The Last Goodbye by Abby McCarthy



PROLOGUE

"There's still a chance. My lawyer says it's slim, but he thinks we have a shot." Even as he said the words, I didn't think he fully believed them. It was a fucking Hail Mary, and he knew it.

"I warned you, Linc. I told you, nothing good would come from you going with Alex."

"Lols, he's my brother. I couldn't let him go in there alone." His words rang hollow. I’d heard this before.

"Yes! Yes, you could have. Or you could've talked him out of it. You could've walked away. I told you it was stupid, and you shouldn't risk it. You could've done a lot of things. But you didn't. You put him first in front of our life together. Always. Everyone else always seems to come first."

"Lols. Love..." He looked heartbroken. He could see he was losing me.

"Don't." He put his hand up to the glass, and desperation filled his features. He could see my light dimming. He knew that this was real, that I was done. He couldn’t make this right. It was too late.

If he could’ve touched me, I would’ve faltered. But the glass that separated us was a barrier he couldn't break. And for the first time, I was glad that he wasn’t able to.

He watched as I clutched the phone to my chest. I was struggling. I wanted to break down and cry, but I was trying to be strong.

I took a deep breath, trying to prevent the quiver in my lip. I thought we had our whole lives together.

He gave me this look that willed me to put the phone back to my ear. I took a couple deep breaths and let a mask slip over my features. My chin no longer quivered. My eyes were suddenly reserved as I held the phone to my ear.

"Lola." Using my name, he begged me to forgive him, pleading with me to wait. My name on his lips implored that we were forever. It asked me to wait. It asked me to stay. It asked the impossible.

I cut him off, "Lincoln, I'm done. I can't. No—I just... I won't do this anymore." I hung the phone up, and like so many times when he’d said goodbye in the past, I said those same words back to him. “Goodbye, Linc.”

"Lola, no. Don't do this," he yelled. I couldn't hear him through the thick plated glass, but I watched his lips move, and I couldn’t bear the anguish. I had to turn and walk away for the last time. I couldn’t watch the guards escort him away.

If I turned, he would see how completely gutted I was. He would see how badly I wanted to stay. But I was done letting my heart win out over my head. I hadn’t gotten very far letting that lead. It was time to use my head. It was time to let go.





Chapter One




It was early. Too early for my alarm clock. The incessant buzzing wouldn't stop. Why, oh, why did they make these things start your day off with the most annoying sound? I slapped it lazily and did a roll/fall out of bed—the bed that's been empty for two years, nine months, and six days. Not that I'd been counting the days that Lincoln was gone, but today was the day that the manilla envelope sitting on the mantel explained that Lincoln was up for parole. Most wives in my situation would be happy that their husbands had a chance at parole. Then again, most wives would have visited their husbands in jail.

I untangled myself from my sheets that were still stuck around my ankles, just as Isabelle, purring loudly, rubbed against them. It was the only time of the day the cat was nice to me. She only ever warmed up to Linc.

"All right, Iz. I hear you."

I moved to the kitchen and sleepily grabbed a can of cat food from the cupboard. The coffee maker on an automatic timer went off, and my favorite drug, caffeine, began filling the small space with a rich aroma.

I filled the cat bowl and watched as Isabelle left my side and strutted straight to her bowl, forgetting I existed.

That figured.

I shook my head and grabbed my coffee mug from the metal dish strainer next to the sink. Sure, I had a dishwasher, but it was just me now. What did I need a big ole dishwasher for? After pouring my coffee, I grabbed my French vanilla flavored creamer and poured a healthy amount into my cup. It tasted divine. I inhaled the aroma like it was a drug, and it woke me up instantly.

I spent the next forty minutes getting ready for work. My hair was blown out. It was big, the way I liked it. The long thick black strands reached the middle of my back. My light hazel eyes were rimmed with black, and my eyeshadow was light, appropriate for office wear. I wore a subtle sheer lip gloss and used a bronzer, blush, and highlighter to contour my face. I dressed in a white blouse, a high-waisted black pencil skirt, and black pumps. This was my everyday polished look for work.