Break Me Down (The Breaking Trilogy, #2)

By: M. Mabie



1





Abe


Sweat ran off the tip of my nose.

It was silent in the shop and my ringer volume was on high.

I hadn’t gone to work yet that week. Wracked with worry and guilt, I’d texted Dori that I was staying close to the cabin in case Myra called. In case she came back.

They understood.

Maybe I was punishing myself. Penance for whatever I’d done to make her run away. But I’d blazed through a pile of raw walnut I’d kept from a tree I’d dropped on the property last fall. For two days straight, I hand worked each piece. Planed and scraped every inch of surface manually until they were smooth. Flawless and level.

My bones hurt.

My muscles ached.

My hands were blistered and, in spots, bloody from abuse. Abuse I deserved.

Why hadn’t I explained things better? Why had I withheld the truth from her?

Selfishly, I’d been telling myself it was because I didn’t want to hurt her. Didn’t want to cause her more pain. In the long run, I’d hinged what I said and didn’t say on my own doubts.

Worried she wouldn’t believe me. Worried she’d reject the facts. Worried she’d go back.

It was all in vain.

Instead of manning up and facing it head on, like I should have, I kept pushing the truth away. Holding off until a better time. Waiting for her to be ready.

The damn truth of it was: I’d never be ready to hurt her. I’d dreaded it. All but ignored it because I was never want to expose her home and family for what it was and what they were to her. As we’d gotten closer and she’d begun to come into her own without hindrance, all I saw was forward.

My forward, not hers.

My future had changed with her there, had transformed into something I wasn’t willing to risk. At some point, I didn’t want to picture my life going back to what it was before Myra anymore. Didn’t want things back to normal.

In some ways, Ted had been right. I enjoyed her cooking and her feminine presence in my world. I’d told myself those were her choices, but they were just the ones I’d given her to make. I was lost to her there and the little things that came with her, like the way the cabin smelled like her soap and the fresh flowers she always seemed to find. I’d kept her there like a pet.

All the times I’d thought I’d put her first, I’d been a fool.

I hadn’t taken her to the doctor. Hadn’t done the hard work of advocating for her in all ways, but only in the ones I’d handpicked.

Regardless, I missed her, and it was all my fault.

My temper reared as I hit one of the last rough edges, and I threw my back-up jack plane across the shop where it landed beside the good one I’d chucked the night before.

I was going crazy.

Pulling my hair, I stepped away until my shoulders met the wall and I slid down it to the dusty concrete floor. My head in my ravaged hands, I prayed for the thousandth time in four days.

God,

I can do better. Give me another chance. I’ll prove it to you. To her. Even if she hates me for it, I’ll tell her everything. Even if I never get to touch her again, I’ll be the man I thought I was. I’ll be the man she deserves. Even if she doesn’t want me anymore.

Just, please. Please bring her back. There’s so much I need to tell her. So much I didn’t explain.

Neither my father nor Matthew knew where she was, or at least that’s what they’d told me. Half the time I believed them, for their amusement alone at my inability to “control my helpmeet” was proof. The other half of the time, I nightmarishly pictured her somewhere being told lies. Isolated. Forced to pray until they decided what to do with her.

She had my truck, and I was borrowing Chris’s old Ford Festiva. Who knew why he’d kept it after he’d bought his truck, but I was lucky to at least have wheels if I needed them. More than once I’d driven to the end of my lane not knowing if I should go south to Lancaster or north to Newmecula before turning around and going home.

If she’d just pick up the phone. Just answer one of my messages.

I rose enough to fumble around my workbench, grabbing my cell to check again, hoping she’d finally reached out and I hadn’t heard the notification.

It was five thirty in the evening, and still nothing from Myra. Again.