Stronger

He stood at the end of the hallway watching her as she flitted about the room. She always had this way of doing things so daintily – even greeting guests at her all-important book signing. Sensing she was being watched, she looked up and met his eyes. He knew it unnerved her that he was there; it gave him some sort of satisfaction knowing that he still got to her.

She made her way down the hall with determination. How dare he show up today? He knew what today was; he knew how important this day was to her. She knew he showed up solely so he could mess with her head. She refused to allow him to do that to her though.

“What are you doing here, Landon?” she asked, placing her hands firmly on her hips.

“I came to wish you luck, Jennifer,” he responded in a condescending tone.

She shivered the second he spoke. These days, she likened his voice to nails on a chalkboard. She hated the sound. She hated the way he treated her like a child, though she was nearly four years older. She still cursed herself for wasting so much time on him. It was seven years of her life she would never get back.

“You came to mess with me, Landon,” she said.

“Believe what you will, Jen, but I am here solely to wish you the best of luck,” he said once more, folding his arms over his chest.

He noted, then, that something was glinting off of her ring finger. It was a diamond – a rather large diamond – and he wondered why he hadn’t noticed it until now. Surely she hadn’t moved on that fast, had she?

She looked to where his eyes had gone and rolled her eyes. Of course he would take note of her new piece of jewelry. Landon Fabian always won; no matter what the competition, he always came out on top.

“He’s in there, isn’t he?” Landon asked.

“He is in there,” Jennifer responded tiredly.

“So you were screwing him behind my back,” he said.

“No,” she replied. “I was not screwing anyone behind your back, Landon. Of course I see how you would think that. You have this tendency to always be a victim.”

“Right, because you were always so sweet and innocent, Jennifer,” he threw back at her.

“I don’t have time for this, Landon,” she said. “I have an autograph signing today. I have a wedding to plan. I have about a zillion memories of you to erase.”

“I’m not that easy to get rid of,” he countered. “Though I suppose that’s what the new boyfriend is for. Sheesh, you moved on fast.”

“I’ve known him since we were five,” she responded, her voice growing louder. “He’s been my best friend for over twenty years. He was the one who showed up to the hospital when I lost our baby. Do you remember? The baby I lost when you were off screwing some girl in Hong Kong.”

“Oh I remember that weekend very well,” he said. “It was the weekend I was busting my ass to get home because you were having a miscarriage. Must you make me out to be the bad guy all the time?”

“And the victim rears his ugly head,” she replied then, throwing her hands up in the air.

“I’m not being a victim, Jennifer,” Landon said to her. “You are being a tad bit dramatic, though, don’t you think?”

“You want to know how long it took me to trust him?” She asked. “Do you want to hear the details about how he spent months trying to get me to just give him a chance? About how I left the city and went back to Texas because I needed to get away from every memory of you? You were literally lurking around every corner.”

“Right, because I just moved right along from you,” he replied. “I just jumped into bed with the first woman I met.”

“That’s exactly what you did,” Jennifer said then. “You made me feel awful for seven years because my best friend was a guy and you were out trying to get as much tail as possible.”

“How long after we broke up did you get with him?” He asked. “I mean, it’s been about two years, and you’re already engaged to him.”

“He spent six months trying to get me to go out with him,” she responded. “He has spent the last two years trying to fix everything that you broke. I am not about to apologize for being happy with someone.”

He wanted to respond. He really did, but he honestly had no idea what to say. He came here today to rattle her cage; to make her nervous. He came here to shake her world up and turn it upside down. She had every right to be this defensive about her new relationship.

“Landon I think you should go,” Jennifer said then. “I think you should go and you should never contact me again. Please.”

“You just want me all out of your life then? You want to forget the seven years we spent together?” He questioned.

She nodded in response. “I do. I want you to move on. I want you to move on like I did. Find someone who makes you happy – if that’s even a possibility.”

He pursed his lips. Of course she had to get one last dig in. Of course she had to point out that he had been completely awful to her for the duration of their relationship. What right did she have to make that comment?

She had already turned to leave before he could say something – anything – to make her turn around. She was making her way back down the hall at lightning speed. He took off at a sprint to catch up to her.

He grabbed her arm, and she jerked it away. “You don’t want to kiss me good-bye?”

She rolled her eyes, willing herself to not slap him. “I don’t want anything to do with you, Landon. I want you to leave and I wanted to move on with my life – with Hunter.”

“Ah, yes, Hunter,” he said. “Perfect Hunter with his perfect smile and his perfect laugh and the perfect way he treats you.”

“Exactly,” she replied, unfazed by what he had said. “Now, if you’ll excuse me, Landon, I have a book signing to get to. And you have someone else’s life to ruin, I think.”

She waved him off then, making her way back down the hallway. He was grasping at straws to get her to turn around. He needed to make one final dig – something that would really get under her skin. Surely she hadn’t moved on so quickly from the damage he’d caused.

“You’ll never find anyone else like me,” he called out to her.

She stopped then, and he knew he’d gotten her. He just knew she was getting ready to unleash her rage on him. This was the moment he had been waiting for. He held back a smile as she turned around slowly. He was giddy with the anticipation of what she would say.

“Well,” she began. “That’s kind of the point. Good-bye, Landon.”

She turned around once more and made her way into the large room. Landon stood and watched as she welcomed her guests and made small talk with them.

The next day, newspaper headlines read: “BILLIONAIRE’S WIDOW RELEASES TELL-ALL BOOK.

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