The Only One

By: Melissa Ellen

BOOK TWO





PROLOGUE




We were three days into our road trip to California before I decided to answer the phone. He had called me almost every hour of every day since the day I last saw him in my apartment. The day I left my life in Wellesley behind to move to California and start a new one. I always ignored it, turning my phone to silent. Every night he would send me the same text message.

R: I’m sorry. Goodnight, beautiful. x

And every night I would silently cry myself to sleep in the hotel bed, hoping Stephen couldn’t hear me from across the room.

We were at a gas station somewhere in Nebraska. Stephen was inside getting us some drinks and snacks for the road. I was staring at the phone in my hand as the screen silently lit up with Rhett’s name and number again. Before I knew what I was doing, I pressed the green button to answer the call.

I didn’t say hello. I didn’t say anything. I just held it to my ear, wanting to hear his voice no matter how painful it would be.

“Ava?” he broke the silence with disbelief in his deep, beautiful voice. “Ava, are you there?” I could hear the stress and exhaustion in his words. I didn’t respond. I just squeezed the phone tighter, fighting back tears as his voice washed over me. He was quiet for a moment, waiting for me to answer. I heard him release a heavy sigh.

“Ava, you don’t have to say anything. I just need you to listen. I’ll give you space, if that is what you need right now. I’ll wait patiently, but I will come for you. This isn’t over. You are the only one for me.”

Silent tears started falling down my cheeks. The phone was suddenly ripped from my hand. Stephen had taken it, hung it up and started navigating through my phone.

“What are you doing?” I asked weakly through my tears.

“What I should have done three days, ago. I’m blocking his number and deleting it from your phone.”

I wanted to scream at him and fight him to get my phone back, but I was still too weak to fight. I just laid my head against the seat and stared out the window, letting the tears roll down my face as he started the car and drove back onto the road.

It was a warm, sunny summer day in Nebraska. We drove down the country road surrounded by corn fields. I kept hearing Rhett’s words in my head as I numbly watched the fields go by in a blur. My heart and mind were at odds with each other. But my heart had been weakened. Shattered. The more distance that was put between Rhett and me, the more my mind started to win. I felt the wall being rebuilt around my heart the closer we got to California, but this time it wasn’t just a wall it was a fortress.





CHAPTER 1




“Come on! Move already!” I yelled at nobody in particular as I beat on my car horn. It was pointless. The yelling and honking. We were in a typical Los Angeles gridlock on the interstate. Nobody could move. I had lived in California for three years now, and I still couldn’t seem to get used to the traffic here.

I was running late for work, once again. I was just thankful my boss was lenient on our work schedules. He never seemed bothered that I arrived an hour late every day. He knew I stayed late most nights and often worked the weekends. I put in my time, and I got the job done. All my clients were happy with my work, so he let me get away with my regular tardiness and occasional long lunches.

The traffic slowly started to move forward a few feet when my phone rang. Lizzie’s name popped up on the center display of my car dash.

“Hey!” I answered excited to hear from her. I missed my best friend dearly. With our busy lives, we rarely got to talk much. We tried to talk at least once every couple of weeks, even if only for a few minutes. It was hard being apart the last few years, especially after we had lived together through college and been inseparable growing up.

She was living in New York City with her husband, Mike, who had become a successful chef. They had moved there right after we graduated from Wellesley. He had worked as an executive head chef at a restaurant that was owned by our former boss, Christopher. Recently though, he had gotten money from an investor to start his own restaurant. I was more than excited for the both of them.

I had a suspicion of who the investor might be. But I never asked, and they never volunteered the information. We avoided the topic of Rhett altogether after the fight Lizzie and I had, when Rhett and I first broke up. It was the only time we had ever fought in all our years of friendship. She had begged me to hear him out. I was hurt that she would take his side and didn’t understand why I needed to move on.