Rm w/a Vu(163)

By: A. D. Ryan

“What do you mean?”

He smiles, lifting his hands to my face and pushing my hair back before cradling my jaw, his thumbs moving idly over my cheekbones. “What if I bought the cabin from my parents? For us.”

I inhale sharply, stunned by this offer…but also a little insulted. It reminds me of how Ben used to approach a half-assed reconciliation.

Slowly, I slide off his body, sitting up and grabbing the blanket to cover my nakedness. Does he think that buying me an elaborate gift will make up for this? Does he think I’ll just let it go?

“What?” He looks worried at my lack of reaction and he sits up, too.

“Are you trying to buy your way out of this entire thing? Like, you know how upset I am, and you figure that throwing a little bit of money at the problem will just make it go away?”

“That’s what you think?” he asks, seeming quite stunned that this is how I’ve taken his offer. “Juliette, that’s not what I meant at all. I’m sorry.” He sounds sincere, and I appreciate it, because he must realize just how insulting something like that is. “I didn’t even realize that’s how you might take it.”

Embarrassed, I shake my head. “It’s fine. I should have known you better than that. Forget it…”

“Hey,” he interjects. “Never feel like you can’t talk to me about whatever’s bothering you. Even if you think it might hurt my feelings. You mean everything to me, and I’m sorry if I made you question my motives. I’ll do better.”

With everything being aired out between the two of us, I’m starting to feel better—not a hundred percent, but I think in time I could be there.

“I’m still upset, and I don’t know that it’ll go away any time soon,” I blurt out.

“Of course you are,” he offers quietly. “That’s completely understandable.”

“I wish I could say that this will be easy for me, given I’ve been through something similar,” I continue. “I want to trust you—no, I do trust you—but all I see whenever I close my eyes is her lips on yours… I don’t know how to process it all.” Greyston’s hand reaches out to touch my arm, but he hesitates halfway before pulling it back and running it through his hair instead. “I know you’re not Ben, and I believe you when you say you love me, but, after what happened with him?” I sigh heavily, trying to gather my thoughts enough to stop my rambling. “I’m scared, Greyston. Scared I’m just…not enough for you.”

“Baby,” he says softly, this time reaching out for me and taking my hand in his. I can’t help it anymore; I turn to look at him, and his eyes are red-rimmed and glistening. “What are you talking about? How can you possibly think you’re not enough for me? You’re everything to me.”

“I don’t—I don’t know…”

“Just tell me what to do to fix this,” he pleads, sounding desperate, his hands moving up and down my arm like he’s afraid I’m going to take off and this is the only way to stay tethered to me.

I shrug, my chin wavering, and I speak before really even realizing what it is I want to say to him. “I hate her.” It doesn’t have anything to do with his request, but now that it’s out there, I don’t regret feeling it or even saying it. “Gemma,” I clarify, and Greyston nods as though he already knew that.

“I can understand that.”

I shake my head and continue speaking, the words coming out faster than I expect. “No, I don’t think you do. I don’t hate people, Greyston. It’s just not who I am. But Gemma? I fucking loathe her. I hate that she waltzed back into your life and disrupted it. I hate that she knows things about you that I have yet to learn. And most of all? I hate that I disregarded my suspicions so soon after meeting her.”

An awkward pause fills the room as my last confession dangles in the air between us. My heart begins to pound, and I continue with my rambling. “I despise the idea that your agency represents her. You’ll always be tied to her, going on the occasional business trip to do…whatever it is you do as her agent.”