Here Without You (Between the Lines #4)

After we broke up. You can say it. I won’t shatter, you know.’ We sit shoulder to shoulder on my bed, which seems as unbelievable as the subject we’re calmly discussing. ‘I know this might be difficult to hear, Reid, but I’m kind of over you.’

He smirks. ‘Yeah … when you went all Operation Graham last spring and deployed me to seduce Emma – I kinda figured that you were well over me.’

Graham again. I close my eyes and press my fingers to my chest. Damn.

‘Still upsets you, huh? I guess you really did love him. God, there’s no f**king way I’m ever taking Dori around that guy. Because seriously.’ His words are tongue-in-cheek, but the underlying tone is anything but.

...and I want nothing more than to wrap myself around him and be carried away to a place where I don't have to think. A place where there's no guilt or fear, no right or wrong, no divine punishments or senseless accidents or indeterminate states.

Everything isn't fixable, and miracles are only happy twists of fate. Fate can so easily twist in the opposite direction.

I didn't change Reid Alexander. I just helped him uncover who he always was, at his core.

I have only one truth to stand on. "I. Love. Her.

I'm a coward. A willing coward, complicit in my own fall. I've never told him that I love him, as if refusing to say it aloud would somehow shield us both, but it hasn't. Like an untamed, sentient thing, full of I am and yet estranged from me, my heart discerns its own truth and knows that this omission is a lie.

Inside, I stop and stand motionless in the centre of the glass and chrome atrium of my manager’s building. As I stare at the photo on my display, I realize one thing. This wasn’t real. He wasn’t real.
None of it was real – not until this moment.

I opened my mouth wide one time to see if the words I was thinking would fall out, but they wouldn’t. If words don’t want to come out, they don’t. I don’t understand when people say things and then they say, I didn’t mean to say that. Words don’t just fall out. You have to push them out. And sometimes, you can’t push them out, even if you want to.

I stare into his eyes, a slight smile pulling at my mouth, and I see myself as he sees me. I feel loved, and scared, and hopeful. I feel found. And I think, Here is the beginning of my faith. Here is my forever. Right here. Right here.

I used to think of two people in love like that. Like puzzle pieces, fitting together. But it's not like that at all. Love pulls a part of you out, and it pulls a part of him - like taffy, stretching but not separating. The tendrils of each one wrap around the other, until they meld together. One, but not quite. Separate, but not quite.

I was more scared than I let on, but that was nothing new.

I wish I could read her mind. She’s a pensive, deep-thinking girl, and it’s not unusual for her to stare into space, lost in her thoughts. Normally, I’m fascinated when she does this – the shifting emotions crossing her face, marked by faint smiles, frowns or grimaces. That’s not how I feel now, when I can’t escape the uneasy awareness that her contemplations concern me.

"What are you thinking about?"

She blinks distractedly, and then stares up at me with eyes so dark and fathomless that I’m sure I’ll never know all the mysteries behind them. Even if I can’t follow her when she withdraws inside herself like this, I want her to know that I’ll always be there to pull her back to solid ground before she goes under. That I won’t let go.

"I don’t want to say goodbye," she says, her eyes shining.

"Then don’t say it.

no cray,Daddy he whisper

No matter what grief or loss takes place, most of life flows on all around us, as though nothing's changed. At some point in our sorrow, we each make a choice to sink or swim. There's no alternative.

Remember last fall, when you needed to be reckless, and I told you to use me? Well, now, it's time to be fearless. I can't promise that you won't be hurt again, because life can suck. And, sometimes it hurts like hell. I'm asking you now to have faith in one thing, for now: the fact that when we're alone, I'm just Reid, and you're just Dori, and we're going to love each other for the rest of our lives.

Take this. When you’re ready, I want to put it on your finger. I want you to meet my son. I want you to let me bring you into my world – because I need you there. The media crap is just PR. Piece of cake for you, trust me. There are a hundred people ready to help us nail it. Let me help you rebuild your faith, because that’s who you are, and I love who you are.
‘Remember last fall, when you needed to be reckless, and I told you to use me? Well, now, it’s time to be fearless. I can’t promise that you won’t be hurt again, because life can suck. And, sometimes, it hurts like hell. I’m asking you to have faith in one thing, for now: the fact that when we’re alone, I’m just Reid, and you’re just Dori, and we’re going to love each other for the rest of our lives.’
She’s staring at me, the velvet-covered box clutched in her hand. I lean forward and kiss her, tasting her tears or my own, I don’t know which. ‘Come to me when you’re ready to be fearless. Unless you can look me in the eye right now and tell me you don’t love me.’
Lower lip trembling, she says nothing, and I kiss her again before I leave.

That’s what faith is, right?’ he says. ‘Believing in what can’t be known? Fall into my arms, Dori. I’ll catch you, every time, and I won’t let go.

The best way out is always through.

There's something I never told you about that decision I made four years ago...I've never felt a middle ground between acceptance and remorse. Every day for the last four years, it's been one or the other. Black or white. There was no grey, but I could bear it because I had you. When I lost you, I began slipping into perpetual guilt. Carrying that secret, alone, for the first time, while trying to balance the idea of a benevolent God with a God who could let this happen to you - it was like falling into quicksand.

Thus began the weeks of what we termed being reckless - and I worry from that viewpoint, at least, that word defines our entire relationship. Reid lives his life in a reckless way, and ever since his life collided with mine last summer, I've been unbalanced. The trajectory of my safe, small orbit cannot contain him, and no amount of wishing will change that.

You said you have faith in us. You told me to come to you when I was ready to be fearless. The truth is, I don’t know if I can be fearless. I’ve lost myself, Reid, and I’m still so scared.
But I’m ready to try. If you still want to, I’m ready.