ETHAN’S CELL PHONE vibrated against the console of the fire truck and he barely heard the familiar ringtone above the wail of the sirens as he sped along the highway toward exit forty-eight. His gaze flew to the call display and his grip tightened on the steering wheel. The Miami number flashed on the screen for a torturous five rings before the call went to voice mail. Emily wouldn’t leave a message. She never did. Yet lately the calls from his ex-girlfriend were becoming more and more frequent...as were the text messages that simply said she needed to talk. Yeah, well, the time for talking had long passed.
“Her again?” his brother and coworker Jim asked from the passenger seat of the engine. He’d just finished washing the truck when the call had come in and had offered to go along as the other men were busy running the clinic.
“Yeah,” Ethan mumbled, avoiding Jim’s expression. One he’d seen too many times over the past six months since his long-term girlfriend, Emily Parsons, had dumped him and left Brookhollow to follow a big corporate executive from Play Hard Sports to Miami. Greg Harrison, the vice president of sales, had arrived in town to train the new store managers and Emily had caught his attention and interest. For weeks, all Ethan had heard was Greg this, Greg that, and while he wasn’t normally a jealous person, he’d suspected Emily was interested in the man who’d driven into Brookhollow in his Audi R8 and designer suit.
So when the executive had offered her an opportunity to join the management trainee program to become a corporate trainer, Emily had jumped at the opportunity. That hadn’t surprised Ethan. Emily had always talked about leaving Brookhollow to live in a big city, but he wondered how much of her decision had been based on the job offer and how much on her new boss.
“Why don’t you ever answer it?”
“I’ve got nothing to say to her.” In fact, he had a lot to say, but he preferred to take the high road. Emily had made her choice, and while her decision to end a ten-year relationship on a whim had made him angry, there had been nothing he could do about it when she was standing right there in front of him. He doubted he could talk sense into her when she was in sunny Florida, living the life she’d always claimed she wanted.
“I can think of a few things to say. Can I answer it next time?” Jim drained the contents of his iced cappuccino and set the cup in the holder.
“There’s no point, Jim. Nothing we say will bring her back.” Ethan checked the rearview mirror and noticed Bailey’s tow truck speeding along in the lane beside him.
“Is that what you think I want?” Jim scoffed. “Tell me you’re not crazy enough to want that.”
Ethan remained silent. His brother didn’t get it. Jim and his girlfriend, Jill, had only been seeing each other for two years. They were sickeningly in love and Jim had never had to experience the pain and humiliation Ethan had suffered. Emily’s leaving had shocked him, along with almost everyone else in town. Sure, things hadn’t been great between them for a while, but they’d still loved each other. At least, he’d still been in love. And to leave him for a man she’d known less than a month was a blow to his ego, difficult to recover from.
“Oh, come on, man. She ran off the first opportunity she got.”
“Yes, I’m aware of that.” And his family hadn’t allowed him to forget. They expected that his anger over the situation should help to erase the pain and longing he felt for the woman who’d been a major part—maybe even the biggest part—of his life since high school. His sister, Melody, was probably the most understanding, having lost her husband two years before in a car accident, but even she thought that he would have moved on by now. And for the most part, he thought he was doing well. At least, until the phone rang and it was her. Not answering her calls when he longed to hear her voice was torture.
Click Follow to receive emails when this author adds content on Bublish