Healing Hands

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Chapter 20 | Sweet Misery

As I drown my chocolate chip pancakes in butter pecan syrup, I eye Ethan. He still hasn’t said a word about what happened yesterday, and his continued silence is putting me on edge.

“So, care to say something?” I ask, reaching to take a sip of my iced coffee.

We came to iHop for breakfast, since they currently have all you can eat pancakes.

“Well, it’s not exactly easy for me to explain.” He sheepishly smiles, shoving a piece of bacon into his mouth.

“Come on, just spit it out already.” I roll my eyes.

“Last night I went to see Jeremy.” He says quickly.

“You what?” My eyes widen and my stomach drops. Suddenly, I don’t feel as hungry as before.

“I’m sorry; I know he’s a sore subject for you. But my parents weren’t letting up about taking me out of school and moving. I had to do something! The only person they would have listened to, unfortunately, was Jeremy. Luckily, after I went to see him, he called my parents and now everything is fine. I’m not going anywhere.” He smiles wide.

“W-why would you go see him though? Why couldn’t you have just called him? What did he say?” I begin rambling. Ethan’s eyes slightly widen, his hand reaching out to grab mine.

“Hey, hey… it’s alright babe. I promise. I went to see him because I needed him to see me in person. I needed him to see the hurt he’s caused me, and the pain that I had in my eyes. I needed him to see that his carelessness has caused everyone a lot of pain, and I didn’t think just calling him, would have encouraged him to talk to our parents. I only went, for you.” He frowns.

I shake my head. I can’t believe he would do that for me. For us.

“So everything is over now? You’re staying?” I ask, just to clarify for myself.

He nods. “Yes, I’m staying.”

The knots in my stomach slowly start to unravel, as my nerves finally begin to calm down. I take another bite of pancake, before looking back up at him.

“There’s one more thing.” He says cautiously.

“What?” I sigh.

“Well, I um, may have agreed to a condition.” He slowly looks down at his plate, suddenly very interested in his bacon.

“What kind of condition?” I ask sternly.

“He wants me to go and visit with him once every month until I graduate high school.”

He pauses, probably waiting for me to explode.

“Why the hell would he want that as a condition?”

“He says I’m still his brother, and he wants to keep up with what’s going on in my life. He said that’s the only way he would talk to our parents. I didn’t want to agree, but I honestly had no other choice. I really hate that I have to go see him, but on the bright side, school will be over before we know it. We only have a couple months left.” He explains calmly.

He’s right. Graduation is only two months away. That means he only has to go see Jeremy two more times before he’s done with him for good. That isn’t so bad, is it?

Seems somewhat dumb to make that a condition, seeing as how he’s only going to get two visits out of Ethan.

Nevertheless, I’m happy about it only being two times.

I finally manage to control my breathing, before I smile up at Ethan.

“The only thing that matters is that you’re not leaving.”

“Agreed.” Ethan smiles wide, getting up to come sit beside me on my side of the booth.

He wraps an arm around me, and pulls me into his side. He kisses my forehead tenderly, before interlocking our fingers together on the table.

“I’m so sorry for ignoring you yesterday, I just had to do it and I knew you would have talked me out of it. I couldn’t stand the thought of leaving and never seeing you again. You’re my entire world, Dallas.” He admits with a sad smile, probably imaging a world where we couldn’t see each other every day.

I agree it makes me feel incredibly sad to picture it.

I finally grab his cheek gently, pulling his face closer to mine. “You’ll always have me Ethan,” I whisper before brushing my lips against his. He leans into me, slowly deepening the kiss, making the gentlest of moves.

I sigh in content, losing all train of thought.

After a few seconds, Ethan presses his luck by requesting entrance to explore my mouth further.

My heart wants me to accept, but my brain is signaling red flags. I know it’s not Ethan, it’s me, so I silence my brain and try to follow my heart.

The second the kiss is deepened even further, Ethan brings his hand up to grip the back of my head, trying to pull me as close to him as possible.

Goosebumps erupt over my skin, and suddenly, my stomach is in knots.

No. No. No.

I thought I was getting over this.

No. Stop.

I slowly begin shaking my head, but Ethan misses the warning and continues kissing me.

Finally, I reach both of my hands up to his chest and push him away harshly. I accidently use so much force that he falls from the booth and lands on the floor below.

“No!” I shout, just loud enough for the people around us to stare and give me questioning looks. They see Ethan on the floor, and I can only imagine what they must be thinking.

My eyes fill with tears as I get up and step around Ethan, “I’m sorry,” I say just loud enough for the people around to hear, and then I’m rushing to get outside.

I need fresh air. I need to breathe.

As soon as I make it outside, I lean against the iHop building and try to catch my breath. I reach up and wipe at my tear-filled eyes, silently cursing to myself for what I just did.

Guilt settles in the pit of my stomach, clawing at my insides. How the fuck am I ever going to get over this? How am I ever going to be normal? Ethan is never going to want to stay with me, if I continue to act like this.

A couple of minutes pass, and my breathing has finally returned to normal. All fear has subsided, and my eyes are finally starting to dry up.

The door to iHop opens, as Ethan cautiously walks outside. He turns to find me in the same spot I’ve been in, and begins to slowly walk over to me.

“Dammit Dallas, I am so fucking sorry.” I glance up at him to see the glossiness to his brown eyes.

His words cut through me like glass, and the look on his face almost breaks me.

Why is he sorry? This is all my fault. I’m the one that’s broken.

“Please no, don’t apologize. I’m the one who’s sorry.” I frown, wrapping my arms around myself.

I’ve been doing so well lately, my nightmares are almost fully gone, and I haven’t had a bad feeling in the pit of my stomach for a while. Being with Ethan has been amazing. He’s helped me so much without even realizing it, or trying.

I feel so safe when I’m around him, so why did that just happen?

“I keep forgetting that I can’t just rush you into things.” He says as he takes a step closer to me. “I don’t want to rush you into anything you’re not comfortable with; I guess I just got a little carried away for a second.”

I want to rip my hair out. Why can’t I just be normal?

“I don’t want you to worry about getting carried away. I don’t want you to treat me like I’m some fragile piece of glass that will shatter at even the slightest touch. I want to act normal. I want to make out with you. I want you to grip my head and pull me close. I want you to roam your hands freely around my body. I want you so damn much, but yet I feel so far away from you, and it’s driving me crazy!” I exclaim with a shaky breath.

I take a few deep breaths as I give Ethan another look. His eyes are slightly wide, his lips parted. He wants to say something, but I can tell he doesn’t know how to at the moment.

“Dallas, do you love me?”

My mouth runs dry at his sudden question. Suddenly my stomach feels funny again, but in an entirely different way than before. These aren’t nerves of being scared that I feel, these are small butterflies, slowly taking over my insides.

| Ethan’s POV |

I have no fucking idea what possessed me to ask her that question. There are so many different emotions running wild inside of me, that I can’t even think straight.

I know that I love her. I’ve been in love with her for majority of my life, though in the past I tried my hardest to hide it and ignore it completely.

She’s always just been Dallas. My best friend’s sister.

My best friend.

Now, she’s so much more. So much more that it actually terrifies me.

From the moment she pushed me onto the floor, I felt sick. I hated making her feel that way. I also hated how it made me feel. I felt so selfish, because for a minute, I was mad at her. I was mad at her for rejecting me like she did, for acting as if I was some sort of monster like my brother. I know that’s not how she sees me at all, but for a split second, doubt consumed me.

I know she’s still dealing with a lot, and I know it’s going to be a very long time until she’s passed this. I don’t think she’ll ever fully get over it, but maybe someday she can actually be happy again. Happy like she used to be before any of this ever happened.

“W-what?” She asks slowly.

“Do you love me?” I ask again, my stomach slowly dropping at the fact that she might say no or say nothing at all.

I watch her intensely as she tries to process her thoughts and words. I can tell just by looking at her, that her mind is going haywire right now. I hope I didn’t scare her. I hope I didn’t just ruin everything.

Finally, realization springs to life on her face, as her blue eyes snap up to meet my own.

They’re not as grey as they were inside the restaurant when she pushed me away. No, now, they’re a beautiful shade of sapphire.

“I do.” She simply nods. “Very much.”

My heart soars, as my smile is instant. Without thinking I take big steps toward her until I’m wrapping my arms around her and picking her up, swinging her around once, before placing her gently back onto solid ground.

“Can you do something for me?” I ask.

“What’s that?”

“Can you say it?”

She eyes me, her lips turning upward into the same smile that ignites my soul.

“I love you, Ethan.”

I take another step toward her, gently reaching out to place my hand gently against her cheek. I hesitate, and she nods, telling me that it’s okay. I softly run my thumb along her jaw line, taking one final step toward her, until I lean down and place a gentle kiss against her forehead.

She wraps her small arms around my waist, using me for support. I hold her firmly, indirectly letting her know that I’ll always keep her standing strong, even when she feels the most weak inside.

I just barely tighten my grip around her, as she does the very same to me. Now, we’re clinging to each other as if our lives depend on it, as if our souls need to be as close as possible in order to survive.

“I love you Ethan.” She mumbles again into my chest.

I kiss the top of her head, before whispering back, “I love you too Dal.”

In this very moment, the entire world makes sense again. Pure and utter bliss.

Sweet misery.

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