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Intermix titles by June Gray
The Disarm Series
THE HENRY SESSIONS
A Disarm Novella
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This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents either are the product of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously, and any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, business establishments, events, or locales is entirely coincidental. The publisher does not have control over and does not have any responsibility for author or third-party websites or their content.
An InterMix Book / published by arrangement with the author
InterMix eBook edition / May 2013
Copyright © 2012 by June Gray.
Cover photo by Stanislav Perov.
Cover design by June Gray.
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To you, the reader, the lover of words.
1 | CONTINUE MISSION
I walked into my apartment and locked the door, slipping out of my shoes before venturing into the living room. I collapsed onto the tan suede couch, the stack of mail still in my hand. The answering machine still blinked at me from the counter, weighed down by all the messages that had accumulated since August, messages that I hadn’t been ready to listen to yet.
Five months had elapsed since my disastrous trip to California, since Henry pulled the rug out from under my feet and made me question everything I’d believe to be true. If there was one thing I would have bet my life on back then, it was that Henry would never intentionally hurt me: but he had and in the most brutal, unexpected way possible. He loved me then left me, and the most infuriating thing was that after I listened to his therapy tapes, I kind of understood. His underlying anger stemmed from a case of not knowing who the hell he really was. It wasn’t from some deep dark secret from the past; it was just about a man with a serious case of identity crisis.
I understood his issue, which is not to say I liked it or had even come to accept it.
I had come home from Monterey to an empty apartment and a note from Henry saying he was staying with a friend and would give me the next day to recover alone. I had used that time to enlist the help of every single friend I had so that I could move out of the apartment as quickly as possible. Thankfully, Beth had allowed me to stay with her while I searched for a place of my own, and the situation had improved when she moved into Sam’s house after he proposed, leaving me with the apartment. It had all worked so seamlessly that I’d wondered if maybe the universe had finally decided to throw me a bone after screwing me over so much.
There, alone in my apartment, I cried myself to sleep and when I awoke to nightmares, I had nobody but myself for comfort. It was a truly miserable and lonely existence I would never wish upon my worst enemy. Not even on Nina-freaking-Yates.
Still, I liked to think I’d moved on since the breakup. We were in a new year now, and I decided I needed a new attitude. I’d certainly cried enough to last a lifetime. This new Elsie was going to be happy, damn it, and she was not going to hide from the past any longer.
I heaved myself up off the couch and walked over to the answering machine, pressing play before I could change my mind.
Henry’s voice filled the small apartment, instantly suffocating me with memories.
“Elsie, it’s Henry. Beth gave me your new number.” He sighed. “I wish you’d told me you wanted to live separately. I could have moved out. It wasn’t fair that you had to be the one to move all your stuff. Hell, I could have helped you.” He groaned. “I’m sorry. I just worried when I got back and you weren’t home; I freaked out. I haven’t seen you since you came back from Monterey, and I’m really worried. I hope you’re doing okay.”
I felt the familiar pressure behind my eyes but I was determined not to cry. I’d managed one entire month without tearing up and I wasn’t about to break that streak now. I took a deep breath and readied myself for the next message.
“Me again,” Henry said. “I just wanted to wish you a happy birthday. I bought you a gift, but I don’t know how to get it to you. If it’s okay with you, I’d like to come by and drop it off later, around six. Call me back and let me know. My number’s still the same.” I had come home that day to find he’d taped a blue envelope on my door. Inside were a birthday card simply signed, Henry, and a fifty-dollar gift card to Best Buy. He couldn’t have been more impersonal if he tried.
There were a few messages from my parents and friends in between before Henry’s voice came on again. “I just wanted to let you know that I won’t be coming to Monterey for Thanksgiving or Christmas, so you don’t have to worry about running into me. Merry Christmas, Elsie.”
And finally a weary, “Happy New Year.”
I took a deep breath. There. That wasn’t so bad.