Landon opens the door, rubbing his eyes. He’s half dressed, wearing only plaid pants, no shirt or socks.
“Can I sleep in here?” I ask him, and he nods drowsily, not asking any questions. “I’m sorry for waking you up,” I whisper to him.
“It’s okay,” he mumbles, and stumbles back to the bed. “Here, you can have this one, the other is flat.” He pushes a fluffy white pillow against my chest.
I smile, hugging the pillow close and sitting on the edge of the bed. “This is why I love you. Well, not the only reason, but one of them.”
“Because I gave you the best pillow?” His smile is even more adorable when laced with sleep.
“No, because you’re always here for me . . . and you have soft pillows.” My voice is so slow when I’m drunk . . . it’s odd.
Landon lies back on the bed and moves his body over so that there’s plenty of room for me on the other side. “Is he going to come in here after you?” he asks quietly.
“I don’t think so.” The moment of humor that came with Landon and his soft pillows has been replaced by the ache of Hardin and the words we exchanged moments ago.
I lie down on my side and look over at Landon lying next to me. “Remember when you said he isn’t a lost cause?” I whisper.
“Do you really believe that?”
“Yeah, I do.” He pauses. “Unless he did something else . . .”
“No, well . . . nothing new, really. I just . . . I don’t know if I can do it anymore. We keep moving backward, and we shouldn’t be. Every single time I think we’re making progress, he becomes that same Hardin I met six months ago. He calls me a selfish bitch, or basically tells me he doesn’t love me—and I know he doesn’t mean the words, but every syllable crushes me a little more than the last, and I think I’m starting to understand that this really is just the way he is. He can’t help it, but he can’t change it either.”
Landon watches me with thoughtful eyes before his mouth turns to a frown. “He called you a bitch? Tonight?”
I nod, and he sighs heavily, running his hand over his face.
“I was saying hurtful things to him, too.” I hiccup. The heavy combination of wine and whiskey is going to haunt me tomorrow, I know it.
“He shouldn’t call you out of your name—he’s a man and you’re a woman. It’s never okay, Tessa. Please don’t make excuses for him.”
“I’m not . . . I just . . .” But that’s exactly what I’m doing. I sigh. “I think this is all about Seattle. He went from getting a tattoo for me and telling me that he can’t live without me to telling me he only chases me because I fuck him. Oh my gosh! I’m sorry, Landon!” I cover my face with my hands. I cannot believe I just said that in front of him.
“It’s okay—you did just fish your underwear out of the hot tub, remember?” He grins, lightening the conversation, and I hope that the relative darkness of the room at least hides my blushing.
“This trip has been a disaster.” I shake my head, pressing it against the cool pillow.
“Maybe not; maybe this is what you two needed.”
“To break up?”
“No . . . is that what happened?” He lays another pillow next to me.
“I don’t know.” I bury my face further.
“Is that what you want?” he asks delicately.
“No, but it’s what I should want. It’s not fair to either of us to keep doing this day in and day out. I’m not innocent here either—I always expect too much from him.” My mother’s flaws have been passed down to me. She expects too much from everyone, too.
Landon shifts a little. “There isn’t anything wrong with expecting things from him, especially when the things that you expect from him are reasonable,” he replies. “He has to see what he has. You’re the best thing that’s ever happened to him; he needs to remember that.”
“He said that it’s my fault . . . that he is the way he is. All I want is for him to be kind to me at least half the time, and I want security in our relationship, that’s all. It’s pathetic, really.” I groan, my voice breaks, and I can still taste the whiskey laced with Hardin’s mint on my tongue. “Would you go to Seattle if you were me? I can’t help but think I should just call it off and stay here, or go with him to England. If he’s acting like this because I’m going to Seattle, maybe I should—”
“You can’t not go,” Landon interrupts. “You’ve been gushing over Seattle since the day I met you. If Hardin won’t go with you, then that’s his loss. Besides, I give him a week of you being gone before he shows up at your doorstep. You can’t give in on this; he has to know that you’re serious this time. You have to let him miss you.”
I smile while envisioning Hardin showing up a week after I leave, desperately begging for my forgiveness with lilies in his hand. “I don’t even have a doorstep for him to show up on.”
“That was him, wasn’t it? The reason that woman wasn’t calling you back?”
“I knew it. Realtors don’t just not return calls. You have to go. Ken will help you find somewhere to stay until you find a permanent place.”
“What if he doesn’t come after all? And worse, what if he does come but he’s even more angry because he hates it there?”