And almost as if she had heard him, he saw her flinch, and he had to clench his fists to keep himself from reaching out to her.
“Ms. Leventis.” His voice was curt, his face expressionless, his whole fucking body a rigid form of tension. It was the only way to survive seeing her and still do the right thing, and after giving her a clipped nod, he forced himself to walk past her.
He kept walking.
“Is she your…girlfriend?”
Fuck. Fuck. Fuck.
But because he couldn’t make himself pretend he hadn’t heard the way her voice broke – he just fucking couldn’t – he found himself stiffly turning around, and pain nearly crushed his chest when he saw her eyes.
So much hurt. He had hurt her so much. And yet there was still no anger.
“Is she, Professor?” Diana whispered.
“No.” And he found himself unable to lie. “Laverne’s…my mistress.”
Her lips parted, and though no sound came, it didn’t matter. He could hear her just fine, and her cry of pain and betrayal cut his heart into pieces.
Let it end there, mijn obsessie.
Let it fucking end there and save yourself from more hurt.
But it didn’t.
Because God always answered His people’s prayers.
What must I do to make you throw me away, mijn obsessie?
And he heard Diana ask, “Since when?”
No. Fuck. No.
LIE. DAMN YOU, LIE.
You didn’t mean to betray her.
SO LIE. FUCKING LIE FOR HER SAKE.
And then he saw her already crying, and he realized it was too late.
She already had her answer.
Even without him saying a word, she already knew.
“I’m sorry.” His voice was uneven. “I’m—”
“Since when?” And this time her pain was no longer silent or unseen, her body shaking, her tears falling faster, and her voice tremulous and whisper-thin.
He gazed at her bleakly. “For six years now.”
In My Life by Bette Midler
The professor sounded frantic in his texts.
I’m outside your dorm. I need to see you. Please. I don’t want you hurting like this.
Let me talk to you. Please.
But Diana couldn’t make herself believe him.
Please, my darling. Let me talk to you. Just three words. That’s all I’m asking you to let me say.
Just three words.
Three words, he said.
Did he really think it would be that easy? That he only had to say those words and all would be forgiven?
Diana: Say it now.
Matthijs: It’s something better discussed in person. Please.
She stared at the words he had typed until her tears washed them all away. She was just so tired. So damn tired. She had known that being with a man like him wouldn’t be a walk in the park, but this…this was the end.
She could have and probably would have eventually forgiven him for lying about the university’s dating policies (or lack thereof). Given enough time, she would’ve likely learned to accept that he had secrets to keep, and that she could only be patient and wait for him to trust her.
She was so very likely to do all of those things and more because he was the only man she had ever wanted to touch. The only man who could make her feel brave and beautiful. The only man who mattered.
But now…it could never be.
Diana: I’m sorry.
And because she couldn’t give herself a chance to weaken, she forced herself to switch her phone off and took a couple of sleeping pills just to survive the night.
Tomorrow, she thought, hoped, and prayed.
Tomorrow, the pain wouldn’t hurt as much.
Tomorrow, things would change for the better.
Tomorrow, she would do better at forgetting him.
But when the skies turned from orange to blue, and the moon gave way to warm, golden rays —
The moment she opened her eyes, all the pain came flooding back, and she realized she had only been fooling herself.
It still hurt.
Nothing had changed.
And she still couldn’t forget him.
The tears started to fall as she found herself reaching for her phone.
Three words, he had said.
Could he have said those words last night? And if he had, what then? Was it really going to be just that easy? Saint M, I’m begging you. Help me. Should it really be just that easy?
Come now, let us settle the matter, ” says the Lord.
‘Though your sins are like scarlet,
they shall be as white as snow;
though they are red as crimson,
they shall be like wool.
The tears fell faster. The screen of her iPhone lit up. And she saw his message, with the three words he had promised and she thought he wouldn’t give.
Matthijs: I have HIV.
Kahit Maputi Na Ang Buhok Ko by Moira dela Torre
The professor was no coward.
But at the same time, he couldn’t make his feet move a damn inch. All he could do was stare, a part of him still trapped in denial, maybe even shock.
She couldn’t really be dead.
But the marble headstone in front of him said differently, and his fists clenched as his gaze fell on the letters engraved on them. Letters that spelled the same name that would forever etch a wound in his heart. Letters that didn’t fucking allow him to lie to himself.