Those are parting words. He anticipates me leaving him. And he has reason to.
I feel his head shift and now it's pressed against my back. "I didn't fuck her. I know you believe I did, but I swear I didn't. I wasn't lying to you when I told you I hadn't been inside another woman since you."
I've never known Jack Henry to lie to me. I think that's one reason the whole thing came as such a shock. That, and the fact that he knows how much I despise deceit.
I pull away and flip over so I can see his face. "You did something with her." And I know all the little naughty somethings he likes so much. "And whatever it was happened a week after I left. Seven damn days. Do you want to know what I was doing on day seven? I wasn't out screwing around with some guy. I was in my apartment all alone, crying day and night because I was grieving the loss of us."
"Dammit, Laurelyn. You walked out on me without so much as a goodbye. Don't think for one second that I wasn't grieving the loss of us too. I thought I was never going to see you again and I was a total mess after you were gone. I stayed drunk the first week after. I was so fucking miserable and I just wanted to find a way to get over you. You said you thought Charlie might help you forget me. Well, I thought I needed number fourteen to make me forget you, so I picked that woman up in a hotel bar. She agreed to my conditions and I took her upstairs to the room I'd rented. I planned on fucking her until you were out of my head."
I can't handle hearing this. It's too much. "Stop. I don't want to hear this. It will end me if I have to picture you with another woman." I put my hands over my ears.
He grabs my wrists to pull them down. "I had every intention of telling you about this woman, but the night you asked if there were others, I couldn't say the words. We had just found each other and I didn't want to ruin our reunion, so I planned on doing it later. But later never came."
"I don't want to know. I don't want to have the picture in my head."
"This will always come between us if I don't tell you everything. You'll always wonder what happened, so it's better to get it out of the way so it can't hurt us in the long run." He brings my hands to his mouth and kisses them. "And I plan on it being a really long run—like, forever."
I brace myself for the pain that's coming. It's like seeing a bat being swung at my face in slow motion. I know it's gonna hurt like hell and if it hits me hard enough, there's a good chance I might die.
The thought of never telling Laurelyn about the woman in the hotel—potential number fourteen—had crossed my mind. I seriously considered keeping that secret to myself but I always knew I couldn't deceive her that way. As time passed, the moment was never right—at least that's what I told myself.
I admit it. That was my excuse and it got me by for a while, but now it's all come tumbling down on my head. Even in this moment, I want to back out because I'm scared shitless, but I have no choice. What I'm about to do could cost me the first and only woman I've ever been in love with, but I don't think I could ever look straight at myself—or Laurelyn—if I don't tell her everything.
I clear my throat and the sound echoes off every wall in our bedroom. It calls attention to how quiet it is and to the fact that I'm about to tell her something that's going to cause her pain. "I was so hammered that I could barely walk. All I could think about was you and how you left me without a goodbye. I understand why you did it, but it still hurt me terribly. I wanted the pain to go away, even if it was only for a few minutes. I thought fucking another woman would take away the pain I felt from losing you. But I was wrong; her touch made me sick. I couldn't even let her kiss me when she tried."
"I don't want you to describe being with her from beginning to end. I'd be envisioning the whole encounter in my head, so I'm going to ask you the things I think are important for me to know."
That's probably better than getting my play-by-play. "Okay. I'll honestly answer any questions you have."
Oh, fuck! She wants details—in-depth ones. I hadn't planned on going into those kinds of specifics about my interaction with this woman. Now, I have no choice but to answer her because she has specifically asked. "Yes."
She squeezes her eyes shut for a moment before she opens them again. I think she's debating if she wants to keep going with this line of questioning, but she continues. "Were you?"
I don't want to admit being naked with another woman a week after Laurelyn left. Even if I didn't screw her, this doesn't look good for me. But it is what it is, and I'm guilty, so now I get to pay the piper. "Yes."
She's biting her lip but not in a sexy way—it's from worry. "Did you go down on her?"
I can't believe she thinks I'd do that. "Hell, no!"
"Did she go down on you?"
This is not the way I planned on this conversation going. "No."
"Did you use your hand to make her come?"
She's staring me right in the face doing that thing she does—invoking her human lie detector skills. "No. I didn't touch her there."
"But you did touch her?"
I swallow hard. This isn't going to go over well. "She put my hands on her tits."
"Did she touch your dick?"
Damn! She's leaving no stone unturned. "Yes," I whisper as I close my eyes. "When she rolled the condom on me."
When I open my eyes, I see the tears pooling in hers. I vowed to never be this person—the one to cause her tears—and I swear this is the last time it'll ever happen. I'll spend the rest of my life making her smile and laugh.
A single tear rolls down her cheek and I reach to wipe it away with my thumb, but she slaps my hand away. "Did she make you come?"
I shake my head hard from side to side. "No fucking way."
"Why do you say it like that? You said she put a condom on you. That means you got hard for her." Her eyes are narrowed at me. "Just how close were you to being inside her?"
I sigh heavily before answering. "Close, but I couldn't do it. I had my eyes squeezed shut so I didn't have to look at her. All I could see was your face. I love you too much to ever be inside another woman. I swear I did not fuck her. Please believe me."
"My side of the bed wasn't even cold yet."
I watch her face as she studies mine, and I'm terrified of what she's about to say. I decide it's time to plead for my life like I'm standing in front of a firing line. "We agreed we'd never see each other again and you left without saying goodbye. I thought we were over forever. I would've never gone looking for another woman if I'd thought I had a chance in hell of having you back in my life. Please forgive me, L. I love you. You're the only woman I want. Ever."
She shuts her eyes and tears roll down her face. "I believe you when you say you didn't have sex with that woman, but hearing the things you did with her is as painful as if you had. I can't imagine my heart hurting worse than it does right now."
She turns onto her side facing away from me, and I don't know where I stand. I have no idea what it means for her to believe me yet be so hurt by what I did.
I want to reach out to touch her, to comfort her. I'm afraid she won't allow me, but I can't stop myself. I scoot closer and drape my arm over her waist. She struggles to get away but I pull her to me tightly. "You're angry and I will take any punishment you see fit to give me because I fucked up big time, but I love you and this isn't going to end us. We're bigger than this stupid mistake of mine and we're going to push through and come out bigger and better on the other side because of it."
She stops resisting and relaxes, so I hold her in my arms. I can feel the shuddering of her body as she cries and I'm terrified. I don't know what I'll do if she calls off the wedding. It's a very real possibility. I reach for her left hand to see if she's wearing her ring, and I'm relieved to feel it there. I bring it to my mouth and press it firmly against my lips. "Please tell me you still want to be my wife."
"Now isn't the time to ask me that question."
Fuck! This could be it for us. She may not be able to move past my stupid mistake. "No, L. Please don't end us. I'll do whatever it takes to turn this around."
"I said I need time to think." She pushes my hand away as she sits up on the edge of the bed, her back to me. "I want to go to Addison's for a few days so I can sort through this without looking at you."
I don't want her at Addison's, not with that little bastard who wanted in her pants living right across the hall. "Baby, please don't go there. Let me take you to Avalon and I'll stay in the guest house. You and Addison can have the house and I won't come back until you tell me I can."
"I'll talk to Addison and let you know what I decide." She gets up from the bed and goes into the bathroom. There's a loud thud when she shuts the door and it's a reminder that she is closing herself off from me.
My mobile rings. My mum. I'm certain she's calling to check on Laurelyn after her incident in the restaurant, so I can't avoid her call. "Hello, Mum."
I'm glad she doesn't know what's going on between us. She would beat the shit out of me if she got wind of it. "She's feeling much better and is taking a shower right now."
"I'm so grateful to hear that. She had me worried. I've never seen anyone go so pale. Any idea what caused that to happen?"
"She has migraines and one came on after we left the restaurant. She got sick once we were home, so I think it could be associated with that." It's not a lie.
"That sounds like a very probable explanation. We have plans to do wedding shopping today and Chloe wants to prepare some of the wedding food for her to sample this evening. Did she mention if she felt well enough to do that?" I highly doubt it.