Finding Perseverance(100)

By: T. E. Black


“Yes. But, tell me why you were acting weird two minutes ago.”

A groan slips from his lips as he scrubs his face with his hands. “What the fuck, Rook? I thought you were blowing smoke up my ass! I didn’t think you were actually leaving! What about Ryleigh?”

Here we go.

“She doesn't want me here anymore.” Fuck, that hurts to say.

“And you believed that?” he asks in disbelief. “Have you taken one too many hits to the head, brother?”

“Jesus Christ, Trent. What do you want me to do? She looked me in the eyes and told me to go back to California. I gave her chance upon chance to ask me to stay, and she didn't. I'm not a damn mind reader. If someone tells me to go, I go.”

He shakes his head, disgusted by my speech. “If you leave her, you're an idiot,” he says with a serious tone. “I came here, nervous as hell, planning to ask if you'd be my best man. Now, I find out you’re really leaving and for the most idiotic reason I've ever heard.”

“You're the one who told me to give her what she wanted!” I protest.

“No. I told you to do right by her. I said to respect her and never hurt her. I never said to listen to her bullshit lies. I said to take care of her, Rook.”

“What is so damn hard about just saying what you mean! Everyone needs to stop just expecting everyone else to just know what they really want! Seriously, this is why men are so damn confused all the time.” I huff out in frustration. I had known before Trent even walked in the damn door Leigh doesn’t want me to go, but what am I supposed to do? Call her a liar to her face?

Trent breaks out in laughter at my meltdown. It's not funny, but to him, it's damn near hysterical.

“Do you love her?” he asks once he catches his breath.

“More than anything.” There isn’t a single second of hesitation.

“Do you want to leave?”

“No. But—”

“Then, don't. Go downstairs, march through the bar, and tell her. Fight for her before it’s too late, dude. I learned the hard way when it came to Shay. I almost lost her because I waited too long. I’ve had ten years to learn how Ry works while you were gone. If I know her as well as I think I do, she downstairs right now, kicking herself in the ass for what she said. I also know that she will never in a million years ask you to stay. She’s just not that type of woman. She’s the woman you just tell that you’re staying and move the fuck into her house. And, hope she doesn’t smother you in your sleep afterwards,” he chuckles.

Trent’s words sink into me like a rock in the ocean. It's as if everything I've been overthinking—everything I’ve been regretting or doubting—forms something I'd call sense. The rolling fog in my mind lifts, disappearing from my eyes, and everything becomes crystal clear.

With a clear mind and a determined attitude, I nod to my brother. “You’re right.”

Trent smiles at my admission. “Finally, Rook, I was starting to think you’d never realize I was the wiser brother.”

I throw my head back, joining in his laughter. “Don’t get ahead of yourself. Oh, and just so you know, I’d gladly be the best man in your wedding.”





Chapter Forty-Three





Ryleigh





I would think I would’ve learned by now that selfless love isn’t always the answer. But, I’m a gluten for punishment. I’d rather walk around for the next ten plus years, regretting my choices than tell him the truth.

I’m an idiot.

Rook Wallace is a good man. He’s kind, generous, and has a beautiful heart. He’s the perfect man who will make a woman insanely happy one day.

That’s what I keep telling myself anyway.

In reality, when he does find that woman, I’ll fucking hate her even if she doesn’t deserve it.

I’ll despise her for having the man who should’ve been mine.

I’ll ridicule her from hundreds of miles away while she lies in his bed at night.

My blood will turn green with envy.

I’ll detest her because she has the courage I lack.

I’ll loathe her.

She’ll be the woman he marries and starts a family with. They’ll settle down in a beautiful home—probably by the beach, where they’ll stick their toes in the sand after a family dinner. Their children, who will probably inherit Rook’s beautiful smile, will flop into the salty ocean while their parents laugh in delight at the playful antics.