Thanks so much for going on this journey with me! Here is chapter 11 of Broken Record for your reading pleasure! Scroll to get started!
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K. A. LINDE
Not for reprint or sale.
“I haven’t heard from him. But if Brady or I do hear anything we’ll call you right away,” Liz said over the phone. “You could always come over here if you want.”
“No, I want to be here in case he shows up,” Savannah told her.
She hadn’t slept all night. Dark circles ringed her eyes, but they weren’t swollen or puffy or red. She hadn’t cried. Not one tear. She was too numb and horrified and worried.
Easton had left almost exactly twelve hours ago, and he was still nowhere to be seen. He wasn’t answering texts or calls. He hadn’t been online in all that time. No one else had heard from him. And she had no idea where he was, if he was okay, or if he was lying in a gutter somewhere.
“All right,” Liz said. “Should I come over there to be with you?”
Savannah held her aching stomach. She hadn’t been able to eat anything. Just stared around in stress and misery.
“I don’t know.”
“Okay, executive decision. I am coming over there. You have been alone too long. I’ll see you in a half hour.”
Savannah couldn’t argue. She probably had been alone too long. She’d been left to think about all the ways she could have told Easton what had happened with Lucas that wouldn’t have resulted in him running off in the middle of the night while he was intoxicated. Pretty much every other scenario.
She hung up the phone and set it face up on the coffee table. She double checked the volume was on for the hundredth time. Then stared up at the ceiling in dismay. She didn’t know what else to do. If she went out looking for him, then he might just show up while she was gone. Some of his friends had said they’d checked his regular haunts but had turned up nothing. They hadn’t been living there long enough for her to know where he’d go.
She was straight up fucked.
She had expected anger. She had expected him to scream at her and rage. To say that he knew it. That he’d been right.
Easton wasn’t someone who ran away from his problems. He was a problem solver. His mother was a therapist for Christ’s sake. He’d grown up knowing how to manage stress and deal with other people’s problems. In fact, he’d always been a little too understanding of her own issues. So running hadn’t even been something she had considered.
The silence loomed darker. Every added hour stretched thicker and more tangible. Diving into space and only finding a yawning vacuum prepared to suck her into oblivion.
Sometime in the emptiness, someone knocked on the door. Liz must have shown up. Savannah hadn’t been tracking time except to say another hour had passed since Easton had disappeared.
She hoisted her numb body off of the couch and opened the door. She gasped at the sight of his body standing at the entrance to their apartment.
“Easton,” she whispered.
Her heart beat roared in her ears. Her hands trembled. Life swooshed back into her. His presence here replacing the worry of what if. But the hard set of his jaw did nothing to dispel her other fears.
“Can I come in?” he asked.
“Of course. You live here.” She stepped back, gesturing him into his own apartment. Her world felt like it was standing on a precarious axis waiting to tip over.
He stepped inside and she closed the door behind him. She memorized his features in that moment. Noticed the five o’clock shadow growing in along his jawline. The mussed hair and rumpled state of his clothing. But his eyes were clear, assessing, weighing.
“Where were you?” she gasped out. She couldn’t help it. She’d been so worried.
“At first, I thought I would go find Lucas,” he said slowly, calmly. “Probably couldn’t beat the shit out of him but thought it would be worth a try.”
Savannah said nothing. She didn’t think he wanted her to speak.
“Couldn’t find him. I don’t know where he’s staying in the city. And the more I searched, the more I realized that I wanted answers from him.”
From him and not her.
“I wanted to know why he told you about the supposed kiss now. Why he thought it was a good idea to remind you if you had blacked out. If it had even happened. How much of it did he make up to get between us.”
Savannah put her hand to her lips. Oh God.
“It was drunken ramblings and anger that brought me to a bar where I tried to drink myself through the entire liquor shelf.” He tilted his head to the side and turned to face her fully. “That was when I realized that there must have been a reason you believed him. I wanted to blame Lucas. It’s easy to blame Lucas. But you thought it was true when he told you.”
She swallowed. She had immediately known it for truth. Her heart hadn’t wanted to believe that anything had happened with Lucas so she had believed him when he’d said it hadn’t. As soon as he admitted that they’d kissed, it had all rushed back.
“So, what I want to know is, what else you have been keeping from me?” His voice was quiet and chilled. A killing calm in his demeanor that put her on edge.
“Nothing,” she said at once. “I didn’t even keep that from you. I didn’t…I wouldn’t. I had to tell you.”
“Savannah,” he said calmly. “Just tell me the truth.”
“Tell me.” His voice raised slightly.
Her pulse quickened. The kiss had been the worst of it. But it hadn’t been all of it, had it? She had tried to spare him. Let things happen instead of being proactive.
“I stayed at Lucas’s place that night in Nashville.”
He nodded. “And?”
“My mother orchestrated it. I was in the spare bedroom. I didn’t think it would matter. It was just one night.”
“And then you went out with him and got wasted.”
“Yes. And we…danced,” she confessed. “At the party. But that was it. I just hung out with his friends. We acted stupid. Normal college shit.”
“Except that you went home with him that night and then you two kissed. If that was all that happened,” he said with a disbelief that said he doubted it stopped there.
“We just kissed.”
“But how would you know?” he asked. “You were black out drunk. You said so yourself. How do you know he didn’t fuck you that night, Savannah?”
Easton laughed, cutting off what she would have said next. “Sure, he wouldn’t.”
“We didn’t!” she insisted.
“Have there been other times? Other times you were alone and maybe forgot what happened?”
“No,” she gasped at his accusatory tone. Yes, she had done something wrong and owned up to it, but that didn’t mean they had slept together. Or that they’d slept together before this. He knew about the one time they’d done something wrong back when they first started dating and she’d been so careful around Lucas up until his graduation.
“Nothing else? Not even a little bit? This is your chance, Savannah.”
She stared at him, wracking her brain, trying to think of anything that would damn her. But she didn’t know. They hadn’t done anything. Not for a long time. Not since…wait.
“We saw each other when I was gone for Liz’s bachelorette party at Hilton Head.”
“Old habits do die hard.”
“No, it wasn’t like that. I was on the beach already. He was drunk and high and found me and like confessed his undying love for me. I told him to leave me alone and the guys dragged him away. Everyone was there for it. Liz would tell you.”
“I believe you,” he said with a nod. “But why didn’t you tell me?”
She had wanted to. She’d thought about it when she first got back. But then the old fears came back. The fears that said Lucas would cause trouble and their relationship was so good, so solid. No need to rock the boat.
She shook her head. She had no response.
“Why didn’t you tell me that he gave you an audition packet for your graduation present?”
“How did you…?” she trailed off.
“How did I know? Really? That’s the question?”
“No,” she said quickly. “I just…have you been reading my emails?”
He looked at her aghast. “Of course not. It came in the freaking mail, Savannah.”
“Oh,” she muttered. She’d forgotten about that. She’d gotten the email first and had tossed the papers as soon as it had come in.
“I had to look it up to even see what it even was. I didn’t know that you were interested in theater. I kept waiting for the day that you would tell me that you had filled it out and sent it in. That you had been given an audition date. That something you clearly loved was moving into place, and you never did tell me. Why is that?”
She didn’t answer, because she didn’t have an answer. But he did.
“Because you hide your true self,” he said. He took another step back from her. “You hide who you are. Maybe you don’t even know who you really are. And the farther you slip away, the tighter I held on. But it didn’t matter. Still doesn’t matter.”
He strode away from her, determined and lethally calm. He’d already thought this all through. Everything she had said had just confirmed his own assumptions.
“This isn’t about Lucas,” he went on. “This is about your lies and secrets. The ones you keep from me and worse, the ones you keep from yourself. I don’t want to be with that person.”
Her heart stopped. Those words. That blow.
“Easton,” she whispered.
“I’ve put up with it long enough. I let you walk all over me. Let you have your way. But I’m done.” His eyes flicked to hers.
“You’re done,” she whispered unable to comprehend the words.
“I think we just need space to figure this out. Be apart until you can figure out who you are and what you want. Because right now I don’t think you can commit fully to a relationship. And if this just throws you into Lucas’s arms, then I guess I proved my point. Why work on yourself when you can have something convenient, right?”
She winced at the harsh words.
“I don’t want Lucas,” she told him.
“Yeah. We’ll see.” He grabbed his laptop bag and threw it over his shoulder. “I’m just going to pack a suitcase. Gary said I could crash at his place for a while.”
“You can stay here,” she whispered. “I can stay with Liz.”
“Not sure it’d be in my best interest to be surrounded by your stuff. So, just take the apartment. It was what you wanted anyway.”
He disappeared into the bedroom and came out less than five minutes later with a suitcase. It looked so official with his bag. Shock started to set in. Full on shock. Easton was leaving her. She had never once thought this would ever happen.
She slipped the diamond ring from her finger. “Here.”
He stared down at it and for the first time, his resolve cracked. The loving, kind, caring man she’d fall for shown through. He looked like he was going to take it all back. Decide that he couldn’t live without her and help her fix her issues. But then he just pocketed the ring, kissed her cheek roughly, and pulled the door open.
Liz stood silhouetted in the door frame. Her eyes were wide as she took in the scene before her—the suitcase, rumpled man, and shell-shocked woman.
“Hi, Easton,” she said softly, carefully.
“Liz,” he said with a nod. “If you’ll excuse me.”
“She’ll fill you in.”
“I’m sure she will,” Liz said with an arched eyebrow. “I’m going to guess you’re cancelling my tennis lesson.”
He ground his teeth. “I think we’ll take a summer hiatus.”
“Is that what you’re calling what you’re doing?”
“Don’t,” he barked.
Liz took a step back. “You seem to have made up your mind all on your own.”
Easton nodded curtly and then bustled out of the door without a backward glance. Liz turned her attention back to Savannah.
“You’ll stay with me,” she insisted before stepping a foot inside. “We’ll figure it out.”
Savannah nodded. She still didn’t have words.
“Oh, come here.” Liz staggered forward into the room and wrapped her arms around Savannah.
Liz didn’t tell Savannah it would be all right. That everything would work out. She didn’t bait her with platitudes. She knew first hand what it was like to suffer for love. Knew all the things that could go wrong in a relationship and still come out on top. But nothing had made it easy as she went through it. And Savannah knew, Liz wouldn’t lie to her.
So, she packed her own suitcase and followed Liz out of her apartment. Wondered what the hell she was going to do. And if she had just made the worst mistake of her entire life.
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