Acceptance

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Chapter Seventeen

[ANDREW]

UNKNOWN NUMBER.

TUE, 1:32 P.M.

Hey.

I stared at the text for the fifth time today. It was late in the afternoon, past three to be exact. I hadn’t replied to it, a little scared that it might be coming from Christopher.

ME.

TUE, 3:28 P.M.

Hello?

Typing...

Please, who’s this?

I sent before putting my phone aside. I’ve been working on my computer for about half an hour now. I yawned tiredly as I rolled my wheelchair away from the study table. The finishing of any book was always mentally exhausting and I’ve already rewritten the last two chapters three times in a row for this particular one. What I was writing didn’t seem right at the moment.

My attention was soon captured by the loud zing of my phone as the screen brightened up on the study table.

I rolled my chair towards the table, picking up the phone to find a reply to my previous message.

UNKNOWN NUMBER.

TUE, 3:32 P.M.

I’m Ace. You messaged me your number online, remember?

I stared down at the reply with a confused expression plastered on my face before replying.

ME.

TUE, 3:34 P.M.

I’m sorry. I don’t know what you’re talking about.

UNKNOWN NUMBER.

TUE, 3:35 P.M.

Typing...

You don’t?

Typing...

I’m from that dating site.

My mind suddenly lit up in realization. I’d asked my mother to do whatever she wanted concerning my love life. She must have really opened up that account.

ME.

TUE, 3:40 P.M.

I’m so sorry!

Typing...

It’s my mother (believe it or not.) She kind of insisted.

UNKNOWN NUMBER.

TUE, 3:42 P.M.

Wow...

Typing...

So you’re not interested?

Typing...

That’s a bummer. You’re pretty good looking ;-)

I looked down at his reply with a feeling of amusement and humor. It was kind of nice that he wasn’t a bad sport. I started typing; feeling a need to continue with the conversation.

ME.

TUE, 3:44 P.M.

Are you sure we’re talking about me? I’m very far from good looking.

UNKNOWN NUMBER.

TUE, 3:45 P.M.

You tell me, you’re meant to be Andrew right?

ME.

TUE, 3:47 P.M.

Yes.

Typing...

Wait, I’ll just log in and check to see. I don’t want you to get deceived by a desperate mother.

He sent a good-humored laugh emoticon after that. I smiled at it. It’s too bad he isn’t acquainted with my mother to actually know that she was capable of such.

I looked through my texts, opening up the ones I’d had with my mother. Turns out she’d sent me the account email and password a few weeks ago but I’d just ignored it with a voice mail saying that it was unnecessary.

I logged into the site with the account details and let out a breath of relief I wasn’t even aware that I’d been holding when I saw the account’s profile picture that was actually of me. There was nothing out of place. I smiled, imaging my mother’s fingers disciplining themselves so they wouldn’t right click and save a picture of a hotshot online to reel in men.

I was relieved the profile picture was of myself. It wasn’t recent but at least it was still of me.

ME.

TUE, 3:57 P.M.

Well, you’re safe. It’s me.

UNKNOWN NUMBER.

TUE, 3:58 P.M.

Great! My fingers have been crossed since I sent that emoticon.

I smiled, looking down at the text. I soon found myself looking through the account’s inbox and highlighting the name Ace Parker before pasting it into the search bar and pressing enter.

I got to his page from there; feeling a bit excited and slightly younger. I’d never imagined myself doing this again. I’d practically given up on finding a potential match online. It was always something along the line where the people I was interested in were not interested in me and vice-versa.

I scrolled through his page, finding out that he was a twenty-nine-year-old entrepreneur in fitness training with a string of gyms across three states.

I stared at the picture of him and a young girl of about three blowing her cheeks out at the camera. It was obvious that they were related. They shared similar facial features and the same dark complexion. They both had their coarse curly dark hair done up in buns, with stray strands curling beautifully around their hairlines.

I looked through his picture a little more. There was more of him and the little girl and some contained a boy who seemed slightly older, maybe five for six years of age. Most of his pictures consisted of selfies and a couple were of him in the gym working out.

ME.

TUE, 4:06 P.M.

You have a beautiful daughter.

I sent, drawing up my own conclusion.

UNKNOWN NUMBER.

TUE, 4:08 P.M.

She’s not my daughter, she’s my niece.

Typing...

She’s been staying with me since her mum and dad passed.

I read the text not really sure how to react or what to do. I wasn’t someone that was used to giving comfort to other people and I was just learning how to receive it. And I wasn’t someone to talk about problems. I was still sort of in denial that my dad died. Sometimes I just pretended that he never existed so that the idea was easier to digest.

Even If I wasn’t good at handling things like these, I tried anyway.

ME.

TUE, 4:11 P.M.

I’m sorry about that, about her passing.

I finally sent.

UNKNOWN NUMBER.

TUE, 4:15 P.M.

It’s okay.

Typing...

It happens, we’re just learning to live with the fact that it did.

I smiled, as I couldn’t help thinking that he was brave to think like that. I ran a hand through my hair, looking from the computer screen to my phone screen.

ME.

TUE, 4:18 P.M.

Why me?

I suddenly texted, wondering what brought him over to my (more like my mother’s) boring inactive page.

UNKNOWN NUMBER.

TUE, 4:20 P.M.

I’m not sure.

Typing...

It was like this connection thing you know? Besides I’m a sucker for writers.

A smile broke across my face at the reply. He really had a way with words.

ME.

TUE, 4:21 P.M.

I’m sorry for the misleading profile, I’ll delete it now.

I sent as I started messing around with the web page in attempts to find the settings.

UNKNOWN NUMBER.

TUE, 4:25 P.M.

It’s no problem, I enjoyed our brief conversation.

Typing...

Is it okay if we stay in touch?

I looked down at the screen wondering what to reply back. My mind thought guiltily to Ethan who was probably on his way back from the college. I shook my head, expelling the though. There was nothing wrong with making a friend.

ME.

TUE, 4:28 P.M.

Sure.

I sent in reply before saving his number simply as Ace. I soon found out how to delete the account before sending my mother a brief text telling her to refrain from her matchmaking hobby.

I shut down my PC, taking my phone from the table before rolling my chair into the living room.

Devein was sprawled on the couch while Roxanne was under the center table dozing off as Hector pecked at the screen of my Tablet that was lying on the floor’s carpet.

The carpet was littered with biscuit crumbs and the soft buzz of the cartoon that was playing on the TV gave the room a homey feel.

“Get up,” I muttered into Devein’s ear as I tapped her awake. She sat up with a yawn before giving me a confused look.

“I slept off?” she asked, looking from me to Hector — who was now standing on the tablet. She gave him a small kick with the base of her toes causing him to jump off the tablet and unto the floor with a protesting series of clucks.

“It seems like it,” I said in reply to her question. “Clean this place up and I’ll go get dinner ready.”

Devein nodded before getting off the sofa. I headed to the kitchen as she began to clean the living room up; picking up biscuit wrappers and stray sofa cushions.

Ethan got back a few minutes later. He stood in the kitchen, watching me cook as he complained about a certain professor and I listened like always; giving him a reassuring pep talk afterward.

We had dinner later that evening before heading to bed early. Ethan snuggled into me; holding me tight against himself as always.

*

“Shit.” I groaned, biting my nails. I was up in bed with my phone in hand. I’d woken up late at night to read through my mail and along the line found one from Christopher.

From: Christopher Johnson

Topic: You’re tempting me

You can ignore me bitch, but I’ll find you and kill you and your little fuck toy.

I felt the tears coming and this time I didn’t stop them. I cried like a baby. I wailed so much that I woke Ethan up. He’d asked me what was wrong but I couldn’t make any sense through my crying so I just handed him the phone.

“Shit,” Ethan said plainly before taking his eyes off the phone so they could settle on me. His gaze was filled with worry. He sighed before putting the phone aside.

He didn’t ask me for an explanation, just offered comfort by pulling me into a firm hug. I snuggled into him shamelessly as I cried my eyes out into his shoulder.

“That’s a flipping death threat,” Ethan said coldly as I started to calm down. I nodded into his shoulder, not trusting myself to talk.

“You have to tell somebody, the police...” Ethan offered, running a hand through my hair.

I shook my head in refusal, pulling myself away from him. “It’s no use, I’ll just delete it,” I said, looking down at my hands that were still shaking slightly.

“I don’t know...” Ethan trailed before sighing, “but it’s your choice I guess.”

I nodded at his reasoning before retreating back into his hold. He pulled us down into a lying position, holding me close.

“Don’t listen to him,” Ethan muttered into my ear.

“That’s easier said than done,” I admitted, looking up at him. Ethan sighed, brushing away strands of hair from my forehead. I bit my bottom lip, deciding it was time I was honest with him.

“Ethan,” I called, making him look my way in response.

“I want to talk to you about this, about Christopher,” I muttered trying to blink back the tears that were blurring my eyes. He didn’t give me an answer, he just pulled me close. I took that as my cue to start and began to pour my heart out.

I narrated how I’d meet and fallen for Chris in college, how he’d treated me, how stupid I’d been. From time to time my crying would take such a grip on me that I couldn’t talk, and Ethan would just hold me until I felt calm and carried on.

“Sometimes I just hate myself—”

“It was a mistake, everyone makes mistakes,” Ethan cut in, cleaning the tears from my eyes. I tried to read into his eyes in the dark to figure out if he felt any less of me — if he didn’t want anything to do with me after this.

“Calm down, don’t get all worked up over nothing,” he advised, lowering his head so his lips brushed mine in a soothing gesture. I whimpered lightly, tugging him closer by his hair to deepen the kiss.

“You’re a wonderful person,” Ethan gasped as we pulled apart. “And you shouldn’t let anyone tell you otherwise,” he added, kissing the side of my eyes before placing his lips on mine.

I moaned out of want and relief, relishing the feel of his fingers as they danced on my skin.

There was something about being wanted by Ethan that made me feel less worthless, less of the pile of quivering shit Christopher had reduced me to.

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