“I know you didn’t.” Mary sighed. “I bet Landon knew. I wouldn’t be surprised if he helped them look for houses. Maybe he’s moving, too. I’m sure Roger would find a job for his own son in his firm.”
Mary shrugged. “Yeah, I’m fine. It’s fine. She’s not interested in me. She hasn’t been since Roger, at least, and that’s that. I don’t know why I keep thinking she might be.”
“Put it out of your head for now,” said Allie. She squeezed Mary’s hand in hers. “Forget all of it. You are about to set out on a new adventure. You should be happy and excited, like I am for you. If she’s not, it’s her loss.”
“Thanks, Allie.” Mary hugged her cousin. “I guess I should go, and get all these plans in motion.”
Two weeks later
Mary sat nursing a coffee in Dean’s kitchen, wondering what to do next. Her plans had crumbled.
The deadbolt clicked as Dean unlocked the door and came in. He tossed his jacket towards a chair, missed, and left it on the floor where it fell.
“Hi,” said Mary, but nothing else. It was safer that way. She’d learned quickly; when Dean came in without speaking, he’d had one of his “long days.”
“What’s wrong with you?” he asked. He didn’t come give her a kiss, or even a pat on the shoulder, not that she expected he would. Maybe early on in their relationship he would have, but those days seemed long ago. He’d changed, and she’d tried to adjust to it, but now she knew she’d never be able to keep up, and she didn’t want to.
Another part of the plan that was coming apart, she thought.
She sighed and shrugged. “The job at the dress shop fell through.”
“And you’re surprised?” Dean shook his head. “I knew that was pretty shaky. Honestly, Mary, that’s not a good way to make a living. Pick that up.” He waved at the jacket on the floor. “I’m going to get a beer.”
“Really? That’s all you have to say?” She looked up at him as leaned against the doorjamb with the bottle. “Not even ‘I’m sorry’ or ‘That’s too bad?'”
“Jesus, Mary, don’t whine. I’ve had a long day and I’m tired. Working in the mayor’s office is actual work, you know. Not like your arts and crafts. I’m sorry if I’m not Mister Sensitive on cue.”
“I don’t think a little sympathy is too much to ask,” she said, almost to herself.
“Look, you tried, it didn’t work. That sucks, so you’ll have to do something else. It’s not rocket science.” Dean glanced around the kitchen. “You didn’t even make dinner?”
“No,” Mary said shortly, “I did not make dinner. I didn’t feel like it. In case you missed it, I am not having the best day.”
“Fine. I’m going to change and go meet the guys.”
“I thought you were tired,” Mary said.
He glared and in a move that took her off guard, he slammed the bottle down on the table, grabbed her by the shoulders and dragged her to standing. “Don’t start. Just because you lost a stupid job doesn’t mean you have to drag me down with you. Fuck it. I’m changing and I’m going out and you can sit here and sulk if you want.” He pushed her back down in the chair and stalked out.
Shivering a little, Mary stared blankly ahead as her coffee grew cold, listening to Dean moving around upstairs. He clomped down the stairs and slammed the door on his way out.
She had to leave.
Over the last couple of weeks, she’d been forced to confront what Allie had said. Dean had become not a different person since she’d moved in, but more of the person she had started to suspect he was. The person who was rude to servers, who was only nice to her when it suited him, and who made her feel she had to adjust her behavior due to his temper. It wasn’t a good situation.
This was the first time he’d gotten physical with her, but she was sure it wouldn’t be the last.
Still, she was hesitant to break it off when she had just uprooted herself and had nowhere to go. She’d just have to be careful for a little while.
Idiot, she thought to herself. If this happened to Allie, you’d tell her to leave right now and never look back.
However, Allie was not the one who would then face the prospect of finding somewhere to live in a city she wasn’t familiar with. Mary decided to give herself a night to indulge in a little self-pity, but that was all.
After half an hour, she’d had all the self-pity she could stand, and called Allie. Her cousin was adamant that Mary get out as soon as possible, noting what Mary herself said thought earlier: that if this happened to someone else, she’d advise them to leave immediately.
“Mary, you can’t give this a chance to get worse,” Allie said. “If you need help, you know Gabe and I will help you, or your dad.”
“I know, I know.” Mary took a deep breath. “And I appreciate it. I just can’t stand feeling like I’ve failed in so many areas so quickly. And I didn’t—I didn’t plan for this.”
“You haven’t failed anything,” said Allie. “You tried, and it didn’t work, and I’m sorry, but that doesn’t mean you failed. Now, here’s your plan, okay? You pack your stuff, and you call a cab, and you go to a hotel. Let me know when you get there.”
“I’ll go in the morning,” said Mary.
“You should go now,” Allie said.
“Maybe,” said Mary. “But I feel like I need a minute. I’ll get it together tonight, like you said, and I can go after he leaves in the morning.”
“Mary, I don’t think you should.”
“I’ll be okay,” said Mary. “He won’t be home until late, and he’ll probably be drunk. Oddly, he’s nicer when he’s drunk. I’ll sleep in the guest room. I’ll tell him in the morning, and then I’ll leave. He’ll probably be glad to see me go; he didn’t really want me to come live here anyway.”
“I’m not crazy over that,” said Allie, “but it’s up to you. Promise me you’ll call when you’re out, okay? Please.”
“I will, Allie, and thanks.”
After the call, Mary did as she’d promised her cousin. She packed up her sewing machine, and made sure she had her computer. Before she could get to her clothes, to her surprise, Dean came home.
He was drunk, but as she’d told Allie, he was nicer than when he was sober. He didn’t mention what had happened earlier, and Mary didn’t bring it up.
“I’m going to play some video games and go to bed,” Dean said.
“That’s fine. I’m going to go to bed myself. I’ll sleep in the guest room. I feel like I’m coming down with a cold or something and I don’t want you to get it,” she said.
“Okay.” Dean shrugged. When he didn’t even ask if she was all right, Mary knew she was right to go.
Upstairs, Mary grabbed a few things and stowed them in her suitcase, afraid that if she did more, Dean would notice. He might be mellower now, but she didn’t want to risk him getting angry. She’d get the rest tomorrow.
The next morning, Saturday, Dean was in a relaxed mood. Part of her was pleased, but she didn’t trust it.
“What say we go downtown and take a walk?” Dean said. “I wanted to check out a couple of places and was thinking of getting a new phone.”
“Oh. That would be nice,” Mary said. This could work in her favor, she thought. Out in public, with Dean in a good mood, it seemed like the best time to say they should break up.