This is it! The final chapter. Enjoy!
Happy New Year!
He lay in bed for hours, unable to sleep. Jordan was still there next to him, one arm draped over his chest, sleeping peacefully. Awash in the moonlight, her hair against the pillow and down her bare back, she looked more beautiful than he thought he had ever seen her.
It made leaving all the more difficult. He moved her arm and placed it gingerly onto the bed before dressing quickly and closing the door behind him with a quiet click.
It all felt so cowardly, leaving her without a word. He hated himself for it, but neither Kristi nor Jordan could come out of this without pain. Why should he be immune?
The last few months had been bittersweet. He had not been able to disguise how wonderful it had been to see Jordan again after two years, but any hopes of keeping the past at bay had faded with the summer air.
It had come to this, having her in his arms again. They had been hurtling inevitably towards this point since that meeting. It was what he had secretly wanted since he saw her at that crowded banquet, no matter how hard he had tried to tamp it down into a hidden corner of his brain.
There could be no neat resolution. There would be no happily-ever-after with Jordan. He would do the right thing, return to Boston and beg for Kristi's forgiveness. He only hoped Jordan could come to forgive him someday, too.
The sense of dread mounted as he pulled into Kristi's drive. She had left the light by the kitchen door on, either in the naive hope that he would return or in the smug assurance that he would.
He crept into the house. His dinner plate was sitting at the table where he had left it hours earlier. He hoped to make it quietly to the living room sofa for a few hours of sleep before seeing Kristi in the morning.
As he crossed the kitchen into the living room, he could see her sitting there rigidly on the sofa in the dim lamplight, a stack of papers on the coffee table in front of her.
He stood there, his hands hanging limply beside him.
"You weren't at the M.E.'s office tonight. Were you." It was a statement, not a question.
He shook his head slowly. "No."
She exhaled heavily and leaned forward to pick up the stack of papers. She spoke wearily. "The bridesmaids' dresses have already been custom altered. Two-hundred dollars a piece. They can't be returned." She tossed the paper on to the floor. "Six-hundred dollars worth of flowers." Another piece of paper fluttered to the floor. "My parents have already put a non-refundable deposit down on the club for the reception. They don't get that money back." She crumpled another bill in her hand and let it fall from her hand. "Are you willing to burn all that money? Are you willing to throw everything away?"
She fell back on the sofa dramatically and waited for a response.
He had thought when he came into the room that he would know exactly what to say to her. He had hoped that seeing her again would remind him of things he had come to love about her in the first place.
He wanted to tell her he loved her. He wanted to tell her that he would be true to his word and marry her in December. He wanted to tell her. But he couldn't.
She sat looking at him, and he stood dumbly looking back. Her eyes widened in shock as she realized he was not going to speak.
"I'm sorry, Kristi," he said finally. "I wish I could tell you what you want to hear, but I can't. It wouldn't be fair to you."
"It's her," Kristi spat. "Isn't it."
"I'm sorry," he repeated. There seemed nothing else to say.
It was a long moment they stood there. He turned then and went slowly back outside and into his car.
He only hoped he could make it back to the Cape before Jordan awoke.
Jordan had sat there in bed for some time hugging her knees to her chest, wrapped only in the thin white sheet. She cried a bit, softly and silently, and then stretched back out onto the bed and managed to fall back into a restless sleep.
The sleep had not left her feeling any more refreshed when she woke again an hour or so later. She managed to drag herself into the bathroom and stood motionless in the shower, the stream whipping into her back.
So, he was gone. This was how it was to be. It wasn't unexpected. She knew that he would return to Kristi. It was strangely admirable, consigning himself to marry someone he didn't really love because he had given his word.
If she believed in that kind of thing, she could consider it some kind of divine retribution. She had ended things with Woody without a word two years earlier, and now he had done the same.
As she dressed, she felt a new calm fall over her. She had wanted last night to happen, she hadn't needed to be talked into it. It would be the bittersweet coda to their relationship. Perhaps now she could move on.
She slung her bag over her shoulder and opened the door. Woody sat in his car, head down, hands still gripping the steering wheel. She felt a sudden rush of emotions. She was angry, deservedly so, but there was no point in denying that she wanted to see him.
She walked over to the passenger side and slipped in next to him without a word. They sat staring ahead.
"Please tell me you were out for donuts," she said quietly.
"I was hoping I could make it back here before you woke up. I saw your light on in there, and I didn't know what to do. I didn't know if you would still want me to come in."
She braced herself, not certain if she wanted to hear what he had to say. "Tell me what happened tonight, Woody."
"I went home. To Kristi's. I thought it was the right thing to do. I don't break my promises. And then I saw her, and I knew all of a sudden marrying her was not the right thing to do. Not when I am totally, completely, miserably in love with someone else."
She slid her hand across the seat to him, unable to speak. He wrapped his fingers around hers.
"Let's talk a walk."
They headed back down to the beach, neither one saying much. The September morning was crisp and bright. They had taken this walk once or twice before some two years earlier. They had sailed here, and then watched the sunset and fallen into each other's arms one late spring weekend.
She turned to him suddenly. "What's done is done. We can't get the past back. If this is going to work out, we can't dwell on what might have been."
He nodded slowly, but she knew they were both thinking of the baby. Perhaps they always would.
They walked on. It had been a long, dark two years, and she felt lighter than she had in a long while. After feeling like a stranger in her own life for so long, she knew this was where she wanted to be.
Finally they stopped and looked out across the water. He slipped his arm around her waist.
"You getting hungry?" he asked.
"Yeah, sure. How about we go for a drive up the coast and stop at that little breakfast place off 6A?"
"Sounds good," he grinned. "But this time, I'm driving."