Part 2: Chapter no 15 – Auburn


It’s been twenty-eight days since Owen was sentenced to ninety days in jail. A lot can happen in twenty-eight days.

I tuck the blanket tighter around his body and lean in to kiss AJ on the

forehead. “I’ll see you after school tomorrow, okay?”

AJ smiles at me, and like every time he does, my heart melts. He looks just like Adam. Other than having a red tint to his mostly brown hair, everything about him is Adam, right down to his mannerisms. “Are you coming over to eat with us?”

I nod and give him another hug. Saying good-bye to him, knowing he’s not sleeping in a bed in my home, is the hardest part for me. I should be tucking him into bed in a home we share together.

However, whatever Trey said to Lydia worked, because I’ve been coming over more nights during the week and she hasn’t said a single negative thing to me.

“Ready?” Trey says from behind me. “Good night, AJ. I’ll love you forever.”

He smiles. “Good night, Mom. I’ll love you forever.”

I ip the light switch off as I exit the room and pull the door shut. Trey reaches for my hand and slides his ngers through mine as we walk toward the living room. I look down at our hands, linked together, and feel nothing but guilt. I’ve tried for the past few weeks to reciprocate the feelings he has for me, but so far it hasn’t worked out like I’d hoped.

We make our way through the living room, and Lydia is seated on the sofa. Her eyes immediately fall to our hands. She smiles brie y, and I’m not sure what that smile means. Trey said she didn’t really have a reaction when

he told her he was taking me on our rst ocial date last week, but I know she has to have an opinion about it. I’d almost think she would be happy, because having me linked to her through Trey in a positive way means there’s less of a threat of me taking my son and moving back to Portland.

“Do you work tonight?” she asks Trey.

He nods as he releases my hand and reaches for the key that unlocks the entryway closet. “I’m on night shift for the next three weeks,” he says. He inserts the key into the door and retrieves his gun from the case.

My attention moves from Trey to a picture of Adam hanging on the living room wall. He can’t be more than fourteen in the picture. Every time I come here I do my best to avoid looking at it, but I’m shocked at how much AJ looks like his father. e older AJ gets, the more of Adam’s features I see in him. But knowing that Adam never made it beyond the age of sixteen makes me wonder what he would have looked like as an adult. If he were alive now, would he look like Trey? Will AJ look like Trey?


Trey’s voice is so close, it makes me jump. When I look at him, he cuts his eyes brie y to the picture of Adam and then turns toward the front door. He looks disappointed that I was standing here staring at the picture, and it makes me feel somewhat guilty. It has to be hard for him, knowing I felt so much for his brother. I know it would be even harder for him if he knew how much I still felt for his brother.

“Good night, Lydia,” I say as I make my way toward the front door.

She smiles, but there’s something about her smile that’s always been a bit off to me. Almost as if there’s blame behind it. at could be my own conscience, but I’ve never gotten over the fact that I feel she resents me for the time I spent with Adam before he passed away. I don’t think she liked how Adam felt about me, and I certainly know she didn’t like the amount of time he wanted to spend with me.

And that worries me to an extent, because as much as she seems in support of Trey and me being in a relationship, I worry about what will happen if things don’t work out between us. Which is exactly why I haven’t made things ocial, because once I do, I need to be prepared for what could happen with AJ if Trey and I don’t last as a couple.



Trey walks me to my front door, like he’s done almost every night for the past week. I know he’s still waiting for me to invite him in, but I’m just not there yet. I’m not sure when I will be, but I did nally allow him to kiss me last night, which wasn’t exactly what I had in mind. He just sort of did it. I had unlocked my door and turned to face him and his lips were on mine before I could agree or object. And I wish I could say I enjoyed it, but I mostly felt uncomfortable, for a number of reasons.

I still feel uneasy about the fact that I used to be in love with his brother. I might still be in love with his brother, and that may never go away. I’m also uneasy about the fact that his brother is the only person I’ve ever had sex with. I’m also disturbed that AJ has known Trey as his uncle his whole life, and I don’t want it to confuse him if it gets serious between us.

ere’s also the whole attraction thing. Trey is de nitely a good-looking guy. He’s con dent and has a great career. But there’s something about him that goes deeper than his muscular build or his perfectly groomed, dark hair. Something that is completely opposite from Adam. Something that actually turns me o.

ere was a goodness about Adam. A calmness. When I was with him, I felt safe.

I got the same sense from Owen, which I think is why I was drawn to him. He had a lot of the same qualities that Adam had.

So far, I don’t get that from Trey. I try not to think about the fact that I could be making a commitment to someone I’m afraid may not be a good person. But I’ve associated Trey with Lydia for as long as I’ve known him, so it may not be a question of Trey’s character. I may have judged him unfairly, simply because I feel that his mother isn’t a good person.

Because of that, I’m trying to open myself up to the idea of him. Which is why I allowed him to kiss me last night, because sometimes intimacy can give people a certain connection they wouldn’t otherwise have.

I unlock my door and inhale a slow breath before turning around. I try to get in the mind-set that I want him to kiss me, that his kiss could feel good and exciting, but I know for a fact I won’t feel even a fraction of what I felt when Owen kissed me.

at was a kiss.

I close my eyes and try to wipe the thoughts of Owen out of my head, but it’s hard. When you connect with someone that fast and feel that much

from their kiss, it’s not so easy to just forget them when they do something to hurt you. And even though Owen turned out to have issues far beyond what I want to get immersed in, I still can’t stop thinking about him. Maybe it’s because the person I got to know and the person he turned out to be don’t seem like they could be the same people. And as much as I try to forget about him, I can’t help but worry. I worry about how he’s doing. I worry about how long he’ll be in jail. I worry about his studio. I worry about Owen-Cat, because I still have her and I know that as soon as Owen is released, I’ll have to see him again in order to give him his cat back.

I worry about how I’m going to be able to hide that from Trey, because right now Trey thinks Owen-Cat belongs to Emory.

He also thinks the cat’s name is Sparkles. “Do you work tomorrow?” Trey asks.

I turn around and look up at him. He’s a lot taller than me, and it sometimes intimidates me. I nod. “Nine to four.”

He lifts his hand to my neck and leans in for a kiss. I close my eyes and do my best to enjoy his mouth when it comes to rest against mine. I imagine I’m kissing Owen for a second, and I hate that I do that.

is kiss is a short one. He’s already late for work, so I’m spared the awkwardness of not inviting him inside.

Trey smiles down at me. “ at’s twice you’ve let me kiss you.” I smile.

“Call me when you get off work tomorrow,” he says. “We’ll make it three.”

I nod again, and he turns to leave. I open my apartment door, but he calls my name before I close it behind me. He walks back to the door and looks at me with a serious expression. “Make sure your doors are locked tonight. I heard Gentry was released early, and I wouldn’t put it past him to try and get revenge on me by coming here.”

e air in my lungs depletes, and I have to hide my struggle for breath. I don’t want him to see how his words have aected me, so I nod quickly. “Why would he want revenge on you?”

“Because, Auburn. I have what he can’t have.”

at makes me uneasy, because I don’t like that Trey thinks he “has me.” And that’s another dierence between Trey and Owen. I get the feeling Owen would never say he “has me.”


“I’ll keep it locked. Promise.”

Trey nods and heads down the hall. I close the door behind me and lock

I stare at the lock. I unlock it.

I don’t know why.

Owen-Cat purrs at my feet, so I bend down and pick her up, then walk

into my bedroom. e rst thing I do, which is the rst thing I did last night after kissing Trey, is brush my teeth. I know it’s an absurd thought, but kissing Trey makes me feel like I’m cheating on Owen.

When I nish brushing my teeth, I walk back into my bedroom and see Owen-Cat make her way inside the tent. I didn’t have the heart to take it down, mostly because I know as soon as AJ is allowed to stay the night here, he’ll love it. I crawl inside the tent and lie on my back. I pull Owen- Cat onto my stomach and begin petting her.

My emotions are all over the place right now. I feel a rush of adrenaline, knowing Owen is no longer in jail and may very well be coming for his cat sometime this week. But I’m also lled with a nervous energy, because I don’t know what will happen when I see him again. And I hate that the thought of possibly seeing him again lls me with more anticipation than Trey’s kiss does.

Owen-Cat jumps off my chest when my phone receives a text message. I pull it out of my pocket and unlock the screen.

My heart tries to escape from my chest when I read the text from Owen.

Meat Dress.

I’m immediately off my feet and into the living room and swinging the front door open. As soon as our eyes meet, my heart feels like a st is squeezing the life right out of it.

God, I missed him.

He takes a very hesitant step forward. He doesn’t want to make me uncomfortable by being here, but I can see in his expression that he’s feeling that same tight grip around his heart that I’m feeling.

I take a step back into my apartment, and I open the door further, silently inviting him inside. A small twitch of a smile plays on the corner of his lips, and he walks slowly toward my apartment door. Once he makes his way over the threshold, I step aside until he’s all the way inside. He places

his hand on the door and closes it, then turns around and locks it. When he faces me again, his expression is pained, like he doesn’t know whether to turn and leave or take me in his arms.

I kind of want him to do both.

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