Reluctantly I headed back home. I wasn’t in the mood for a spa visit any more. I wasn’t in the mood for anyone, really. Home, with its hollow walls and plastic faces, seemed the best place to go. I had a plan. I would go home, hole up in my room, and listen to the strings of Fur Elise as my mind wandered to a better place, a lovelier reality.

I had to hold back the groan when I pulled up to find Mitzi’s car in the drive. I turned off my ignition, took a deep breath, got out, slapped on a smile, and walked to her car door, half propped open.

“Oh my gosh! Mizi! What did you do?!” I took in the long dark strands of my formerly blonde friend and gasped!

“Do you love it!” Her blue eyes sparkled with pure happiness, and I realized how very much I liked it and how amazing she looked.

“I do love it!”

She flipped her hair as she got out of the car, “It was time for a change. You inspired me, ya know?”

I was confused, “Me?” I had never colored my hair, that was Zella with a veritable rainbow of tresses.

She smiled and grabbed me by the elbow and started walking toward my house, “Yes! Sunday…well, and Saturday night!” She kept chattering in her usual happy go lucky way, “I’m done with drinking.” She looked at me so that I would see the seriousness on her face. “Seriously. Done.”

I wasn’t ready to take that step yet, so I was curious. What made her make that complete about-face. My look must have cued her to go on.

“See. I HATE myself getting drunk. I do stupid things. I say stupid things. Did you see some of the crap that I texted Chad that night?”

I admitted that I didn’t.

“Well, it was crazy pathetic crap.” She frowned, “I’m not that girl.” She looked at me for affirmation, “Am I?”

I smiled, “No.” But I was still curious, so I pressed, “Drunk texting can be rough, but you can drink and not get drunk.” 

By that point in the conversation we had made it to my room and she flung herself on my bed, “But that’s just the point! I can’t judge that I will just have one drink. I can’t trust myself not to have another and another and another, and there are some crazy people out there! What would I have done, Oona, if you hadn’t showed up? Really? Have you thought about that?”

She didn’t wait for me to answer.

“Because I have, and it isn’t pretty! I actually was listening before you got sick. At church? I was listening. And, I have been thinking…I’m not sure about this God person, thing,  being, whatever…but if I do belong to Him, I’m not doing Him much good.”

What she said was interesting. “How do you figure?”

She smiled and flipped her hair over your shoulder, “I’m so glad you asked!” She got really serious, and bit her bottom lip before she continued, “I don’t really like to be thought of as property. I am my own person, I do what I want, I say what I want, I live how I want. No one should tell me what to do.”

I nodded. I agreed with her there.

“But, say it’s not that way. Like, I just think it’s that way, but really all my life I have belonged to God and with my life I just wasted it being selfish and thoughtless and,” she ran her fingers down her hair, “and vain.”

I was surprised. That was coming from my friend that three months ago told me that she was going to start getting botox injections to keep from aging. I told her at eighteen I didn’t think we had to worry about that, but she insisted that she would be making an appointment within the week. She was now rethinking vanity? All because of one church service?

I suddenly felt a deep seated shame. I had failed. All I could think about in that moment were the positive thoughts that Mitzi was having about God and changing her ways. Instead of thinking about being a part of that change in some small way by inviting her to church, all I could think about was how stupid I had been. Mitzi isn’t the brightest knife in the drawer, sure we all have flashes of flightiness, but she was probably the most naïve of anyone that I knew.  It was really hard to swallow her deep thoughts…mostly because I knew her shallow brain.

My insecurities escaped in sarcasm, “Well, praise the Lord, let’s get you to the river for a baptizin’!”

She looked at me confused.

“Oh ya know, since you’ve seen the light and all…had you a downright Jesus experience, didn’t ya?”

“Jesus experience?”

I knew I should stop, but the anger was welling up from a place I didn’t fully recognize. “Oh yes!” I started talking like one of those smiley pastors I’d watched on TV once, “Once Jesus grabs ahold of your heart, He never lets go! You’ll have to give it all up – sex, alcohol, flirting, even dancing! But you can do it, Mitz, if anyone can, you can!”

She looked hurt, and I felt bad but was too angry to apologize.

“I think I’m just gonna go.” She picked up her purse, and headed out my door, “You know, Oona…” She stopped and turned back to look at me, “This I expected from my sister…but not you. I thought you’d be happy…join me maybe. I guess I was wrong.”

I watched her leave, for the second time that day wishing I were brave enough to call back and admit my mistake. But, that required vulnerability and transparency, and I wasn’t gonna lay myself open like that, my shame was too great. I grabbed my headphones and blared the volume.  Ironically, Fur Elise was what was already playing, but it wasn’t calming me, it was fueling my passion…my need for release, my desire for blood. The violin strings being sawed with each strain of the bow, enticed me to pain.

I grabbed the blade that I had just unwrapped over the weekend, before I had been so rudely interrupted. Numb to everyone and everything I took off my shorts and sat on the floor. Almost without thinking, I sliced through my thigh. It stung and I felt the endorphins rush through my veins. I sliced again and it hurt a little more. I liked that hurt. It was real. It was tangible. I could feel it in my pulse, and I could watch the effects in the blood that surfaced.

As the strings subsided and the song ended, the shame, temporarily ignored, intensified, and I cried. I sat in the middle of my bathroom and cried until I fell asleep. In my dreams, I floated away and out of reality – away from skeptical looks and judgmental stares, away from moms that infuriated me and boys that thought they knew me and friends that were better than me, away from the pain of my heart that resonated in my soul, and away from the voice that told me I wasn’t loved and could never be loved. Only in my dreams did I ever float.

“Get up.”

I wiped the drool that had run from my mouth in my sleep, confused at first, where I was, what I had done, but I knew that voice. Calloused and cold, there was no confusing that voice. I sat up and looked at her, knowing she was disappointed in me again. 

“We have to meet your father for dinner.” She threw a dress on the floor, “Wear this it brings out your eyes. And get a shower. Maybe that will make your face look less puffy.”

I wiped my hand across my eyes, and stared at the dress on the floor. White lace. Of course. It sickened me, lying next to the evidence of my pain.

“Well?” She stood there waiting, unamused and impatient.

“What?” I croaked, still waking up.

“Get UP!” she yelled from the door making no move to help me.

I pushed up from the floor, holding the joke of a dress in my hand. I stopped long enough to keep my head from spinning, before I threw it at her feet. “I’m not wearing that.” 

She huffed, picking it up and holding it back out to me, “I bought it for you.”

“I’m not wearing it,” I pushed past her to grab a fresh towel. 

She grabbed my hand, “Like hell you won’t.” She fixed me with her cold, steely eyes and dared me to make one more move. It was our dance, passion and hatred in a tango of wills.

I wrenched my hand free and stood back, “You heard me.”

Since force hadn’t worked, she reached into her tired bag of tricks and pulled out a butt-load of emotional manipulation, “You always do this to me. All I asked is that you wear one little dress that I just knew would look so great on you, and you treat me like a witch! It’s a beautiful dress! Your daddy would love to see you in it!”

I know my mouth dropped open, “And that is exactly why you won’t catch me within ten feet of that white dress! I hate white! We aren’t going to dinner as a family! We are going to dinner as a façade! The white dress, your pearls, and his smiles, all fake! Guess what? We aren’t a family! We never have been!” I was infuriated at her weakness, “Wake up, mom! This is all to work you out of the alimony he owes you! This is a game, and I am tired of playing the part!” She looked at me with a look that was both pained and angry, but I knew that I was telling her the truth even if she didn’t want to hear it, “And I am NOT wearing that stupid dress.” I was done, end of discussion, and she knew it and walked away while I slammed the door behind her.  I gloated for a second, realizing she had been less and less successful at getting me bested.

She stomped out of my bathroom, slammed my bedroom door and clomped down the stairs, making sure that I heard every “little ungrateful” name that she called me. I took my shower, got dressed, and enjoyed every minute of shock that filled my mother’s face when I reappeared an hour later. She literally gasped as I slid in my seat of the car in a black suit coat, skirt and a hat, complete with a black veil. Charles winked from the rearview mirror as I got into the car. He knew the dance, and the wink was his way of throwing me a rose for my performance. We rode to the restaurant in silence, neither one of us giving the other the satisfaction of a response.

If my mother was furious with my outfit, my father was enraged. Oh he tried to hide it with a smile and hug, but I saw the red creeping up his neck and the clinch of his jaw. He pulled out my chair after my mother’s and pointed to the menus as he took his own seat at the head of the table.

“I’m not hungry,” I pushed the menu aside.

“Should I offer my condolences, dear?” His voice was bitter and sarcastic.

I smirked at him, daring him to offer another invitation.

My mom quickly capitulated, “I picked out a lovely white lace shift that would have looked beautiful on her.” I hated the way she gave in to him, when she was sober.

He looked at me as the waiter came to our table, “Why didn’t you wear the dress your mother bought for you?”

Did he really think that anyone was falling for his crap? I called him on it, “Probably the same reason that you didn’t bring your secretary… it wouldn’t seem right.”

The waiter made a choking sound and offered my dad the wine list.

“Teenagers, huh?” my dad embarrassingly laughed, taking the list and looking up.

The waiter refused to comment, just pointed back to the list. I didn’t blame him. He wanted a good tip and that required absolute compliance. My dad was not a man to be mocked. He must have known this and been aware that he had some work to do to replace his almost amused reaction. 

My dad made his selection and turned back toward the table, to my mother. He was done with me. He was not entertained. I listened as they both shared about their weeks and what so and so was caught doing and how so and so was acting. Oh the dialogue of hypocrites. It’s like he hadn’t just tried to get her daughter to rat her out in court! I tried not to roll my eyes. Who cared? I played with the hors d’oeuvre my mom had put on my plate despite my disgust, and tried to imagine myself elsewhere, anywhere but there, putting on a show with them.

When I saw him walk in, I almost laughed and wanted to run straight to his side! There he was looking like an unlikely diner in his faded jeans and grey tshirt. He was hanging back like he was waiting for someone, but just his presence somehow filled me with hope! I reached up my hand quickly to wave and almost knocked over my water, “Robbie!” I knew I was loud without my mother whispering for me to be quiet, but I couldn’t take the chance that he might not see me.

He turned in the direction of my voice, and his smile broadened. I didn’t wait for him to beckon me or to walk toward us. I sent my silverware clashing to my plate and got up to see him. He grinned as I got closer, taking in the whole of the scene much faster than I could have explained it.  He flipped the edge of my veil, “Interesting attire.”

A little out of breath I sniffed, “Yeah.”

“Proving a point?”

It amazed me how quickly he caught on. “Yes,” I confessed.

I wanted to wrap my arms around him and ask him to rescue me, but instead I asked, “What has you here?” I looked around to see if I had missed something. Why was he there? Had I interrupted a date?

“I’m picking up a paycheck.”

I was confused, and he must have seen it on my face.

“Not from here…from a guy. I fixed his fence and did a few other handyman type jobs,  and he told me to meet him here for the check before he goes out of town for the week.”

“Oh.”

“Yeah, I discovered I guess I am good for a few things. Turns out there are jobs you can do where you mostly sit that don’t include an office.” He winked, “I know that must disappoint you considering how much you wanted to see me in that skirt?”

I blushed. That isn’t exactly the way that conversation went and he knew it. Just as I was about to say that very thing, a man walked up smiling and handed him a check. Robbie talked to him a while and thanked him for the opportunity to work, and the man told him he’d find him some more jobs with his friends.

“It’s summer. Somebody always needs something done,” the man assured him, and clapped his hand on Robbie’s shoulder as he continued, “And it’s hard to find honest help these days.”

Robbie thanked him again before the man smiled in my direction and left. Then, he turned back to me and flicked his check, “So, you wanna grab a burger, or are you waiting for your foie gras to digest?”

I laughed. I wasn’t sure which was more impressive that he knew I longed to be rescued from my plight or that he knew about foie gras? My surprise must have shown on my face.

“What? Surprised that I would know such things?”

“Well, actually, yes.” I smiled. I was surprised on both counts.

“Curious enough to talk about it over burgers?” He grinned.

I looked back at my parents with their thin lips and disapproving stares. I wasn’t sure I could ever remember a moment when I wasn’t on the receiving end of that look. Then I looked back at Robbie, concerned but kind, seeking my eyes for the answer. He wasn’t gazing at my lips or my hips or my breasts, but he was looking deep into my eyes with sincerity and kindness. He was leaving the decision up to me. 

“Yes,” I smiled. 

It was hot and muggy outside, but there was a cool breeze blowing. I took off my hat and let the wind whip my hair. It felt good. I felt free. He opened the truck door for me, and let me in. “A gentleman never lets a lady open her own door.”

“Ever?” I asked. That seemed stupid. “What if she has to go to the bathroom really bad and can’t wait? Or what if she has to throw up?”

“Wow,” he laughed. “I’m sure in those cases chivalry would be unnecessary.”

“See? So you can’t say never.”

He smiled, “No… I guess you can’t.” He looked over at me trying to get comfortable in my pencil skirt and frowned slightly, “You want to change?”

I stopped fidgeting and looked at him. Was he serious? What was this leading to?

“I mean, Celeste left some sweats in the truck this morning. I don’t want you to be uncomfortable. It’s up to you. I can just take you home if you want?”

I looked at him. It was strange. He didn’t frighten me. There was no part about him that intimidated me or made me scared. I made an offer I’d never made before, “Wanna grab those burgers and take them to my house, instead?”

It didn’t take long for me to grab a pair of my own sweats and meet him downstairs. He was looking around, and he didn’t see me come down until I was right behind him. He was standing there, just staring at the walls.

“Just art?” he asked, not looking at me, still staring.

“Yep.” I looked at the elaborate painting above the mantel and thought about the picture that hung above his mantel at home– the one of him and Celeste and their mom, laughing as the sunshine streaked through the camera lens. I was always mesmerized by that picture. It was one of those beautiful moments you only hope to actually capture. He wouldn’t find anything like that in my house. No family pictures, no photos carelessly tacked on the fridge, nothing but the best showcased in our house.

As if sensing the contrast, he changed the subject. “Shall we grab some plates or sop up the grease with the brown paper bags they came in?”

Without thinking I went to the cabinet to pull out some dishes, “No, we better  not. Might get on the table or chairs.”

He looked at me as I walked back, “I was kidding.”

I handed him the plates, “I’m not.”

He took the plates from me and arranged our food on them, “That uptight, huh?”

    “Worse.”

    He handed me a plate and asked, ““So are you curious?”

I didn’t know what he was referring to so I looked at him confused. “Curious?”

“How could a greasy food eating, once burger flipping, punk know about foie gras?”

I laughed as I took a small bite, “The movies?”

“Nope,” he smiled. “My grandfather.”

“Oh yeah, who’s he?” I looked up, there was something in the way he said it.

“He was Dub Harrison.”

My eyes got wide, and I almost opened my mouth but wasn’t sure if the food was still undigested. Surely he was kidding. 

“The Dub.” He repeated to answer my obvious disbelief.

“William Westley Harrison? He’s your grandfather?”

“Yep. You knew him?”

We both laughed. Everyone knew that name. Anyone who was anyone in our little town both respected and feared that name. “Well, not officially. But I definitely knew of him.” I was processing this knowledge. “So, he had to be your mom’s dad, is that right?”

“Yep.”

“Why have I never known this?” It was impossible to me that Celeste and Robbie could be the grandchildren of such a powerful and wealthy man from a long line of old money and influence and I would not know it!

“Quite simple. He didn’t want anything to do with us. Me, especially.”

“Go on.” I was completely intrigued.

Robbie raked his hands through his hair and started, “You know my mom got pregnant with me when she was 16, right? No daughter of Dub’s was a knocked up teen. He threatened her. Told her if she was going to stay under his roof and carry his name she was going to have to take care of it.” 

“You mean?” I left the question hanging in the air.

“Yep. He wanted her to abort me. Thankfully, she refused. She let him know that she didn’t need his money or his name and proved it by marrying my dad and taking his name. She and dad struggled, dropped out of school, and I really believe did their best to make it work. But, my dad never had a family, and the only man in his life, my grandfather, hated him and took every opportunity to tell him what a failure and a poor excuse for a man he was. So when mom got pregnant with Celeste, I think all those fears settled in deep. He was battling depression and mom said he had started drinking. It didn’t help that Celle was born with acid reflux and cried all the time.” He stopped and smiled, “Always the diva.”

I grinned. Their story felt personal, and I could identify with the failure and the depression and the heartache. I knew what it felt like to be hated and stuck. “And that’s when he left?”

“Yeah. Which only made it harder on my mom. Now she not only had the stigma of being a knocked up teen, but she was an abandoned wife and mother of two. You’d think that any good father would sweep in at that point, right? Try to make up for what he had done wrong? Apologize and take care of his only child and grandchildren? Nope. Not Dub. His pride was too great.”

Dub. I’d always respected him, but now I saw him as he was. He was just like my dad, with more money and more influence. “So what did she do?”

“She chose to leave that world behind forever. Worked herself through school with the help of her beloved friend, Karen Storm, who offered to take care of Celeste and me. She became like a second mom, and that’s why Zell and Celle are practically sisters. We are all like family. No. We are family.”

“So the big house you live in, your mom did all that?” I was amazed. I didn’t know what Mrs. Olivia did but they weren’t doing bad for themselves.

“Actually, she did, and she didn’t. Her grandfather loved her, William Westley Harrison the first. He couldn’t bear to see his only grandchild suffer, and just before my dad took off, he’d left her a sizable inheritance. Which is kind of why he decided it was what he needed to do. See, most dads, if they were selfish, would have stayed, ran through the money then left. But, it wasn’t about him…I really believe it was about us. And, he thought he was doing the best thing for us. He’s told us as much, and because of that, I believe him. And the house is the only thing mom spent that money on, the rest is in a trust fund for us.”

“So, you never knew your grandfather? He never knew the mistake he made?” I recalled that a few years ago he had passed away. By himself, they’d said, at his home.

“Actually,” he explained, “Before he died, he finally acknowledged my birth and asked me to take on the family name, but I declined.”

“Really?” Who was this man?

“Really. My mom didn’t want me to. She said that regardless of whether my dad was still in my life or not, he would always be my father, and my name should always reflect that. It always mattered to her that dad was an orphan. No matter what had happened or where he was, she wouldn’t take away his first born even if he did refuse to raise him. She asked me to put myself in his shoes and do what I felt like was right. So I did. I declined the offer, which resulted in being stricken from the will.” 

I don’t think I had ever been more attracted to him than at that moment. There wasn’t any conflict. He was confident he made the right decision. No regret. I didn’t know what to say. I’d never seen such strength.

He continued, “Everything went to my grandmother who moved down south to the cabin that he’d once had built for her. She is a lovely lady. I love her even though she stays pretty distant. A lifetime of galas and entertaining and events has made her desperate to live the rest of her life in seclusion. And none of us blame her. The ironic thing is that eventually, it will all be my mom’s, anyway.”

I laughed, “That is ironic, sad, and oddly comforting. Just goes to show- can’t take it with you and can’t control people with it when you’re gone.”

He smiled. “Yeah, but she deserves it. She’s a strong woman. The strongest woman I know. She taught me how to be a man, to be strong, hold tight to God, and never be ashamed of who you are, and she proved it.  She let me know that she wouldn’t be pitied, wouldn’t feel guilty or ever regret my birth. She always says,  ‘You were destined, no matter how it happened; no life is by accident.’”

I was lost in his story, in his world, and I spoke, “Wow.” I didn’t know what else to say. I felt like I had been invited into a very special and tender part of his world, again. I was honored and felt like I should somehow return the favor. “I can relate to your mom.”

He grinned and tucked a piece of hair behind my ear, “I figured as much.”

“I honestly can’t take it much longer,” I confessed, feeling bolder in my vulnerability. I’d never admitted as much to another soul.

“Is that why you cut?” His question met my boldness, and I considered retracting. 

Did I want to divulge my deepest secrets? I wasn’t sure. But his question hung in the air. I chose to be honest, “I don’t want to cut.”

“ I get that.” He pushed aside his plate and turned to face me, giving me all of his attention, no words, just a look that beckoned my words forward to share more.

“I say I’m gonna stop.” I admitted, sadly, “I warn myself. I mean, crap, two hospitalizations are embarrassing! But instead of stopping, I just changed locations.” It’s like as soon as I mentioned them, my lines began to burn and itch. Unconsciously, I rubbed my thigh.

Noticing he frowned, “You know, you can’t do it on your own.”

“Do what?” 

“Stop. You can’t. Believe me, I tried, but no matter how much I wanted it, the need would drive me again.”

I understood. He knew the battle, though I wasn’t sure how or why.

“The thing is, you have to start to stop somewhere and with someone.” His statement seemed to indicate that someone and that somewhere was with him.

“Where do you keep your blades?” He asked with a look of intensity in his eyes I’d never seen before.

“I don’t know. Random places,” I shrugged, unsure I wanted to take that step of trust and accountability, not sure I could.

“Show me.”

I looked at him, wondering what he was asking, what he was thinking that would do or what he would ask me to do if I told him, but I could see that he was serious and undeterred.

“I’m not gonna trick you,” He reassured me, “I want you to show me.”

“But they’re upstairs in my room,” suddenly, I became aware of the cost of vulnerability and wasn’t sure I wanted to let go of my comfort.

He seemed to sense my hesitation, stood up and grabbed my hand to pull me up with him, “Okay, let’s get them.”

I stood up and just looked at him, questioning his motives, questioning my choice to speak.

“Do you trust me, Oona?”

I looked down and responded honestly again, “I don’t trust anyone.”

He lifted my chin, “But will you trust me, Oona?”

Chin trembling with emotion, I whispered, scared but wanting so much the trust he offered, “Yes.”

He smiled, “Then let me help you.”

We walked up the stairs to my room, and I opened the door. Immediately, my eyes went to my dresser drawer. 

He noticed, “There?” I nodded. “Get them.”

I walked to the drawer, my resolve mixed with fear. Could he really help me? Would this really work? Then the deeper question, would I betray his trust? I looked at him, could I do this?

“It’s up to you,” his smile was compassionate, but I saw determination in his face. It was my choice, but it was his hope.

Hands shaking, I opened the drawer and handed him the blades. 

“Is that all?”

I looked toward the bathroom. 

“There?” he asked, already walking that direction.

I nodded, following. When we got to the bathroom, I reached above the cabinet over the toilet and handed him another.

“This the last one?” His eyes were penetrating my soul it seemed. 

I gulped under the scrutiny and barely nodded. 

“There are no more?”

“None,” I finally voiced.

He smiled and reached out and grabbed me up in a hug. The sudden move scared me, but then he sighed and pulled me in closer. “The first step is the hardest. I am so proud of you.”

My heart caught in my chest. I’d never heard those words. I grabbed tighter, and let my wall fall. I started crying. I’d never realized how deeply I’d longed to hear those words, that sentiment, until he spoke them! I started to sob, and he just held me. He didn’t try to kiss me or push himself on me. He just brushed back my hair and calmed my hurt and desperate soul. I felt my soul cry out to God, “I want this, God! I want this kind of love!” But, another voice reminded me it wasn’t mine to have. He deserved more and better and less damaged. I released my grip and stepped back, the shame creeping in.

“You gonna be okay?” His eyes were moist, but he made no move to wipe them. I resisted the temptation to wipe them for him. He didn’t need to cry for me.

“Yeah,” I sniffed, moving further away. “Yeah.” I cleared my throat and handed him the blades he must have laid on the counter. “So, you take these. And I’ll ummm…” What? Pretend like I’m not falling in love with you? Pretend like you didn’t just say the most beautiful words I’ve ever heard in my life? I looked for some words to mask my feelings, “I will call you in the morning.”

He seemed confused. “Okay?”

I took his hand and led him away. “Yep.”

He wasn’t buying it. “It’s okay, you know? To let someone in.”

He had no idea.

“Oh yeah, I know.” I smiled, “Phew! I am so glad we did that. I have been needing to get rid of my stash for, like, forever. Thank you!”

He stumbled forward as I walked him down the stairs, “Are we really saying good night?”

“What’d you expect?” Then I said it, “A little favor for your kindness?”

He turned around and pierced my heart with his eyes, “You know I didn’t.”

“Well, good. I’m tired. It’s getting late, and I have a date tomorrow.” Figured I might as well throw that out there, one more nail for the coffin.

“Oh yeah?” he asked, not too pleased with that announcement.

“ Mhm. I didn’t tell you, me and Liam have a date?”

His gaze was intent even as I was searching for another focal point, “No. You didn’t mention that.”

I giggled nervously, betraying my disappointment with myself, “Oh. Must have slipped my mind.”

“Why are you doing this, Oona?”

I feigned ignorance, “What?”

“Running.”

The snark bit my tongue, “Oh I’m not the runner. That’s your sister.”

I saw the protective flash in his eyes. I had pitted my words against the very one he had vowed to always protect. I was baiting him, and I could tell by the clench of his jaw, he knew it. He turned and walked down the stairs, “Have it your way.” But when he got to the door he stopped, “One of these days you are going to see that there are men that will fight for you and guys that simply see you as a conquest, and I assure you, I am NOT the latter.”

“Good night, Robbie.”

He opened the door and looked at me one last time before turning around, “Good night, Oona.”

I watched him close the door behind him. What was wrong with me? He was telling me that he liked me, that he wanted to spend time with me, and I was pushing him out the door like an inconvenience! I sat at the bottom of the steps and fought the voices that were in my head. The voices had told me for years that I wasn’t good enough, that I’d never amount to anything, and that as much as I wanted it there was no such thing as true love for me. I might as well accept it, and give up any unrealistic expectations of a life other than the one I was doomed to live out. As if on cue, my phone vibrated. It was Liam.

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