Tara couldn’t sit as she listened to her brother talk. He detailed everything. How Rick had gone to him their last night together and confessed the whole truth about their relationship. How Aaron had agreed with Tara that it was best Rick leave, but that they’d stayed in touch. How Aaron stood by when she fell apart, year after year, and felt every heartbreak with her. How Aaron called Rick and tricked him into coming home. How Aaron thought they belonged together.
“You know you love him,” Aaron demanded. “And he loves you. You’re miserable without him.”
“It isn’t that easy, Aaron.”
“Why the hell not?”
Tara sighed. “He hasn’t been here-”
“Because you told him to leave.”
“I was hurt. When the boy you love tells you it’s just sex, not love, it hurts. I knew I couldn’t be around him all the time and ever get over him.”
“Did you get over him?”
“That doesn’t matter,” Tara muttered.
“I think it does, sis. If you’re over him, I’ll back off. I’ll tell him to take his shattered heart and leave, like he wants to do. I don’t know what happened last night, but I almost had to cuff him to the bed to keep him from leaving.”
“I don’t want to know why you have handcuffs.”
Aaron cracked a grin and shook his head. “Considering they were a gift from your best friend, probably not.”
Tara plugged her ears and said, “La la la la!”
Aaron gently tugged her fingers from her ears and held her hands within his. “He’s as hurt as you are, Tara. He’s missed you.”
“Did he tell you that? Or are you coming up with that all on your own?”
“He doesn’t have to say it, Tara. He loves you.”
“Again… Did he say that or are you putting words into his mouth?”
Aaron sighed. “What happened last night?”
Tara laughed mirthlessly and shook her head. “Nothing happened. He was there. I was there. I asked what he was doing here. He wouldn’t tell me. He asked how I was and I got pissed then left.”
“Why didn’t you want to tell him how you are?”
“It’s none of his damn business,” Tara snarled.
Aaron sighed again and cocked his head at her. “I love you, sis, but you’re miserable. You’ve been miserable since Rick left. Don’t tell me it’s a coincidence. I want you happy. That’s why I called him. I want the two of you to get over this shit. Whether it’s moving on or working it out, it’s gone on long enough. The two of you need to talk.”
“I don’t want to talk to him.”
“Gee, where have I heard that before? Get your ass in here,” he shouted.
Every pore on Tara’s body prickled. She heard the click of the door and froze. When it snapped closed, Tara’s mouth went dry.
“Now,” Aaron said, pointing a finger at Tara and the man behind her who had yet to speak, “you two can either talk with me here, or I can leave. Either way, you two are going to walk out of this place smiling. Both of you. So which is it?”
Tara couldn’t move. She wasn’t even sure she was still breathing. The only thing she could focus on was the sound of his breath behind her, in her home, in her world. She wanted to cling to her brother, but she didn’t want him to witness the conversation they were about to have. She opened her mouth and said, “Get out.”