He desperately wanted to hurt her. Not because she deserved it; if anything, the exact opposite was closer to the truth. But it was because he knew she deserved better than what he was willing to give. So instead of being better, he tried to convince her that he was the best she was ever going to find.

She was sure she wasn’t the first. He had probably done the same to all the women before her. Some had probably believed it for a while; they would never find someone who had as much to offer her as he claimed he did. Or perhaps they were like her and never believed him, not once. But like her, they waited and they hoped. They wanted to see if there was a reversal. “What if he goes back to how he used to be? What if I give up too soon? It was there before, how can it be that it’s gone for good?” She was always willing to give others the benefit of the doubt, even if it brought anguish to herself. So she waited.

When it became painfully obvious that *nothing* was going to change if she stayed, she steeled herself, walked away, and torched the ground behind her. She changed *everything*.

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