Chapter 19: Dom

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Ryan and I drove through most of the night and arrived in Atlanta early the next morning. The drive wasn't long- not but six hours- but it had felt like years stretching out across the state lines and highways.

Every mile we inched closer to the city, the closer to her I felt. I hadn't felt this damn good in over two weeks. I could feel her in the air around me, singing to me and calling me closer to her even as impossible as that sounds. She was here. I could feel it. I could feel her.

We met up with Ryan's friend, Sergeant Archie Miller, around 9am that morning for breakfast.

"Goddamn, you haven't changed one bit since the last time I saw you!" Archie, who was a few years older than I expected brought Ryan in for a swift hug. They laughed and clapped each other on the back- classic man hug.

"Eh, aging isn't really my thing," Ryan joked. "Not as much as it is yours. What are you pushing now? 60?"

"You little shit." Archie thankfully laughed off Ryan's teasing and slapped him over the head and the friendship and bond that they'd formed years ago shined just as present now. Before things got awkward for me, Ryan opened up their small circle and gestured to me.

"This is Dominic Reed. The guy who basically stalked you."

The urge to punch Ryan again was strong in that moment. Sometimes his immaturity was a breath of fresh air and sometimes- like right now- it was unnecessary and unappreciated.

"Nice to meet you, Dominic." Archie reached his hand for mine and we shook hands. "Sorry about the circumstances though."

I gave him a curt nod. "Me too."

"How's Tracy doing?" Ryan asked as he slid into the booth. I followed behind him while Archie moved in to sit across from us. Archie released a sigh that I was all too familiar with and I tensed up just before he answered.

"We split up actually. Just wasn't working anymore."

"Oh, man, I'm sorry." The air at the table was noticeably uncomfortable now. "You guys were together for a long time, right?"

He nodded with a solemn that I'd worn a fair share of times myself. "Seven years."

Try twelve years on for size, pal.

"Dominic here is actually going through a divorce, too." My head snapped in Ryan's direction and my hands began to tingle with the need to lash out and smash something. He turned to glance my way and almost comically jumped back as he saw the outrage that was sitting in my stare.

"What?! It's something you guys have in common! I thought it was okay to say."

Completely straight-faced, I replied, "Do you want us to start a club or something?"

While Ryan looked embarrassed that he'd ever brought it up, Archie found humor in it all and actually laughed along, helping dissipate the tension in the atmosphere that Ryan had unintentionally created-twice.

"What a sad club that would be. Just a bunch of old, lonely men sitting around crying into empty beer bottles." Archie's laugh was jovial and shook his whole body, and then the table as he slapped his hand against it and enjoyed this joke to the fullest.

Ryan's laughter caught on and I would have followed along, but there just wasn't anything about divorce that I felt like laughing at just yet. When the waiter finally came over to take our orders and then left to take them back to the kitchen, I nearly went with him. I was here for one purpose and one purpose only. I didn't want to joke around. I wanted to take action.

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