King slipped out sometime after I fell asleep in his arms. When the morning light flooded my room I rolled over to avoid its rays. When I finally opened my eyes I saw something on the nightstand that made my heart flutter and soar. My smile was nothing short of ridiculously huge. I loved it immediately. It was just like the one he’d left for Grace on her hallway table all those months ago.
On my nightstand on top of the phone that King had given me, was a tiny white ceramic rabbit.
The morning after King left I felt both elated and utterly miserable.
I had King back. He was alive and I was so grateful to whatever universal being was responsible for keeping him safe. But at the same time, I’d led Tanner on. Not just by the big fat obvious mistake of marrying him, but while he was on his quest to help me remember¸ occasionally I’d let him sit too close to me on the couch. I’d let him hold my hand.
It was my fault. Everything with Tanner had been my fault, and for the second time in several months I was going to hurt him all over again.
I had to go talk to him and I hoped he would somehow understand. I took a quick shower and threw on a pair of running shorts. I grabbed a soft cotton tank top from the drawer and pulled it on. I cried out when the fabric rubbed against my nipples, feeling much more like they’d been scraped with a cheese grater than covered in soft cotton.
Why the fuck would my nipples…
I sprinted over to the desk calendar and spent an embarrassing amount of time doing the math, but with my hands shaking and my head spinning, even the simplest of calculations didn’t compute.
I pushed the calculator away and pulled out a piece of paper. Maybe a word problem would help make it clearer.
Throwing up frequently
No period this month, or maybe even last month
Cheese grater nipples
Sex with King in the water by the boathouse
No protection of any kind
HOLY. FUCKING. SHIT.
I found Tanner sitting on the roof of the houseboat. “You know, I’m beginning to think it was you who made the senator keep this rust bucket,” I said. “You’re always out here.”
Tanner turned around. There was an obvious sadness in his eyes, but there was something else too. Something I couldn’t quite pin point. “Sammy wanted to come see you, but by the time he got here he was tired so Nadine offered to put him down for a nap. I figured you’d make your way out here sooner or later.” Tanner sighed. “This place is probably my favorite place in the world, you know. The three of us spent all of our time out here when we were kids.”
The only thing I could do for him was listen because over the past few months he’d done his share of listening to me.
“I want to apologize, about the party. It wasn’t right. I wasn’t right.” He set his hands on top of his head and blew out a breath. “I shouldn’t have gone along with the senator and his speech, especially when I knew your heart wasn’t in it.” He looked up to the sky and closed his eyes as if he were gathering his thoughts. He turned back to where I stood on the dock. “I just wanted it to be true. I got carried away. I’m sorry, Ray.”
“You don’t have to apologize. I feel like we’re always apologizing to one another,” I said.
“Probably because we are.” He hopped down from the roof onto the dock. He stood in front of me with his hands in the front pockets of his jeans. “I know why you’re here.”
“You’re leaving,” Tanner said shifting his weight from one foot to the other.
“Yeah, I am,” I answered. “It’s never felt right for me here and the more I remember, the more I know the right decision is for me to go.”
“He’s alive. You’re going back to him,” Tanner said. It wasn’t a question. It was a statement.
“How did you know?” I asked.
“I saw him last night.”
I bit my lower lip. “Yes, I’m going back to him.”
Tanner shook his head and rested his forehead on his palm. “I guess this changes everything.”
“If I’ve learned anything over the last six months, it’s that family can mean so many different things. Just because we aren’t together, doesn’t mean we can’t be a family, Tanner. Family is what you make it, what you want it to be.”
“That’s not true, because I want it to be you,” he said, reaching out for my hand and lifting it in his as if he were studying it. As if he wanted to look anywhere but in my eyes.