Franny pulls into the driveway of her home in Chelsea, and only now is she able to exhale; she has been holding her breath since she walked into the restaurant and saw him again. The first time in three years…

29th of February, she knew she had to do it. It was the only day to face him again, move on with her life and never think about him again. At least for the next four years and by then she should be numb enough to almost forget him and what they shared. Never think about him again. Never see him; never speak to him never, never, never. They say never say never; who came up with that stupid rule anyway? She added a third never just for good measure.

“Never. Never. Never.” Francesca, “Franny” Milan made her way to the table to meet her date; the last time she saw him was three years ago so this ought to be fun.

Logan stood as his ex-fiancée approached the table, eyes hard, that little touch of his brow gave him away instantly, he’s irritated; only those close to him knew that tell.

Franny knew he was still very mad at her, three years on and it still feels so raw. Theirs was a love story for the books but he will simply have to get over it. According to Vogue and most of social media, he is one-half of a power couple with the lovely Jojo Ayana.

‘Hello Logan.’

‘Francesca.’

‘Okay.’ She couldn’t help the sass. In all their time together, he never called her by her full name. Ever.

‘I don’t get to be mad?’

‘You do. You get to be in your feelings about whatever it is you want to feel Logan.’

‘In my feelings?’

‘You sure seem to be.’

Logan shook his head, irritated. He almost didn’t make this lunch but anything was a better option to having to sit through another insufferable meal with his in-laws. Right on cue, his phone vibrates with a message from Jojo.

Jojo: Are you still coming?

He switched off the phone. He is not.

He hates them, his in-laws, hates everyone involved in this mess of a life and more than anything, he hates that he was sat here with the woman he thought he loved having not seen her for three years.

‘You finally showed up without the milk.’

‘Ha. Very funny.’ The morning she left, they’d run out of milk and she was only meant to go to the local mercato to get some. Three years later…

‘Wasn’t aware I cracked a joke.’ Logan called when she did not return after fifteen minutes, that fateful morning, but her phone was switched off. An hour later, he went out to look for her thinking she’d gotten lost; it was her first time in Florence, but he couldn’t find her anywhere. The mercato owner said she never came into the store. He searched for her for five hours with the help of the carabinieri; no Franny, no milk. It dawned on him the morning after that she was never coming back. Franny just upped and left without a word so he deserved to be mad and in his feelings about it.

‘Logan I’m sorry.’ Franny said. This was her apology to make so she has to come correct.

‘Why did you do it?’

‘Your mother.’

‘What has she got to do with this?’

‘Everything. Well most of it. Simply put, she never liked me and she told me so.’

‘When?’

‘The many times she came to see me at work, when she told me I would never be good enough for you-’

‘So why didn’t you tell me any of this?’

‘Because I didn’t want to come between a mother and her son. I shouldn’t be here talking to you, it was part-’ Franny stopped herself before she could reveal more than she ought to. She was already breaking the clause of her non-disclosure by seeing him again.

‘Part of what?’

A heavy sigh, ‘I had an agreement with your mother.’

‘What about?’

‘I’m not supposed to see you again.’ What the hell she might as well.

‘Why?’

‘Can I have a diet coke please?’ Franny motioned to the hovering waiter. ‘Would you like something to drink?’ She asked Logan.

‘No.’ He snapped, he does not want anything to drink.

‘Just one diet coke then please. Thank you.’

Logan bounced his feet with impatience, something he never was. He was gentle, kind and so sweet. Not to mention handsome. Logan, like his siblings, had the Sterling looks; tall, beautiful brown skin, and impeccably chiselled good looks. Although she’d never met them, she saw enough of them in the tabloids and on society pages to know. Franny sipped her diet coke and crunched on the ice deliberately. She had to gauge how much she could reveal without getting into trouble; she supposed very little.

‘I have an NDA with your mother. I am never to see you again. Technically, I could go to jail for being here today.’

‘Why are you here then?’

‘I figured I at least owe you the truth. What she won’t tell you.’

‘Why would she have you sign an NDA? For what?’

‘To break us up.’

Logan rests his head in his hands. ‘I don’t believe this.’

‘Why would I lie?’

‘I don’t know Francesca why would you lie?’

‘I’m risking a lot talking to you.’

‘That makes it better?’

‘It doesn’t and it doesn’t change the fact that I did a terrible thing to you, but here we are. You’re married, so am I. Jojo seems nice and you look good together.’

Logan scoffed. He doesn’t want to be reminded of how he looks with his wife, the woman he is barely speaking to because he would rather not deal with her. ‘Why are you telling me this now?’

‘Because I hurt you and I’m sorry. I needed you to hear this from me, to know the real reason why I had to talk away at least some part of it. It does not make things any better, but I hope… I don’t know what I hoped because to ask for your forgiveness would be to trivialise it and I cannot do that. No to you. More than anything, I simply wanted you to know how sorry I am for hurting you the way I did.’

‘So am I.’ Logan stood to leave, ‘I’d pay for your drink but that could be mistaken as me paying you off. I believe the sterling family already did that.’

‘Fuck you.’

‘Have a good life Francesca.’

Franny swallowed hard at that parting shot. He will not turn around; he will not see her cry. She sat there a while, trying to catch her breath, but she was not even breathing. All through the drive home her breath stayed caught between her worlds- the one she left behind at the restaurant, and the other ahead of her, behind the doors to her home. The beautiful home she made with a husband she loves to bits and their delightful boisterous toddler who happens to be the centre of their universe.

She’d walked away from a man she loved not quite a lifetime ago, but Franny was sure she would love Logan forever; a little piece of her will always love him, a love that was not given a chance to blossom. He will always be tangled in her story.