been ready to throw his chubby butt out!”
“Don’t worry. He’s safe for now.”
Rachel laughed. “Good. I can’t wait to get out there and see you guys!”
“Me either.” I lay back down again, staring up at the ceiling fan that was lazily spinning in slow circles. “Apparently I’m not very good at this whole vacation thing.”
“I didn’t realize that was a life skill.” Rachel laughed and I could picture her eyes sparkling.
“I didn’t either,” I replied, my own tone flat and lifeless.
“What’s going on?” Rachel asked, her voice switching from entertained to concerned. “Is everything okay?”
“I don’t know.” I sighed, trying to figure out how to explain it to her. “I just don’t feel relaxed . Every minute seems like I’m worrying about what I should, or should not be doing, and I’m all alone, and while I thought some me-time, would be refreshing, after months of endless chatter, I actually kind of hate it.”
“I’m sorry, doll. I wish I could ditch work and come out there today!”
“I know, but Rach, how messed up am I? I can’t be alone?” I paused, chewing on my lip. “You’d think I’d be used to it,” I added with a hollow laugh.
“Holly…” Rachel’s tone was low and scolding. “Don’t talk like that. You’re not alone.”
“Yes I am,” I insisted, sitting up. I got off the couch and started pacing, like a lawyer addressing the jury, ready to make my case. “It’s been three years since everything went to shit with Kenny. Three years , Rach. And in that time, other than start my business, what have I done?”
Rachel sighed. “You can’t discredit yourself like that, Holls. You have a beautiful condo, loving friends, a thriving business, and, most importantly of all, you have a life free of that d-bag!”
I couldn’t argue that point.
While there were still some fragments of my heart that hadn’t fully been put back together again, deep down, I knew that a life without my lying, cheating ex-husband was for the best.
“You have me!” Rachel said. “And, don’t forget destructo-doggy.”
I laughed. “True.”
It felt good to smile, but my laughter died quickly.
“Do you think you want to start dating again? Maybe that’s what’s got you all restless?”
I sighed and sank back onto the couch. Hunter stirred at my feet and looked up at me, his eyes sleepy. There had been a piece of me that had questioned my motive for adopting Hunter in the first place. I had a sinking suspicion that getting a dog was really a band-aid fix to cover the gaping hole of loneliness I’d felt when Rachel moved out. I liked being independent, and on my own, but there were times when knocking around in that condo was too lonely and too quiet.
Kenny and I had gotten married at a very young age. I hadn’t gone through the so-called, normal, routine for growing up. I’d attended community college classes, but had never had the real college experience, complete with dorm living, crappy cafeteria food, and life on a college campus. And then, when Kenny joined the Marines, I’d been left alone for the first time and had gone through a similar experience. I hated the quiet house and ended up finding a new group of friends that wanted to go out to parties and drink, basically going through the normal twenty-one-year-old phase, but just a few years delayed. That phase lasted a couple of months, until Kenny returned from training, and we were forced to move across the country to live on a military base.
Then it had been Kenny’s turn to party.
I’d been left alone again, in a two-bedroom apartment, surrounded by people I didn’t know, and desperately missing home. I ended up living for the day we would get orders to move back to California, thinking that would save my sanity, and possibly my marriage. In reality, it ended up being the catalyst that ended it.
Replaying the timeline, I was reminded of how much time I’d