Acceptance

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Chapter Twenty-six

[ETHAN]

I woke up to the sound of chickens clucking from out in the compound and the sound of utensils against utensils as well as the sound of Roxanne barking.

I yawned, squinting at the sharp glow of the fluorescence light that we’d forgotten to put off the night before. I hid my head in Andrew’s chest, deciding that I didn’t want to get up anytime soon.

“Ethan?” Andrew called out in a sleepy drawl as his brows knitted in confusion. He let out a low sigh as if in content as his good hand found the back of my neck. I smiled as his hand rubbed against my neck. Ethel had called us when Andrew’s book debuted on online stores yesterday. You should have seen the smile on Andrew’s face when he heard it was competing favorably already.

“At this rate, we’ll have a couple of customer reviews within a week,” Ethel had announced as I and Andrew had listened in on the call that had been put on speaker.

I dwelled in Andrew’s touch for a few minutes before it dawned on me that I had lectures today.

“Shit,” I groaned as I reluctantly peeled Andrew’s hand off me. He gave a small mewl of protest before relaxing back into sleep. I smiled down at him, running a hand through his hair before willing myself to get up.

I unlocked the door to our room to wander out into the hallway then the living room. I frowned, hearing the distinct sound of utensils from before. I walked towards the kitchen, making up my mind that Devien was probably up to something. I opened the door a bit, looking in to find Devien fiddling with the stove, a frying pan, and a spatula. Roxanne was watching her from the corner of the kitchen with a curious look.

“What are you doing?” I asked as I watched her back off from the smoking frying pan will cussing. She turned to face me, going pale before looking back at the frying pan disaster with a guilty look on her face.

“I was trying to make breakfast,” she muttered, running a hand through her blonde hair as she looked on at the disaster. I entered the tiny kitchen, telling Devein to move over before turning the stove off and inspecting the damage. There was a burnt omelet with pieces of eggshells in the frying pan. I sighed, taking the pan off the stove before proceeding to throw the egg away in the waste bin. I blinked, not expecting to see several other ′ omelet’ disasters within the bin.

“I never planned to waste so much,” I heard Devein mutter behind me, “I’m sorry.”

’It’s okay.” I assured, hearing the sincerity in her voice. I put the blacked pan in the sink after I emptied it, turning to meet Devien who was giving me a wary look afterward.

“If you were hungry you could have just woken one of us up.” I pointed out, walking over to the windows to pull the curtains back. I had to wake Andrew up soon so we could take a bath together before I headed out to school.

“I wasn’t doing it for me,” she said, coming up beside me. I looked down at her with a quizzical look before looking back out at the yard. The sun was coming out and it was probably around seven in the morning.

“What, you wanted to feed Roxanne?” I asked, rather curiously as I looked over at the dog that was grooming herself by the door. Devien shook her head, sighing.

“I wanted to make breakfast for you and Andrew, you know kind of to congratulate him on his book stuff,” Devien said as she fiddled with her fingers. I figured she was talking about the debut.

“Oh,” I said before walking over to the fridge, “You can help me make breakfast then, it can be from the both of us.”

Devien nodded, giving me a small smile before taking the loaf of bread I held out to her. We chatted randomly as we prepared three omelets. I quickly learned that Devien was a safety hazard around the kitchen. She did everything from trying to dice ingredients with a butter knife to leaving the stove on.

“Is Andrew still taking me to the orphanage?” Devien asked as we dished the omelets into respective plates. I looked over at Devien as I put the plates on a tray.

“I guess so, he said he’s still making arrangements,” I said as Devien let out a small ‘oh.’ I looked back at her to find her features twisted into an emotion I could only describe as sadness.

“You don’t want to leave?” I said in a matter of fact tone. She nodded before letting out a small sob.

“No. Not really...” Devien mumbled in a choked up voice. I left the tray on the kitchen counter to give Devien a much-deserved hug.

“I don’t want to go either,” I mumbled to myself, remembering that my mother might call in anytime to ask why I hadn’t responded to her letter. I was glad Devien didn’t hear my confession or at least didn’t really read much into it.

“You could convince him to let me stay, right?” Devein asked with a tone of hope.

“I’ll try,” I said, only to cheer her up. I know keeping Devien was completely Andrew’s choice to make. When she stopped sobbing we sent the tray out to the dining table before I went to wake Andrew up so we could brush our teeth and have breakfast.

I noticed Devien was being extra nice and polite to Andrew. Devien was just generally being good. It seemed as if she was trying to influence Andrew’s decision by being on her best behavior.

I left for my lectures after taking a bath with Andrew. He’d waved me off from the door with Roxanne by his side and I’d waved back as I got into the car.

On my way to the college, I decided to get Andrew a present to congratulate him on his debut. Ace had actually come around to help Andrew hook up the desktop he’d bought him. I have to admit that I’d been a little jealous of how much Andrew seemed to like the thing. I wanted to put a similar smile on his face but with a more heartfelt gift.

Getting out of the car, I decided I’d go look for something after my lectures were over.

*

Mr. Collins told me to wait behind after class, so when everyone was heading out I was stuck in the extra large lecture room with him.

“How’s Andrew?” he asked in a worried tone when the last student left the room. My eyes widened in surprise. He never talked to me like that. He was always angry and irritated with me.

“F-fine. He’s fine,” I stuttered, looking down at his sitting figure. I watched him sigh as he ran a hand through his dull dark hair.

“I’m glad, help me send my regards,” he said, turning his attention to the pile of notes on his desk. I bit my bottom lip, watching him work. I wondered why my legs weren’t willing me to move, he was done talking to me, wasn’t he?

I finally willed my feet to move but I stopped abruptly as my hand touched the doorknob.

“Mr. Collins?” I called out. He looked up at me with a look that clearly stated he had no idea I was still hanging around.

“Yes Ethan?” he answered, making me turn my gaze to the floor.

“You know, you could come and visit...” I started, looking back at him. It was depressing to see how sad he was sometimes. Mr. Collins shook his head, letting out a small laugh.

“I can’t, Andrew wouldn’t want me there,” he, said giving me a sad smile. “Besides what’s the point of giving myself false hope?”

I didn’t know what to say so I just stood there and stared at him. Mr. Collins had never been so blunt about his attraction to Andrew before.

“You’re lucky,” Mr. Collins said, “being able to be with him and such,” Mr. Collins continued as he fidgeted with the pen he was using to correct projects.

“Love him for both of us, will you?” Mr. Collins asked making me give him a brief nod before exiting via the door.

I soon found myself in a store for common everyday stationary. I wasn’t sure of exactly what exactly I was looking for, but I had an idea.

I’d been parading the store for more than half an hour and the store attendant was already giving me irritated glances.

“I’m sorry sir, but I’ll have to ask you to leave if you’re not buying anything,” the red-haired shop attendant behind the counter pointed out making me apologize in embarrassment.

“Sorry, just a second,” I pleaded, looking over the display of diaries in front of me again. Andrew had a little journal where he wrote down story ideas, character profiles, and quick scenes when we were out of the house and nowhere his computer. I’d always thought it was a little attractive. I’d always watch him bite the tip of his pen before his eyes shone with an idea that he scribbled down afterward.

I picked a dark green journal that had a carrier case. The journal was slightly bigger than the worn out one Andrew was using now, and I knew he’d appreciate it.

I soon cashed out to the relief of the shop attendant and headed out the store and into the car. I drove back to the cabin. I was a little nervous. I wasn’t so sure if my gift was too simple and if I should have gotten something more material like a bracelet or clothing.

I sighed as I pulled up at the cabin, I guess I’ll just have to find out.

Walking up to the front door, I took out my key and unlocked the door. I was about to announce my arrival until I saw Ace sitting across from Andrew in the sitting room. Andrew looked like he was generally feeling uneasy with the discussion. I frowned, wondering what on earth Ace was telling Andrew. Neither of them seemed to notice my arrival so I closed the door behind me gently and made my way to the hallway.

“I’m not asking for too much am I?” I heard Ace’s thick voice say, making me stop at the entrance of the hallway, the shopping bag still dangling from my hand and my backpack still slung over my shoulder. I couldn’t help myself — mind my business. What did Ace want from Andrew now?

“If you haven’t noticed, I’m sort of in a relationship with Ethan,” Andrew muttered under his breath earning a snort from Ace.

“I’ve noticed,” Ace said giving Andrew a blank stare, “but he’s not good for you.”

Andrew’s eyes widened at Ace’s words, “What do you mean not good enough? He’s the sweetest and most caring person I’ve ever met.”

My heart did a little double take on Andrew’s words as my grip on the handle of the shopping bag tightened. Did he really think that of me?

“But he’s not an adult,” Ace said dismissively. I frowned at that.

“He’s twenty,” Andrew pointed out.

“Then he’s not adult enough.” Ace countered.

Andrew looked away from him. “What does that have to do with anything?”

“You need someone who can take care of you...” Ace trailed reaching out for Andrew’s hand. “I can take care of you.”

Andrew looked down at Ace’s hand that was now feeling his fondly, “Ethan takes care of me,” he muttered, taking his hand away from Ace’s.

“But for how long? You have your life all planned out and he just started college. He won’t stick around forever,” Ace said as Andrew’s face fell.

That’s not true! I screamed in my head. There’s nothing more in this world that I wanted than the grace of waking up to Andrew every morning. I’d never leave him out of my own free will.

“If you marry me it’ll be good for the both of us,” Ace said in a whisper as I had a mini heart attack at the realization of what was happening. “It’ll be good for the kids too. I believe my love is enough for the both of us, you’ll eventually come around to feeling the same.”

“I don’t know, I’ll think about it,” Andrew muttered as he idly caressed his caste with his good hand.

“I don’t want you to think about it, I want you to make a decision now,” Ace said, biting his bottom lip, “I’ll be gone in a few days, I just want some closure.”

Andrew still refused to look at him, his gaze still fixed on his caste.

“I promise to respect whatever decision you make right now,” Ace promised, making Andrew to reluctantly look up at him. My whole system went into panic mood. Andrew looked like he was considering to answer Ace’s question and I wasn’t sure it was going to be the answer I wanted to hear so I retreated into the hallway and then into our shared room. I sat down on the edge of the bed and panicked for a good twenty minutes before the knob of the bedroom’s door turned.

“Oh, Ethan, when did you get back?” Andrew asked as he walked into the room. I didn’t answer right away, partially because my throat was clogged with unshed tears and partially because only one question was on the tip of my tongue.

What did you tell him?!
What did you tell him?!

That was the only thing on the tip of my tongue.

“A few minutes ago,” I managed to get out.

What did you tell him?!
What did you tell him?!

“Oh,” Andrew muttered looking from me to the shopping bag that I was still clenching with a death grip. “What’s that?” he asked, making me conscious of the bag I was still holding.

“Oh, just a journal I got for you,” I answered, handing the bag over to him. I watched as Andrew got the journal out of the shopping bag.

“Y-you write in that j-journal of yours all the time. I noticed it was g-getting old,” I shuttered as a warm smile spread across Andrew’s face. The smile calmed me a little, at least he seemed to like it.

“Thank you, it was very thoughtful of you,” Andrew said as he inspected the journal. “I’ll go drop it off at the study.”

I watched as Andrew turned to leave the room as one question played on my mind.

What did you tell him?!
What did you tell him?!

“Andrew,” I called out, making him turn to look at me.

“What is it, Ethan?” Andrew asked looking straight at me with his brown eyes as one question continued to play on the tip of my tongue.

What did you tell him?!
What did you tell him?!

“I love you,” I said in a choked voice. I didn’t know how to ask the question. I wasn’t sure if I could handle it if Andrew’s answer wasn’t in my favor.

Andrew didn’t seem to notice the shake in my voice because he just kept silent as usual. I felt my insides screaming for him to give me some sort of assurance, to tell me he loved me and Ace and everyone else didn’t matter. But he just muttered he’ll be back in a small voice before closing the door behind him.

I was crushed because I didn’t know what that implied. Did he love me? Did he have feelings for me? Or has he just been too nice to let me down?

Usually, I didn’t care about the answers. Usually, I’d convince myself that I could wait until he was ready.

But. I thought as I buried my face in my hands and started to sob silently. Waiting was bloody painful.

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