of reality and left this world. I was fine being gone, because being alive hurt; it hurt every fucking day. Then Lizzie came and even though I was the walking dead, she saw past it. Even though I was death, she took the time to resuscitate me. She breathed life back into my soul. She brought me back from the shadows. Now she’s not answering my calls or looking my way. I’m falling apart because I think she’s hurting and I can’t help her breathe like she helped me. So yeah, you should hate me. Please, hate the living shit out of me. I deserve it, and because of Elizabeth I can handle it. I’m alive again. But if you could just do me a favor and go check on her, if you could help her breathe for a little while, that would mean the world to me.”

I walked out of the café and stuffed my hands into my jeans pockets.

“Tristan!” I turned around to see Faye staring my way. Her eyes were softer. Her strong stance was a mere memory.


“I’ll check on her,” she promised. “I’ll help her.”

When I headed to Mr. Henson’s shop, I saw Tanner through the window, which made me hurry over. I knew he was probably giving Mr. Henson a hard time about selling his shop again. I wished the dude would give him a break.

“What’s going on?” I asked, the bell over the door sounding off.

Tanner turned to me with a sly smile on his face. “Just talking business.”

I looked at Mr. Henson, who was red in the face. He hardly ever got upset, but I could tell Tanner had said something that bothered him. “Maybe you should go, Tanner.”

“Give me a break, Tristan. I was just having a friendly chat with Mr. Henson here.” Tanner picked up a deck of tarot cards and started shuffling them in his hand. “You think you can do a reading for me real fast, Mr. Henson?”

My friend stayed quiet.

“Tanner, leave.”

He smirked and leaned in toward Mr. Henson. “You think the reading will say that you’re giving me this space? Is that why you won’t do it? You don’t want to see the truth?”

My hand landed against Tanner’s shoulder, and he flinched. Good. The way he was belittling Mr. Henson had my blood boiling. “It’s time for you to go.”

Mr. Henson sighed with relief at me taking hold of the situation, and he walked off toward the back room.

Tanner slung my hand off and dusted off his outfit. “Chill out, Tristan. I was just having fun with the old man.”

“You need to go.”

“You’re right, I do. Some people have real jobs to do. But hey, I’m glad to hear that you and Liz were still able to work things out after she told you about the accident. That’s cool. I mean, hell, you’re a better person than me. I don’t think I could even deal with being around a person who was involved in such a thing.”

“What do you mean?” I asked.

He arched an eyebrow. “You mean, you don’t know? Shit…Liz said she told you.”

“Told me? Told me what?”

“That her husband was the one driving the car that slammed into your family’s car.” He narrowed his eyes. “She really didn’t tell you?”

My throat dried out, and part of me considered that he could be lying. Tanner hated me because I loved Elizabeth. He was a sneaky asshole who made it his job to get underneath people’s skin, and now he was determined to get underneath mine.

The last thing he said was that he was sorry and hadn’t meant to start any trouble. He said he was happy that Elizabeth and I had found each other. He said all he wanted was for her to be happy, but I knew that all his words of comfort were full of shit.

That night, I sat on my bed with my cell phone in my hand, and I called my Dad. I didn’t say a word when he answered, but hearing his voice was good. It was needed.

“Tristan,” he said. I could almost hear the relief in his tones. “Hey, Son. Mom said you called her a while back and didn’t speak. She was also convinced that she ran into you when she went to Meadows Creek to see the market, but I thought it was just her mind playing tricks on her.” He paused. “You’re not going to talk, are you?” He paused again. “That’s fine. I’ve always been a bit of a talker.”

That was a lie—Dad had always been the quiet one of my parents, much more of a listener. I put the phone on speaker and lay back on my bed, closing my eyes as Dad caught me up on everything I’d missed. “Your grandparents are in town staying with your mom and me, and I think it’s safe to say they are driving me crazy. They are having their house remodeled, and your mom thought it would be a good idea to have them stay at our place. They’ve been here for three weeks already, and I’ve been through more gin than I thought humanly possible.

“Oh! And your mom somehow talked me into taking a workout class with her because she worries about my healthy diet of Doritos and soda. So I showed up to the class—turned out I was the only man there. I ended up doing Zumba for an hour straight. Lucky for me my hips don’t lie and I was a natural.”