Old dock boards creak beneath my shoes, but Sam doesn’t turn back. He won’t even look at me when I sit down next to him and hang my feet over the lapping water. He holds a half-empty bottle of whiskey in one hand. My worry only increases when I touch his arm, and he pulls away.
“Sam…” I start.
“You know, don’t you?” he says flatly. “Kelly told you.”
I shake my head. “I know something happened, something happened to you.”
Sam takes a too-long drink and then corrects me, “I made something happen.”
I touch his arm again, and this time, he lets me.
“I’m going to tell you because you’ll find out anyway. That’s inevitable even though I pretended it wasn’t. Then, you’re going to hate me, the way most people in this town do.”
“Sam, I could never hate you.”
“Yes, you will.”
Now, he angles his face, and I can see how pained his expression is.
“For about ten minutes, I got to feel good again, good with you, and that’s going to end. Of course. And I can’t fucking stand that, Stella, because you are a relief in this fucking insane world. I felt it the second I saw you, and it scared the hell out of me. But it was there, as clear as day.”
His eyes are red, and I’m not convinced it’s from the booze.
“For reasons I can’t begin to understand, I am whole again with you. After everything, I get to feel whole. And now, it’s all going to blow up. Another bomb detonating in my life.” He laughs, but it’s filled with anguish. “My fucking life.”