Sunlight was already streaming through the window when he woke up, filling the space with warm, yellow light. Dawn was lying on his chest. He gave her a squeeze. Her eyes opened slowly.
"Morning, beautiful," he said.
"Morning," she said, then kissed his chest.
"So what's the plan for today?"
"I don't know," she pulled herself up and put her head on the pillow next to him, "Maybe we should just stay right here."
"That sounds like a great idea."
"I thought so." She began drawing lazy circles on his chest with her fingertips.
"So, uh, where were you?" he asked.
"Where was I when? I've been right here."
"I mean when it happened."
"It's okay," Rob said. "You don't have to tell me if you don't want."
"No, it's..." she smiled, although it was more of a grimace, "It's just that it was..."
"You don't have to say anything, really."
"I was with him," she said, all trace of hesitation gone from her voice.
"I was trying to break it off with him," she snorted, "Like I'd done so many times."
She propped herself up on an elbow and looked down at him. "You know those people, right? The ones that you can't stand to be around because they make you feel like shit, but whenever you try to get rid of them you just...don't. Well, Colin was like that. I mean, not always. Just, you know, later. After I'd been with him for a while."
She smiled wistfully. "When I first met him he seemed wonderful. He was one of those people who could find you in a crowd and make you feel like the only other person on the whole planet. I wanted him. I think I fell in love with him." She shrugged. "He was married, of course, but that didn't matter. He told me he wasn't happy with his wife, that he would break it off if it weren't for the effect it would have on his children and his career. Of course I believed him." A tear formed at the corner of her eye. "I was so stupid then."
Rob reached up and stroked her cheek. "No, you weren't."
"I was," she smiled, "And I know what you're trying to do. Thank you."
"What am I trying to do?"
"Make me feel better about being stupid. I was twenty, I'd been pretty sheltered, and I was stupid. I'm a lot smarter now."
"Just so you know."
She kissed him. "I do. Anyway, I think I was telling you a story."
"Oh, yeah, Colin. All the guys I'd dated before were young and self-centered. I was just kind of an accessory to them or something to do on a Saturday night. I like to think that it's because they were young and stupid, then, too, but I don't know."
"It's a good bet," Rob said. "I can't speak for all guys, but we're pretty stupid when it comes to that stuff."
"Yeah. But Colin wasn't. He was caring and kind. Now, of course, I know that he was being self-centered, too, he was just better at it than the boys I'd been with before."
"Sounds like it."
"Yeah," she nodded. "About a year ago I found out that he'd pulled the same exact routine with another one of the station interns about two years before I got the job. She'd graduated and gone back home, so he just took the next one who came along. That was me.
"Maybe I should be flattered, I don't know, but he didn't drop me when I graduated. We kept right on seeing each other, he kept right on lying to me, and I kept right on believing him.
"Then, of course, I found out that I wasn't his first. I got pissed and started yelling at me. He apologized, said that he was lying to himself and the girl from before, but now he wasn't lying to me. And I believed him. I told him I'd wait for him. And I did, for a while. Then he hurt me again. I yelled at him again. He lied again. I believed him again."
Rob snaked his arm around her and pulled her close. "I'm so sorry."
"I don't know," he kissed her on the forehead, "For what you went through, I guess."
"It's not your fault."
"I know. Still..."
"Thank you." She kissed his cheek. "But it's okay. He's gone now. Literally."
Her voice dropped low. "I watched it happen."
"We were at this cheap motel down in Bolingbrook. I was supposed to be breaking up with him for, like, the fifth time, but instead, well...
"So I got out of bed afterward. I knew that I couldn't break it off. I just wasn't strong enough and whenever I tried he'd talk me back out of it. I turned around and looked at him lying in that bed and I remember I prayed. I said, 'God, I'm not strong enough to do this. Save me from him. Save me from me.'" She paused.
"At that exact moment he disappeared. It was like...he was there...then there was a hole in the sheets and they just collapsed. I...I think there was even a pop."
Rob stared at her for a second. "Wow."
"There," he took a deep breath, "There's something I have to tell you. Two somethings, actually."
The response was swallowed up when someone began pounding on the apartment door.
"Hold on," Rob said. He slipped out of bed and grabbed his jeans off the floor. He pulled them on, then grabbed his Glock off the dresser and slipped it in to his back pocket.
He went to the front door and cautiously opened it. Two men in black suits were standing in the hallway, flanked by a pair of fully armed Army privates.
One of the suits spoke. "Sergeant Alexander Simkins." It was a statement not a question.
Rob fought off the urge to grab the Glock and start firing. He wouldn't stand a chance. "Yes," he said.
"You'll come with us." Once again it wasn't a request.
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