All Your Perfects - Page 6

Listen Audio


But he doesn't.

Instead, he pulls out of me, pressing himself against the small of my back. Then he groans one final time against my neck. I feel it meet my skin, warm and wet as it slides down my hip and seeps into the mattress.

Did he just . . .

He did.

Tears sting at my eyes when I realize he didn't finish inside me. I want to climb out from under him, but he's too heavy and he's still tense and I can't move.

As soon as I feel him begin to relax, I attempt to lift up. He rolls over onto his back. I roll away from him, using the sheet beneath me to wipe myself clean. Tears are streaming down my cheeks and I swipe at them angrily. I am so angry I can't even speak. Graham just watches me as I try to conceal the anger I'm feeling. And the embarrassment.

Graham is my husband, but tonight he was a means to an end. And even though I tried to convince him otherwise, he just proved that to himself by not giving me the only thing I wanted from him tonight.

I can't stop the tears from falling, but I try anyway. I pull the blanket up to my eyes and Graham rolls off the bed and grabs his pants. My quiet tears begin to turn to sobs and my shoulders begin to shake. It's not like me to do this in front of him. I usually save this for my long showers.

As Graham grabs his pillow off the bed, part of him looks like he wants to console me while the other part looks like he wants to scream at me. The angry part wins out and he begins to walk toward the door.

"Graham," I whisper.

My voice stops him in his tracks and he turns around and faces me. He seems so heartbroken, I don't even know what to say. I wish I could say I'm sorry for wanting a baby more than I want him. But that wouldn't help, because it would be a lie. I'm not sorry. I'm bitter that he doesn't understand what sex has become to me over the last few years. He wants me to continue to want him, but I can't when sex and making love have always given me hope that it might be that one in a million chance I'll get pregnant. And all the sex and lovemaking that leads to the hope then leads to the moment all that hope is overcome by devastation.

Over the years, the entire routine and the emotions it brings started running together. I couldn't separate the sex from the hope and I couldn't separate the hope from the devastation. Sex became hope became devastation.

SexHopeDevastation. Devastation. Devastation.

Now it all feels devastating to me.

He'll never understand that. He'll never understand that it isn't him I don't want. It's the devastation.

Graham watches me, waiting for me to follow his name up with something else. But I don't. I can't.

He nods a little, turning away from me. I watch the muscles in his back tense. I watch his fist clench and unclench. I can see him release a heavy sigh even though I can't hear it. And then he opens the bedroom door with ease before slamming it shut with all his strength.

A loud thud hits the door from the other side. I squeeze my eyes shut and my whole body tenses as it happens again. And then again.

I listen as he punches the door five times from the other side. I listen as he releases his hurt and rejection against the wood because he knows there's nowhere else it can go. When everything is silent again . . . I shatter.

Chapter Seven

* * *

Then

It's been difficult getting over Ethan. Well, not Ethan per se. Losing the relationship was harder than losing Ethan. When you associate yourself with another person for so long, it's difficult becoming your own person again. It took a few months before I finally deleted him from my apartment completely. I got rid of the wedding dress, the pictures, the gifts he'd given me over the years, clothes that reminded me of him. I even got a new bed, but that probably had more to do with just wanting a new bed than being reminded of Ethan.

It's been six months now and the only reason I'm on my second date with this Jason guy is because the first one wasn't a complete disaster. And Ava talked me into it.

As much as my mother loved Ethan and still wishes I'd forgive him, I think she would like Jason even more. That should probably be a positive but it isn't. My mother and I have very different tastes. I'm waiting for Jason to say or do something that my mother would hate so that I can be drawn to him a little more than I am.

He's already repeated several questions he asked me last Friday. He asked how old I was. I told him I was twenty-five, the same age I was last Friday. He asked me when my birthday was and I told him it was still July 26.

I'm trying not to be a bitch, but he makes it difficult when it's clear he didn't pay attention to a single thing I said last week.

"So you're a Leo?" he asks.

I nod.

"I'm a Scorpio."

I have no idea what that says about him. Astrology has never been my thing. Besides, it's hard to pay attention to Jason because there's something much more interesting behind him. Two tables away, smirking in my direction, is Graham. As soon as I recognize him, I immediately look down at my plate.

Jason says something about the compatibility of Scorpios and Leos and I look him in the eyes, hoping he can't see the chaos I'm feeling right now. But my resolve is broken because Graham is standing now. I can't help but look over Jason's shoulder and watch as Graham excuses himself from his table. He locks eyes with me again and begins to head in our direction.

I'm squeezing the napkin in my lap, wondering why I'm suddenly more nervous at the sight of Graham than I've ever been around Jason. I make eye contact with Graham right before he approaches the table. But as soon as I look at him, he looks away. He nods his head once, in the direction he's walking. He passes our table, his hand just barely touching my elbow. A one second graze of his finger across my skin. I suck in air.

"How many siblings do you have?"

I lay my napkin on the table. "Still just the one." I push my chair back. "I'll be right back. I need to use the restroom."

Jason scoots back, half standing as I push my chair in. I smile at him and turn toward the restrooms. Toward Graham.

Why am I so nervous?

The bathrooms are at the rear of the restaurant. You have to make a turn behind a partition to find the hallway. Graham has already disappeared around the corner, so I pause before I make the turn. I put my hand on my chest, hoping it will somehow calm what's happening inside of it. And then I blow out a quick breath and walk into the hallway.

Graham is leaning casually against a wall, his hand in the pocket of his suit. The sight of him both excites me and comforts me, but I'm also nervous because I feel bad for never calling him.

Graham smiles his lazy half smile at me. "Hello, Quinn." His eyes still frown a little with his smile and I'm happy to see that. I don't know why. I like that he always looks to be battling some inner perpetual turmoil.

"Hey." I stand awkwardly a few feet away from him.

"Graham," he says, touching his chest. "In case you forgot."

I shake my head. "I didn't. It's kind of hard to forget every detail of the worst day of your life."

My comment makes him smile. He pushes off the wall and takes a step closer to me. "You never called."

I shrug like I haven't given his phone number much thought. But in reality, I look at it every day. It's still stuck to the wall where he left it. "You said to call you after my rebound guy. I'm just now getting around to the rebound guy."

"Is that who you're with tonight?"

I nod. He takes a step closer, leaving only two feet between us. But it feels like he's suffocating me.

"What about you?" I ask. "Are you with your rebound girl?"

"My rebound was two girls ago."

I hate that answer. I hate it enough to be done with this conversation. "Well . . . congratulations. She's pretty."

Graham narrows his eyes as if he's trying to read all the things I'm not saying. I take a step toward the women's restroom and put my hand on the door. "It was good to see you, Graham."

His eyes are still narrowed and he tilts his head a little.

I'm not sure what else to say. I walk into the women's restroom and allow the door to swing shut behind me. I let out a huge sigh. That was intense.

Why was that so intense?

I walk over to the sink and turn on the water. My hands are shaking, so I wash them in warm water, hoping the lavender soap helps calm my nerves. I dry them and then look at them in the mirror, trying to convince myself I wasn't that affected by Graham. But I was. They're still shaking.

For six months I've wanted to call him, but for six months I've talked myself out of it. And now, knowing he's moved on and he's with someone else, I might have blown my chance. Not that I wanted one. I still hold fast to the belief that he would remind me too much of what happened. If I do decide to start something up with someone, I'd want it to be someone brand-new. Someone completely unrelated to the worst days of my life.

Someone like Jason, maybe?

"Jason," I whisper. I should get back to my date.

When I open the door, Graham is still in the same spot. Still looking at me with his head tilted. I stop short and the door hits me in the back when it swings shut, pushing me forward a step.

I glance toward the end of the hallway and then look back at Graham. "Were we not finished?"

He inhales a slow breath as he takes a step toward me. He stops only a foot from me this time, sliding both hands back into his pockets. "How are you?" His voice is quiet, like it's hard for him to get it out. The way his eyes are searching mine makes it obvious he's referring to everything I've been through with the breakup. Calling off the wedding.

I like the sincerity in his question. I'm feeling all the same comfort his presence brought me that night six months ago. "Good," I say, nodding a little. "A few residual trust issues, but other than that I can't complain."

He looks relieved. "Good."

"What about you?"

He stares at me a moment, but I don't see what I'm hoping to see in his eyes. Instead, I see regret. Sadness. Like maybe he still hasn't recovered from losing Sasha. He shrugs, but doesn't answer with words.

I try not to let my pity show, but I think it does. "Maybe this new girl will be better than Sasha. And you'll finally be able to get over her."

Graham laughs a little. "I'm over Sasha," he says with conviction. "Pretty sure I was over Sasha the moment I met you."

He gives me absolutely zero time to absorb his words before he throws more of them at me. "We better get back to our dates, Quinn." He turns and walks out of the hallway.

I stand still, dumbfounded by his words. "Pretty sure I was over Sasha the moment I met you."

I can't believe he just said that to me. He can't say something like that and then just walk away! I stalk after him, but he's already halfway to his table. I catch Jason's eye and he smiles when he sees me, standing up. I try to compose myself, but it's hard as I watch Graham lean down and give his date a quick kiss on the side of her head before he takes his seat across from her again.

Is he trying to make me jealous? If he is, it's not working. I don't have time for frustrating men. I barely have time for boring men like Jason.

Jason has walked around the table to pull out my chair for me. Before I take my seat, Graham makes eye contact with me again. I swear I can see him smirk a little. I don't know why I stoop to his level, but I lean over and give Jason a quick kiss on the mouth.

Then I sit.

I have a clear shot of Graham as Jason walks back around to his side of the table. Graham is no longer smirking.

But I am.

"I'm ready to get out of here," I say.

Chapter Eight

* * *

Now

Ava and I talked on the phone almost every day when she lived in Connecticut, but now that she's halfway across the world, we seem to talk even more. Sometimes twice a day, even with the time difference.

"I have to tell you something."

There's a trepidation in her voice. I close my front door and walk my things to the kitchen counter. "Are you okay?" I set down my purse, pull the phone from between my shoulder and ear, and grip the phone in my hand.

"Yes," she says. "I'm fine. It's nothing like that."

"Well, what is it? You're scaring me, so it's obviously bad news."

"It's not. It's . . . good news actually."

I sink to the living room sofa. If it's good news, why does she sound so unhappy?

And then it clicks. She doesn't even have to say it. "You're pregnant?" There's a pause. It's so quiet on her end of the phone, I look down at mine to make sure we're still connected. "Ava?"

"I'm pregnant," she confirms.

Now I'm the quiet one. I put my hand against my chest, feeling the remnant pounding of my heart. For a moment, I feared the worst. But now that I know she's not dying, I can't help but wonder why she doesn't sound happy. "Are you okay?"

"Yeah," she says. "It's unexpected of course. Especially finding out so soon after moving here. But we've had a couple of days to let it sink in now. We're actually excited."

My eyes well up with tears but I'm not sure why I feel like crying. This is good. She's excited. "Ava," I whisper. "That's . . . wow."

"I know. You're going to be an aunt. I mean, I know you already are because of Graham's sister's children, but I just never thought you'd be an aunt because of me."

I force a smile but realize it isn't enough, so I force a laugh. "Your mother is going to be a grandma."

"That's the craziest part," she says. "She didn't know how to take the news. She's either drowning in martinis today or out shopping for baby clothes."

I swallow down the immediate envy, knowing my mother knew before I did. "You . . . you told her already?"

Ava releases a sigh full of regret. "Yesterday. I would have told you first but . . . I wanted Mom's advice. On how to tell you."

I lean my head back against the couch. She was scared to tell me? Does she think I'm that unstable? "Did you think I'd be jealous of you?"

"No," she says immediately. "I don't know, Quinn. Upset, maybe? Disappointed?"

Another tear falls, but this time it isn't a tear of joy. I quickly wipe it away. "You know me better than that." I stand up in an attempt to compose myself, even though she can't see me. "I have to go. Congratulations."

"Quinn."

I end the call and stare down at my phone. How could my own sister think I wouldn't be happy for her? She's my best friend. I'm happy for her and Reid. I'd never resent her for being able to have children. The only thing I resent is that she conceived so easily by accident.

Oh, God. I'm a terrible person.

No matter how much I'm trying to deny it, I do feel resentment. And I hung up on her. This should be one of the best moments of her life, but she loves me too much to be fully excited about it. And I'm being too selfish to allow that.

I immediately call her back.

"I'm sorry," I blurt out as soon as she answers.

"It's okay."

"No, it's not. You're right. I'm grateful that you were trying to be sensitive to what Graham and I are going through, but really, Ava. I am so happy for you and Reid. And I'm excited to be an aunt again."

I can hear the relief in her voice when she says, "Thank you, Quinn."

"There is one thing, though."

"What?"

"You told your mother first? I will never forgive you for that."

Ava laughs. "I regretted it as soon as I told her. She actually said, 'But will you raise it in Europe? It'll have an accent!' "

"Oh, God help us."

We both laugh.

"I have to name a human, Quinn. I hope you help me because Reid and I are never going to agree on a name."

We chat a little longer. I ask her the typical questions. How she found out. Routine doctor's visit. When she's due. April. When they'll find out what they're having. They want it to be a surprise.

When the conversation comes to an end, Ava says, "Before you hang up . . ." She pauses. "Have you heard back from the la

st adoption agency you applied to?"

I stand up to walk toward the kitchen. I'm suddenly thirsty. "I have," I tell her. I grab a water out of the refrigerator, take the cap off, and bring it to my mouth.

"That doesn't sound good."

"It is what it is," I say. "I can't change Graham's past and he can't change my present. No point in dwelling on it."

It's quiet on Ava's end of the line for a moment. "But what if you can find a baby through private adoption?"

"With what money?"

"Ask your mother for the money."

"This isn't a purse, Ava. I'm not letting your mother buy me a human. I'd be indebted to her for eternity." I look at the door just as Graham walks into the living room. "I have to go. I love you. Congratulations."

"Thank you," she says. "Love you, too."

I end the call just as Graham's lips meet my cheek. "Ava?" He reaches for my water and takes a drink.

I nod. "Yep. She's pregnant."

He nearly chokes on the water. He wipes his mouth and laughs a little. "Seriously? I thought they didn't want kids."

I shrug. "Turns out they were wrong."

Graham smiles and I love seeing that he's genuinely happy for them. What I hate, though, is that his smile fades and concern fills his eyes. He doesn't say it, but he doesn't have to. I see the worry. I don't want him to ask me how I feel about it, so I smile even wider and try to convince him I'm perfectly fine.

Because I am. Or I will be. Once it all sinks in.

* * *

Graham made spaghetti carbonara. He insisted on cooking tonight. I usually like when he cooks, but I have a feeling he only insisted tonight because he's afraid I might be having a negative reaction to the fact that my sister can get pregnant by accident and I can't even get pregnant after six years of trying on purpose.

"Have you heard back from the adoption agency yet?"

I look up from my plate of food and stare at Graham's mouth. The mouth that just produced that question. I grip my fork and look back down at my plate.

We've gone a month without discussing our infertility issues. Or the fact that neither of us has initiated sex since the night he slept in the guest room. I was hoping we could go another month.



Tags: Colleen Hoover Romance
Source: www.freenovel24.com