Chapter Nineteen

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Author's note: This chapter contains violence. It's not gratuitous--it's essential to the plot and I hope I've conveyed the scene respectfully. Please read at your own discretion.

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The next day, the song Owen had played for me reverberated in my head. I couldn't stop thinking about him getting off of the plane, finding his bag, driving home. I wanted to see him.

After my lunch shift ended, I returned to an empty house. I had no idea where Scott was, but, then again, I rarely did. Kaye and Andy were both working the dinner shift. I would have hung around at the bar with them, but Margot was working tonight, too.

Upstairs, as I took a shower, the song he'd played snapped into focus. It was I Hope I Don't Fall In Love With You by Tom Waits, off Waits' very first album. I hadn't recognized it at first because Waits played it on the guitar instead of piano. The song was about a lonely man who sees a pretty girl in a bar, but she leaves before he can muster up the courage to talk to her.

Restlessly, I went back downstairs, poured myself a glass of wine, and sank onto the couch in front of the TV. There was nothing on. I kept looking at my phone, as if Owen were going to call me. He wouldn't. I'd have to call him if I wanted to see him, and if I wanted that.... That meant....

A knock sounded at the door.

It couldn't be him. Owen would have told me if he was going to come by.

Feeling self-conscious in my t-shirt and pajama bottoms, I got to my feet and walked to the front door, still holding my phone loosely in one hand. My heart raced at the thought of seeing Owen again, even though I knew, truly, that it could not be him.

I opened the door. For a moment, I thought I'd fallen asleep on the couch. But this was worse than a nightmare.

It was Rhys. He was real, he was here, he had found me, just like he said.

He leaned in my doorway, his ordinarily neat brown hair mussed, a smile widening his mouth. "Hello, Miranda."

I felt like I was falling, dizzy with shock and disbelief. Rhys. Here. I'd been so sure that I was safe.

"Rhys," I gasped, "what are you doing here?"

"I came to bring you home." Before I knew what was happening, he shouldered past me into the house. I stared after him in horror.

"Get out," I said, hardly believing what I was saying. "Get out of my house."

"Oh, is this your house?" Rhys replied archly, picking up Andy's sweatshirt from where it was draped over the back of a chair. "You aren't just staying with some man? I knew it," he added bitterly. "I knew you'd found another man to take care of you. I knew that's why you left me."

"That is not why I left," I snapped. "No, you know what? I don't have to explain myself to you."

I was between him and the door—I could run. I could get into my car and drive away—except that my car keys were upstairs in my handbag, and I was certain Rhys could chase me down on foot.

"I'm sorry for whatever I've done to hurt your feelings." Rhys' voice was gentle as he moved back towards me. "If you come back, I'll forgive you for whatever you've done here, on your little vacation, and everything will be better. You'll see."

I could run. I should run. Even if he chased me, I knew the neighborhood better than he did. I could hide.

"It won't be like it was. It'll be even better," Rhys said. "We won't fight anymore. Please, Mira." Sadness flickered across his face, and I felt ashamed for hurting his feelings. Maybe he really did want things to be better between us. His parents had been terribly critical of him, and controlling, too; maybe he couldn't help it. It was all he knew.

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