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Fall Into You: Chapter 58

Shay

He’s in the hospital for another two weeks. He undergoes surgery on his spine and has countless diagnostic tests and imaging. And still, he refuses to see me.

I come every day straight from work and sit in the waiting area. His father brings me sandwiches and sneaks in wine that we drink from paper cups. His mother, a slender redhead named Catherine, teaches me how to play bridge. His brothers come and go, and so do Kiyoko and Axel, but he never allows me into his room.

I could barge in, but I get more and more angry with him with each day that passes.

He’s trying to freeze me out, but all he’s doing is pissing me off.

On a Tuesday, his older brother Callum comes into my office at work to tell me Cole has been transferred to a private rehabilitation facility where he’ll receive physical therapy and ongoing care.

Then he drops a bomb on me.

“Kiyoko has moved into his house. She’ll be staying there indefinitely.”

Shocked by the news, I stare at him until I find the power of speech. “Are you telling me they’re back together?”

He gazes at me silently for a long moment, then shakes his head. “I don’t know what it means, but I thought you should know. And he asked us not to tell you where he is now, so I’m sorry, but…I won’t.”

When he leaves, I throw up into the trashcan.


A month passes. Then another. Every moment apart from him is a doctor’s waiting room hell where my name is never called and there aren’t any exits.


One Friday night, after I’ve made my way through two-thirds of a bottle of wine and worked myself up into a lather of hurt and indignation, I take out my cell phone, find the number he called me from what feels like years ago, and send him a text.

The night we met, you told me that any man who’d let me go has a personality disorder.

I follow it up with six exclamation points, because I’m feeling dramatic. Expecting nothing, I shut off the phone and go to bed.

In the morning when I turn it on, there’s a message from Cole.

And I was right. But I have more than one.

I’m so thrilled that he responded, I almost drop the phone. Pulse throbbing and hands shaking, I stare at the screen and try to decide what to send back. Because I’m nothing if not direct, I go straight for the jugular.

I miss you. I love you. I won’t stop just because you’re ignoring me.

His response is instantaneous.

Forget me. It’s over.

That makes me so mad, I scream. Standing in the middle of my bedroom, I look up at the ceiling and scream at it until I feel better. Then I let my thumbs fly.

It’s not over. Don’t be such a wuss. Let me come and see you.

IT’S OVER. I’M WITH KIYOKO NOW.

I stare at the screen, sick with envy and heartache but still determined.

Bullshit. I know you. I know what this is. You won’t scare me off so easily.

Shaking with anxiety, I wait for a response. When it doesn’t come, I dial his number. When he picks up, I almost pass out from relief.

“Hello? Cole?”

No response, but I hear him breathing.

“Okay, I’ll talk, you listen. Please don’t hang up. God, where do I start? I feel like I’m having a heart attack.”

Pacing the floor, I chew my thumbnail until I can pull myself together enough to form a coherent sentence. “I know you’re hurt. Nobody will tell me how badly, but all I care about is that you’re alive. It doesn’t matter to me if you have a disability. It doesn’t matter to me if you can’t walk. All I want is you. Please let me come see you. Please.”

After a minute of silence where I die a thousand deaths, he finally speaks.

“I’m not a man anymore.”

His voice is raw, aching with anger and pain. Hearing it makes my heart clench and tears spring into my eyes.

I whisper, “Don’t say that. You’re still a man. Your masculinity doesn’t depend on—”

“I’m not a man!” he roars. “Do you understand what I’m saying? I can’t be with you anymore, Shay! I can’t be with anyone! I’m not fucking functional!”

I start to bawl. Tears stream down my cheeks. My whole body is racked with uncontrollable sobs. I sink to my knees on the carpet and cry so hard, my sides hurt.

“I d-don’t care.”

“You should fucking care!”

“I don’t. Let me see you. Please.”

“Goddammit. Goddammit. Why don’t you ever listen to me? Why do you have to make everything so difficult? Why can’t you just let it go?”

He’s angry and frustrated, breathing hard. And I’m desperate to keep him talking. This feels dangerous and out of control, as if everything hinges on this conversation. Our past, our future, our whole lives.

It feels like we’re holding hands at the edge of a high, windswept cliff, deciding whether to step back or jump.

“I can’t let it go because I love you.”

His voice turns bitter. “You loved Chet too. Look what that got you.”

My heart is breaking. It’s splitting in half. It’s tearing itself into pieces.

“I won’t answer if you call again, Shay. I won’t see you. Forget about me. Go live your life. It’s over. You’re nothing to me anymore.”

A white hot ball of rage explodes inside me. I’m still crying, but I’m furious now too. At him for being so unreasonable, and at myself for being so reckless with my heart.

At the top of my lungs, I shout into the phone, “Fuck you, Cole McCord! You don’t get to tell me how to live my life! You don’t get to tell me who to love! And I don’t care if you don’t want me anymore, I still want you, and I always will! I want you even if it means I have to lay next to you and have sex with a vibrator while you watch every night for the rest of my life, okay? You dumb, stubborn man, your worth doesn’t depend on your legs or your dick or any other of your goddamn body parts. And I’m sorry this happened, God fucking knows I am, but sometimes life is shitty, and the only choice we have is to make the best of it! We don’t give up. Not on life, and not on each other. And I swear to God, if you give up on us, I’ll never forgive you. So get your shit together, and get your head straight. When I said I belonged to you, that meant forever. Like it or not, I’m yours!”

I disconnect and throw the phone against the wall, where it shatters into pieces.

Then I fall facedown on the carpet, curl into a ball, and sob until I fall asleep.


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