When We Collide
burning with the betrayal. “How
could you do this to me, Maggie?”
    How? How was any of it possible? The presence of the
child hidden away in the van next to me was nearly insufferable. A
new weight that had been added to my shoulders.
    The innate need to protect her hit me again.
    She jumped when a screen door slammed shut at the
house beside us, the sudden fear that had worried her face twisting
into shame.
    “I have to go,” she said, tripping over herself as
she turned to climb into the driver’s seat. She was shaking so
uncontrollably she didn’t seem to have proper function of her
    “Damn it, Maggie. You can’t just…” I reached for her
again. I had to stop her, make her talk to me.
    She slapped my hand away, her expression desperate
as she retreated into herself.
    “You have to let it go. Please.” Her eyes were
pleading, filled with a silent communication she knew I only I
could understand.
    I stepped back in disbelief, shocked she would
actually suggest that I could, and she took the opportunity to shut
the door in my face.
    Stuttering, the old engine sprang to life.
    I stood in the middle of the street, watching her
go, clueless what I was supposed to do now.
    As misled as I’d always believed her to be, I would
never have imagined she could have betrayed me this way.
    She’d been good—to a fault.
    I knew first-hand how far that goodness would go,
how far she’d go to deceive herself into believing something was
right when it was so obviously wrong.

Chapter Seven
    William ~ Present Day
    There’d be no sleep tonight, I was sure. There were
only memories and anger and betrayal that I didn’t know how to deal
with. So many questions consumed me, ate at me, twisted me up with
dread. My mind raced while my heart felt as if it might shut down.
Through the walls, I heard my mother weeping quietly in her room.
Deep strains of my father’s voice murmured comfort, though I
couldn’t make out what he said. The day had taken its toll, had
left her spent. Thank God she knew nothing about what had
transpired this afternoon, but that in itself added to my
questions. How had no one else noticed? How had no one else
    But my family didn’t know that over the summer six
years ago my life was rocked—permanently changed. They didn’t know
that one night had me inexplicably drawn to a girl I didn’t even
know. I’d stood up for her without understanding why and then spent
the next three months falling for her. They had no idea that one
day I’d finally had enough, that I’d fought for her and, like a
fool, had believed she was mine.
    William ~ May, Six Years Earlier
    I plodded up the back steps of my parents’ house, a
duffle bag slung over my shoulder. Fatigue slowed my feet, but I
was excited to be home, so much so I had driven almost straight
through. I hadn’t seen my family since Christmas break.
    Turning the key to the lock, I tiptoed into the
kitchen of the darkened house, careful not to wake the rest of my
family since it was close to three in the morning. A small light
burned over the stove and another cast a faint glow from the base
of the staircase when I walked through the archway and into the
living room. A blanket lay twisted and discarded in a pile on the
couch and a coffee cup with a tea bag sat half empty on the coffee
    I felt a smile pull at the side of my mouth. I’d bet
a million bucks my mother had waited up for me as long as she could
before she’d given up and gone to bed.
    Quieting my footsteps, I lumbered up the stairs. My
parents’ bedroom door was cracked open an inch, and I paused to
peek inside. My mom and dad slept curled and wrapped together, my
father’s typical hard exterior erased in the deep abyss of
    My smile from downstairs grew.
    I quietly moved on from their room into my own. My
bed had been turned down, waiting in welcome. Peeling my clothes
off down to my boxers, I dropped them to the floor, then gave into

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