Page 82

Well, if I hadn’t known before that he didn’t love me, I sure knew now. He cemented that in.

I was sobbing before I caught myself.

Big deep sobs. They were being yanked out of my body, and I couldn’t quiet them.

My hands were in fists, and I pressed them on the tile, trying to stop myself, trying to quiet them. The playroom wasn’t that far away. If he followed me, he might hear.

I couldn’t have that.

Fuck me. Fuck me for real.

I was so stupid. So so incredibly stupid.

Get your shit together, Quincey. Close up the heart. Yank the walls back in place and deal.

Just. Deal.

It was what it was.

I would get through this.

I had Nova.

She was worth everything.

Some heartbreak? Not a problem.

I could handle this.

I’d love Nate from afar then.

I could deal. I would deal.

Right. Okay.

Fuck it.

My chest was being split down the middle. The pain was excruciating.

I’d deal tomorrow. Yes. Tomorrow.

For tonight, I’d lay here and cry.

So I did that.

Nate would be on dad duty tonight.



Nova was fussing about everything.

She didn’t want her food. Everything I put on her tray, she flung at the wall. The stuff that didn’t get immediately flung got shoved to the floor. Then she’d go back to fussing.

I tried singing.

I tried dancing.

I did the food airplane.

I gave her a bottle. That got thrown at a wall, and note to self: my girl might be an athlete.

I checked her temp. She was fine.

I checked her ears. They looked good, but maybe it was still them?

I had a pounding headache.

I knew Quincey wasn’t still going to the bathroom. My luck, I’d fucked things up again with her.

My phone was buzzing and ringing all at the same time, and I didn’t know that was possible.

“Ahhhh!” Now Nova was screaming and banging. The fork got thrown, and her head went backward. Her little spoon sailed into the sink.

This was a toddler meltdown in full effect.

“Right.” I was speaking to myself, but the decision was made.

I checked that I had clothes on. Shoes. I grabbed my wallet, my keys, and then I whisked Nova out of her chair. I left a note for Quincey, bundled up Nova, and then we were heading out. She was put in her car seat, and I got behind the wheel. I synced my phone and was calling, not giving a shit about what time it was in Hungary.

Aspen answered, groggy, “Nate? What?”

A growl came next, and Blaise’s voice. “Are you dying?”

“I’m about to,” I snapped at him.


Aspen was back. “I got this.”

“It’s two in the morning. I can’t decipher sarcasm right away. Sor-ree.”

“You sure can speak it, can’t you? Go to sleep.” Aspen said on the phone, “Hold on. I can hear Nova. I’m moving to a different room.”

I frowned, pulling out of the garage and heading down the driveway.

A door closed on her end. Some shuffling sounds. Then another door.

“Okay. What’s going on?”

“I’m sorry to wake you up.” I was lying. “No. I’m not sorry. I’m sorry for lying. Fuck. I’m already a failure at this partner shit.”

“Is Nova physically okay?”


I grimaced. “I think my ear just started bleeding.”

She laughed. “Did you check her temp?”

“I checked. She’s fine. Her ears look good. She’s not seeping any liquids. She was all fine and dandy until supper time.”

“Did something happen? Maybe she’s becoming a fussy eater?”


“Is Quincey there?”

I was quiet.

I’d already called my sister about Nova. I didn’t want to lay both things on her.


I growled, gripping the wheel tighter.

On the plus side, Nova was quieting down. She loved car rides.

The negative, I was getting riled up. Or I’d already been riled up, but now I had to discuss what had riled me up, and that was riling me up even more.

“I fucked up.”

“Why am I not surprised?”

I glared at my dashboard. “You’re picking up your boy’s sarcasm, sis.”

She snorted. “My boy? I’m telling him you said that.”

“Please don’t. Good Lord. He’ll troll me on his own social media.”

“He would, but tell me what happened. Maybe your little sister has some wisdom her dear brother needs to hear, hmm?”

I laughed at that, but this sucked.

“She doesn’t think I love her.”

There was a beat, then, “THEN, OF COURSE, SHE’S PISSED AT YOU! What were you thinking? I love you, but sometimes it’s like you’re emotionally deficient. But you’re a guy. You’re a normal guy—”

“Not like me.”

Blaise had entered whatever room she was in.

I growled. “I don’t need ‘the boy’ to insert his cocky quips right now.”

Blaise laughed in the background. “Tough shit. I’m awake, and I want to hear the drama. Zeke will want a full update.”

Another growl from me. “None of this is getting leaked to your best bud. Not if you want to remain in the family text group.”

Blaise just snorted. “Let’s hear it, Nathaniel. I want to hear how you’ve messed up your relationship before you even made it an official relationship. You hadn’t, right?”

I seriously hated this kid sometimes. “We were enjoying each other, and we weren’t—it went left all of a sudden. We’ve been in a high-stressed environment, figuring out our shit. Her dad’s been threatening us. Then her dancing. Then the car accident. My family was here. It’s been a lot, okay?”

“Dude. Those are all excuses, like literally all of them. A conversation takes minutes.”

“I hate you.”

“You love me.” Blaise was smug. “But get to the meat. What happened?”

“He loves her.” From Aspen.

Blaise snorted. “Of course, he loves her. She’s Nova’s now-mom, and he’s banging her. If you don’t love that chick, then you’re a moron. Wait a minute. Nate, you are stupid as fuck sometimes.”

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