I married the right brother.
At least that’s what I tell myself at night, when I stare at the ceiling and listen to the rhythm of the grandfather clock down the hall. It never feels like the mere passage of time, but a countdown towards something inevitable.
Bobby Lightly is selfish, irresponsible, and careless. I haven’t seen him since the day I married his brother. He slipped out during the wedding reception without a word.
A year later, I heard Bobby was drafted to Korea. He never said goodbye to anyone. Never sent a letter. We had all come to terms with the fact that he was probably dead somewhere, either a victim of the war or its aftermath.
That is, until in the midst of an unrelenting heatwave, he showed up at the doorstep of the house I lived in with his brother.
Everyone thinks I’m cruel. Everyone thinks I should be easy on him. They think I don’t understand him. They all think I hate him.
But what no one understands is that it was Bobby who broke my heart.
And I think he’s back to do it again.
I snickered to myself. “He never had a chance. Rory never had a chance.” I shook my head in pity for the man I had grown to begrudge. “From the first day of our marriage, he couldn’t win because he wasn’t you.” I spun around, looking to the black forest for a way out, an exit from my tragic dilemma. “I don’t know how to fix this. He’ll never be you. It’s not his fault or our fault. It just is. And for years I resented him for that. I loved you. I loved hating you. I loved loving you. And when you left, I blamed him. It’s not fair. None of it is fair. For him. For us.” My shouts vanished into the dark night. Just like all my efforts, they meant nothing. “We tried so hard to do the right thing. We sacrificed us for him. And I think it just made things worse. Look at him.”
“Stop,” Bobby said firmly.
“I was so cold to him. I pushed him away so much. I created that man you see today. Do you think that was the right thing?”
“Stop,” Bobby repeated.
My emotions erupted out of me, explosive from years of being crammed into a secret space. Years of secrets I couldn’t tell. Of unrequited love. Of a life unfulfilled. Of dreams demolished. I pounded my fist to my chest. “It hurts. It physically hurts to see you every day. You are the first person I think about when I wake up. When I thought you died, I died. Rory was with a corpse.”
Bobby stepped closer to me. “Stop it, Lil.”
“And you keeping being you and I am trying so hard not to love you.” I didn’t care anymore about pretending. The threads were ripped and I felt as raw as the festering wound I had dealt with for the past seven years.
“And then you take me dancing and you tell me how you wrote me letters that you never sent and you bring me here. You make it impossible not to love you, dammit.” I thrust a finger in his direction and scowled. “And I hate you for that.”
Nina G. Jones is the author of the bestselling novel DEBT, the Strapped Series and the erotic romance, Gorgeous Rotten Scoundrel.
Her next novel, Swelter, releases on October 1st, 2015.
Nina LOVES connecting with readers. You can connect with her via Facebook, Twitter, or through this site.