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The Mantra

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                Abandon her before she abandons you. Abandon her before she abandons you.

                Danny shoved a cigarette between his lips as he flew down Mindy’s front steps.

                That was what was going to happen eventually, right? She was going to leave him?

                Just look at the way she had behaved tonight.

                Feeding Peter grapes. Straddling him in front of the entire party. Practically giving him a lap dance before the chair had collapsed.

                Was that what he wanted in a woman? Someone who would leave him at the first sign of something more exciting? Someone who would easily move on to greener pastures, just like his father had done?

                Yeah, he hadn’t told Brooke that he had a girlfriend. Yeah, he hadn’t strongly discouraged her from hanging all over him—from thinking they might end this night together.

                But that had only been because he was afraid that this whole thing with Mindy would blow up in his face—that he wouldn’t survive losing her once she had run.

                Because she would eventually run, wouldn’t she? She would survive losing him?

                Just like she had survived losing Tom, losing Josh, losing Casey—the list could go on and on.

                Because Mindy always found a way to push through and survive. To keep on living her life. Mindy didn’t let the crushing grief of abandonment destroy any chance she’d ever have at finding real happiness.

                No doubt, she would replace him—just like his father had done.

                Naming his next child Danny for God’s sake. Like he—the original Danny—could be that easily replaced.

                Like he had never existed at all.

                Christina had done that, too, hadn’t she? Tossed him aside the second someone better came along?

                What if Mindy betrayed him with another man? He had barely made it out alive when Christina had done it; with Mindy, he’d never survive it.

                And there would be another guy, wouldn’t there? How could there not be?

                Mindy immediately became the center of any atmosphere she entered, whether that be the office, a party, or even a funeral.

                She was like the flame that drew all the moths in.

                Her smile, her infectious spirit, her relentless hope and optimism—they kept her going, kept all the guys coming back to her.

                Abandon her before she abandons you.

                Glancing back up at Mindy’s window, Danny’s heart clenched.

                If he had only done what he had to do, then why did it hurt so damn much?