**This week, Ivan and I have decided to once again write to the same prompt. We’ve also decided to split it up into two parts. This week you get the break up. And tune in next Friday for the next part. Enjoy!**
Waiting was never the easiest thing for me, but I was doing my best. Okay, I was watching the clock as it ticked by each minute, silently counting seconds in my head. I’d been planning this for weeks, and I could not wait for Jesse to get here. Finally, the clock struck seven, and I bounced to my feet, practically vibrating. Not even thirty seconds later, I heard the knock on the door. My man was always punctual. When he didn’t immediately walk in, I strode toward it. That was unlike him. He’d been entering my house after a courtesy knock since the second week we’d been dating. I could hardly believe it had already been two years. Unaccustomed giddiness bubbled in my stomach, excitement at the night ahead.
But when I pulled the door open, my smile fell right off my face. Jesse looked terrible. His usually spiky dark hair sported telltale finger marks, and he only pushed his hands through his hair when he was nervous. He looked pale and wan, and immediately my heart clenched. Was he sick? Was something wrong? I mentally retraced our conversation earlier that day, wondering if he’d mentioned something I’d missed in my eagerness to invite him over tonight.
“Baby? What’s the matter?” I reached for him, trying to pull him in close, but he kept me at arms length and stepped into the front hall. He didn’t walk further into the house. His dark eyes were red rimmed, and as he looked up at me, his lip trembled. He was scaring me.
He took a deep breath. “Nathan, we need to talk.”
My stomach plummeted. The dreaded sentence nobody wanted to hear. But no, that couldn’t be what was happening here. I would know. This had to be something else. Reassured by my internal pep talk, I forced a smile, and said softly, “Sure. We can talk over dinner. I’ve got–”
“No.” He voice was quiet but firm, and he stepped back further to lean against the wall. Another deep breath.
I tried again to get him to move him inside. “Let’s go into the living room then and–”
“I can’t do this anymore.”
My blood ran cold at his whispered declaration. It froze me on the spot, unable to breathe, to move, to think. Everything came to a screeching halt as I stared at his beautiful, devastated face. I opened my mouth, but nothing came out. I tried again and again, until all I managed was a feeble, “What?”
“I’m sorry.” And his voice was still soft, but there was no mistaking the determination in his tone. “I love you. So much. But I can’t keep…I can’t be with you anymore. We have to end this.”
I knew I had to be imagining this. I just knew it. There was no way my boyfriend of two years was in my house, tonight of all nights, breaking up with me. We were happy. We laughed and fucked and talked all the time. If he’d been…less than satisfied with our situation, he would have told me. I would know. But he stood there before me, looking up at me with tear-wet eyes, and the truth settled into my gut. There was no way he’d be this upset if I was imagining it.
“I don’t understand,” I said. Because I didn’t. Less than a week ago, we’d spent the whole day on my couch watching terrible movies and cuddling until it eventually led to more. And now he was standing in my entryway and breaking up with me? What the fuck?
I only realized I’d said that last bit out loud when he flinched, his complexion going even grayer. He wrapped his arms around his stomach and drew a hiccuping breath. If he was hurting this badly saying goodbye then why was he saying it?
“Talk to me,” I pleaded. I wanted to reach out and touch him but everything about his posture was screaming that it would be a bad idea.
“You’re gone all the time.” He shook his head, and straightened, his shoulders squaring as he looked me in the eye. “You’re gone all the time and you work insane hours. There are weeks when I hardly see you. Months. And I’m tired of missing you. Worrying about you. About you not coming back to me when you’ve been gone. It’s exhausting. Loving you is too hard. And I just can’t do this to myself anymore.”
Anger flashed through me first, followed quickly by hurt. I had to make a concerted effort not to yell. “You knew I was a federal marshal when we started dating. You knew what I did. That I’d be gone and–”
“And I thought I could handle it!” Jesse sighed, and dropped his voice. “I thought I would get used to it, or that the fear would lessen over time. But it just gets worse and worse. Every time you go on assignment, have to transport a witness, hell, every day you go into work! I worry I’m going to get the call that you aren’t coming home again. And I just can’t anymore.”
For a minute, everything went black, sadness seeping into me. Then I shook my head and straightened up myself, because if that was his worry, then I could do something about it. “You should have said something, baby. Told me how you were feeling. I can change things. I can switched divisions, get a desk job, so I’m home and not out in the field–”
“No!” His shout cut me off, and finally I saw some anger from him, some of the passion that had drawn me to him in the first place. “Absolutely not. I don’t want you to change. You love the job, what you do, how you make a difference. I can’t, I won’t ask you to change any of that.”
“But if I’m offering, it’s different.” I tried for reasonable, but I sounded a little desperate, even to my own ears.
“If you change for me, you’ll end up resenting me, and we’ll only have put off the inevitable.” He sighed again and pushed off the wall, taking one step closer to me. “Maybe I’m just not the right one for you, did you think of that?”
“Never once,” I responded vehemently.
His smile was sad, and my heart cracked even further. “Then maybe,” he began softly as his gaze darted around my face, before once again locking with mine. “Maybe you’re not the right one for me.”
I felt the pain in my chest as if he’d stabbed me there, and I staggered back against the wall. This was it. This was happening, and nothing I could say or do could change his mind. I’d always loved his stubborn side, the one that went after what he wanted as soon as he’d made up his mind. But now it was working against me, ending the best thing that had ever happened to me. The love of my life wanted out, and there was nothing I could do to stop him. And I wasn’t about to try and make him stay where he didn’t want to be.
Jesse knew the moment I gave in, because a tear slipped down his cheek and he gave a single nod. “I love you, and I’m sorry. But this is the way it has to be.”
He stood on tiptoe to place a kiss on my cheek, then he turned fast, yanked the door open, and was gone.
I wasn’t sure how long I stood there, but it had to be awhile. The smell of something burning finally roused me from my stupor, and I shambled into the kitchen and turned off the oven. I removed the blackened casserole from inside and threw the whole pan so hard into the sink the glass dish broke. I didn’t care at all. I was numb. I couldn’t feel anything. How could I feel when Jesse had taken my heart with him when he walked out the door?
I punched the marble counter so hard I split the skin of my knuckles. I couldn’t even feel that, and didn’t care that I’d possibly broken my hand. Ignoring the blood, I walked to the table, and blew out the candles, leaving the place settings where they were. Then I reached into the basket of bread, and pulled out the small jeweler’s box I’d stashed there earlier. Flipping the lid open, I stared blankly at the platinum rings.
The tears came then, the emotion flooding my insides and pouring out my eyes. I couldn’t even remember the last time I’d cried. That wasn’t me. But it made a twisted sort of sense that Jesse would be the one to bring that out of me.
How could he just walk away?
I grabbed the bottle of Jim Beam from the shelf above the sink, shoved the box into the back of the junk drawer, turned off all the lights, and sat in the dark, chugging whisky straight from the bottle.
This was supposed to be the first night of the rest of my life. Instead, it was the night my life ended.