Don't Turn Back (Coming Home Book 1) (29 page)

I listen to everything he has to say, hoping somewhere along the way, I can try to reason why all of this had to happen.

“I admit, I did have another beer with her, but I didn’t want her to think she needed to drink alone. I could tell she was getting upset the more she talked about Greg, so I gave her a hug and things just went to hell from there. Jennifer, I am so sorry.”

I stare at him blankly, trying to so hard to believe that my best friend and boyfriend would not betray me on purpose. Tears pool in my eyes, but I force them not to fall. I try to convince myself to stay strong.

“Please, I never saw it coming. I swear to you. Neither of us was in control of ourselves. I can absolutely promise you it will never happen again.”

I want to believe him. I want to believe him more than anything.

“How am I supposed to trust you again?” I ask him. “Now that I’ve heard your side, how do I know that neither of you will be tempted to try something again behind my back?”

I am thankful the shot I received from the hospital has eased my physical pain, because the emotional pain I’m feeling right now is more than enough for me to handle. I need a minute to myself, so I walk into the bedroom. All of this is more than I can deal with.

I have no idea what time it is, especially since we stayed at the hospital for several hours earlier. I walk to the dresser and see the bracelet Brian gave me for Christmas. I run my fingers along the stones. He was so happy to give me such a special gift. Suddenly, a thought enters my mind, but I don’t want to think it.
No, I won’t even consider it
. I want to believe that everything Brian tells me is true. There is no way…
no, it’s not right to think this
. Surely, Brian wouldn’t take the money from Jared’s customer to pay for the bracelet? He has to be telling me the truth that he had nothing to do with the missing money.

I hear Brian cleaning up all the dishes we used for our meal. I try to ignore him, but can’t. I really want to accept his apology. My heart yearns for his touch. I need to feel his embrace, and his love in my life again.

Minutes later, I sense his presence in the room, and glance towards the door to see him standing there. “I’m going to give you some time, okay? As bad as I want to be near you right now, I know you’ve got to search your heart for what you feel is right. I just ask that you please consider giving me a second chance.”

“Brian, where did you get the money for my bracelet?” I want to be as straightforward with him as possible.

“No, you can’t be thinking that. I swear to you, I had nothing to do with that money going missing. Please, you’ve got to believe me.”

“Well, I’m asking, where did you get the money?” My voice wants to get harsh but I try to stay calm.

“I really can’t say.” He hesitates before saying more. “I had a friend help me out.” Brian surely knows this answer is not good enough for me.

Not wanting to deal with this any longer, I throw my hands up in the air.
I give up
. “Get out! Just leave right now. When you think you can be honest with me, then maybe we can talk. But until then, I have nothing further to say.”

Brian simply stares at me, with nothing to say. That’s not a good sign.

“What part do you not understand?” I’m getting angry at this point. “I said get out. I can’t be with someone who is dishonest, and you obviously have a problem with telling the truth.”

Not willing to put up a fight, he turns to walk away from the bedroom. Minutes later, I hear the door shut behind him.

I can’t believe Brian. One minute he’s begging for my forgiveness; the next minute he’s running from his own lies.
Why do I allow this man continue to rip my heart apart?






I can’t believe this is happening
. I thought we were getting somewhere; we were finally at an understanding. All of my efforts for her tonight were completely wasted.

I walk outside and sit on the steps in the breezeway of the apartment. I have no money, less than half a tank of gas, and I’m no further along in getting back with Jennifer than I was yesterday. I might even be worse off now. I see the sun coming up in the distance and, its beauty only saddens me more.
How can a day that looks so promising bring such sadness?
I realize I’ve screwed up yet again.

I pull my phone from my pocket and look back to the text message she first sent to me last night. I guess I should be happy she sent the message to me instead of Rebecca, but I just can’t get through to her heart. I’m running out of options.

My butt starts to numb, so I stand up and walk to the parking lot.  I decide to take a walk and get some fresh air. Maybe that will help clear my head and rejuvenate my pride.

As I make my way around the neighborhood, I notice how nice it really is here. I meet several people out walking their dogs, and couples out for a morning run. I even take in a man running behind a baby stroller, one of those with three wheels designed for running.
Could this be me one day?

The thought of Jennifer carrying my baby quickly fills my head, and I can think of nothing else. Looking back on the couple of nights we failed to use any protection, I should have known my bad luck would catch up with me
. If I had only manned up enough and wore a damn condom…
I don’t know how much more I can take, but I can’t give up on her just yet. I’m not going down without a fight.

A couple hours pass when I turn to walk back up the hill towards the apartment. I’m saddened by the knowledge that she never attempted to stop me from leaving this morning. Or reach out to me since. I walk up behind my car, needing to make the final decision: do I make one last attempt at reconciliation or do I give up and leave forever?

I see the mailman over in the next unit of apartments dropping mail off in the appropriate slots. Suddenly, a thought comes to mind. I cross my fingers that Jennifer has mail today. If she does, I will talk the mail carrier into letting me take it to her myself.

I sit back down on the steps and wait, hoping my plan works. 

A few minutes later, the mail carrier walks up.

“Good morning.”

“Morning to you too.” He replies.

I stand up as though I’m walking back to the apartment. I turn to him and ask, “Have anything for Davis? Jennifer Davis, apartment 308. I can take it with me and save you some steps.”

This is easier than I thought. “Let’s see. Here you go.” He hands a few things over to me, then turns to walk away.

“Thanks man, and have a good day.” I walk closer to the apartment door waiting for him to disappear. I don’t want him to see me not going inside just yet.

When I feel he’s safely away, I look closely at the mail and see several items that look to be junk mail or advertisements, but then the last envelope catches my attention. It’s a letter addressed to Jennifer from her parents.

No, Brian. No, you can’t even be thinking this.
Seeing this envelope sidetracks me from everything else. All of the emotions I’ve been struggling with are pushed aside as this envelope screams my name.

I hold the envelope towards the sun and sure enough, I make out several small items wrapped in a single sheet of paper
. Are people still dumb enough to send cash in the mail?
If they are, they deserve to lose it, as a lesson.

I sit back down and try to think clearly.
How often do Jennifer’s parents send her money?
She mentioned to me when we first met how they liked to send her money from time to time hoping she wouldn’t miss them as much. No large amount, just enough to treat herself to a little something. Of course, this is the first time I’ve ever bothered to check the mail, so I don’t know if she’s expecting something from them or if this is simply one of their gifts.

I know at some point I am going to have to face Rebecca about the money I owe her for the bracelet. I’m thankful she has kept her secret between us, especially now that we are no longer on speaking terms. If I don’t come up with something soon, she may try to turn the story against me. Eventually, she and Jennifer will talk, and I need Rebecca completely on my side so that Jennifer will believe that I did not initiate that kiss. Even though Rebecca knows the truth, Jennifer will be more likely to choose her best friend over me, and I don’t need that happening.

I fold the envelope in half and stick it in my back pocket. I leaf through the mail again, then pull the envelope back out.
I can’t do this to her. I can’t take a girl’s money again.
My conscience is eating me inside.

My stomach is in knots, and I realize that I need to make a decision, quick. If I’m going to give our relationship one final attempt, I need to go back in there and be firm with her. I need to let her know that I’m willing to fight for her and I’ll be there when she’s ready to have me back. I just hope it’s sooner rather than later.

I suddenly have an idea. This really isn’t what I want to do, but I think I can get it to work in my favor. I pull out my phone and send her a text.

Rebecca. She loaned me the money for the bracelet.

A few minutes go by, and I start to wonder if maybe she’s asleep and doesn’t hear her text alert. Maybe she doesn’t want to talk to me. I’m about to give up when the message indicator lights up in the corner of my phone followed by a chirp. I heave a sigh of relief, even though I don’t know what her response is until I open the text.

Thanx for being honest.
I didn’t want you to know. Wanted to keep a secret. Was embarrassed. Sorry to let you down.
Please come back. Let’s talk.

The words are like magic leaping from my phone. I realize if I go inside and hand over her mail, she’s might question the folded envelope from her parents and be suspicious of me, again. Without thinking further, I make another bad choice and rip it open. Sure enough, inside are five crisp twenty-dollar bills. A yellow sticky note is attached.

Here’s a little something for your car service. Wish we were there to take care of it for you. Love, Mom and Dad

You’ve got to be kidding me
. This money is supposed to pay for her car service; the same car service where she discovered that I was no longer employed. I simply can’t win, unless she is not expecting the money. And, being that she didn’t get her car serviced because she got sick, I cross my fingers that the money won’t be mentioned by anyone until later on, after I’ve had a chance to figure this all out.

Without thinking any more about it, I walk to the big dumpster along the side of the building and toss in the envelope. I can’t have her finding it anywhere, and this seems to be the best place to get rid of it. I stick the money in my wallet and head back to the front door, anxious to give this relationship another go.

I turn the knob and push the door open. Jennifer is standing there, with tear soaked cheeks and red eyes. Neither of us makes any attempt to approach the other. Realizing someone has to make the first move, I slowly walk towards her and embrace her in a hug. Her body feels frail, almost like it’s taking all the energy she has just to stand here.

I guide her over to the couch and pull her towards me, helping her to place her head in my lap. She curls up in a tight ball and I gently rub the hair from her face. I continue to rub her neck, her shoulders, and her back. I look down at her, and her breathing has evened. She’s finally dozed off to sleep, hopefully satisfied with her decision to give me another chance.


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