Break Me Down (The Breaking Trilogy, #2)(3)

By: M. Mabie

Myra deserved all the time she needed.

“Is she staying with you?”

His eyes answered that she was, but his mouth stayed tightly shut.

Scanning the room, I landed on her sewing machine and the scraps of something she’d been working on. Her soaps and things were in the bathroom. Her clothes still hung in the closet.

I hated asking, but it wasn’t about me. “Does she want her belongings?”

“No, not right now. Dori took her shopping and got her some new stuff yesterday.”

“Let me pay you. She couldn’t have had much money on her.” I flew to the counter where I’d put my wallet and flipped through the bills. There wasn’t a lot, but about seventy in cash. I slid it over to Ted and sat back down.

Another way I’d failed her by not telling her about her money. Giving it to her. Showing her how to manage and budget it. I thought I’d have more time. I thought I was just pacing things out so living outside Lancaster wouldn’t be so overwhelming all at once.

“I’ll give this to her,” he told me and folded it before slipping the bills into the breast of his thin plaid shirt. “And as far as apologies go, I owe you one too. I said a lot of things I shouldn’t have. Put a lot on you and it wasn’t right. I know you better than that, so I’m sorry.”

He had accused me of wrongs that weren’t true, but some were, no matter how much I hated admitting it.

“I thought I was doing the right thing.”

“I know, and I shoved everything in a different direction for you both, but it can’t be undone now. She’s asked a lot of questions, and you know Dori and I don’t hold back.”

Firsthand, I knew. But when they’d helped me, I was ready for help. It had been my decision to abandon the church. I wasn’t happily behind the veil like Myra was.

The chair barked across the floor as Ted rose. “Maybe it’s for the best.” He snuck a few fingers into a hip pocket in the front of his saggy denim bibs. Metal rang and rattled as it rolled under his hand atop the table.

“She wanted me to give this to you.”

Her wedding band.

Our marriage was one of convenience, born out of false pretenses. It was fake.

So why did seeing the ring she’d worn, only out of mock obligation, feel like actual rejection? Why did my chest hurt like the wind had been brutally knocked from it?

If it had all been pretend, why was the pain so damn real?



My feet dangled off the end of the exam table. I was exposed in the gown the red-haired nurse had given me to wear. Maybe I should have let Dori come into the room with me because waiting inside it alone, in the silence, was overwhelming. One lamp in the overhead light flickered every so often, which was why I quit trying to read the posters on the white walls.

My head was beginning to hurt again, and my pulse hadn’t quit racing for days.

Mrs. Grier had told me what to expect, but she hadn’t mentioned how long I’d be waiting by myself.

Finally, only seconds before I changed back into my clothes and left, an older woman in a white coat stepped in.

“I’m so sorry to keep you waiting like this. I had to take a call from a first-time mother who is most likely in the first few hours of labor.” She flipped a page on her clipboard. “Myra Hathaway. Yes, I was expecting you.”

I adjusted on the table, tucked the gown under me again, and offered her the closest thing to a smile I could manage.

Although I was surprised when Dori told me her doctor was a woman, it had put me at ease going in.

Her tone was calm, and she spoke slowly to me. “I’ve known Dori Grier since her daughter Ashley was born. So a long time. I’m happy you came to see me.” The doctor bumped a rolling seat with her foot toward the table and sat on it in front of my bare legs. She put the board on her lap and looked up at my face. Frowning, the lines on her forehead bunched. “To a certain degree, I’m familiar with Lancaster, having been Dori’s doctor. So I gather this might be uncomfortable for you.”

“Yes, ma’am,” I answered and locked my gaze on my toes.

“Have you ever had a pelvic exam or been to a women’s health physician?”