Speakeasy (True North #5)(7)

As he turns onto our block, I can’t stop the dark thoughts from coming. My relationship with Daniela had been doomed, but I’d chosen not to see it. I think she was taking the passive-aggressive route—trying to drive me away with her bullshit, so she wouldn’t have to take responsibility for the breakup.

It’s cowardly behavior, and I’m not excusing it. But I wish I’d taken the hint a whole lot faster.

“This is the place?” Alec asks as he kills the engine.

“Yeah.” God, I don’t want to get out of the truck. I just want to crawl under a quilt in my family’s TV den and hide. Preferably with a jug of wine.

But we can’t always get what we want. And Alec is waiting, his big brown eyes worried.

So I get out, putting one foot in front of the other until I’m standing on our little wooden porch. I let myself in with my key, and then jam a thumbnail into the keyring so I can work off the key and leave it behind.

“You sure you won’t need to come back?” Alec asks me. “For mail? Forgotten items?”

I hesitate. He’s right. So I keep the key.

“Are you on the lease?” he asks. “Any utilities in your name?”

I shake my head. This place was Daniela’s house before it was mine.

“Good. So that part is easy.” He pushes a lock of hair out of my face and smiles at me. “Come on then, let’s see how quickly we can change your life. Got a duffel bag? And if you run out of space, there’s always the time-honored luggage of high-class relationship fleeing.”

“What’s that?”

“Garbage bags.”

“Oh, Alec.” I snort, and then I laugh.

I’m twenty-seven years old, barely employed, and just a few minutes from hauling all my possessions out of my ex’s house. In garbage bags. Because I only have one suitcase, and it will quickly fill up with law school textbooks.

Alec gives my shoulder a firm squeeze. “Let’s go. Thinking too hard won’t be helpful right now. Show me your books. You’ll do the clothes.”

We get to work.

If you’d have asked me to name a dozen people who might someday move me out of Daniela’s house, Alec Rossi would never had made the list. But I let myself forget that this is the weirdest night of my life and I do exactly as he says. I pack up my clothes and shoes, while he stacks my books in empty boxes I scare up from the garage.

It takes less time than I’d thought to sever my life from Daniela’s.

Alec carts my books outside, and then my clothes. We’ve quickly filled my laundry basket, several shopping bags and—naturally—trash bags for my clothes and a quilt my mother made me.

The bed looks naked now. I had some happy times in that bed, getting in touch with my bisexuality. But apparently Daniela was having happy times in some other bed, too. No wonder she hadn’t made love to me in a while.

For a minute I just stand there and stare at the rumpled sheets, letting the hurt sink in. Last night I’d curled up close to her when she came to bed. But Daniela had rolled away from me, her skinny shoulder jutting up like a wall between us.

When she’d asked me to move in last spring, I’d been so happy. I’d thought I’d finally found someone who would be mine forever.

Ugh. I turn my back on the stupid bed. “Let’s go,” I say.

“Not so fast,” he says, putting his hands on my shoulders. “Room by room, okay? Do you have anything in the bathroom?”

He’s right. In my haste I’d forgotten about my toiletries. I’m not petty—I leave the new box of tampons we’d just bought, and the shampoo. I take my fancy moisturizer, my toothbrush, and my hairdryer.

Daniela can air dry, damn it.

“What’s in there?” Alec points toward the spare bedroom.

“Not much.” I walk over and open the door, even though it makes me feel stupid. I had imagined we would eventually need this room for a nursery. I’d wanted us to adopt a baby girl from China. Lately, when I’d brought it up, Daniela would change the topic.

I’d missed every damn clue she’d given me.

My eyes sweep over the mostly empty room, and just as I’m about to shut the door, I spot my knitting basket in a corner. It’s dusty from neglect.

“This is mine,” I say, retrieving it. There’s at least two hundred dollars’ worth of yarn and needles in the basket, but I haven’t knit anything in ages. Daniela had made a crack about my old-lady hobby more than once.

Goddamn her. Why had I listened to a thing she’d said?

Because you were lonely, my subconscious reminds me.

Oh yeah. That.

Alec takes the knitting basket from my hands. “No suitcase needed for this,” he says. “I’ll put it in the back seat. You check the kitchen?”

Here, too, I need to grab a few things. A ceramic pie plate that belonged to my grandmother. A couple of mugs, a rolling pin I’d brought to the relationship. Everything fits into a paper grocery bag.

I leave an entire defrosted chicken in the fridge. Tonight I’d meant to roast it for dinner, but now I bet it will just rot. Daniela didn’t ever cook for me the way I cooked for her. She didn’t care enough to plan meals or ask me what I wanted from the store.

Taking the chicken would be psycho, right? Who removes a defrosted chicken from the fridge when she moves out?

Sarina Bowen's Books