Ahhhhhhhh! I finished! *claps wildly* Okay, so this has been an incredibly fun and emotional story, and I've really enjoyed playing with the structure. Hopefully it wasn't too confusing, and now that it's complete we can read it starting with chapter 1 or starting from chapter 6 and going backwards! How entertaining! It's like a flip book…heh. Anyways, this echoes the first chapter, but obviously from Lisbon's perspective.
Thank you so much to everyone who reviewed, story alerted, and favorite-ed this story! I really appreciate it, and thank you for taking the time to read it! Thanks to: TROMANA, LISBON69, LILSMILES, YABA, FROGSTER, EBONY10, SIMONISTHECUTTESTMENTALIST, and WILDDAISIES for reviewing the last chapter. Hugs for all of you!
Now, enjoy! (and grab a tissue!)
"I will not make the same mistakes that you did.
I will not let myself cause my heart so much misery.
I will not break the way you did, you fell so hard.
I've learned the hard way to never let it get that far,
Because of you."
-Kelly Clarkson, Because of You
Tears blinded her vision as she haphazardly threw her favorite outfits into a suitcase. Muted blazers followed denim, until half of her closet was in a pile on the bed. Hauling open the heavy oak dresser drawers, she quickly scooped up her other garments and dumped them on top of her clothes. Shoving them into the suitcase, she was barely able to zip the overstuffed bag. It was all in disarray, much like her life, and she slammed the drawer fiercely, not wanted to look at the remaining men's items that were now alone. She cast a quick glance around their bedroom, grabbed her small jewelry box, and headed out the door. She paused, then reached for the small photograph on her nightstand and carefully tucked it in the front pocket of her travel bag.
Her hand caught on the pocket, snagged on the small ring on her left hand. Raising her hand, she studied the band. It had fit her personality perfectly. It wasn't flashy, and the inlaid stones were practical for the workplace. Yet, it had a subtle elegance that she adored. He had done well when he selected it. She never expected anything less. Twisting it around her finger, she closed her eyes and gently tugged. It slid off after a moment, and she eyed the golden ring. One thing was engraved along the inside of the band, and she chocked back a sob as she gently traced her finger over the word. Always. Clenching her fist around the ring, she deeply inhaled and set it gently on the dresser. Without another look, she left the room.
She swiped at her eyes with the sleeve of her sweater as she practically bolted to the front door, and she wondered if it was like ripping off a band-aid. If she stormed out without a second thought, would it lessen the hurt? Would it be quick and painless? Her mouth was dry; her tongue felt like cotton. She could hear him calling after her, but his words faded in the background of her jumbled thoughts. She knew if she let him talk, she wouldn't be able to walk out. He had always been able to make her doubt her decisions. He could twist her thoughts and emotions until she didn't even know what she believed anymore. Her hand closed around the cool brass doorknob, and she froze. That moment of hesitation allowed her husband to catch up with her, and she felt his fingers lightly curl around her wrist.
"Teresa?" he asked, his voice strained.
She slowly turned around, forcing herself to look into his eyes. She owed him that, at least. He looked confused, unsure of the situation, and her heart clenched when she realized that this time there was no easy solution. She opened her mouth to apologize, but no words came.
"Why?" he whispered, raising a hand to cup her cheek. She pulled away, avoiding his touch. The touch she once welcomed, still welcomed. She could feel her body's betrayal.
"He's changed you," she said after a short pause. Her voice was raspy, and she stuttered over the simple words.
"Just give me another chance," he pleaded.
"It's always one more chance, Patrick. One more time. Tomorrow will be different," she softly replied. She pinched the bridge of her nose and clasped the suitcase tighter in her other hand. "What about today?"
He was silent. Her hand fell from his grasp. She shifted her weight uneasily, reaching for the door once more.
"I thought I could share you. I'd never ask you to give up on Red John, but I just can't live like this. He's dragging you down, and you're always ready to jump after him. I can't just blindly follow and hope I'll keep sprouting wings. I've lost too much of myself."
"I love you," he said as she pulled the door open. A blast of cool air shot inside the house, sweeping her hair around her.
"I'll always love you," she replied. "Just please let me go."
She stumbled down the steps and along the path. Fumbling for her keys, as she leaned against the door. Throwing her bag in the back, she slid into the seat trying not to think or even feel. Her eyes betrayed her, and she glanced back towards the house. He was illuminated in the front door. The glow of the lights basking him in an angelic glow as he watched her every move. She rubbed her ring finger, instantly missing the reassuring presence of the metal. Turning on the car, she flinched as the music blared out of the speakers. Damn love songs.
Throwing the car in drive, she stepped on the gas and practically flew out of the driveway. She gripped the steering wheel tighter, vacantly staring down the dark road ahead. She could feel a wave of emotion rising up, and she knew it wasn't too late. She could still go back. It wasn't too late to step on the gas, reverse, and throw her arms around him and apologize for her behavior. Her foot hovered near the brake.
She couldn't do it. If she even thought about slowing down, she knew she'd turn around. She had to do this for her own sake. Increasing her speed, she flew around the corner, the glow of the porch light completely disappearing from view. She drove for several miles, before she broke down into sobs. Pulling over, she leaned her forehead on the steering wheel and cried.
Cried for her broken marriage. Cried for her own selfishness. Cried for Patrick Jane's unbeatable fight.
Her tears dissolved into hiccups, and she fought to get her breathing under control. Leaning her head against the headrest, she buckled her seatbelt, started the ignition, and drove on.