What in the hell?
Callum and I were speechless. That marked the end of our fight as we both returned to the guesthouse in shock and silence.
Callum had a fat lip. He wouldn’t tell me the truth about what happened, but I had a sinking feeling Sevin had something to do with it.
At dinner that night, I noticed that Sevin had a bruise on his hand, so it wasn’t hard to put two and two together.
When I confronted Callum about it later, he made up a story that the two of them were drinking too much and ended up wrestling. He said things got out of hand. The whole thing sounded bogus.
I’d been intentionally avoiding Sevin completely, so asking him wasn’t an option. I knew he would tell me the truth, but I wasn’t sure I wanted to know. The one time he was able to get me alone in the kitchen after dinner Saturday night, he said he needed to talk to me about something important. Perhaps it had to do with what happened with Callum. Elle had walked in seconds later, and that was the end of it. Now that my decision about leaving had been made, there was no point in making things worse by spending any more time with Sevin. After that night, I stopped showing up for dinner.
Sunday evening, Callum had just left to go back to Missouri. His next trip to Dodge City in two weeks would be to pick me up and bring me back with him. Although Mama and Daddy had given me their blessing to move in with the Hughes family, I hadn’t yet told anyone exactly how quickly I was planning to leave. I was waiting until the last minute so that it didn’t get back to Sevin. That also meant keeping it from Elle.
I was in my room discreetly packing some of my small items in preparation for the move when Elle walked in. I tried hard to look casual so that my packing up wouldn’t seem so obvious.
She smiled. “Hey, sis. What are you up to?”
“Just organizing some of my things.”
She plopped down on my bed. “So, you’re really planning to eventually move to Missouri?”
Letting out a deep breath, I said, “That’s the plan.”
“There’s nothing I can do to change your mind?”
“Don’t make me cry. It’s not that far away. We can still visit each other.”
She sighed. “I know. I just always envisioned us raising our babies together, walking them around the property every day in their strollers while we visited Mama. I understand that Callum has to take over his father’s company and all, but I never imagined that you’d move away. It makes me sad. I can’t help it.”
Tears that came out of nowhere were starting to form in my eyes. “I’m really sorry, Elle.”
Sorry for my weakness, which screwed up your dreams for us.
Sorry for falling in love with your fiancé.
Sorry for everything.
I was truly sorry.
Elle got up from the bed to hug me. “Don’t worry about me. It’s okay as long as this is what’s going to make you happy.”
Your happiness is more important.
Elle really had no clue how unhappy I was. I thought that maybe after all this time, Sevin or I might have given off some kind of vibe, but it truly amazed me that Elle didn’t sense that something was off with either one of us. My misery felt like it should have been written all over my face.
“By the way, is Callum okay?” she asked.
“What do you mean?”
“Sevin didn’t say anything to you?”
“No. I asked him if he knew what happened, and he said it was nothing. He wouldn’t go into details.”
“The way Callum explained it, apparently they were drinking while working on the shed and were horsing around, and Callum cut his lip.”
“That sounds really weird.”
She smiled and shrugged her shoulders. “Boys will be boys, I guess.”
I breathed out a sigh of relief when she left to go downstairs. It was so hard not to tell her how soon I was planning to leave. But once it got back to Sevin, I knew he would try to stop me. I couldn’t risk anything happening between us that might deter me.
After the night that he drew me in his room, I knew I couldn’t allow myself to lose my inhibitions like that ever again. I’d wanted him to draw me as a form of closure, but it had an opposite effect on me, one so strong that it solidified the need to leave as soon as possible.
I couldn’t close my eyes at night without remembering the feel of his pencil tracing my breasts—the look of desire in his eyes when he did it.
He’d been so intensely focused, drawing me as he sat on the bed with his legs crossed, that pencil tucked in the crook of his ear.
I will never forget one single second of that night. The sensations that had pulsed through me were ones I didn’t think my body was even capable of.
The ache for him was now more unbearable than ever. Forcing myself to stay away from him made it even worse.
I missed him so much but could no longer trust myself around him. This was the way it had to be. All he’d have to do was touch me one more time, and I was afraid I might lose it. And losing it would mean losing my sister and being responsible for Sevin’s downfall all at once.
One week before my scheduled departure, the feelings of emptiness and longing hadn’t waned; they’d only intensified. In a fruitless attempt to shake them off, I decided to do something that I hadn’t done in weeks.
Lacing up my sneakers, I prepared to go out for what would likely be my final early morning run here, since the rest of the week’s forecast called for rain. There was less fog than usual, and the sun was fighting to peek through the morning clouds.