“I’d love to go!”
This is not the reaction I was expecting to hear from my mother after telling her about Grayson’s dinner invitation.
I cross my arms and lean against the kitchen wall. “Are you sure you’ll feel comfortable enough though?” I want to know for sure that she’s ready for this.
“Yes, I’m sure! It would be lovely to meet this boy you’ve been spending so much time with. I want to show my support.”
I’ve got that gut sinking feeling and it won’t go away. I don’t have time to think about it, because Rory is suddenly filling the archway with a bunch of flowers. He must’ve let himself in. We should definitely start locking the door.
At first, I think the flowers are for me, but he hands them straight to my mother and she gasps.
“Oh Rory, you shouldn’t have.”
“They’re not from me,” he admits, impishly. “I found them on your doorstep as I came in. I’m just the deliverer.”
Mum instantly flushes as she takes them in her hands. “They’re from Ted,” she says, doing a thorough check.
“He sends you flowers a lot,” I point out.
“I’ve got to find another vase!” she cries, whizzing past us.
My cheeks begin to heat the moment that Rory looks at me. “Drink?” I blurt, cursing myself for not being able to form a full sentence.
“Uh, no thanks. I’m not staying.”
Silence weighs heavily upon us and it’s then that I notice the sleep marks buried under Rory’s eyes, how stiff his shoulders are and how pale his skin is. I’m staring for a while, not quite able to pin this person to the Rory that I’ve come to know.
I want to reach out to him but I don’t. I can’t. Instead, I stay exactly where I am, keeping my distance.
“So, how did it go with Grayson the other day?”
“Fine. I found out that I am naturally good at darts.”
“Cool. Did - did you talk to Mr. Swain much?”
“Yeah. He’s really nice. I like him a lot.”
He walks towards me and I stare back, holding my breath. I watch as Rory rests his fingers on my chest and I gulp nervously. Then he reaches for my own hand and positions it above his chest. I can feel his erratic heartbeat from underneath the sweater he’s wearing.
“This is what you do to me Skye,” he declares, meeting my gaze. “You’re blushing,” he adds, making me defensive.
I push against his chest. “I am not blushing. It’s the lighting.”
“It has nothing to do with the lighting,” he alleges, grinning. “I’ve realized some things lately.” I wait for him to continue. “I’ve been trying to stay away from you but that hasn’t been working out.”
My throat is drying up. He closes the gap between us and slides his hands down to my waist. “I got angry with Nick, because he had his hands on you and the thought of someone touching you like that made me sick with jealousy. I’m not usually that type of guy.”
“What are you trying to say Rory?”
“I’ve got feelings for you.” The world stops spinning and I’m left speechless. “Do you feel the same way?”
I move over to the sink and place my hands on either side, thoughts whirring. It’s getting hot in here.
I lean forward to open a window above the sink. “I don’t know what to say.”
“Skye, we’ve always had more than just a friendship.” I can feel him standing right behind me and it’s making my heart beat faster. “Are you trying to tell me that you don’t feel anything at all?”
“Y – yes, that’s exactly what I’m saying.”
“I don’t believe you.”
“Rory, please don’t make this any harder.”
“If you honestly don’t have feelings for me, then look me in the eye and say it.”
I slowly turn around and bring my eyes to his. Rory is bracing himself, like I have the power to break him if I don’t choose my words carefully.
I think about what he’s done for me - how he’s stood by me through everything that has happened recently with my mother and my past. He may have suggested that I make him want to be better all the time, but he’s the one that’s changing me.
He was my distraction and that’s all it was in the beginning. But then the whole relationship developed after he took me to his house and I got to see what his life was like. Once he’d revealed his upbringing, I found myself liking him even more.
However, I don’t know if I can stay faithful to one person. And I have to guard my own heart. My mother let her guard down to the wrong man.
What if Rory is the wrong person for me?
What if he loses interest further down the line and decides that I’m not good enough?
He might think that I’m what he wants now, but he could easily change his mind.
“Maybe you think that you want me,” I tell him, “But this is probably just a phase that you’ll grow out of when you start seeing other people.”
Rory narrows his eyes, leaning against the counter to study me. “Skye, I don’t want to start seeing other girls. I want you.”
I shake my head and sigh. “Rory, you’re not listening.”
“No, you are the one that isn’t listening, because you can’t accept the fact that someone might like you.” My face floods with warmth, and vulnerability sears right through me. “This isn’t some passing phase. I’m genuinely falling for you Skye…” he pauses, shocked by his own confession. “Shit. I really am. I can’t believe I just said that.”
I can’t either.
How can Rory be falling for me? I’m nothing special. I’m far from perfect. He could easily get any other girl.
“I don’t know what you expect me to say Rory,” I announce, gathering my thoughts together.
“You don’t have to say anything. I just wanted you to know how I felt.”
“Well, maybe we should take a break… from each other,” I suggest, instantly regretting that awful idea. He’s just told me that he’s falling for me and I’ve basically responded by saying that I want space.
Rory’s eyebrows shoot up and he stares at me with a hurt expression. “We’ve both got a lot going on at the moment and there’s stuff I’ve got to deal with,” I continue.
Mostly, I’ve got to figure out what I want.
“Alright. I can give you space,” he says, “If that’s really what you want.”
I find myself nodding. “It is.”
As he’s walking away, there’s a sinking feeling in the pit of my stomach. It’s so strong that I have to hold onto a counter to steady myself.