Home > The Ones Who Got Away (The Ones Who Got Away #1)(3)

The Ones Who Got Away (The Ones Who Got Away #1)(3)
Author: Roni Loren


   Daniel held out his hand. “Mr. Dorsey, so glad you could make it.”

   Finn returned the offered handshake and gave a brief nod. “Not a problem.”

   Then, his gaze slid to Liv. His brow wrinkled for a second, but she could tell the moment he realized who she was. Something flickered over his face. A very distinct look. Like she caused him pain. Like she was a bad memory.

   Because she was. That was all they were to each other at this point.

   “Liv.”

   She pushed words past her constricted throat. “Hi, Finn.”

   He stepped closer, his gaze tracing over her face as if searching for something. Or maybe just cataloging all the differences time had given her. Gone were the heavy kohl eyeliner, the nose piercing, and the purple-streaked hair. She’d gone back to her natural black hair color after college, and though she still liked to think she had a quirky style, she’d chosen a simple gray suit for today’s interview. Something teen Liv would’ve made snoring sounds over.

   “It’s good to see you,” Finn said, his voice deeper and more rumbly than she remembered. “You look…”

   “Like I’ve been through a two-hour interview, I’m sure.” She forced a tight smile. “I’ll get out of your way so that you and Daniel can chat. I’m sure you’ll be able to offer a lot more detailed information than I can. I was just the girl in the closet.”

   Finn frowned. “Liv—”

   “I was hoping I could talk to you both,” Daniel interrupted. “May provide extra insight.”

   Liv’s heart was beating too fast now. Part of her wanted to yell at Finn, to demand why, to spew out all those questions she’d never asked, all those feelings she’d packed away in that dark vault labeled Senior Year. But the other part of her knew there was no good answer. In the end, all three of them had survived. Maybe if he hadn’t left the closet, Rebecca wouldn’t have made it. Then Liv would have that on her conscience.

   She turned to Daniel and plastered on an apologetic look. “I’m sorry. This has wiped me out. I’d rather wrap things up here. I really don’t have more to add.”

   “What if we took a break and then—”

   “She said she’s tired,” Finn said, cool authority in his voice.

   “It would only be a few more questions. The viewers would—”

   Finn lifted a hand. “Look. I know you’re doing this for a good cause, but you have to remember what this does to all of us. To the outside world, this was a tragedy. Something people discuss over dinner, shake their heads at, or get political about. To us, this was our life, our school, our friends. Asking us to come back here, to talk about all these things again…it requires more than anyone realizes. It rips open things that we try to keep stitched up. So let her go. She doesn’t owe anyone more of her story than she wants to give.” Finn’s gaze caught hers. “She doesn’t owe anyone anything.”

   Liv’s chest squeezed tight, and Daniel turned her way, apology in his eyes. “I’m sorry. You’re right. Ms. Arias, if you need to go, please do. I appreciate all the time you’ve given me.”

   He held out his hand for her to shake, and she took it. “It’s fine. Knowing that the proceeds are going to the families helps. I know you’ll do a good job with it. I just don’t have any more to add.”

   She released Daniel’s hand and turned to Finn, giving him a little nod of thanks. “I’ll get out of here so y’all can get started. It was good to see you, Finn.”

   Finn’s focused attention held hers, for a moment kicking up old memories that had nothing to do with gunmen or violence or the way it all ended. Instead, her head filled with snapshots of stolen minutes and frantic kisses in the library stacks and his big, full laughter when she’d tell him her weird jokes. Before Finn had abandoned her that night, he’d saved her each day of that semester, had given her something to look forward to, something to smile about when things were so awful at home. He’d made her hope.

   But even before the shooting, she should’ve known there was no future for the two of them. The signs had been there the whole time. She’d just been too dazzled to see them.

   “It’s been too long,” he said quietly. “We should have a drink and catch up. Are you staying in town?”

   She was. But she didn’t feel prepared for that conversation. She didn’t feel prepared for him. All those years after he’d disappeared, she’d had a thousand questions for him, but now she couldn’t bring herself to ask one. This interview, the twelve-year anniversary, and seeing him had left her feeling too raw, exposed. And what difference would his answers make, anyway? The past couldn’t be changed.

   She wanted to lie and tell him she was heading out tonight. But she was staying at the Bear Creek Inn, the only decent hotel in their little Texas town, which meant that was probably where he was staying, too. If she lied, she’d run into him because that was how the universe worked. “I’m meeting up with some friends for dinner. I’m not sure I’ll have time.”

   He watched her for a moment, his eyes searching, but then nodded. “I’m in Room 348 at the Bear. Call my room if you change your mind, and I can meet you at the bar.”

   She forced a polite smile. “Will do.”

   “Great.” But she could tell by the look on his face that he didn’t believe her.

   This was all just a formality, and maybe his offer for a drink was the same. No matter what had happened between them before the night of the dance, all they were to each other now were bad memories and even worse decisions.

   She told both men goodbye and turned to head to the door, forcing herself not to look back. This place, this story, were her past. Finn Dorsey was her past. She didn’t need anything or anyone reminding her of that time in her life, of how fragile she’d been. She’d worked too hard to lock all that stuff in a fail-safe box so that she could finally move forward. She couldn’t linger here.

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