“Yeah, I get it.” She spears me with an intent look. “It’s because you’re still in love with him.”
It isn’t a question. I should deny it, of course. I was the one who broke up with Grant three years ago, after all. I’m too tired and drained, though, to keep up a pretense right now.
I can’t argue. After all, I didn’t break up with Grant because I stopped loving him.
“Is it that obvious?” I ask tiredly.
Allison seems taken aback that I’m not putting up more of a fight. But I didn’t sleep well the night before, I had a long day at work, and I have to pick up Owen in an hour. I don’t have time to futilely argue.
“How long?” Allison asks, blinking.
“How long have I known I’m still in love with him?” I ask, and she nods. I snort. “Are you kidding? I never stopped being in love with him.” I scowl. It made things hard, I can tell you that.”
It doesn’t look like Allison entirely understands. If I was in her shoes, I wouldn’t either. I’m sitting here, telling her that I’m still as in love with Grant as I was when I left him, yet I broke up with him despite that. None of it will make sense unless I explain the desperate confusion and the search for answers that I wasn’t ready for that had overtaken me before we broke up.
And I’m not about to explain any of that.
“Jessica…” Allison tries and falters. She sighs. “This is another of those things that Grant deserves to know first, isn’t it?”
“Yeah,” I confess.
“Are you ever going to tell him though?” Allison asks.
I wince and look away. That was the question I didn’t want her to ask. I hear her sigh and then chuckle.
“You and I, we really are a pair,” she murmurs. “Did I ever tell you about the problems Kyle and I had before we got together?”
I sneak a glance at her. Her face is honest and open. She doesn’t think too badly of me, then. I’m more grateful for her friendship than I can say.
“Not really,” I say with a shrug. “You just said there were some issues.”
“Some issues.” Allison snorts. “That’s one way of putting it. I was the most selfish person in the world, Jessica. There he was, trying to help me, and I just treated him like absolute crap for it. If I wasn’t telling him he wasn’t allowed to protect me, I was pushing him away because I forgot that he could protect himself way better than I could protect him.”
I stare at her. I’ve seen Allison and Kyle together. They love each other so much that it makes me jealous. Kyle worships the ground she walks on and Allison, headstrong, blunt, sometimes rude Allison, is so considerate of him. They were perfect. I guess I never thought about the trials they would have had to go through to get that way.
“Fact is, I put Kyle through the ringer,” Allison says, leaning forward. “Once, I tried to break up with him. I told him we couldn’t be together because we had absolutely nothing in common.” She grimaces and looks away. “I hurt him real bad, you know. I didn’t really stop to think about it, I just thought I was doing what was best. I know I can be a bit of a fool sometimes, but Kyle taught me not to jump to conclusions, to think things through, and to talk to him before I get an idea in my head.”
It’s not quite the same. Allison hurt Kyle to protect him. I hurt Grant to protect myself and our unborn child. But…
“I’m prone to jumping to conclusions,” I admit. “I…broke up with Grant because I couldn’t talk to him about some things I found out.”
“That means you’re about as bad at communication as I am,” Allison says, flashing me a grin. Her smile softens. “Thing is, you never get anywhere without at least talking it through. Maybe you and Grant just need to have a really good conversation about everything that happened.”
I feel a brief spark of hope. Then it dies and I sigh.
“He’ll never accept my reasons,” I say gloomily. “And he made it clear he had nothing he wanted to say to me. Wouldn’t it better to give him his space now?”
“Maybe,” Allison says, grinning. “Or, you can confront him, force him to listen! I know it isn’t fair for him. After all, you didn’t listen to him.” I wince at her bluntness. “But you’re both on the same page now, right? He might be pretending otherwise, but he really does want to know what happened. So go over there and give him what he wants! Then you guys can clear the air and even think about getting back together.”
It’s a nice thought. I’ve entertained the idea of getting back with Grant more times than I can count in the last three years. But, every time I do, those dark thoughts return. Those things that I found out… The fear that I felt… The horror at what I was learning about someone I loved… Everything I thought I knew and loved about Grant had been thrown into jeopardy.
I don’t want to get back together.
I sniffle and cover my face. My eyes are burning. I can’t deny it. Even despite everything, even though I’ve tried my hardest to stay away…