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Part Three

There was no point lying. Not anymore. She’d been lying to herself for too long, and it had caught up with her anyway. It would keep chasing after her, this dark and heavy cloud that moved supernaturally fast, forcing her to run at an unsustainable pace. She was tired. Down to the marrow tired. It was time.

“Because I had to.”

It was all she could let herself say at first. All the other words were too heavy to speak aloud. And that was the bare bones of the truth: She had to.

James waited patiently for her to continue, a new quality of his, it seemed. He was never patient before. He was always hurrying her along to whatever new adventure he’d dreamed up that day and frustrated when she couldn’t keep up. When she couldn’t muster the same level of enthusiasm. Megan loved adventure. If she was honest with herself, she craved it more than he ever did. But she needed a little time to adjust to the ever-changing life presented to her with him. Time he never gave her. She held onto that as she felt the steel around her heart slip.

“It didn’t work. We both agreed.”

James sighed heavily. “You agreed. I let you go. I just assumed you’d come back.”

He tried to reach over the table to take her hand again. His eyes searched her face, begging her to let him touch her. It was too much.

“And that’s why I disappeared!” she exploded. “Because I would have! You have a hold on me, James, and you know it. I couldn’t breathe in your grasp. I couldn’t live in your whirlwind of a life all of the time.”

James’s face twitched as he tempered his feelings. Megan forced herself to focus on the arguments—loud, angry, vicious words thrown at each other in the heat of the moment. He was not perfect. She was not perfect. Their life was nowhere near perfect. Still, her heart kept pounding, begging her to let it be free.

“It hurt. You not being around tore me apart,” he whispered, his eyes dropping to the table, “You could have warned me.”

Megan huffed a laugh. “So you could try and convince me not to? We both know what would have happened. What I did was the best thing for both of us.”
In her mind she knew this to be true, but her increasingly annoying heart was close to bursting at the restraints she’d forced on it.

“Have dinner with me tonight.”

The request came from nowhere. Of course it did, she thought, because he isn’t listening. But maybe dinner was necessary. It would give her time to think about what to say, to present her case, to put their history to bed once and for all. The idea made her shiver. This could finally close this chapter of her life, or blow it wide open.

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