“Let’s stop for McDonald’s,” Wendy suggests.
She is obscenely excited about the idea of getting fast food. About fifty percent of my diet consists of fast food, so I’m not nearly as excited. But Douglas is strict about what Wendy can and can’t eat, even though I’m scared she’s so skinny and deprived of fat products that if she eats even one McDonald’s French fry, it might kill her.
Fortunately, a sign pops up on the side of the highway, with the McDonald’s logo prominently displayed. So I get off at the next exit. I could use some gas anyway.
I pull into the McDonald’s parking lot, and Wendy’s eyes light up. When she opens her door, the odor of frying food invades my nostrils. I’m about to follow her out of the car when my phone rings. I grab for it, and my stomach sinks when Brock’s name appears on the screen.
Oh no—I was so caught up in rescuing Wendy that I completely forgot to cancel our dinner. How could I have done that to him again? I’m so crazy about Brock. Why do I keep sabotaging our relationship?
Sometimes I wonder if I’m doing it on purpose. So that he’ll dump me now, before I have to tell him the truth about me and he dumps me for a reason that will hurt much more.
“You go ahead,” I croak out. “I’ll meet you in there.”
This is not going to be a quick conversation. Or maybe it will be very
As soon as Wendy is out of the car, I take the call. Not surprisingly, Brock sounds just short of furious. “Where are you? I thought you were coming here at seven.”
“Um,” I say. “I had a change of plans.” “Okay, so when will you be here?”
I wish I could say that I’m right around the corner, but the reality is that I am hours away. And there’s no easy way to tell him. “I don’t think I’m going to make it tonight.”
More than anything, I wish I could tell him. It would be a relief to share this with somebody, but Wendy has sworn me to secrecy with good reason. “I’ve got work to do. Studying.”
“Are you serious?” Brock has gone from just short of furious to full-on enraged. “Millie, we had plans for tonight. And not only did you not show up without telling me, but now you’ve got some bullshit excuse about studying?”
I don’t know why that isn’t a valid excuse. I could need to study tonight! “Listen, Brock…”
“No, you listen,” he grunts. “I’ve been patient, but I’m running out of patience. I need to know how you feel about me and where this whole relationship is going. Because I’m ready for something more, and I’d like to know that I’m not wasting my time.”
Brock is so ready to settle down. I know it’s partly about his bum heart, and maybe some of it is just that indescribable craving for something more that so many people get in their thirties. He isn’t messing around. I’ve got to either take him seriously or cut him loose. It’s the right thing to do.
“You’re not wasting your time,” I murmur into the phone. “I promise.
Things are just a little crazy for me, but I swear, I really care about you.” “Do you? Because sometimes I’m not sure you do.”
I know what he’s looking for. And I know that I’ve got two choices. I either have to tell him what he wants to hear, or else I have to break it off.
And I don’t want to break it off. Even if I don’t mean what I’m about to say, Brock is a really, really good guy. The life I have imagined with him is what I’ve always wanted. And I don’t want to lose him.
“I do care about you.” I take a deep breath. “I… I love you.”
I can almost hear the fight going out of my boyfriend. “I love you too, Millie. I really do.”
“And we do need to have a talk.” I’ve got to tell him everything about me—soon. I can’t stand waiting for the other shoe to drop. I need to lay it
all out and make sure he still wants to be with me. “As soon as things settle down, okay? Next week.”
“Okay,” Brock says, because I’m pretty sure he would agree to anything right now. “And if you finish your studying, maybe we could have dinner tomorrow? And spend the night at my place.”
We always spend the night at his place. I don’t even know why he bothered to leave a change of clothing and a bottle of his pills at my place. But admittedly, his place is nicer and a lot more convenient. “Sure.”
“I love you, Millie.”
Oh. We’re apparently ending our conversations this way now. “I love you too.”
I hang up the phone, still not feeling great about the conversation. I’ve still got my boyfriend, but for how long? He says he loves me, but sometimes I feel like he barely knows who I am.
But maybe it will all be okay. Maybe he’ll find out the truth about me, and he’ll still love me. And we can still be together, and get that house in the suburbs and fill it up with kids together. We can have a normal, perfect life together.
Except I strongly suspect that could never happen for me. I have never been normal or perfect, and there has only been one man in my life who has understood that.