Home > Only Him (One and Only #2)(6)

Only Him (One and Only #2)(6)
Author: Melanie Harlow

“Good, you need to. Especially if you’re driving. What about the eye doctor? Did you go back?”

“Yeah. She changed my prescription.”

“Did it help with the headaches or vision issue?”


“Good. Please call Mom and Dad, okay? I know things aren’t easy with them, but this isn’t just about you.”

I laughed. I couldn’t help it. “See, that’s where you’re wrong, Finn. In fact, this is just about me. It’s my head, my future, my decision. And I will deal with the consequences of whatever action I choose to take. Wasn’t that the whole point of Mom and Dad sending me away? So I could learn the hard lessons?”

“Christ, Dallas. Why do you have to be such a defensive asshole all the time? They tried everything they could to get through to you, to ensure you’d have a good future, and you kept fucking up. What were they supposed to do?”

Accept me for who I was, I wanted to say. Better yet, except me for who I wasn’t—you. But he would never understand.

“Nothing, Finn. Forget it. I’ll see you next week.”

Another heavy sigh from my brother. “I’m sorry. I know this isn’t easy for you. And … I’m glad you reached out.”

“Yeah, well …” I looked at Evan, who jerked his head toward the door, signaling he’d go in without me. I nodded. “Listen, I gotta go. I’ll be in touch.” I ended the call, slipped my phone into my pocket, and went into the brewery. Spotting Evan at the bar, I made my way over and took the seat next to him. “Sorry about that.”

“No problem. Your brother?” Evan was the only person I’d told about what was going on with me.


“You didn’t have to cut the call short.”

“I was pretty much done. There’s only so much fake concern I can take.”

“Come on, man. They’re your family. Isn’t it possible they are actually concerned about you?”

“It’s all fake with them. Or it’s just because I’m their blood relative. It’s not because they care about me. There’s a difference.”

“You don’t think it’s possible for them to come around? Maybe they didn’t get you as a kid, but—”

“Because they never made any effort to get me. They expected a certain kind of son, and I was never going to be him. So they got rid of me.”

Of course, that was a bit of a simplification. I was leaving out the parts where I failed classes on purpose, got into fights that had nothing to do with me, mouthed off when I felt like it, and pulled some pretty ridiculous pranks. But all these years later, it still made me angry that they’d attended every single one of Finn’s endless piano recitals, but they’d never once come to an art showing of mine.

It’s not a performance, Dallas. It’s just a drawing, I can see it at home. It’s not like you’d actually be doing anything while we were there.

After a while, I didn’t even invite them anymore. It’s not like they’d have appreciated it anyway. One Christmas I gave my father a sketch I’d done of his childhood home. He’d studied it critically and said, You got the windows wrong.

I shook my head. “You know what? It was better that way. I’m just different from my family. I’m sure they were happier when they didn’t have to deal with my shit anymore, and I was glad to get out of their house. There’s a reason they’re all on the East Coast and I’m in Portland.”

“I get it, man.” He shrugged. “You’re just so laid back about every other thing in life except your family. Seems like, with everything happening, this might be a good opportunity to—”

“I don’t really want to talk about it.”

Evan held up his hands. “Okay. No problem.”

The bartender came over, and after we placed our orders, I asked Evan how his wife, who was nearly nine months pregnant, was doing. He groaned and launched into a huge diatribe against pregnancy in general and his wife in particular. Our beers arrived and I listened to Evan talk, but my mind wandered. I couldn’t stop thinking about Maren.

Out of nowhere, a memory surfaced—our first time. It was so intense, I felt paralyzed by it. I could see her face in the dark, smell the rain on her skin, hear thunder outside my bedroom window, feel her hands on my back. She’d whispered in my ear, Don’t stop this time. I want it to be you.

And our last time, in the backseat of my car.

The taste of her on my tongue. The sound of my name on her lips. The feel of her on my lap, sliding down my cock.

The agonizing weight of knowing it was the last time, and keeping it from her.

Did she hate me for it? Would she ever forgive me? Did it even matter to her anymore?

All these years, I’d told myself I’d done the right thing by staying away, that she deserved better than me. I still believed that.

But now … I wanted to see her again. I wanted to know she was happy. I wanted to tell her I was sorry for what I’d done. Was it too late?

It’s never too late.

Maybe it wasn’t.

By the time I went to bed that night, my mind was made up. Instead of driving to Boston, I’d fly to Detroit on Friday. Then I’d rent a car and go see Maren, or at least try to see her. After that, I’d drive to Boston. That would still give me plenty of alone time to think about my decision.

I wouldn’t do exactly what Lisa had said—I wouldn’t tell Maren about my feelings. That was too fucked up after all this time. But I could see her again and apologize for what I’d done. Even if she refused to forgive me, asking her to would ease my conscience.

It might be the last chance I got.



After talking to my sisters about the nightmare, I felt better. I even thought it might go away.

It didn’t.

In fact, it got worse. By the middle of the following week, I was so sleep deprived I was starting to imagine snakes everywhere. My heart would pound every time I had to open the trunk of my car or a closet door or the lid on the washing machine. I kept expecting a fucking Burmese python to jump out at me and sink its fangs into my skin. And I fell asleep two more times teaching class.

On Friday morning after Yoga for Seniors, Allegra came into the room and asked how I was doing, and I broke down in tears, weeping into my hands.

“That’s it,” she said, setting her mat aside and rubbing my back. “I’m sending you home on mandatory leave. Go get some rest. I don’t want to see you here until Monday at the earliest. And if you need another day, you call me.”

Under normal circumstances, I might have tried to argue with her, but I was so tired I couldn’t think straight. And maybe she was right. Maybe I had been working too hard, and this was my body’s way of telling me to slow down and hit reset. Put my own needs first—physically, mentally, spiritually. “Okay,” I agreed, sniffling. “You win. I’ll take a few days for myself.”

“Good girl. This is the right decision, you’ll see.”

On the drive home, I tried to think of ways I could treat myself that would contribute to an improved sense of well-being. Should I get a massage? A couple spa treatments? Have my hair done? I wasn’t into fussing with my appearance too often, but a trip to the salon might be just what I needed. A little pampering. A little indulgence. Some guilty pleasure.

But first … an epic nap.

I went straight to bed when I got home, practically asleep before my head hit the pillow.

The doorbell woke me up.

I sat up, groggy and stiff, and checked the clock. Whoa—it was after four already. I’d slept for almost five hours straight and hadn’t even dreamed. Even my subconscious must have been wiped out.

Whoever was at my door knocked on it loudly three times in a row.

“Okay, okay. I’m coming.” Tossing the covers aside, I got out of bed and went to answer it, wondering who it could be. I wasn’t expecting a delivery or a visitor, and my sisters both had a key. Yawning, I turned the lock and pulled the door open.

My heart stopped.

It had been twelve years, but I recognized him instantly. That unruly hair. The square jaw, now covered with scruff. That dimple in his chin. Those deep-set eyes, somewhere between sage green and cerulean blue. The sculpted lips, curving into a smile at the sight of me.

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