“Oh, I’ll leave, when I have said all I need to say.” Dean gently, but firmly took the doorknob and closed the door. He and Tara were face-to-face, barely an inch of space between their noses. Tara took a deep breath as she leaned back to increase her comfort zone.
Dean kept his tone low and even. “I know you think I am Satan in spades, Tara. And I am sorry that I bailed on you when our relationship and the assignment started going at warp speed. It was just too convenient for me to let nature take its course when I was told to relocate. Besides, I was not the only drama queen, if I recall correctly.”
Tara’s defensive hackles stood on end. “And what, precisely, does that mean?” She stepped back from him so she could cross her arms over her chest in body language that screamed, I am not letting you do this again. It was not enough to make her feel better armored.
Dean began scrambling to back up his sucker punch, but to no avail. Tara was already stalking away. His words would fall on deaf ears, again.
She spun on one heel and hissed, “Damn you, I was willing to give you everything. You weren’t, aren’t ready to commit to anything but you tour du jour. And you take every one that comes down the pike. I need more stability than that.”
Tara turned to face the window. She held her arms tightly enough her knuckles whitened. Angry tears streamed silently down her face. Her mind was a tumult of wishes unfulfilled and fantasies fulfilled. She knew the latter could never replace the former.
Dean knew his morass was deeper than he first expected. He had known she cared, but did not understand the concept of love. Relationships had always been just another part of the job.
In that moment, something inside Dean snapped. The dam which had held his emotions in immobility burst. He tried to draw in a breath to speak, but could not get the air to pass his swelling heart. All he could do was wrap his arms around her from behind and nestle his face in her neck.
He felt her melt into his embrace. “I’m truly sorry.”
Before he realized he had spoken those three words, four more tumbled out behind them: “I love you, too.”
For a moment, Tara lost herself in his embrace. The feel of his arms around her, his body so solid and warm against hers, the scent of him… Memories of times long past filled her mind, swept over her like a breaking wave threatening to swallow her up entirely.
But his words still echoing in her ear pulled her back to reality, and slowly she pushed away. His eyes met hers, questioning and confused. He seemed so helpless, as she had never seen him before, almost childlike.
“You think that would make things okay between us, Dean?” She spoke softly, but confidently. “I loved you Dean, I still do. But too much has happened, too much damage has been done. You can’t just come back here, say you love me and have it be the way it used to be. We can’t go back. I’m not even sure I’d want to,” she said, stepping back further. “I can’t do this. Not right now. I think you’d better go.”
Dean realized maybe retreat was a good idea. He needed to comprehend what had just happened. Everything he had denied for his adult life had just flooded into the forefront, without his beckoning and in front of the one person who could use it against him.
He silently hung his head and retrieved his jacket from the floor. As he slid his arms into it, he looked at Tara. Somehow, from across the foyer, she seemed small and very far away. Her eyes were soft. He had seen that look of melancholy before. That time it was at his hands as well.
“I promise to call before I come back, but know that I am going to come back. I may never have meant that before, but today, you can set your watch by it.” His voice held a forlorn timbre. She turned her face away from him just as the thought occurred to him he should kiss her forehead again.
Dean turned to leave with a sinking feeling of unfulfilled purpose, yet could not identify the real reason he had come today. When the door closed behind him, he knew that he had meant all of the things he had said and that he would be back. A flicker of hope lightened his path that she would allow him to rectify some of his many wrongs.
Tara sank back against the door as she closed it behind him, exhausted by the exchange. Feelings which should have turned to dust long ago had been dredged up, and the ache, at once familiar and unwelcome, assailed her.
She shook her head in an attempt to scatter the thoughts. Later, she told herself. I’ll deal with this later. Right now, I have work to do.
Tara strode back into the bedroom, content she could shake the achy feelings and the fear her heart would open to allow the chance for hurt again. With an intent purpose, she stuffed all of the journals back into their box and returned them to the shelf. She looked at her work, unsatisfied.
The light inside her brain came on and a genuine smile crossed her face. In the bottom drawer of her chest of drawers was a sweater Dean absolutely despised. She retrieved it and masked the box of journals with it. What do you know? A perfect fit! With the newly found lightheartedness, Tara closed the closet door and went to the linen closet in search of a garbage bag and dusting supplies.
In a moment of self-doubt before she carried the garbage bag out, she wondered if she really wanted to throw away all of her memories. Tara’s heart and soul were practically mapped out on the pages of her journals. She just could not bring herself to toss out her journals.
Sinking to her knees, Tara cried silently while pulling the bag away. She removed the sweater and clutched the box close to her chest. If she were to throw away her journals, it would be because she was ready to close the chapters of her life. Dean was a man, and there are other men. She gently set her box on the closet shelf and put Dean’s sweater back in the bag.
Well, it’s not like he’s going to miss it. Tara put the garbage bag in the trash can. Her heart still ached though, and she felt emptier now more than ever before. Tara stepped outside onto the porch and let the cool October breeze sweep the tears off her face.
The sky was red, blue, purple, orange and yellow. It was so peaceful after the storm. Yet, the serenity of her setting did not quell the battle in her heart. The battle she fought was between what she thought she wanted and the truth. With his sudden revelation, how could she possibly fight or prevent the truth?
Sitting down in one of the rockers, she began to think. I wish things didn’t have to be this way, but all things happen for a reason right? Tara tired to convince herself her heart would heal, but the truth was she had no faith nor any desire to believe. Dean was gone, that’s all that mattered.
If you missed a portion of the story, visit Story Time to view the other installments. Stars and likes are how I gauge if you would like to see more of this story. I find it ironic some of you are convinced this is a love story. Ironic, as I am not a romance kind of writer. But the next scene is far more my speed.
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