Coralie sighed bleakly, staring into the endless abyss of her closet. It was nearly empty by now, contents strewn about the room in a haphazard tornado of skirts and shoes. She shook her head irritably. In the end, it wouldn’t matter which shoes she wore or whether her blouse was perfectly pressed. This was no regular date. Kody was no regular guy. And she certainly was no regular girl.
She’d meant to tell him at the party. Really, she had. She sat facing him, hands in her lap, carefully considering her words.
But just as she opened her mouth to speak – just as she gathered the courage to face him – Kody smiled at her, that sweet, boy-like smile, and her heart melted like a crayon in the sun.
“It’s good to see you, Coralie,” he said. “It’s…it’s been awhile.”
It was a question disguised as a statement, and Coralie knew she owed him an answer.
“I know, Kody. I’m so sorry. I know I’ve been….distant. It’s just – well – the thing is…” She hesitated, buying herself another minute. Sixty seconds to memorize his face, before she told him the truth. Before he walked away from her and never looked back.
“It’s okay, Coralie. You don’t have to explain.” A wry smile passed his lips. “You’re allowed to change your mind. A woman’s prerogative, I know the drill.”
Coralie cringed. “That’s not it, Kody – that’s not it at all! I never changed my mind – I never would change my mind, not about you. I’m crazy about you, actually.” She blushed furiously, the words rushing out in a blur. “I’ve missed you every day, I think about you all the time – ”
Kody grinned and pulled her to her feet, interrupting her train of thought.
“Then that’s all I need to know, Cora. That’s all that matters, isn’t it? I want to be with you, and you want to be with me. Right? So, let’s just be together already. Okay?”
Kody looked at her expectantly, his blue eyes sparkling with excitement. She knew she should have told him then. She should have told him everything, before this thing went any further, or Watcher forbid, before Leo came bounding in and called her “Mommy.”
But Kody pulled her closer and tucked her hair behind her ear, and all Coralie could see was him. He kissed her, and in that moment, all else was forgotten.
And now, her cheeks flushed at the memory of his lips on hers, of his palm on the small of her back.
But it didn’t matter – none of it did. Not the color of her skirt, or the way she wore her hair, and certainly not the way her skin tingled at his touch. All that mattered was that today was the day she would tell him the truth. Today was the day she would lose him.
As Coralie walked up to the bakery, she saw that Kody was already there waiting for her. His eyes lit up at the sight of her, and before she could stop him, he jumped up to greet her, pulling her in for yet another steamy, knee-buckling kiss.
Just this once, she thought to herself. Just this one last time.
Coralie swooned internally, and blinked back a tear, but she did not lose sight of her mission.
“Maybe we should head inside? Get a cup of coffee or something? There’s something I want to talk to you about.”
Unfazed, Kody nodded agreeably. He took her hand in his, and led her inside with a bounce in his step.
As they waited in line, Coralie fell silent, but Kody seemed to be floating on air. He stroked her hand happily, gazing into a display case full of cupcakes and cookies. Coralie stood frozen at his side.
“I have a surprise for you,” he said without looking up.
“Oh?” Her mind was racing, screaming at her to tell him now – now! – before she made things worse! – but her mouth seemed stapled shut.
He turned to her then, beaming. “Now that we’re officially a couple, I was thinking we could use a romantic getaway, don’t you think? I booked this cozy little cabin in Windenberg, just the two of us, make up for lost time?” –
“STOP!” Her voice was so much louder than she realized. “Just stop it, Kody, okay? I have a child! That’s why I was avoiding you! I got pregnant and I had a baby!”
Kody stared at her, confusion written on his face.
Coralie’s shoulder’s slumped – in embarrassment or relief, she couldn’t tell which. She dropped her voice to a whisper. “There’s no one else – I was pregnant before that night at the wedding. I just didn’t know it yet… I wanted to tell you last night, I just didn’t know how, I couldn’t stand to hurt you. So I just….didn’t, I guess. I’m so sorry, Kody.”
Now Kody was frozen. “You lied to me.”
Coralie winced. “I didn’t mean to lie – I just – if I told you the truth, you’d never believe me. You’d think I was crazy, or a liar, or maybe both…”
“Try me.” His voice sounded cold. Hard.
And so she told him, every last detail, desperate to make him understand.
“It’s all so unbelievable,” she concluded, exhaustion in her voice. “But now you know.”
She watched his face hopefully, praying for some sign of forgiveness. But his cheeks drained of color, then turned several angry shades of pink.
Kody exploded. “How could you, Coralie? You string me along for weeks, ignore me, treat me like garbage, because you assume I’m too fragile to handle the truth? Because you assume I wouldn’t believe you? The worst part is, I do believe you! But you don’t trust me, Coralie! You’d rather lie to me than believe in me! You must not know me at all.”
He trailed off and shook his head sadly. “How can we be together if you can’t trust me, Coralie?” He stared at the ground, rooting around in his pocket. “Here,” he said, handing her a narrow folder – train tickets. “You can go to Windenberg alone.”