“Hello?” I asked again.
“Uh…hey,” Danny whispered.
“This is your good morning call, as promised. Did you rest well?” I heard her yawn and shuffle through the sheets. Good. At least she’d made it to bed instead of falling asleep on the couch.
“Y-yeah,” she groaned. “Did you get any sleep?”
I sighed. “No. I was up all night, but I managed to finish everything.”
Some impatient guy blew the horn as he sped around me on the highway, and she asked, “You’re in the car?”
“Yeah,” I answered. “I’m stopping by the bistro down the street for breakfast, then I’ll be in.”
“Okay,” she quietly said.
“So make sure all the strippers are gone in 20 minutes,” I joked.
She gave me a quick, clearly fake laugh. She was probably hungover and still half-sleep.
“Lay back down and I’ll wake you up when I get home, okay?”
“Yeah. Sure. I’ll…I’ll see you when you get here.”
I pressed the button on my dashboard to hang up and glanced at the small box on my passenger seat. I had it mailed to the office so Danny wouldn’t see it, and it just came in that morning right before I left. I grinned looking out the windshield. This day was already starting to look better than yesterday.
I opened the door and jokingly called out, “Honey, I’m home.”
When I didn’t get a response, I assumed she’d actually fallen back asleep. I dropped off the food in the kitchen and headed to my room. I quietly peeked in and noticed Danny lying in bed, curled up in the sheets, wearing my hoodie. I walked in and just stared at her for a moment.
Watching her sleep was such a special thing after knowing it wasn’t something she’d done often enough. I forgot to mention to her that I liked her new hairstyle. She looked cute with short hair. It also made her look younger. I used to prefer it long because I loved playing with it, but I could only imagine how much fun I’d have putting her current hair into pigtails.
Leaning over, I gently kissed her ear. She moved and groaned a bit, and I whispered, “Rise and shine, darling.”
She rolled onto her back, and I watched her eyes flutter open. She looked beautiful, just like usual.
“Good morning,” I smiled.
“H-hey,” she yawned.
I grabbed her hand and pulled her to her feet. “Come eat with me.” She blushed and nodded. I held her hand and lead her to the kitchen. “I got you a steak and egg sandwich and some home fries.”
“Thanks,” she quietly said.
I let her hand go and stood at the counter to unpack the food. “What time did you go to bed?” She shifted from one foot to the other, considering her answer.
“Around 11, I guess,” she responded. “I know it was at least after 10:30.”
“So you got plenty of sleep,” I smiled. “Good.”
“Yeah,” she muttered.
I looked at her. Something was bothering her. I could tell. She wasn’t looking at me and she was messing with her bracelet. “Danny, what’s wrong?” I asked.
She stood quietly, staring at her feet. I started to worry. I walked to her and gently touched her cheek, lifting her face. “Danny?”
She glanced at me for a moment, then quickly looked away. “I…I need to tell you something.”
She walked into the living room and sat on the couch. I sat next to her and held her hand. She opened her mouth to speak, but a knock at the door cut her off. I looked at it, not enjoying that we were interrupted. I felt her hand slip out of mine as she jumped up and ran to answer the door.
I watched her crack the door and peek out, followed by hushed whispers. I could tell that whoever it was, they were upsetting her, so I walked over to her. When I placed my hand on her shoulder, the door flew open and I saw Sterling standing there.
“What are you doing here?” I asked, my mood severely soured.
I expected him to give me some sort of smartass answer, but instead he glanced at Danny.
I felt her move from under my hand and I looked at her.
“Leo…I-I,” she started. From the tears welling up in her eyes, I knew what she was trying to say.
“You didn’t,” I said in disbelief.
Sterling walked into my apartment and looked at me. “Harper, I–” I stopped him from talking by wrapping my hand around his throat and pinning him to the wall.
“You fucking bastard!” I yelled at him.
“Leo! Stop!” Danny yelled. “It wasn’t his fault! It was mine! I asked for it!”
Hearing her confession, I went numb. She’d chosen to let this happen. She’d wanted it to.
My hand released Sterling and fell to my side. He doubled over, gasping for air.
“I’m so sorry,” Danny whimpered. “I was drunk. I wasn’t thinking clearly. I just–”
“Get out,” I said.
She moved closer to me and touched my arm. “Leo, please,” she cried.
I pulled my arm away and screamed, “Both of you, get the fuck out of my apartment!”
Danny stood still, watching me in horror through her tears. She almost made me want to hold her, until Sterling put his arm around her shoulder and guided her into the hall.
I slammed and locked the door behind them. I banged my head against the wood once and fell to my knees. I turned around and leaned back.
How could this happen? The woman I loved more than anything–that I thought loved me more than anything–broke my heart by sleeping with someone else. It hurt like hell. This was a shitty way to feel on top of not sleeping for 24 hours.
I reached into my pocket and pulled out the small box that I’d been excited about less than an hour ago. I threw it, as hard as I could, across the room. It hit the wall and opened, causing the small diamond ring to fall out. It tumbled onto the floor and slid under the couch.
I covered my face and broke into a heavy cry. My life was officially over.