Chapter Eighteen - How A Heart Breaks
Matt’s POV –
“I’m in love with you, Grace!” I screamed, my voice slicing through the cold, wet night.
Her face iced over in shock, and my heart palpitated loudly as I gulped. Had I really just admitted my true feelings to her? The feelings I had been hiding so well for two years?
How could I have let that slip out?! This was not how I had planned to tell her, and I found it impossible to have that suddenly just spurt out without thought. For two years I had been able to hide it, all for it to suddenly come out in a moment of anger. Talk about ruining a moment.
“Matt, I didn’t… I didn’t know,” she whispered slowly. I looked into her beautiful blue eyes, now surprised and a little angry. God, she was amazing. I shook my head almost imperceptibly, ignoring the thoughts that stung my mind like a million little tiny hornets, all begging for attention.
“And the news I wanted to tell you was that I just got a football scholarship to attend the college you’re going to,” I continued, knowing it made no difference whatsoever. I just felt like I had to get it all out. “I thought I’d tell you how I felt. I thought maybe you felt the same way. But I guess I was wrong.”
“Matt, I—,” she began, but I barely heard her. I was too caught up in my own thoughts.
I looked off down the street, not meeting her eyes. Quietly, I said, “I had everything planned out. We’d go to the same college. I finally didn’t have to pretend I wanted only to be friends. God, I thought it worked out so perfectly.”
I had imagined us so many times over the last few days, after the football scout had approached me about a football scholarship after Friday night’s game. It just so happened to be the one Grace was planning on attending. I could see us walking through campus hand-in-hand. I wouldn’t have to hide my feelings for her anymore. A little part of me really had thought that she felt the same way.
I had planned to tell her everything tonight, over dinner. I had made us reservations in a fancy Italian restaurant, splurged a month’s worth of pay to get us into something so high-class. It wasn’t really Grace or my style. But I felt I could celebrate a little. Thought maybe tonight was the night it would change.
Finally, I did what I had been longing to do ever since I met her two years ago in study hall. My hands reached up to cup her cheeks, and I leant forward, pressing my lips to hers.
I felt her gasp in a surprised breath, but I didn’t let her go. Her lips were even softer than I thought they would be. I shut my eyes, savouring the feel of her.
After a second or two, I forced myself to pull back.
Now had not been the time to do that. In her expression I could see shock. She probably never thought I’d do something like that.
Honestly, neither did I.
“Now you know everything,” I muttered, my cheeks reddening. She opened her mouth to say something, but I didn’t want to hear it. I was afraid she would reject me. I couldn’t take that right now. If she said she loved me back, well, it was too late. She’d already picked Adams over me. “Don’t bother. It’s too late anyway. Just… I think we need some space. Please, just leave me alone. I’ll…I’ll call you.”
She didn’t say anything as I stuffed my hands in my pockets and turned around. I exited quickly from her yard and unlocked the car door. Part of me was glad she stayed where she was; but part of me wished she chased after me to confess her secret feelings for me.
I shoved the key into the ignition, buckled my seatbelt, and drove off. I looked in the rear-vision mirror to see her watching my car with a sad expression.
I was too exhausted to decipher the meaning of that look.
I tightened my grip on the steering wheel with one hand and fumbled with the heat control. Sitting out on her front porch in the cold for two hours had definitely not been my brightest idea.
After five minutes of driving, I parked my car in the driveway and walked up the stairs to my house, shivering in the sudden drop of temperature. As soon as I closed the door behind me, my mother and sister, Isabelle, bombarded me with a barrage of questions.
“How was dinner?”
“Did you kiss her?”
I sighed, and ran a hand through my damp hair, kicking of my boots by the door. “To answer your questions in order: nothing, I wouldn’t know, no.” I didn’t think they really needed to know about that little kiss I had given Grace in my oh-so-dramatic exit.
They blinked at me, obviously not receiving the answers they were expecting. “Matt, hon, what happened?” my mother asked, hazel eyes concerned.
I shrugged. “She didn’t show up, mom.”
She frowned. “Why not? That’s not like Grace not to show up. Especially when you said you had important news.”
“She was with another guy.” Even a deaf person would’ve been able to hear the sadness in my tone.
“Oh, Matt, I’m sorry,” my mother whispered, eyes open and lips parted in surprise.
I swallowed and waved it away. “Don’t be.”
“Is there anything we can do?”
“I think I just need to sleep it off. But thanks anyway. I’ll see you guys tomorrow morning.”
“OK, hon,” my mother said hesitantly, looking like she didn’t want to let me go.
I nodded goodnight to Izzy, trudged up the stairs and into my room.
I pulled out my phone and dialled Annie’s number. She’d been in on the plan this whole time. She had practically begged me to call her when I got home.
She picked up on the third ring and said, without preamble, “Well?”
“Um…” Now I had called her, I didn’t know what to say to her. What was there to say?
“Matt? What happened? Is everything okay? Did you tell her? How did she react?”
“Slow down,” I said. “I waited there for two hours and she never came. When she got home—after a date with Cole, I feel I should add—we got into an argument, I told her how I felt, and then I kissed her.”
I heard Annie suck in a breath from the other side of the line. “What did she do?”
“Nothing,” I whispered, running a hand down my face. “Absolutely nothing. I told her to give me space and then I… I left. She didn’t try to stop me or anything.”
“I’m sorry, Matt,” Annie said sadly, sounding as disappointed as I felt. “I was so sure it was gonna go well.”
“Yeah, me too,’ I admitted, sitting on the edge of my bed and staring at the framed picture I had on my dresser of her, me and Annie. She was smiling, showing off her beautiful white teeth. Her light-blond, wavy hair fell around her shoulders, making her effortlessly beautiful. “Me, too.”