Series: Ethan Frost #2
Publication Date: July 15th 2014
I haven’t cried since those moments yesterday, clutched in Tori’s arms after that horrendous walk home, but as I stand here I feel tears well up in my eyes all over again. Of course Ethan had my car fixed. Of course he had it brought back to me.
That’s just the kind of guy he is.
“Well, I guess he’s not a total asshole,” Tori drawls from her spot beside me.
“He’s not an asshole at all.”
“But I thought—”
“It’s complicated,” I tell her, walking the last few yards to my car.
“Isn’t it always?”
She really has no idea. I reach into my purse, pull out my spare set of keys. And then I’m in the driver’s seat, cranking the ignition. Sure enough, it starts right away. Not to mention the fact that it all but purrs. Something tells me the faulty starter isn’t the only thing Ethan had taken care of on my little Honda.
I want to be angry at his presumption, I really do. But it’s hard to be upset when he’s doing what he always does—and what up until yesterday, I always loved about him. He’s taking care of me in whatever way he can, whatever way I’ll let him. Besides, I took most of my anger out on the hapless Vitamix last night. I don’t have any rage left. At least not toward Ethan. Not right now.
“So, I guess I’m heading back upstairs,” Tori says after a minute. “Unless you need me for something?”
“No. I’m good. Thanks, Tor.”
“No problem. Knock him dead, Chlo.”
“I’m not even going to see him today,” I protest.
She smiles wryly. “Of course you’re not.”
“I’m not.” I can’t. Just the thought of seeing Ethan makes me shaky. I may not be angry at him, but that’s a far cry from wanting to see him. And I don’t. I really don’t. Not now, when all I can see is Brandon’s mocking grin. When all I can hear is him calling Ethan his brother. His brother.
Maybe it’s cowardly, maybe it’s self-preservation. To be honest, I don’t really care. All I want to do is get through the day without any more casualties.
Surely that’s not too much to ask.
Except obviously, it is. Because as I move to set my briefcase on the passenger seat, I see a thick, cream envelope on the passenger side floorboard. It’s facedown, but I don’t need to see the Frost Industries return address to recognize Ethan’s stationery. He’s sent me so many letters and packages over the last few weeks—all on or accompanied by official company letterhead—that I’m pretty sure I’d recognize it in my sleep.
For a second, I’m tempted to take the coward’s way out. To leave the envelope where it lies and pretend I never saw it.
Except I’ve never been a coward. And though there’s a part of me that thinks there’s no excuse Ethan can make, no story he can tell, that will make what happened yesterday okay, there’s another part of me that wants him to try. That wants to see what he has to say.
It’s a double-edged sword, one I’m afraid I don’t have the skill—or the heart—to keep balanced on. And yet, even knowing how dangerous it is to my own mental health, I reach for the envelope.
For long seconds, I just hold it in my hands, watching it like I expect it to spontaneously combust. When it doesn’t, I eventually lift it to my nose and breathe in the elusive, barely there scent of it.
Like rain on a sunny, summer day.
Like blueberries and warm, sweet maple syrup.
It smells like Ethan and the truth of that nearly brings me to my knees.