Tears blur my vision, hot shame pouring down my cheeks as I turn off the freeway.
Despite crying, I find my exit. My left cheek burns as I drive into the night, the navigation on my phone guiding me to the one place I can escape.
Away from him.
A few miles away, the town of Aurora waits for me, buried in the lush woods of the northwest, tucked away in a corner of paradise.
I probably shouldn’t have driven in the middle of the night, spurred by my emotions.
But at least I made it here in one piece.
I booked a stay at the Aurora Inn, fueled by fear and betrayal that pierces my chest.
Most people come for a vacation.
I’m visiting out of desperation.
He says I’ve been here before, and that I hated it. We went together a while back, and I vowed to never return.
I don’t believe him for one fucking second.
This is why, after his hand slapped my face, quick and deadly, I booked my trip on a whim, my hands shook as I used my laptop to make a reservation.
Hours earlier, he had been sobbing, begging for forgiveness behind the locked door of the bedroom as my mind went on autopilot.
With four grand drained from my bank account, I have a weeklong stay at Aurora Inn.
I don’t regret it. It’s long overdue.
But I can’t stop the hiccupping sobs as I drive.
I deserve this, I try to remind myself through the tears.
I deserve a week to figure out my life and to enjoy what others would kill for.
I catch glimpses of the town, quaint shops, and restaurants illuminated by streetlamps, and I know I will love it here.
Just as my tears subside, my phone loses signal.
The navigation app dies but I’m already at my destination, pulling into the long stone driveway.
Even at night, Aurora Innis a spectacular sight, and a small gasp escape my lips as I take it all in. The pictures on the website don’t do the place justice.
The renovated Victorian mansion sits on a manicured field, surrounded by perfectly trimmed hedges and guarded by an iron gate. Light peeks through the delicate French windows on all four floors, illuminating the cream walls and grey trim.
It’s breathtaking and better than I could have imagined.
I’m staying here.
And, to put the past to rest, I turn off my cell phone.
I already blocked his number and made it out of the apartment with my necessities.
Even with the lack of signal, I don’t want to risk any calls from him.
From now on, I don’t need my cell phone.
I just need the Aurora Inn.
The gates open for me automatically and I follow the wood parking sign that leads me to the side of the mansion, giving me a lovely view of the woods.
The gardens are around here, too. They’re a popular tourist attraction, and the photos on the website were breathtaking.
I can’t wait to see it in the daytime.
I packed my suitcase in minutes, desperately throwing what I could into it. If there’s anything I’m missing, I can always wander through town, which is only minutes away.
Every step I take towards the white French double doors is a step towards freedom.
A new CHAPTER.
A reprieve from the hell that has been the last two years of my life.
And as I swing the front door open, taking in the view of the furnished front room, it feels like I’m finally coming home.