Fallen Too Far (Chapter Twenty-Six)

I put the entire length of the room between us. I didn't stop until I was standing against the wall on the other side of the room.

Rush followed me inside and closed the door behind him. His eyes looked like they were drinking me in.

"Talk. Hurry. I want you gone," I told him.

Rush flinched from my words. I would not allow myself to feel for him. I couldn't.

"I love you."

No. He was not saying that. I shook my head. No. I was not hearing this. He did not love me. He couldn't. Love didn't lie.

"I know my actions don't appear to back that up but if you'd just let me explain. God, baby, I can't stand seeing you in so much pain."

He had no idea the extent of the pain. He had known how much I loved my mother. How important she was to me. How much she had sacrificed. He knew it all and he still didn't tell me what they thought of my mother. What he thought of my mother. I couldn't love that. Him. Anyone who mocked my mother's memory. I could never love that. Ever.

"Nothing you can say will fix this. She was my mother, Rush. The one memory that holds anything good in my life. She is the center of every happy childhood moment I have. And you…" I closed my eyes unable to look at him. "And you, and… and them… y'all disgraced her. The ugly lies that you spoke as if they were the truth."

"I'm so sorry you found out this way. I wanted to tell you. At first, you were just a product that would hurt Nan. I thought you'd cause her more pain. The problem was that you fascinated me. I'll admit I was immediately drawn to you because you're gorgeous. It was breathtaking. I hated you because of it. I didn't want to be attracted to you. But I was. I wanted you bad that very first night. Just to be near you, God, I made up reasons to find you. Then… then I got to know you. I was hypnotized by your laugh. It was the most amazing sound I'd ever heard. You were so honest and determined. You didn't whine or complain. You took what life handed you and worked with it. I wasn't used to that.  Every time I watched you, every time I was near you I fell a little more." Rush took a step toward me and I held up both my hands to hold him back. I was taking deep breaths. I would not cry again. If he needed to tell me all this and completely devastate me even more then I would listen. I'd give him his closure because I knew I'd never get mine.

"Then that night at the honky-tonk. You owned me after that. You may not have realized it but I was hooked. There was no going back for me. I had so much to make up for. I'd put you through hell since you'd arrived and I hated myself for it. I wanted to give you the world. But I knew… I knew who you were. When I let myself remember exactly who you were I would pull back. How could I be so completely wrapped up in the girl who represented my sister's pain?"

I covered my ears. "No. I won't listen to this. Leave, Rush. Leave now!" I yelled. I didn't want to hear about Nan. Her vile words about my mother rang in my ears and I felt the need to scream bubbling in my chest. Anything to block it out.

"The day mom came home from the hospital with her I was three. I remember it though. She was so small and I remember worrying that something would happen to her. My mom cried a lot. So did Nan. I grew up fast. By the time Nan was three I was doing everything from fixing her breakfast to tucking her in at night. Our mom had married and now we had Grant. There was never any stability. I actually looked forward to the times my dad would come get me because I wouldn't be responsible for Nan for a few days. I'd get a break. Then she began asking why I had a daddy and she didn't."

"Stop!" I warned him, moving further down the wall. Why was he doing this to me?

"Blaire, I need you to hear me. This is the only way you'll understand." His voice was broken. "Mom would tell her she didn't have one because she was special. That didn't work for every long. I went and demanded that mom tell me who Nan's dad was. I wanted it to be mine. I knew my dad would take her places. Mom told me that Nan's dad had another family. He had two little girls he loved more than Nan. He wanted those girls but he didn't want Nan. I couldn't understand how anyone couldn't want Nan. She was my little sister. Sure, at times I wanted to kill her but I loved her fiercely. Then came the day Mom took her to see the family her father had chosen. She cried for months afterward." He stopped and I sank down on the bed. He was going to make me listen to this. I couldn't get him to stop.

"I hated those girls. I hated that family that Nan's dad had chosen over her. I swore one day I'd make him pay. Nan would always say maybe one day he'd come see her. She daydreamed about him wanting to see her. I listened to these dreams for years. When I was nineteen, I went looking for him. I knew his name. I found him. I left him a picture of Nan with our address on the back. I told him he had another daughter who was special and she just wanted to meet him. To talk to him."

That was five years ago. My stomach twisted. I felt sick. I'd lost Valerie five years ago. He'd left five years ago.

"I did it because I loved my sister. I had no idea what his other family was going through. I didn't care honestly. I only cared about Nan. You were the enemy. Then you walked into my house and completely changed my world. I always swore I'd never feel guilty for breaking up that family. After all, they had broken up Nan's. Every moment I was with you the guilt at what I'd done started to eat me alive. Seeing your eyes when you told me about your sister and your mom. God, I swear you ripped my heart out that night, Blaire. I will never get over that." Rush walked over to me and I was unable to move.

I understood. I did. But in the understanding I'd lost my own heart. It all was a lie. My entire life. It was a lie. All those memories. The Christmases that mom baked cookies and Dad held Valerie and I up so we could decorate the top of the tree were all false. They couldn't be real. I believed Rush. It didn't change how I viewed my mother. She wasn't here to tell her side to the story. I knew enough to know that she was innocent. She couldn't be anything but. This was all my father's sin.

"I swear to you that as much as I love my sister if I could go back and change things I would. I would have NEVER gone to see your dad. Ever. I'm so sorry, Blaire. I'm so fucking sorry." His voice broke and I lifted my eyes to see his eyes wet with unshed tears.

If he hadn't gone to see my dad, things would have been so different.  But neither of us could change the past no matter how badly we wanted to. Neither of us could make this right. Nan had her father now. She had what she'd always wanted. So, did Georgianna.

I had me.

"I can't tell you that I forgive you," I said. Because I couldn't. "But I can tell you that I understand why you did what you did. It altered my world. That can never be changed."

A lone tear ran down Rush's face. I couldn't reach up and wipe it away just like the tears were now gone for me. "I don't want to lose you. I'm in love with you Blaire. I've never wanted anything or anyone the way I want you. I can't imagine my world now without you in it."

I would always only have just me. Because this man had taken my heart and destroyed it. Even if he hadn't meant to. I'd never trust enough to love again.

"I can't love you, Rush."

A choked sob rocked his body as he dropped his head in my lap. I didn't console him. I couldn't. How did I soothe his ache when mine was a big gaping hole large enough for both of us to fit in?

"You don't have to love me. Just don't leave me," he said against my leg.

Would my life always be full of loss? I hadn't been able to tell my sister goodbye when she left that day and never returned. I had refused to tell my mother goodbye that morning when she told me it was almost time. She'd closed her eyes and never opened them again. I knew once Rush left this room that it would be the last time I saw him. It would be our final goodbye. I couldn't move on with my life if he was in it. He would always hinder my healing.

But I wanted my goodbye this time. This was my final goodbye and this time I wanted a chance to say it properly. I couldn't say the words. They refused to come. My need to protect my mother's name stood between me and the words I knew Rush needed to hear. I couldn't tell him I forgave him knowing that he was the reason my dad had walked out and never come back. He had taken my dad away that day even if he hadn't known the damage that picture would do.

None of that changed how I had felt for Rush before he'd blown my world into a million pieces. I would get my goodbye.