I flipped open the lights in my hotel room and flopped onto the bed. My bracelet glinted in the light, and I held onto the charms that Steve gave to me before I left. He gave me two—a musical note, a reminder of what we had in common, and a stack of books, the one thing that I loved and which Steve indulged me with almost all of the time (did I mention he has already given me about twenty books ever since I saw him here in New York?).
Steve sighed. We were at the departure area, and he was readying to send me off to Atlanta, back in his brother’s arms. “Do what you have to do, Sam. I’ll be here when you come back,” he whispered, pulling me close and kissing me on the forehead. “Steve, what if we don’t survive? What if—”
Steve cut me off by giving me a sharp look. “Sam, please. Don’t think that. It’s not gonna happen.”
And he didn’t offer anything more. I leaned my head against his for a long while, our breathing in unison, as if I was gathering all my strength and power from Steve. And then he took a step back, gave me one small smile and then a curt nod.
But it was his eyes. He looked like he wanted to say something more. The way his eyes looked brought me back to that last night I was with him at Atlanta, the day he said he loves me and he said goodbye.
Steve, please, say something. Say something.
I waited, and then there was nothing more. I took a deep breath, nodded, turning and heading for the check-in counter.
I couldn’t sleep. It’s five in the afternoon, and since I knew Ryan was on the day shift, he probably won’t be home for another couple of hours. I thought about what the best way to surprise him is. At the hospital, maybe? Hmm.
I stood up and grabbed my purse, shuffling out the door.
I’m going to get my fiancé back.
I walked down the hospital’s crowded hallway, looking for Ryan’s clinic. The receptionist told me that Ryan was there, probably checking on a patient. Three doors down from where I turned left, I saw a sign at the door: Ryan Santillan, M.D. I grinned. That takes some getting used to.
I knocked at the door but no one answered. I frowned. The slide sign on the door said the doctor is in. Maybe he has a patient?
I tried knocking again, but there was still no reply. Worried, I pushed the door open by an inch.
I wasn’t prepared to what I was about to see.
There, on the examination bed, was my fiancé, on top another woman, thrusting into her with so much ardor. I was able to recognize the woman’s face—it was Nessa, one of his classmates back in med school. They were kissing passionately, and both their clothes were off. Nessa was moaning in pleasure because Ryan was doing something right—he always does when he’s in bed—and they were really absorbed in what they were doing that they didn’t notice I was there. They didn’t even hear my knocks, much less the door opening.
I couldn’t breathe, and I froze at the door.
Ryan came, saying Nessa’s name with the same passion as he says mine when he reaches his climax. I shuddered just as he did.
How long has this been going on?
He collapsed on top of Nessa, and she exhaled. “You’ve always been that good, Ryan. I missed you,” she whispered, and I could feel the tears from my eyes. They’ve been sleeping together for how long? What did I miss?
She moved and traced the hairs on Ryan’s chest, her finger slowly making its path to that spot below Ryan’s waist. Ryan moaned as Nessa held him, massaged him, and he came once more. Nessa laughed, evidently impressed with herself. I don’t know why I can’t move away or stop watching.
Ryan closed the gap between them once again. I couldn’t watch anymore.
I pulled the door close silently, and found the nearest restroom in a daze. I crumbled inside one of the cubicles.
This isn’t right. I need to wake up from this nightmare.
I was numb and I couldn’t feel myself. I was a zombie, walking down the streets of Atlanta, waiting for the ground to swallow me whole.
I DID THIS TO ME AND TO RYAN—this is my conclusion. If I hadn’t been keen enough to earn way too much money to send my family, I would have stayed and married Ryan and we’d be happier than ever. Maybe in the process we’re having fun making kids. But I was greedy, I was selfish, and I have to suffer the consequences of that: losing the guy I have ever loved.
But how long has Ryan been sleeping with Nessa? I shivered at the thought.
I wouldn’t want to know.
I hailed a cab and made a quick decision. I am too confused at this point to even think straight, but I knew that it is probably the best thing to do.
I gave the driver the address and felt for my keys in my purse. The key that I want is still there.
The key slid in perfectly.
Ryan hasn’t changed locks yet.
I walked in slowly and closed the door behind me. I took in as many details as I could, trying to remember every single good memory I had in this place: Ryan & my first night here together, our baseball Fridays and NBA Thursdays, the engagement, our weekend movie marathons usually cut short by lovemaking sessions, how Ryan was—amazing, loving, patient, understanding, just like how he was when we were in high school. The perfect guy for me. And I met him when I was twelve.
And now I am twenty-nine, he’s still the man in my life, but… why can’t it work out for me and him?
It was my fault this relationship failed, my fault why I had to do this.
I found myself in his room. I sauntered over the cabinet reserved for me and I packed everything in a gym bag that I knew Ryan wasn’t using anymore. If he looks for it, I’d gladly FedEx it to him.
I didn’t even cry as I packed, which is amusing. I placed everything ‘ME’ in his apartment in the bag, and left almost nothing but one framed picture of me and him: the one he took while we were at Disneyland capping off a week-long vacation. I rummaged his desk for a piece of paper and grabbed my fountain pen from my purse. I slipped the ring off my finger, placed it atop the paper. I scribbled:
I left no name for I knew he would recognize my handwriting just like he would recognize his own. I unclasped my keychain, removed his key, and left it next to the engagement ring.
I am bidding Atlanta goodbye.