Happy anniversary. Question mark.
Was she being sarcastic? Snarky? Or was she just pointing out that she remembered the date?
It obviously wasn't a happy anniversary. It was one year. Except they hadn't made it a year, had they? They'd made it nine months. Was it even an anniversary if they didn't make it the full year?
He thought of the day when it ended.
Katie had picked him up at the airport after leaving the voicemail, and they'd hugged. She'd sensed immediately that something was off. Maybe he'd hugged her too long. Or too hard. Or maybe she saw it in his eyes.
"You okay, Shawn," she asked as they climbed into his Jeep.
She didn't have a car of her own. His parents had probably suggested she take his so that he could drive it home. They knew how much he loved it.
"I'm really tired," he said. This wasn't a lie. He hadn't slept well for over a week.
"I've missed you," she said, putting her hand on his thigh.
It really hadn't been that long since they'd seen each other. He was home, off and on, for several months in the fall. She was in school in Montreal, though, and that made it tough. He was working on his next album and had all sorts of new obligations, many of which included traveling. Finding time to go see her that worked with her schedule was harder than they'd thought it would be. He only saw her four times between September and the end of November even though he was technically on a break from the tour.
The time they spent together had been blissful, though. He'd arrive in Montreal and would go get her at her dorm. He didn't actually go in her dorm, though. That would attract attention. Their relationship was a secret. Only their friends and family knew. His fans had seen enough pictures of her on social media over the years that they thought nothing of it when they were spotted out together. They were "just friends" as far as the public knew.
So he'd pick her up outside her dorm and they'd hurry off to whatever luxury hotel he'd booked for the weekend. They'd then spend several days in their suite, mostly in bed. They ordered room service and never left the hotel.
They'd talk and they'd make love. They never got tired of either activity. She'd tell him about school; he'd talk about the tour and his music.
He pushed the memories of their happy weekends out of his mind and focused again on the day they broke up.
He'd driven to Pickering in his Jeep, his girl at his side.
Before they got to the town, she said, "My parents aren't home. Want to swing by my place first? Buddy misses you."
Buddy. He missed that mutt, even though he'd send his allergies into overdrive. He was worth the Benadryl.
He remembered when they'd gone to pick the dog up for good. Shawn almost didn't recognize him. He'd been bathed and his fur had been trimmed to remove the mats. He was a brand new dog.
Katie had named him Buddy because that's what Shawn had called him when he first spoke to him on the side of the road. No one ever claimed him, so he became Katie's dog.
They'd gone to her empty house. He'd spent ten minutes playing with Buddy, who really had missed him, based on how happy he was to see him. Katie then took his hand and pulled him up the stairs to her room. When they got inside, she shut and locked the door.
"I've missed you," she said again, her voice sultry this time. She put her arms around him and pulled him close.
And that's when it all fell apart. He loved her too much to lie to her. Or to keep a secret from her.
"Can we sit down a second?" he suggested.
She nodded and they sat side by side on her bed.
"What's wrong?" she asked, the worry evident in her voice.
He stared down at his shoes. There was only one way to do this. He had to just spit it out.
"I, um, I did something really bad in New Zealand. I, uh, cheated on you," he said, his eyes still focused away from her.
When she didn't respond, he looked up at her. Her eyes told him exactly what those words had done to her.
"I'm sorry," he added. It was a fairly empty statement after that bombshell.
"Why did you cheat on me?" she asked, confusion written all over her face.
It hurt him that she sounded so shocked. She'd had faith in him.
"I honestly don't know. I'd been drinking a lot and she was all over me and I couldn't say no."
"Couldn't? Like you were incapable of not fucking another girl?"
"I didn't fuck her. We made out and then she, uh, did something to me. But we didn't have actual sex."
Her eyes had shifted moods again. They were full of fire now.
"Am I supposed to congratulate you for that?" she asked.
"No, but I thought you should know, because it kind of matters."
"It doesn't. It doesn't matter at all. You betrayed me. We had a commitment. You broke it."
Her eyes shifted back to sadness. He watched as the tears formed and fell down her cheeks.
"I love you, Katie. Please believe me when I say that."
"People don't cheat on those they truly love," she said between sobs.
"I made a mistake. Please try to forgive me," he pleaded. He knew, however, that he didn't deserve her perfect love anymore. He'd never forgive himself so how could he expect her to do so?
She continued to cry for what felt like hours but was probably more like 20 minutes. He tried to comfort her, but she recoiled from his touch like it burned her.
She finally stood up and left the room to go to the bathroom. When she returned her tears has been dried and her nose blown.
From the doorway of her bedroom, she looked at him, her expression cold.
"We're done, Shawn."
And he knew they were, because she was decisive that way. When she said something, she meant it.
He'd known this would break them as soon as he'd cheated, so this was no surprise.
He thought of trying to say something, but there were no words that could help. He walked out of her room, out of her house, and out of her life.