"Over six billion souls in the world, but you're the only one I want." His voice was soft, almost pleading with me. I couldn't look at him - to see the pain and agony lingering there in his hazel eyes would have surely killed me.
"I don't know what you want me to do," I whispered. "I gave my word to a man; I promised I would marry him, that's not something I can just walk away from." Tears threatened to spill as I spoke, I could feel them welling up in my eyes, my throat grew thick, it was hard to breathe.
"Oh, I see," Ian snapped. He went from distraught to enraged in record time. "It's because he has money and I don't. It's not that you can't walk away, it's that you won't," he spat, his words like venom being flung across the room as his teeth gnashed and clenched together. He stood, kicking the heavy armchair behind him. "Damn it Jo, just...damn it."
I sat on the couch staring at the floor. There were no words to soothe his aching heart. No matter what I said, he would still think I was leaving him, leaving what we had because of Neil's money. But it was so much more than that. What Ian and I had, well, it would never last in the real world. It was like a flash fire, flaring up and burning hot for a brief moment before it fizzled out. We would fizzle out eventually and then where would we be? Neil was...safe. He would never hurt me; never leave me. We were more a smoldering fire, burning low and steady in the embers, requiring little work, little maintenance. We would make it, even if Ian held my heart for the rest of my life.
I stood then, coming to the realization that it was best if I were to just leave. I reached for my purse and stared at Ian's back; a back my fingers were not likely to ever forget, a back that my hands would retrace in their sleep, following the lines and curves, the swell in the plane between his shoulder blades. It was too soon to leave and too late to say good-bye.
"I'm sorry," I said softly turning to leave. He didn't turn to look and I didn't look back. The front door clicked with finality as I shut it behind me. The closing of a door to the past, the ending of one chapter, and the beginning of another. I fought the urge to turn around, throw open the door and fling myself at Ian's feet, begging for forgiveness.
There was no forgiveness to be had, only memories of a time spent in the summer sun, time that was no more. As the autumn breeze shook the leaves, I hurried toward my car, tears making my vision hazy.
His face was the lingering image in the rearview mirror as I drove away. He stood on the porch, the crisp breeze ruffling his shockingly dark hair in the breeze. Tears snaked their way down Ian's face and he let them fall, let me see that he was brave enough to show me how much I was hurting him and that he wouldn't hide it but what he couldn't see were the tears dripping off my chin making dark circles on the legs of my jeans as they fell through the air and landed there with an inaudible sound.
Two hearts were breaking; everything could be done to stop it, yet nothing would.