‘Say something, please? Anything.’
Biting down on her bottom lip, Jessie twisted the hairband around her wrist. ‘I don’t even know what to think anymore.’
‘I just don’t want you to leave and think I don’t care about you. I do. So much.’ He sighed.
‘Then why do you want me to go?’ There, she’d asked him. She looked down at her feet. The sand she’d dug up with her toes swarmed around her ankles.
‘I don’t. I just know how much family means. I know how important it is. Since losing my brother, I realise even more.’ Clearing his throat, his voice cracked. ‘You were always going to go home...’
She nodded. She understood. He’d been viewing this, whatever had been going on between them, as something temporary. A summer fling, perhaps. She’d assumed they were going to talk about continuing their relationship on a long-distance basis when she left. He obviously hadn’t felt the same way. It was obvious now. He didn’t care if she left now because he’d planned on ending things when she did, anyway.
She swallowed. She’d heard enough. She didn’t need to hear him spell it out. Taking a deep breath, she willed her voice to stay steady, to appear calm despite how she felt inside. ‘I need to go.’ Turning, she made her way towards the ramp leading up to the promenade. She’d have to talk to Elsie. Apologise. That’s all she’d seemed to be doing since she’d arrived, apologising.
As she reached the promenade and stepped out onto the cobbles, she glanced behind her. He was still there, Simon. He was still standing there by the water’s edge. She wiped the sleeve of her cardigan across her cheeks. She needed to act now. The sooner she got out of the bay, away from Simon and the empty promises she’d seen over the last few days, the better.
Chapter Twenty Six
Pulling her now freezingcold coffee towards her, Jessie looked down at her suitcase. She’d packed it as soon as she’d got back. There wasn’t any point in wasting time trying to sleep. She knew she wouldn’t. She’d sleep in the car on the way back home.
She watched as the first of the sun’s rays illuminated the bay. In the distance, up by the lighthouse, she could see movement. The fishermen must be beginning their day, making their way out in their boats. She watched until the last fishing boat disappeared over the horizon before returning her attention to her coffee.
She could still feel her hands shaking as she pulled the cold ceramic mug towards her. Squeezing her eyes tightly closed, she tried to empty her mind. It was no good. All she could see was Simon, standing there on the beach, telling her to leave, telling her it didn’t matter whether she left now or once her time volunteering was over. Him basically telling her she didn’t matter. Not to him. At all.
Sniffing, she wiped her face with a napkin, scrunching the tissue paper tightly into a ball so she could feel it as it scratched across her face. So that she could feel something, anything, rather than the hollow pain she felt inside.
Why had she let herself believe she meant anything to Simon? Why had she fooled herself into thinking that she was worthy? That he could see a future with her? She shook her head. She hadn’t even admitted to herself that was what she’d been hoping, and she certainly hadn’t spoken to him about a future together. It was a good job, really. A good job she hadn’t embarrassed herself.
Jessie shifted in her seat as noises from upstairs told her Elsie was awake. She was dreading this. Dreading letting Elsie down. That’s all she’d done since arriving in the bay. It had been one thing after the other. She’d been an inconvenience right from the start. It was probably a good thing she was leaving early. There’d be no time for her to mess up anything else.
‘Oh, morning, love. I thought I was the first person awake.’ Elsie smiled as she shut the door leading to the flat. ‘What are you doing up so early?’
Jessie looked down into her cold coffee. A thin skin had formed on the surface of the liquid.
‘Oh.’ Frowning, Elsie looked at the suitcase at Jessie’s feet. ‘Are you leaving us?’