She’d kept their home with equal pride, in a dated dynamic they both revered because it worked—until he lost his job.
With a shudder, she faced the present. Now Austin did nothing. No longer did she need to worry about being available to him, because he showed no interest in her, sexually or otherwise, not even in regard to her safety.
Something neglected and desolate snapped inside of her. Pressure built behind her eyes. The weight on her shoulders transcended to pressure in her chest. Unable to hold it all inside, she burst into tears.
“Hey, hey, hey, why are you crying? Shit.” Cord stood, clearly uncomfortable with her show of emotion. “Is it your head?”
He paced, searching for something in the kitchen, clattering objects across the counter, and returning with a paper towel and his keys. “I’ll take you to the clinic. Here, blow your nose. Stuff’s dripping out.”
She snagged the rough paper and blew. “I’m sorry,” she sobbed. “It’s just… He… The car… How many beer cans will I clean up tomorrow? It’s so quiet all the time. Mrs. Fields is a bitch! We have no fuel! The wood doesn’t burn right, because we used up all our seasoned supply. My toes are always fucking numb! And now my tires are bald…” The last of her tirade came out in a wail.
As she blubbered, muttering half thoughts and nonsense an outsider wouldn’t understand, she struggled to get her emotions under control. Reeling in her hiccups and sobs, she apologized for her outburst as Cord’s face morphed into utter panic.
She wiped her sleeve under her nose and sniffled. She was tougher than this and it surely was not the time or the place for a breakdown.
When she focused on his expression again, a wet laugh squeaked out. Poor guy. His eyes were wide with horror. She sniffed and repeated her apology, “Sorry. I’m just a little overwhelmed.”
Unblinking, he watched her cautiously. “Was that some sort of female exorcism? I didn’t understand a word you said, but you should know that’s my last napkin. After that, all I can offer you is a coffee filter.”