Somewhere I Belong

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Chapter 35: Trenton, North Carolina - June 29, 2008

The sun was just beginning to rise as I slid out of Cory’s arms and bed. Quietly, I pulled my clothes back on and fixed my hair in the mirror on the far side of his bedroom. Next to the mirror, I saw a notebook laying on his dresser. I grabbed it, flipping it to the first clean page. Nabbing the pen off the dresser, I wrote:

Dear Cory.

Good morning. I’m sorry that after last night, you have to wake up this morning to this note. It’s not the way I had imagined all this happening but it’s the way it needs to be. I’m sorry you don’t approve of my relationship with Mike but he’s what I need right now. He loves me and part of me loves him too. He’s a good guy most of the time and I need to respect his wishes. After what happened between us last night, it was clear to me that having the both of you in my life in the same setting just isn’t going to work out. It’s not fair to either one of you, either. So, that’s why I’ve decided to leave with Mike.

Being your friend has been the best experience of my life. You’ve taught me so much about myself that it’s going to be hard to find out who the Abby without Cory actually is. I know the Cory without Abby is going to go on to do great things with his life. You’re going to be a great engineer some day and will build the biggest machines that this state has ever seen. I hope I can see them in the future. I don’t know how long this has to be but for right now, it has to be this way for everyone involved to be happy.

Mike and I are leaving for New York this afternoon. We’re going to be living with his sister for a while until we figure out something. Once we get settled in, I’ll send you a post card. I’m not sure how this will work out but I do hope to be able to communicate with you somehow. Though, I’m sure after this, you won’t want to.

Please don’t hate me, Cory. Not that I would blame you for it but I hope you can find it in your heart not to. You hold such a special place in mine. I’m not sure what I’m going to do without you here with me every day. I’ll think about you and miss you. I know that part for sure.

Well, I should go. I don’t want you to wake up while I’m still here. I don’t think I can stand to say good-bye to you in person. Just know that there is nothing about our friendship I regret. You were my first love and I will always cherish you.

Please don’t try to stop me.

Love always,

Abz

Folding the letter up, I tucked in the space between the blanket and him. I scooped up the rest of my things and left, heading home to pack.

“I wish you weren’t doing this, Abz.” Daddy said for the millionth time as I lugged my suitcase from my room to the living room. I shot him a look, heading back for my backpack and my knapsack.

“I know you don’t. I need to though. I want to see what else is out there and if I want to try to be an author, I need to make connections with people outside of Trenton.” I replied, heaving everything into a pile.

“There’s always mail and the internet. Why do you need to go to New York with a boy you barely know?”

“Dad, he’s my boyfriend. I do know him. I know this is hard for you but there’s nothing you can say that it going to stop me.”

“What does Cory think about all this?” He asked, stopping me in my tracks. “You did tell him, right?”

“Yes. I told him this morning. Please stop making this harder, Daddy.” Grams walked into the living room, carrying a Tupperware container full of baked goods and candy.

“Here you are, dear. This should last you the trip.” She handed it to me, giving me a tight hug. “Good luck up there. You’re going to do great.”

“Thanks, Gram. You guys should come and visit once Mike and I get settled.” I said, smiling at her.

“Of course, dear.” Grams gave Dad a look, mentally telling him something I couldn’t quite make out.

“Do you need some money?” Dad asked, fishing his wallet out. He pulled out some money and held it out to me. I took it, stepping closer and kissing his cheek. He pulled me in for a bear hug, squeezing the air out of me. Tears filled my eyes as I buried my head into his shoulder. “You’re gonna be good, kiddo. Don’t be afraid to call me if you ever need anything. I’m a plane right away and a 14-hour trip by car.”

“I know, Daddy.” I said, both of us sniffing as he let me go. “Thank you for the money and for everything.” He nodded, wiping his eyes with the sleeve of his work shirt. “Can you do me a favor after I leave?”

“Sure, kid.”

“Can you keep an eye on Cory? Make sure he stays out of trouble and he goes to college like he’s supposed to?” I asked, picking up my bags.

“I will. You make sure you keep tabs on him too.”

“I can’t. We said our good-byes last night. I won’t be talking to him for a while I think.” I said softly.

“We’ll watch him, Abby. You just focus on your future.” Grams said. Outside, I heard the honking of a horn. Glancing out the window, I saw Mike’s car idling at the curb. His mother had helped him buy it a few days ago after we told her about our plan to head to New York. She wanted to be sure we had a safe way there and a car to get around in. She hadn’t been too thrilled about the idea of us moving to the city with her oldest daughter but was supportive in helping us plan.

“Mike’s here.” I said. Leaning down, Dad grabbed my suit case.

“I’ll help you out.” Walking over, he opened the door. I gave Grams another hug before heading out to the porch. Mike climbed out of the car, popping the trunk. He helped Dad load my stuff into the free space back there and shook his hand as a farewell. It was a strained one, the two of them not really seeing eye to eye yet. I hope that over time they do. I’m sure Daddy wasn’t going to be too thrilled to hear we were getting married a few days after we get to the city. I had thought about telling him so that Grams and he could be at our little ceremony but I knew he would try to stop me. I’ll just break the news to him over the phone, five states away. Much safer that way.

“Are you ready?” Mike asked. I nodded, looking at Dad. Running over, I engulfed him in another hug and a slight sob came from me. He squeezed me tightly, kissing my hair. Pulling away, I smiled at him.

“You should get going. You’ll hit traffic if not.” Dad said. I nodded. Giving him a wave, I opened the passenger side door of the car. Climbing in, I closed the door and pulled my seat belt on.

“Hey.” Mike said softly. Reaching over, he took my hand in his and kissed it. “You sure you want to do this?”

“Yeah.” I replied, wiping the tears from my face. “I’m ready to spend the rest of my life with you and to start our adventure in the city.” He smiled, letting go of my hand to reach into the center console of the car. He pulled out a small diamond ring that was silver with a little diamond set on it.

“It’s not much but I thought it might make things brighter for you.” He slid it onto my left ring finger, kissing my hand.

“Thank you. I love it.” I whispered, my heart feeling torn. I knew I wanted to go to New York with Mike and to marry him but a huge chunk of my heart was still laying in Cory’s bed with him. I wondered for a second if he had found my note yet.

“Let’s get going.” Leaning in, he kissed me lightly before putting the car in drive.

“Grams made cookies if you’re hungry.” I said, lifting myself out of the seat to reach into the back seat. I braced myself on the center console as he pulled away from the curb. He hit a slight bump that made me wobble and fall forward some. Pulling my body back up, I glanced out the back window. Behind the car, I saw a figure running after us. Cory’s favorite red and white flannel shirt was billowing around him and his baseball cap went flying off as he sprinted after our car. My eyes locked with his as Mike picked up speed. Cory gave me a look of desperation as he stopped running, his chest heaving with his attempts to catch his breath. I watched out the back window until Cory become nothing more than a distant memory.

“You okay?” Mike asked as I sat back in my seat, the container of baked goods in my lap.

“I’m fine.” I answered softly. My heart felt heavier now, the look on Cory’s face burned into my memory. I looked down at my lap, my hair falling to cover my face as a tear slid down my cheek. The glint of my new engagement ring caught my eye as realization hit me. I was in love with Cory. I wanted nothing more than to be with him for the rest of my life and to spend every moment with him. I couldn’t though. I had already promised to do that with Mike and I had already betrayed him by spending the night with Cory last night. I knew that I was never going to be able to see or talk to Cory again. It wouldn’t be fair to Mike or Cory if I did. Even though I didn’t want it to be, that was the last time I was ever going to see him again.

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