Finding Perseverance(14)

By: T. E. Black


As a sniffle escapes, I feel his arms wrap around my waist. I snuggle in as he pulls my back against his front. His touch feels amazing. It’s as if we were meant to fit so perfectly together.

“Don’t cry, beautiful. I hate when you cry,” he mumbles into my long blonde hair.

He places a delicate kiss on the back of my head and my body melts.

“I love you, Leigh.”

And just like that, my entire teenage life changes.

I jump up from my cozy king-size bed, drenched in sweat. Why do I always have these dreams after I talk to him? They’re not bad per say, but I don’t want them in my head at night. If he gets back in my head, there’s no telling how it’ll affect my heart. I’ve already cemented the hole closed, and I don’t want him breaking it down. But how can I tell that to my sleeping subconscious? How the hell do I tell myself not to dream about the man I regret letting walk out the door?

He’s screwing everything up by coming here. Before he showed up at the bar after his mom’s funeral, I was fine. I went about life, knowing he was living his dream and I was living mine. Then, the bastard showed up after nine years, freaked out, and then apologized, and I was done for again.

Okay. I got this. I can handle him coming here. I need to keep my distance. That’s all. It’s a lie and I know it, but sometimes the lie is easier than the truth.

I roll out of my bed, put on the first pair of shorts I find, and head downstairs to start some coffee. My kitchen is a crisp, white and modern room with stainless-steel appliances and a marbled tile floor has me smiling from ear to ear. This has been my dream kitchen since I was a little girl.

Rook and I once planned on having a kitchen this beautiful. When he left, I gave up the hope that I’d have it one day. After doing so well at Max’s, I gave myself a gift—my dream kitchen.

I didn’t need him to be here to do something nice for myself. Granted, it would have been better if he were around to paint the cabinets and lay the tile flooring with me, but now I can be proud that I did something for myself.

My phone rings, stopping me just as I begin to make my morning coffee. Grabbing it off the counter, I look down to see Sarah’s name flashing across the screen.

Sarah is possibly the only person I would pick up for before I’ve had my coffee. That’s only because she’s my lead bartender and the person who runs Max’s when I’m not there.

“Hey.”

“I’m never drinking again!”

“Oh yeah?” I attempt to stifle a laugh, but it’s no use. She sounds like crap.

“My head is pounding, Ryleigh! I feel like I got ran over last night.”

Smiling into the phone, I ask, “So, you need me to cover your shift today?”

“Just for a little while until I can get out of bed without falling over. Just give me until two, and I’ll be in. Please,” she pleads.

I look at the clock, seeing it’s only ten in the morning. “It’s no problem. I’ll get dressed and head in for a bit.”

Sarah sighs in relief. “Thank you! I owe you, Ry. I’m going back to bed for a little while. I’ll call you when I’m human again,” she laughs.

“Anytime. I’ll see you later.” I shake my head and toss my phone back down.

Thirty minutes later, I’m at the bar and completely done with the opening side work. I’ve been opening the bar for years, and now, I have a routine I follow. It makes for an easy morning, leaving me more time to get all the prep work done.

The bell above the front door dings, followed by Trent’s voice calling from somewhere behind me. “Have you been dodging my calls, scootch?”

I turn away from the shelf I’m inventorying and spot him walking toward me with a shit-eating grin on his face.

“I haven’t been dodging shit.” I smile back at him.

He takes a seat at the bar and nods his head for a drink. The dream from last night has me so out of whack, I reach for a bottle of liquor but then stop. My face pales, and my eyes shoot to his. I almost served a recovering addict a drink.

“I’m so sorry.”

Trent waves it off, shaking his head. “It’s fine, Ry. I’m cool. Rehab was good for me. Better than that outpatient shit.”