Authors: L Owen
One month later
“Oh my goodness, we’ve created a monster,” I say to Ethan as we watch an over eager Roman flip through the list of songs at the karaoke bar. Beth’s not here; she’s been at The Center for three weeks, and being at the bar is making me miss her deeply. Kiaya and Asher are also at our table, but they didn’t come together and are sitting apart, barely speaking. When I try to bring it up to her, she said we’d talk about it some other time, and I know better than to push her because she’s a very private person.
Since coming back home, I’ve stayed at Ethan’s every night since Beth left to go to The Center. I’m all but moved in with him, and I don’t regret it for a second. I’m keeping my apartment for the time being so Beth has somewhere to live eventually. I got my old job back from Len, and soon I’ll start my training course so I’ll be able to help Roman at the gym. Yes, at last, life is good, and it feels so wonderful.
Roman has sung three songs tonight already; one being “Eye of the Tiger” in tribute to me. A woman at the bar approaches him to sing a duet, which he begrudgingly agrees to sing. It’s funny because a few months ago he would’ve been flirting like crazy, but now he’s oblivious to the woman’s advances and just wants to perform. The brunette slides into the seat next to him and moves in close trying to look at the list too, but he just looks annoyed and hogs the book.
I’m leaning into Ethan, and I feel him shaking as he silently laughs at his brother’s behavior. The woman finally manages to get a look, and she says, “What about ‘I Got You Babe’?”
Roman’s face becomes sad at the mention of the song he and Beth sang all those months ago. He firmly shakes his head. “No, we’ll do this one.” She pouts when she sees his selection, but it’s too late for her to argue because Roman has already left to make the request. When they’re called, I can’t help but laugh when the music to “Don’t Go Breaking My Heart” starts, and Roman’s face lights up. The first line is his, and the next line is hers, and so on, but once he has sung his line, instead of letting her sing hers, he just continues on.
Ethan asks, “Do you think he knows they each have a line?”
I shrug. “Maybe.”
It soon becomes apparent; he’s made this duet into a solo. The girl stands there looking awkward as Roman continues to sing slightly out of tune. After a few minutes, all of us sitting around the table are howling with laughter as the woman slinks from the stage, finally realizing that fact herself. When the song is over, Roman joins us again minus the woman.
“I thought that was a duet?” Ethan asks him.
“Didn’t feel right not being with Beth,” he says, taking a sip of his beer. His eyes focus on no one in particular.
He’s right. We need her back, but I’m glad Ethan helped secure her a place at The Center. It will be a long road I’m sure, but I know she can get there.
I snuggle into Ethan’s side, and as he wraps his arm around me and kisses the top of my head, I feel so content. Looking around the table at this group of new friends who have begun to feel more like family, I realize something—I wouldn’t change a thing about my past, as it’s shaped me into who I am today. I’ve finally forgiven myself and like who I’ve become. It’s funny to think how much my life has changed and how much I’ve grown over the past couple of years. At my lowest point with Stephen, I couldn’t see a way out. There was no light at the end of my tunnel. It was always hard to see how much better life could be because I felt so lost. I’d fooled myself for so long, believing I deserved his punishment and that I could change the way Stephen treated me. All along it was I who needed to change. I now know I have no control over the actions of others. If I just have the courage to demand better for myself, to demand the respect I deserve, I’ve already won.
This journey of mine has been painful at times, uplifting at others. I was a weak, emotionally crippled girl, but deep down, I knew I deserved so much more.
I like to compare meeting Ethan to the impact of a sucker punch. I never saw it coming, not for a moment. The force of what we feel for each other is like nothing I’ve ever felt before, but I wouldn’t change my journey because it led me to him. I know now it is Ethan who really saved me.
RESILIENT HEARTS SERIES