Authors: Avery James
Callie shook her head, pushed through the crowd and headed to the hall. She didn’t want to waste another minute on Veronica. Once she was outside the ballroom, everything would be better. She pushed the heavy wooden door open and stepped out into the hallway. It was cooler in the hallway and quieter too. The muffled sounds of the band still echoed, but the front of the house, and the hallway to the study, were dark and still. Callie’s heels clacked on the floor as she headed into the darkness. She slid her hand along the wood panelling to find the entrance to the study. Once she found it, she held her breath and opened the hidden door. She looked back down the hall one more time and let herself inside.
The room was dark, save for the small pool of light that shone from a lamp on Hank’s desk. The dim pool of light accentuated the shadows on the bookcases and in the far corners of the room. “Logan?” Callie called. “Logan, where are you?” She looked around, hoping that he’d be in one of those corners or sitting in a chair, but it was useless. He wasn’t there. She looked around the room for any sign of him, but there was nothing. Where the hell was he? She walked over and sat down behind the large, mahogany desk.
In the middle of the desk, under the warm light of the lamp, sat a plain white envelope, addressed simply, “Callie.” She reached forward and tore it open, ripping a corner off the letter in the process. She unfolded the paper and started to read.
I don’t know how to say this…
A chill ran through Callie’s body as she read the rest of the letter. Logan was gone, and he wasn’t coming back.
He hadn’t planned on coming back to the bar, but like a homing pigeon who could fly thousands of miles home, he had instinctually headed there. The great open space of the dining room was quiet and empty, and he didn’t bother to turn on any lights but the one behind the bar. She loved him. She loved him, and he had run. Deep down, he had known how she felt, but hearing her say it was something different entirely.
It was better that he had left instead of explaining things. More fitting. She’d hate him for what he did and move on with her life to spite him. At least she’d have closure. Her anger at him would probably motivate her to new professional highs, while he could lapse back into the prodigal son everyone else expected him to be. Logan knew this was what had to happen, and yet a small part of him wanted to find and run off with her.
Maybe that’s why he left the front door to the brewery unlocked. Maybe it was why he wasn’t surprised when the door opened, and Callie stepped inside glaring at him from across the room. He looked at her one more time in her long black dress. Her hair was still up, and every last detail of her makeup was perfect. She looked beautiful.
Something about that moment reminded Logan of the first time he saw her, not the afternoon at his father's mansion, but nearly a year earlier, when he had been at her sister's wedding. For a moment, he thought he had dreamt her up, that there was no way she could be real, but she was. He hadn't been able to keep his eyes off of her, but when he found out who she was, he knew better to keep his distance. Logan laughed to himself. Apparently his first impulse had been right.
But that was in the past, a pleasant memory. Logan hung his head over his drink again, watching his reflection warp in the glass. He knew that had to do was start a fight and get her to leave. It was for the best. Soon enough, Veronica would leak the tape to the press, and Logan's life would be turned upside down. He couldn't do that to her. He couldn't let her throw away her life and join him in his downward spiral just because he liked her. A fake fight. That was all he had to do. How hard could it be?
"You," Callie shouted from across the room. "Where did you go? I spent an hour looking for you at your party."
"I had to leave. I just couldn't be there." Logan gestured to the empty bar.
"And you didn't think maybe I would want to come with you?" Callie asked. She walked over to his side but didn't sit down.
"You wanted to experience Newport glamour. Well, there's nothing glamorous about this."
"Stop pitying yourself. What is this all about?" Callie said. "Is this about the bill passing? You've been acting so weirdly ever since you got the news."
"No, it's not that,"Logan said. He couldn't bear to look at Callie.
"What aren't you telling me? Is this because I told you I love you? I'm not taking that back, and I'm not going to hide from the truth. I love you, Logan. You're a better man than you give yourself credit for, and I won’t let you break up with me simply because you don’t believe in yourself.”
Logan felt a lump in his throat. He hadn't expected her to say that again. He just wanted to scoop her up in his arms and kiss her and tell her he felt the exact same way. Instead, he choked out one final attempt at getting her to leave. "I can't, Callie. I just can't do this. I wish I could explain. I wish I had a better answer. You deserve better. You deserve someone who can be there for you. You should go..." Logan felt like his chest would collapse as he waited for Callie to respond. It's almost over, he told himself. He wasn't prepared for what came next.
"Get over yourself, Logan. You lost your mother, and you think that you're the only person in the world who's gone through tragedy. Stop using it as an excuse for your bad decisions."
Logan felt a surge of anger. Was that really how she felt? Like he was hiding? He was doing this for her. He had spent he past month with her doing everything in his power to become a better man, to be the man she needed, and now she was calling him a coward? If she only knew how much this hurt and how much he loved her. She just wasn't listening, and he could feel his blood pressure rising. He had just wanted her to leave and move on with her life, but if she wanted a fight, he'd give her a fight. He cleared his throat and glared at her. Maybe he was mad at himself for putting them both in this situation, or maybe he was upset with her for attacking him like that. Either way, he felt his temples throb as he tried to calm himself down, as he tried to hold back from giving in to the urge to yell back at her.
"I'm not just going to stand here and let you push me away because you're afraid. If you just stopped for one second and thought about what an ass you're being, maybe you'd understand." Callie softened her tone, spoke lower. Logan could hear the exasperation in her voice. "You've been sneaking around and lying to me ever since their bill passed," she said.
"You're one to talk," he snapped back. He had been doing all of that to protect her. Couldn't she connect the dots? "You lied to me from the moment you got here. If you want to talk about sneaking around and not telling the truth, let's start with you. I was honest from the start. If you had even given me a little bit of trust, we wouldn't be having this conversation."
"Trust?" Callie said. "Trust? I was sent here against my will because your own father didn't trust you enough to leave you alone for a month. You have to gain trust, Logan. You have to earn it. It's not just given to you because you're somehow special."
Logan bit down on his lip and tried to hold back, but he just couldn't help himself. "Is that what this is about? My money?" Logan asked. "Do you really think I wouldn't give it all back if it meant I could have a normal relationship with my family or a chance at even some small piece of happiness? Do you think I like being Logan Harris, fuck up bon vivant? You should leave, Callie. Go back to your family and your job and forget all about this. That's what you do, right? You make difficult situations go away."
"Is that what you want?" Callie asked. "You want me to leave so you can wallow in misery and blame me for the fact that you're too afraid to take another step?"
Logan could hear the pain in her voice, the trembling sound as she fought off tears. He couldn't look up at her. "What did you think was going to happen, Callie? Did you think you'd change me and tame me and that we'd get a house somewhere in the suburbs and have a few kids? This was never going to work out, and you know it. You knew it from the start. Well, now you can go. You had your fun. You let your hair down for a while and lived the good life. You'll have a great story for everyone back at the office." Logan looked up and saw the tears streaming down Callie's cheeks. Her eyes were bright red and just seeing her like that made Logan choke up. It was like she was looking right through him, like she knew what he was trying to do and hated him that much more for it. He cleared his throat and said, "This is what I do. You've had your fun, now it's time to leave. Go back to your life, Callie.”
Callie reached up and wrapped her hand around the thin gold strand of her pearl necklace and pulled hard, snapping the necklace. She held it in her clenched fist like she wanted to throw it at Logan's head. She looked deep into his eyes, and it gutted him to see her in so much pain. She opened her hand and let the necklace fall to the ground. She turned and walked away.
Logan wanted to jump out of his seat and run after her. He wanted to tell her that he loved her too, and that he just wanted what was best for her. He wanted to tell her that he didn't deserve her, and that in time she'd thank him for what he'd done. Instead, he leaned down and picked the broken necklace up off of the floor and slid it into his pocket. She was gone. Logan grabbed his glass and took a long, slow drink.
Callie wasn’t sad. Sadness would mean locking herself in her bedroom with a bottle of wine and watching Audrey Hepburn movies all day. It would mean a hollow ache deep inside. It would mean crying and uncertainty, and that wasn’t what she felt at all. Callie was mad. She was angry. She felt like Logan had placed a smoldering ember deep inside her chest when he broke up with her that night. She felt it while she tried to work, tried to sleep, tried to pretend that Logan hadn’t deeply hurt her. The ember, that hot, glowing anger, made her want to find Logan and shake him for being such an idiot.
She knew what he was doing and why he had done it. She tried to change his mind, but he had pushed her away because he thought he’d drag her down or get her tangled up in his scandal. She knew he was trying to protect her, but that didn’t excuse what he had done. It wasn’t his choice to make, and she was mad as hell at him, but she wasn’t about to sit around and pout. She just didn’t know what to do next. She couldn’t just show up at work after quitting, and she didn’t know how to apologize to Amy. She couldn’t go back to Logan, and she couldn’t admit that Amy had been right about him, so she just stayed in her apartment, stress cleaning every corner of her room and trying to find some way to put her life back together.
By the third day, Callie had run out of things to clean, items to organize, files to color code. She had even stayed up all night reordering her books according to ISBN. Something needed something to change. She knew it. More than once, she had looked up after hours of sorting and stacking to find Charlotte shaking her head in the doorway. Charlotte hadn’t said much since Callie had returned, but Callie could tell she was worried. If she weren’t fast asleep, she’d probably be standing over her shoulder giving her that concerned look. Callie needed something to get her out of her apartment and her mind off of Logan. She nearly cried out in joy when her phone rang shortly after sunrise. It was Vi. She jumped over to the phone and picked it up. “Hello?” she said.
“Good morning,” Vi said. “I didn’t think you’d be awake at this hour, but I thought I’d let you know that your sister is about to give birth.” Callie could hear Amy’s shouts in the background.
“Either that or she’s practicing for some cursing competition. You girls are always so prim and proper, but you swear like sailors, and I’ve known quite a few sailors.”
“I’ll be over in a few.”
“Aren’t you still in Newport?” Vi asked. “Amy said something about a spat between the two of you.”
“I wouldn’t exactly call it a spat.”
“Well, she didn’t either, dear,” Vi said with a laugh. Callie could only imagine what Amy had said. On second thought, maybe it was better if she didn’t imagine that at all.
“I’ll be over soon,” Callie said.
“We’ll be waiting for you.”
Callie hung up and searched her room for an outfit, but had trouble finding anything suitable. Either she was overtired or her new organization scheme was not as brilliant as she had thought. She started pulling shirts and dresses off of hangers as she looked for the right outfit, after all, what do you wear when you need to congratulate and apologize to someone at the same time. Screw it, Callie thought. She grabbed a pair of jeans and a shirt. She pulled her hair up into a bun and headed for the door. It wasn’t like she had anyone to impress anyway.
Callie found Vi snoring in a chair outside Amy’s hospital room with her head tilted back and her hands wrapped around a large purse. Amy and Ethan were inside the room, behind a closed door, and Callie waited for a moment before heading over to wake up Vi. She felt a sudden rush of emotion, and her eyes started to tear up as she thought of how she had almost missed this moment because of some dumb fight. She sat down next to Vi and tapped her on the shoulder. “Vi, it’s me,” Callie said. “I just wanted to let you know I’m here.”
Vi leaned her head against Callie’s shoulder. “I knew you’d make it. Did you bring Logan?”
Callie straightened her posture and leaned away from her aunt. “Things didn’t work out,” she said.
Vi opened her eyes and yawned. “That’s a shame,” she said, “he was so pleasant to look at.”
Callie laughed. “Thanks, Vi. I’d rather not talk about him right now.”
“Will you do me a favor?” Vi asked.
“Of course, what is it?” Callie asked. She had learned long ago not to make unconditional promises to her aunt, but in the moment, she didn’t think it through.