Simon Lane was the bad boy Lillian Rouilard always dreamed of. Rolling into Lilly’s life like a runaway train, she was thrilled by the ride but when it was all said and done, he’d left a mess that she could not make her way out of. Simon’s old man always said he would bring misery to anyone who loved him. He ignored his father’s words until Simon’s own cruel actions resulted in losing Lilly – the one bright light in his otherwise dismal existence.
Thrown back together by chance, Lilly will either be healed of the pain he inflicted or be left just as broken as before. This time the choices Simon makes will be the hardest yet because added to the mix is Simon’s new fiancé Millicent who harbors a few secrets of her own. He undertakes a gamble he’s not even sure he is worthy to win.
Was his father right all along? Would he ever learn?
The Education of Simon Lane is the first book of the Memory Lane Series.
“You’re right. I did have better once upon a time. Didn’t I?”
“Don’t do this, Simon.” Lilly said.
“Do you ever think about me, Lilly? Affectionately, I mean. Do you remember me the way I remember you? Late at night when you’re alone, do you think of me, even a little bit?”
“I’m sorry. I shouldn’t have said that, either.” He rubbed his forehead.
“I think of you all the time,” she whispered.
“I made a mess of things, I know that. But Lilly, I…” He took a deep breath, hoping to fasten down on the nausea that churned in his stomach. He had to calm down, steady himself, but his nerves were shot. If someone offered him a million pieces of gold to remain cool and not come undone, he would have to pass.
“Are you alright?” she asked. Again, her voice was low. He wanted to tell her he had been, before he’d seen her again, but this time, he clamped down on honesty and chose silence, instead. Simon made a fist, pressing the manicured nails on his fingers into his flesh to the point that he gasped in pain. He felt like that kid again, that snot-nose little bastard trapped in the dog cage—helpless and powerless. He wiped away a tear, a stupid move because a shit load more followed in its wake.
“Shit!” Simon growled in frustration. He was sitting in his car, on the side of a busy highway, crying like a weak son of a bitch. It was a good thing his father was rotting in the bowels of hell and not starring down at him from above because the old fucker would surely find pleasure in this sight. Simon licked his lips and prayed she wouldn’t hang up.
“Why did you call me Simon? What do you want?”
“I don’t know.” His response disgusted him. He sounded like a wimp, or worse, he sounded—desperate.
“What?” she snapped.
“Nothing.” He laughed nervously. “Nothing. I just can’t believe I’m talking to you. After all this time, I’m talking to you.” He waited for a response, any type of reply, screaming, yelling, accusations, expressions of betrayal and regret. None came. For several moments, he held the phone with an iron-clad grip, oblivious to the cars that raced past him.
“I have to go, Simon.” Her voice quivered, and Simon figured she was crying, too. Good. He found a semblance of satisfaction in the sound, a small gauge of happiness, and a miniscule measure of hope.
“One more minute, please, Lilly. Just give me a minute.” He cleared his throat and waited for the dreaded sound of dead air in his ear. But it didn’t come. She was holding on just as he was. Then it happened, the sight he dreaded – the old bastard’s image flashed before Simon’s eyes, sobering him instantly. The evil, ugly, decomposing image of his father was always with him.
You’re going to fuck her over again, you little shit?
“Life has a way of throwing you curve balls.” Simon’s eyelids dropped.
“Oh yeah; I chose Indianapolis because it’s close to the places I think of as home. I was tired of running from…from everything. I never thought being brave would cause such pain.”
“I shouldn’t have called. I never meant to cause you heartache.”
“Simon, you’re not hurting me.” And there it was. Lilly was crying softly, he heard it in her voice. He sat up in his seat. He had to end this, hang up, walk away and leave her alone. He would not be the catalyst for any more of her tears.
“Can I tell you something, Lilly?”
She was silent for a moment, sans the occasional sniffling. Finally, she murmured a response.
“I loved you right from the start, Lilly. From the very beginning, the first time I saw you. I wanted to be in your heart. I didn’t think anything could break us apart, nothing, ever. But…I did it, Lilly. I fucked up so bad. I did it, Lilly.”
“No…listen to me baby. Please. I tore us up. I…I fucked up so bad, and I made you suffer because of a stupid, stupid decision and a reprehensible action. I know that. And Lilly…” He expelled a breath and steadied himself, felt the need and urge to slam his fist into the dashboard.
“I’m listening, Simon.”
“I won’t bother you again. I want you so badly…I will always, always want you, Lilly. I learned my lesson, and I know what I have to do. It kills me, but I know. Millicent…it’s not the same as you and I. I love you Lilly. I always will. So…I won’t hurt you again, because I love you that much. I can’t and I won’t bother you again. I won’t bother you again. I promise.”
“Oh, Simon,” Lilly moaned.
“Thank you for listening. Thank you baby, thank you.”
“Good bye, baby, and be happy.” Simon pressed end and pitched the cell phone aside. He flung his head forward, connecting with the steering wheel, and cried. He couldn’t give a fuck about any passing car that might see him; he couldn’t give a fuck about anything or anyone at that moment.
He was dead inside.
Lilly tossed the phone aside and lay back on her bed. She drew her legs up and clasped her hands around her knees. Of all the things he’d said, of all the things she’d said, one phrase came to mind, shot through her like a rocket: Who would have thought being brave would cause such pain?
“I was talking about your pain, baby, I wasn’t thinking about me.” She curled into a fetal position and cried for the second time in her short life for the man she loved, a man she loved to hate, because he could not bring himself to do one simple thing—trust in her love for him.
Simon would always refuse to trust her love.
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