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310 pages, Kindle Edition
First published September 18, 2017
“Watching the person you loved in pain was worse than experiencing that pain yourself, but watching the person you loved choose that pain… there wasn’t a word for the hell that kind of torture was.”
Lying on that couch, he looked so vulnerable. Almost like he needed someone to protect him. From the world. From his demons. From himself. I’d tried. God, I’d been trying for what felt like forever, but the only thing I had to show for my efforts was scars and pain.
Canaan wasn’t just someone I loved — he was someone I’d shared everything with. He’d walked with me though the hardest part of my life, and I’d walked with him through his. We’d been each other’s beacon, shelter, and compass through all of life’s shit… So how had we gotten here?
Canaan. I hadn’t seen or heart from him since that night. It was almost like he’d never existed. Save for that gaping hole I felt in my chest from time to time when a memory of him broke free of the box I kept them locked in.
“We were a couple of kids playing house. We should have known better than to think we could make a marriage work at eighteen.”
“I wasn’t playing anything.” His eyes flickered to mind, fire burning in them. “You and me, that was the most real thing I’ve ever known. I wasn’t playing. But that doesn’t change the fact that I fucked things up.”
His eyes closed as he shifted into just the right spot on the stairs. It’s not over.”
“Maybe. There’s a fifty-fifty chance, because one of us is delusional about this whole divorce thing. Time will tell if that person is me. Or you.”
“You married me because I was—“
“Because I was in love with you.” The amused smile left. “I want to remain married to you because I’m still in love with you.”
“A hell of a lot of chemistry sure doesn’t go bad with all of that other love, trust, and respect stuff. Does it?”
… “I wouldn’t know.”
Canaan stopped in the middle of yanking a strip of tape. “I felt like we had those things. Maybe not in the amount we should have, but I always loved and trusted you. And I respected the shit out of you, too.”
“You’re a married woman, Maggie.”
“My husband forfeited his rights years ago.” My eyes found his, expecting them to shoot away once mine made contact.
They didn’t. His gold eyes held to mine. “He’s here to reclaim them.”
“Let me spell it straight out for you. Canaan has not so much as looked at, touched, or fucked another woman since you.”
“I’m being serious.”
His eyes sparked. “So am I.”
“No one else?” I said after a minute.
He didn’t pause. He didn’t blink. “No one.”
“You waited five years.”
He gave me a funny look, like he doubted my question. “I’d wait forever.”
“We didn’t work once. In face, we were a goddamn chaotic mess. Why should we even think we might have a chance at getting it right the second time around?”
… “Because you can’t write a great love story without a tragedy to overcome. Because that’s when love’s proved. Not when life’s easy, but when it’s so damn hard you can hardly breathe.”
His hand slid across the desk toward me. “You know how I feel about you. You know I still care about and want you.” His throat moved before he could keep going. “That I still love you. More than anyone’s ever loved another person, but still less than you deserve.”
“The man was the boy again, and I wanted to save him the way he’d saved me. But I couldn’t. The only person who could save Canaan Ford was Canaan Ford.”
“I promised to love you forever, and I will.”
“But I can’t spend forever with you.”
“And what happens if at the end of that month I’m not convinced you’ve changed? If I haven’t fallen madly in love with you again, like you’re so convinced I’m about to.”
“Then I sign your damn divorce papers.”
“People only become vets when they can’t hack it in med school.”
“Your boyfriend?” His throat moved, but the rest of his expression was unreadable. “He’s a doctor? How old is he then? Fifty?”
When a sharp exhale came from him, I couldn’t resist. “Thirty-five.”
One corner of his mouth pulled, but everything else remained emotionless. “That makes him twelve years older than you. You were in kindergarten when he was a senior in high school.”
I’d never thought of it that way. Not that I was going to give Canaan the credit of knowing it. “Yeah. What’s your point?”
His hand stabbed in the direction of where he’d just pulled me from. “Caleb Thomas might be a tool, but your boyfriend’s a pervert.”