Read Reasons to Leave (Reasons #1) Online

Authors: Lisa J. Hobman

Tags: #Highlands, #Scotland, #Love and loss, #contemporary romance, #second chance

Reasons to Leave (Reasons #1) (3 page)

BOOK: Reasons to Leave (Reasons #1)
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Since leaving the sprawling metropolis of Glasgow with its high rise blocks, shopping malls, and map flailing tourists in the latest leg of the journey; and after the toilet stop necessitated by some girls who had drunk far too much cola, the passing scenery was a pleasant distraction from the noise of the argumentative teenagers surrounding her in this new version of hell.

The roads were long and surrounded on both sides by bracken-covered rocks and little streams. Every so often there was a small lake reflecting the mountains and bright blue sky like a mirror. It was peaceful, so very tranquil, the complete antithesis of her normal, everyday life.

She loved her job. Passionately. But the beauty of it was that she usually got to leave the kids behind on an evening and weekend. But there she was on a Saturday, her favourite day of the week, travelling up to the middle of goodness knows where with a coach load of
them
and facing the prospect of being unable to leave them at all for the coming seven days.

Her travel companion and colleague of four years, David Harris, Head of P.E., returned from the back of the coach where he’d been mediating a dispute over an
allegedly
stolen iPod. David was a nice guy. Conventionally handsome. Stocky but not fat with neat, blonde hair and green eyes. He had a friendly smile and had been very chatty ever since she started work at the school. She had a good working relationship with him. She reckoned he was around six years her senior, putting him at around thirty-four years old. His job clearly kept him fit.

He slumped into the seat beside her and she glanced up at him. “Kids…who’d have them?” He rolled his eyes. When she didn’t respond, he leaned toward her. “Penny for your thoughts, Mrs. Norton?”

Her attention was pulled away from the mountainous vista with its azure blue backdrop. “Sorry, what?”

“You looked deep in thought. Is everything okay?”

She smiled. “Yeah…yeah I’m fine. I was just thinking that there are…oooh…about a million things I could be, and would
rather
be doing, than spending a week in Scotland with a group of hormonal adolescents.”

David nodded and laughed. “Ah, the joys of teaching in high school, eh?”

“Hmm.
Joy
is not a word I would necessarily apply to this
current
predicament we find ourselves in, Mr. Harris.”

“Oh, come on. It’ll probably be fun. Things usually are when you don’t expect them to be.”

She shook her head in disbelief and snorted derisively. “Where the hell did you hear that load of crap?” She smiled despite her tone.

David cringed. “Hmm…okay… I admit it. I made it up. Total lie. Things are usually pretty crap if you expect them to be.” He nudged her shoulder with his own. “Brought your insect repellent?”

She rolled her eyes, reminded of her recent ribbing by her friends over the week. Clearly news had travelled. “Oh yes. I intend to
bathe
in it hourly.”

 

****

 

After graduating from Brunel University, Stevie had accepted a job as a newly qualified teacher in the Science department at Wilmersden High School. Wilmersden, a leafy suburb of London, was comfortable and familiar because it was close to where she grew up. The four years since she started at the school had been fun. The other Science teachers were a rather crazy bunch—a necessary qualification for teaching Science, so she’d been informed. Her life revolved around school. Even outside of working hours, she socialised with her colleagues, especially her best friend Mollie. That had been part of the problem for her and Miles.

She had met Miles at uni during her first year. They had been in several classes together and had a common interest in all things scientific. Whilst she was intending to one day be a teacher, Miles was hoping to go into the field of chemical research. At first they had just been friends, but it had been clear right from the start that Miles was attracted to her. He was a good-looking guy with copper coloured wavy hair and green eyes. He was no male model but he
was
attractive in that kind of boy-next-door way. He’d flirted with her for months before finally plucking up the courage to ask her out. She’d known it was coming. But she had still said no.

The reason for her initial negative response was due to the fact that she had been seeing a guy she met in the student cafeteria. Sid had been very demanding, and she’d struggled to keep her virginity intact. Eventually, he had become aggressive, and she had been reminded yet again that men were not to be trusted. When she hadn’t given in to him, he dumped her quite spectacularly in front of his friends, embarrassing her and calling her frigid. The only saving grace was that she hadn’t loved him.

And so even though many years had passed since Jason’s disappearance, her broken heart, with its misplaced pieces, just wasn’t ready to be glued back together and handed over to
another
man.

Men left.

It was a fact of life.

Well, a fact of
Stevie’s
life anyway. First her father and then her first love. Both never to be seen again. And then there had been the Sid debacle. She’d decided, very early on in adulthood, that she would never trust another man enough to give her heart away again. She would keep it firmly under lock and key. She considered herself broken beyond repair. A fact that she had grown to accept since she was eighteen.

There were so many conversations with her mother over the matter. They always took the same format.

“Why don’t you just give Miles a chance sweetie? He clearly adores you. It’s been years since Jason left and you really need to start living again.”

“But Mum, I can’t move on when I’m still in love with him. What if he comes back?”

“Darling, I think we both know that’s not going to happen.”

“Shirley thinks it will. She thinks he’ll come back any day now.”

“Stevie, I don’t mean to be cruel but she’s his mother. She’s clinging on to false hope. Please don’t do the same. If he was going to come back he would have done so by now. Darling, you’re an adult and I can’t tell you what to do or what to think. All I can tell you is that Shirley is living in a dream world. Something happened to make that boy so unhappy that he couldn’t stay here. He’s not coming back and you need to accept it and move on. Miles is a good man. I know he’d treat you right, unlike that Sid character. He was vile and I have no clue what you saw in him. But Miles…Miles is sweet and caring and clearly adores you. All I want is your happiness, sweetie. Please, give him a chance.”

The conversation would be followed by angry tears, shouting, and words spoken in the heat of the moment that would have her sobbing her apologies to her long-suffering mother later.

It was always the same.

Eventually, after much convincing by her mother, she agreed to go on a date with Miles. He took her to a nice restaurant and treated her like a princess. From that first date, their relationship developed further and their friendship deepened. The only problem was the tiny not-so-insignificant fact that she never gave Miles her heart. She cared for him. Of course she did. He was dear to her. But she had never fallen
in love
.

After dating for almost a year, she had finally given him her virginity and soon discovered a deep enjoyment of sex and the abandonment she could achieve in the throes of passion. She was happy to share her body with Miles whilst they were in a relationship. But she had decided that love would never enter into things. Not if she could help it. And that was the one thing
she
controlled. He was comfortable to be around though, and the sex, although she had nothing else to compare it to, was in her humble opinion, good. Not mind blowing. But good. He was such a good person. Kind hearted and thoughtful and she managed to convince herself for a while that he was what she needed.

The marriage lasted several years before Miles finally admitted defeat. It was his persistent talk of having babies that eventually drove her into admitting that she could never be who he wanted her to be.

They had made love and were lying in bed, both sated from their orgasms, and Miles was drawing gentle circles on her tummy.

Laying his palm flat against her skin he whispered, “I’ll still love you when this gets bigger, you know.”

Dread washed over her as it did every time he tried to have this conversation. “I’m sorry, what?”

“When you’re pregnant with my baby and your belly gets all big and bulbous. I think you’ll still look sexy as hell.” He dragged his fingers lazily through the soft, dark curls covering her sex.

She pulled herself to a sitting position and looked down at him. “Miles…I…I don’t want kids. You know this. We discussed it before we got married and many times since.”

He narrowed his eyes. “Oh, that? Yeah, but you’ll change your mind. All women do.” He smiled up at her, his green eyes adoringly piercing hers.

She turned to fully face him. “No…no, Miles you’re wrong. I
won’t
change my mind. And you’re being very presumptuous and arrogant if you think that I will. I told you my feelings on this, and you said it didn’t matter. You said that as long as you had
me
… I’m sorry…I just…I don’t want kids.”

He sat up and took her face in his hands. “You will. One day. I
know
you will. There’s no rush though.”

She pulled his hands away as anger rose within her. “Will you
listen
to me?” She raised her voice. “This is
me
telling
you
that I won’t! I. Do. Not. Want. Children.” She spoke slowly and punctuated each word to try and get it through to him.

“Look, sweetie. We’re good together. We’re a team. We’d be good parents, fantastic parents in fact. Not every relationship ends in disaster you know.”

She scrunched her brow. “Meaning what?”

“Meaning that your dad left your mum when you were tiny. I won’t do that. I won’t leave. I’m not your dad and I won’t just disappear without trace. I’m sticking around for the long haul, sweetie. I’m not J—”

With haste she clambered up from the bed as she seethed and clenched her fists. “Don’t you
dare
mention his name to me! And I can’t believe you just brought my parents’ relationship into this!”

Miles frowned and he rubbed at his brow. “Well, that’s what this is about, isn’t it?”

“No!” She ran her hands through her hair, exhaling loudly and then inhaling the strength to speak her next words. “Miles, I don’t want children. Not with
you
.”

His face crumpled with hurt. “What’s that supposed to mean?
Not with you
?” He mocked her voice as his face reddened. It was evident that her words had cut him and he was getting angry.

Her voice became a sad whisper. “It means exactly what it sounds like. I care for you deeply. I really do.” She closed her eyes. “But…but I should
never
have married you.” She opened her eyes and looked directly at him.

He gaped at her and blinked rapidly. His mouth started to move, opening and closing but no sound came out. This went on for what seemed like five minutes—him just staring and doing a good impression of a fish out of water. Eventually, he made eye contact with her again and his were now glassy. “But the sex…” His words trailed.

“Yes, the sex is good. We have
good sex
. And we’re such good friends, but that’s all. And you and I both know that sex isn’t love. We’re like…like friends with benefits. But that’s it. I’m not…
in love
with you. I never have been. I think deep down you knew that.” She was well aware that her harsh words were stabbing him in the heart, and she felt terrible at her own admission, but it needed to be said. Especially now that babies had been mentioned
again
. Last time she had let it slide but now…now it needed dealing with once and for all.

He silently stood, wiped at his eyes and went to the wardrobe. He pulled down a large duffel bag and began to calmly fold his clothes. He paused momentarily and looked at her. A tear escaped from one eye and trailed down his smooth cheek. “Thank you for being so brutally honest. Thank you for stabbing me in the heart. At least I know where I stand. I’ll go and stay at my mum’s until we decide what to do next.” He clenched his jaw and spoke through gritted teeth. “What
he
did to you… I hate him for it. I’ve treated you right…always. I would
never
hurt you like he did, but even after all these years he’s still there, isn’t he? And you…you really are an ice queen, aren’t you?”

She gasped at his observation, feeling her own stab of pain in the heart. But she didn’t cry. Once he had finished packing, she silently allowed him to leave. After that night, he didn’t return to live with her.

BOOK: Reasons to Leave (Reasons #1)
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