“Liar!” My life has been ripped out from under me—professionally and personally—and he’s standing in righteous indignation covering his ass. “You’re a liar! You said you loved me, but that confession says otherwise. You signed us away and got rid of me in one fell swoop of the pen.” I rush him and hit his chest. “How could you make me believe in something that was never real? When you love someone, you don’t do that. You don’t hurt them like that.”
Grabbing my wrists, he renders me helpless. Sobs escape my throat, and my emotions tornado, ready to destroy what’s left of us. I scream, “How do you hate me so much that you would sacrifice me for your greater good?”
“That’s not true, Chloe. Listen to me. I signed for you. You wouldn’t be a doctor if I hadn’t. Your father wouldn’t—”
“How dare you!” Rage roars inside me. I yank my wrists free and slap him. “How dare you take my accomplishments and claim them as your own? You’re a despicable person. My dad was right about you. You’re jealous and needed to claim a Fox to feel better about your own failings with your father.”
“Fuck your father!” I gasp, clasping my cheek, his words slapping me harder than his hand ever could. “If you’re so blind to the truth that you can’t even see what’s right in front of you, then leave,” he growls.
I turn on stubborn heels, but a loud crack rivaling the lightning has me ducking from fear. I turn back to find his hand punched through the wall. On instinct, I move to check for damage to his hand but have to stop myself. His breathing is erratic, his chest rising and falling through the anger. And if that didn’t tell me everything I need to know, he says, “Leave! Leave me alone.”
Shaken to the core from him yelling for me to go, the words from jail are summoned—don’t come back, Chloe.
Heading for the door, I reach the knob, and under a trembling tongue, I say, “I loved you—”
“You loved me because your daddy didn’t love you enough. I was the bad boy to piss him off.”
I swallow his insult, and spit out, “You were right. Love isn’t real.” I raise my chin in my moral outrage and walk down the hall to the elevator. His words are messing with my head and I realize he may not understand the wound he’s stabbed open. Call it spite that drives me to set the record straight, but my hand goes out to stop the doors from closing. With one foot out, I stare down the hall, meeting unfamiliar eyes to a soul I don’t recognize. “The last time I spoke to my father was the day I found out you were in jail. So yes, I chose to become a doctor. But before all of that, I chose you.” The doors push against my hands and the elevator dings. “Guess which one I regret?”
Pressing my back to the mirrored wall, I pray the doors close quick before I break down, feeling every second of this argument heavy in my chest. Just before the doors reunite, I hear, “Chloe, come back.”
I sink to the floor, puddling in my heartbreak. Ten floors to recover.
I cradle my head between my knees.
The tears fall heavy, dropping to the wood floor between my feet.
My body shakes with sobs.
I take a deep breath, staring at the numbers lighting up in descending order.
Standing up, I grip onto the railing to hold me upright.
I dry my eyes with the inside of the T-shirt.
Where do I go? I forgot my purse. Dammit!
I take a deep breath, preparing to see the doorman.
The doors open, and I hurry through the lobby. “Can I hail a cab, Dr. Fox?”
“No. Thanks.” I start running to beat him to the door, not wanting him to bear having witnesses to my personal tragedy.
“Good night, Dr. Fox.”
Pushing through I feel home free even without money, but stop just out from under the awning. Twenty feet ahead of me, Joshua stands in the pouring rain with his back to me and his arms behind his head in defeat. I search for an escape but am caught before I can make my getaway. “Chloe. Listen. Please.”
“I’ve heard enough—”
“I said those things to hurt you.” Remorse bleeds over his features, but my heart has already begun to close the door.
“It worked.” Keeping my hands at my side, I have no energy to fight a revolving argument. “I can’t keep going in circles with you.”
I see the way he holds his hand, and I have to fight the need to go to him, to care for him . . . to love him. “I’m hurting,” he says, his voice like gravel in his throat.
“So am I, so let’s not hurt each other anymore.” I turn, deciding the best direction is the one away from him.