Confession time. I was terrified of this book. Literally, breaking out in a cold sweat the moment I decided to read it. Dear Emily was one of the most emotional stories to ever touch my heart and as much as I loved and connected so deeply with the main characters in that book, I have been anxiously waiting for Tabitha’s story ever since. I felt invested in Tabitha from the moment I met this unfortunate young woman, and hoped with all my heart that she would eventually find her happiness. Well, Tabitha finally got her story and even though I sobbed like a baby and almost punched a wall a few times, my heart is so full right now, it’s quite possibly glowing. An awe-inspiring conclusion to a story that changes you, moves you, touches every facet of your soul and leaves a part of itself deeply embedded in your heart, this book was everything I hoped it would be and so much more.
“I’m a terrible cook and I wouldn’t want to run you out the door.”
“I would eat cardboard if it meant I could spend the night with you.”
Tabitha has only experienced loss in her life, everyone she has ever cared for being taken from her one way or another throughout her young life. She has survived rape, sexual abuse, physical violence, and yet, as cruel as fate has always been to her, she remains a kind and compassionate soul, pure at heart, who struggles with insecurities and issues of low self-esteem, and never takes the affection of others for granted. The horrors that she has lived through have not made her bitter or resentful of the happiness of others, but rather appreciative of what little she has and hopeful that a new day would finally bring her own happy ending, gifting her with the one thing she dreams most of having – a family. As baby Emily’s birth mother, we have already watched Tabitha experience sorrow and loss, but in this book, we get to bear witness to the very events in her life that have marked her the most and have led her to become the unsettled woman she is today.
“Why did she do this to us? She ruined us? I trusted her. Loved her.”
Alex is the only man Tabitha has ever loved, but one mistake on her part has caused them two and a half years of separation during which neither of them have moved on romantically, but both have somehow changed for the better. When Alex returns home, his only wish is to find out whether the woman he still loves is as broken without him as he has been without her. But Alex does not know how much has happened in Tabitha’s life since his departure, never expecting to find a much more confident and determined young woman in place of the shy and broken one he left behind.
“I’ve been lost and alone without her for so long.”
By giving us a very intimate insight into Alex’s childhood as well, we find out how similar their young lives have been, marred by loss and violence, making them both terrified of giving their hearts away in fear of having them broken. Their worse fears made them lose the fairy-tale romance they once had, but life finally gives them another chance at happiness and let me tell you, you will need tissues to watch it all unfold.
“I’m … not ready to tell him yet. Because I’m not ready for him to leave me again.”
One huge secret stands between them and their happy ending and in a heart-stopping tale of forgiveness, second chances and hope, we get first row seats at one of the most superb shows of human endurance and obstinate ability to give love. While Dear Emily was such a story of opposites, where one woman was gaining everything she ever dreamed of in life, and the other was losing it all and facing a future where she would forever mourn that loss, this book is in so many ways a story of two people being drawn to one another because of the parallels in their lives and a unique understanding of each other’s deepest demons.
“I won’t inherit his rage. I won’t be like him.”
This is truly a book like no other. This story is told with honesty and heart, making the reader feel so many different emotions page after page, but most of all the author’s reverence for her own characters. I walked away feeling like every half-empty glass in my life was suddenly full to the rim, thankful for this journey and determined to read every word this author ever decides to write.
“Our forever starts now.”
Past – Age 22
I stumble down the stairs and out the door, distancing myself from her as quickly as I can. Intense pain shoots throughout my abdomen and I barely make it outside onto the street before I puke all over the sidewalk. All I see when I close my eyes are images of the two of them, his hands all over her, where mine are supposed to be. I wretch again as the vomit and bile come up, burning the inside of my throat and my mouth. If I weren’t puking, I’m sure I’d be crying like a baby. Why is this happening? Why did she do this? Loving her was the first real thing that I’d ever done in my life. Now I have nothing. I slowly stand up and wipe my mouth with the back of my jacket. I can’t believe that I just broke up with her.
I. Am. Done.
I just ended the only relationship that has ever mattered to me. Tabitha is upstairs in her apartment and here I am, puking in the street, trying to get as far away from her as I possibly can. I’m completely crushed and it’s all her fault. Pain shoots through my stomach again and I lean against the building, trying to settle down.
I’ve been so f*cking patient with her throughout all of her breakdowns. He mental illness. She’s hated herself for so long and I’ve shown her what it’s like to love. I’ve tried to take away the demons that plague her. To make her forget about that monster, Tony. I’ve tried to help her to not be afraid of love. Shit I’ve tried to help myself too. I gave her all of me and more. My love, my heart, my f*cking life.
I can’t believe her. Why did she do this? I warned her about Seth.
She was f*cking kissing him! I could kill him and I almost did. When I felt my fist connecting with his face earlier today, it felt so good. Too good. God! What is happening? What just happened?
Why did she do this to us? She ruined us. I trusted her. Loved her.
F*ck. I loved her with every part of me.
That asshole has been waiting for his moment to pounce and to take her away from me. To f*ck her. Well, he succeeded and now he can have her. She doesn’t deserve me after what she did today. Another wave of nausea passes as I think about how long this may have been going on with Seth? Shit, I don’t even want to know. Has she been lying to me this whole time? Things were so real with her, or at least they seemed real. She made a promise that she only loved me. Only wanted me. And then she was with him.
She’s a f*cking liar. My stomach clenches as I realize that there must have been something going on with them all along. I never thought that she would do something like this to me. To us.
I should have seen this coming. I never should have given myself to her.
I lean against the side of her building and run my hands over my face. These hands wanted to kill today. To shred Seth to pieces. These hands almost grabbed her and shook her. The rage I felt was like nothing I’ve experienced before. I felt fire today and I wanted her to burn. Shit.
I try to take a calming breath and picture my mother’s gray eyes. I shudder and feel nauseous again. No. I would never do that to another person. A woman. I. Could. Never.
No. I’m not like him. My Pops.
I. Am. Not.
The knot in my stomach begins to pull at my chest and I feel a crushing pain as I gasp for air. My world has just come crashing down around me and I don’t know what to do.
I’m empty and afraid. Afraid of what I might do. What I’m capable of.
I wrap my arms around my stomach and take deep breaths, trying to settle my revulsion and anger. I have so many scars from Pops. I was beaten more times than I can remember. I couldn’t inflict this kind of pain on someone else. Ever.
Sadness and regret sweep in and begin to overcome me. God, I didn’t even feel like this when he killed himself. What Tabby did to me, to us, feels so much worse.
I swallow hard to stop the bile from rising from my stomach again as I throw my head back, slamming it into the concrete wall. I wince as pain radiates down my spine. I need to get away from here. From her. Far away. I can’t be near her or Seth. I might be tempted to use my hands again and I just can’t allow that to happen. I don’t ever want to become like my Pops.
I push myself away from the wall and walk toward a cab down the block. I’m unsteady on my feet as I wave my hand in the air to signal that I need a lift. He turns his lights off to indicate that he’s not in service. Shit!
As I walk by the cab driver, I flip him off. Yeah, he can suck it. How the f*ck am I going to get out of here? I reach for my phone and send a text to Dax to meet me at the High Note. I need to get the hell out of here. Fast.
I need to leave her behind. Leave us behind. My heart is splattered all over her walls like the pools of blood that I left on my basement floor eight years ago. Pops tried to kill me that day. She succeeded in killing us today.
She ruined us.
I need to forget her.
I just hope that I can.