Dragonfly Creek

Dragonfly Creek by T.L. Haddix

Book: Dragonfly Creek by T.L. Haddix Read Free Book Online
Authors: T.L. Haddix
he couldn’t. It was as though he’d let Ainsley steal that trust and innocence necessary for total commitment.
    He’d honestly been surprised she remembered his name. Leaning back so that he could get to his pocket, he pulled out his wallet and thumbed through the dividers to the last one in the folio. He didn’t take out the black-and-white photo, but stared down at it, remembering the night it was taken. They’d gone to a festival in Jackson, where an old photo booth was set up. They’d waited in line for nearly twenty minutes for their turn. Ben had carefully divided the strip of four pictures. He’d kept two pictures, and Ainsley had kept two.
    They’d consummated their relationship that night, in the backseat of her car. It was his first time, and he had truly felt then that Ainsley was the only woman he would ever want to be with. She had also been a virgin, and they’d fumbled through the steps, learning their way around each other’s bodies.
    Not long after that, everything changed. He hadn’t heard from Ainsley in days. She’d missed four of their running dates, which they’d scheduled ahead of time. Because of her mother’s strictness and disapproval, he couldn’t just call to find out where she’d been. Finally, terrified that something had happened to her, Ben had gone to her house on a Tuesday morning, when he knew her mother had a chamber of commerce meeting. He’d taken a chance Ainsley would be there alone.
    She hadn’t been there at all. Her mother was, though, as was a somber black lady in a maid’s uniform. She’d let him in, then seated him in the living room while she went to get Geneva Brewer. Ben hadn’t been able to sit still, though, and he’d sprung up from the couch to pace as he waited.
    He didn’t hear the wheelchair approach, and her words startled him.
    “So you’re the one.”
    He spun around, swallowing nervously. “Ma’am?”
    “Ainsley’s little boyfriend. Oh, you didn’t think I knew about you, did you?” She had correctly interpreted the shock on his face. “Son, I’ve known about you since the day she met you in the library the first time. I know everything that goes on in this town, especially in my own family.” She rolled farther into the room.
    Ben didn’t know what to say. In her eyes, pity mixed with triumph. Given that and what he’d gleaned from Ainsley about her mother, he figured the pity was fake.
    “Ma’am. Where’s Ainsley?”
    She sighed and picked up the small envelope she’d been holding on her lap. She held it out to him. “Take it.”
    Warily, Ben took the thick, heavy, expensive stationary envelope. Its front was blank.
    “I know you think you had some glorious love affair with my daughter this summer, but the fact is, you were one last fling before she settled down. I am very sorry to have to tell you this, but Ainsley was married over the weekend. She’s been engaged since April.”
    The words made no sense. None. Ben shook his head. “You’re lying.”
    She waved a hand. “Open the envelope. Read her note. I told her you wouldn’t believe me.”
    Cheeks flushed, he struggled to open the missive, tearing the paper. The note inside was brief and devastating.
    Ben,
    By the time you read this, I’ll probably be on my honeymoon. I’m terribly sorry I wasn’t honest with you this summer, but I was having such fun, I didn’t know how to confess without ending things.
    Doug is a good man. We had a little spat shortly before you and I met, and I am ashamed to admit, I used you as a weapon to get back at him.
    You’re a very sweet person, but there was never a chance of anything developing between us more than what we had. The last couple of weeks have been a little awkward, if you want the truth.
    I’m sorry for ending things this way. Time snuck up on me, and I had to leave to prepare for the wedding before I had a chance to explain in person. I hope you can forgive me for that.
    I’m sure that you’ll find a girl closer

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