Acceptance

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Chapter Twenty-seven

[ANDREW]

“I’m sorry,” Ethan muttered under his breath as he avoided my attempt to kiss him. I stared at him, red-faced. This isn’t the first time, it’s been happening for a while and I was getting worried.

“It’s okay,” I muttered in response as I backed away from him. He seemed to relax before giving me a thankful look. He left the kitchen soon after, leaving me to wonder about his odd behavior in silence.

Did I do something wrong? I wondered as I cradled my caste. Apart from apologizing, anytime I tried to make a move on him, he avoided being anywhere around me in general. If I walked into the sitting room he’ll probably leave the place in a haste. Was he avoiding something? Was I making him uncomfortable?

Possible theories ran through my mind as I tried to maneuver my way around the kitchen with one hand. I did get refrigerated pasta leftover into the microwave successfully. I watched as the food warmed up as I continued to dwell on Ethan’s odd behavior.

It was late in the evening and he was probably trying to avoid the topic of a bath together this evening as well. It was devastating to see him avoid something he was so willing to do a few days back. I’d do it myself if I could but I couldn’t and I kept on finding myself in the situation of asking Ethan to help even though it was clear he was wary of it now.

I took the bowl out of the microwave as I continued to contemplate over what I would have done to make Ethan wary of me. I used a fork to nibble at the microwaved pasta as I left the kitchen. I walked in to find Devin doing homework on the dining room table and Roxanne lying on her side on the living room carpet, her attention fixated on the show on TV.

I sighed, noting that Ethan probably locked himself up in the room we shared. I moved to take a sit on the sofa, changing the channel only to receive a whine of protest from Roxanne.

“It’s my turn,” I stated calmly as the dog tried to sway my choice of channels with her whining.

I watched the news for a while as I nibbled at the pasta. A small smile had made its way on my face when I remember how Ethan had teased me in the hospital in regards to my new found appetite. I didn’t eat as much as I did in the hospital since I wasn’t as idle and asleep as much, but it had left an effect on my general appetite as of now. I remembered to eat now, and I craved things from time to time. There were moments when I felt horrible about it but I always reminded my self that it was okay to do what I was doing.

Time passed by and I finished the pasta before putting the empty bowl in the kitchen sink. Devein had finished her assignment ages ago and was now sitting on the carpet beside Roxanne as they watched TV together.

“Be in bed by eight, okay?” I said to Devein as I looked up at the living room’s clock. It was already seven thirty, and I hadn’t bothered Ethan about bathing yet.

“I will,” Devein said, turning to give me a brief smile before turning back to the TV.

I left the living room, wondering into the hallway before getting to my study. I walked up to my desk, taking in the new computer Ace had set up. I smiled at it, thinking how ironic of a present it was considering I couldn’t really type or write right now. I wondered over to my bookshelves. Letting my fingertips wonder over the books housed in it. I haven’t been in here for a while. The place felt foreign, lonely.

My phone buzzed in my pocket pulling me out of my thoughts. I fished it out, unlocking the screen before checking my notifications. Ethel had sent me a message via Skype.

Ethel:

We need to talk. Are you available now? This needs to be face to face.

7:46 PM.

I raised my brow at the message, wondering what on earth she wanted to about.

Me:

Yes, I’m available. What do you want to talk about?

7:48 PM.

Ethel ignored my question and instead sent me an immediate call request. I sighed, accepting it. Her face occupied my phone screen seconds later. She was holding out a book so I could see the front cover as she flashed me her signature grin.

“It’s finally in print!” she announced with a proud look as I recognized that it was my latest book.

“I thought they didn’t want to put it in print?” I muttered, sincerely shocked.

“I did a little negotiation behind your back, now thank me!” she said triumphantly before putting the book away.

“Well, thank you,” I sincerely said as I made to take the sit by the study table since my ankle was screaming for relief.

“It’s the most I can do since I live off your success anyway,” she said as she picked at her fake nails. I smiled, Ethel was a good agent. She’d taken me when no one else saw potential in the stories I penned down.

“You don’t look so good, did something happen?” Ethel asked pulling me out off my thoughts. My mind briefly went to Ethan before I forced myself to shake my head in denial.

“No,” I lied, looking away from my phone’s screen. I heard a sigh from Ethel, proof that she didn’t believe me.

“I won’t bother you if you don’t want to tell me Andrew, but you know I’m here for you, right?” Ethel asked, making me bite my bottom lip. Of course, Ethel was here for me. She knew about Christopher, she’d been with me through more than two mental breakdowns and she was the one that helped me book my sparse therapist appointments so they didn’t clash with my schedule. Ethan knew about them but Ethel was the one always there with me, listening in on the appointments. She knew me like the back of her hand.

“I know,” I sighed, looking down at my caste. “There’s actually something wrong,” I admitted, looking back at my phone screen.

“Do you mind sharing?” she asked, her voice soft and gentle.

“No,” I muttered shaking my head. Ethel didn’t talk, indicating she was giving me room to speak up.

“It’s Ethan,” I started before biting my bottom lip, “he isn’t talking to me. Well, he is, but not as much as he used to. He sounds distant.”

Ethel started at me through the phone screen with a puzzled look. “Did you take away his allowance or something? Or did you deprive him of something?”

I frowned briefly at Ethel’s questions before relaxing in the realization that Ethel was asking her questions on the assumption that I was Ethan’s caretaker. I was, but I was something else to him. I hoped I meant more to him.

“No...” I trailed, making Ethel’s expression turn to that of confusion.

“Well, he could just be moody. He might be keeping a relationship without your knowledge or something, and might be having problems with it—”

“He isn’t,” I said, cutting Ethel off. She gave me an odd look before she continued.

“You may not know. He might not just tell you.”

“Ethel, I have to tell you something,” I said, cutting her off again. I figured that if I didn’t directly tell her that she’ll never figure it out herself. She paused mid-sentence, closing her mouth before making the impression of zipping her mouth and throwing out the key.

“I err...” I trailed, looking away from the phone screen. I wasn’t sure how to explain my relationship with Ethan to Ethel. The only thing I knew about Ethan and me’s relationship that was confirmed was that we loved each other. We weren’t traditionally a couple.

“Ethan and I-Ethan and I are sort off in a relationship,” I muttered, feeling my face warm up as I finally got the words out.

“Oh.” was the only thing Ethel I heard from Ethel after a brief silence.

“That explains a lot,” she mumbled as I willed myself to look straight at her. She was combing through her dark hair with her fingers. A look that practically screamed ‘I don’t know what do say’ was presently plastered across her features.

“I didn’t know you were into younger men—”

“Ethel!”

“Hey, I’m not judging you! I’m pretty pleased you found someone for a matter of fact,” Ethel said, her words doing nothing to stop my embarrassed blush.

“So is this a relationship problem?” she asked afterward. I nodded my face still warm from embarrassment.

“Well did you do something? Get him mad?” Ethel asked, drumming her fingers on the book she’d shown me. “I mean he didn’t seem quite happy when Ace was around.”

I knew Ethan didn’t like Ace. I’d explained to Ethan that I didn’t fancy Ace that way and we’d joked about him from time to time. So there was probably nothing to fear in regards to that.

“I can’t think of anything along that line,” I admitted as I bit the inside of my cheek.

“Damn, I don’t know what to say. I’m not good at giving relationship advice but I think you should talk to him, you know? You can’t expect things to just sort themselves out.” Ethel offered, earning a nod from me.

“I guess I’ll end the call now, you’re hiking my internet bill,” Ethel said making me chuckle.

“Bye then,” I said before Ethel ended the call. I sat there staring at my phone screen as I thought of Ethel’s advice. I knew talking to Ethan was a good place to start in clearing up this mess but I didn’t know how to strike up a conversation with him right now. He replied everything I’ve asked him for the past few days with one worded answers and short phrases.

I sighed getting off from the seat before leaving the study. I walked up to our shared room, opening the door just a little to peep in. Ethan wasn’t in but the lights were on. I looked into the room, noting Ethan’s college notes that were scattered on the bed.

I walked in, sighing in frustration as I headed to the bathroom. I hadn’t asked Ethan for a bath yet. I thought on calling on him but the look he had this morning discouraged me. I didn’t want Ethan to do anything he didn’t want to.

“I can handle it myself,” I said giving myself a pep talk. It was hopeless because I didn’t believe it in the least.

“Okay then,” I muttered to my self as I fumbled with the zipper of my trousers. After minutes of kicking and treading on my busted ankle, I finally got out of them and my boxers.

I sucked in air, going for my shirt next. I tried to pull it over my head but it didn’t budge over my midsection and kept getting stuck in my caste. I asked silently deciding to tug at the armhole around the caste first. After a painfully slow process, I got out of my shirt.

Feeling oddly accomplished, I discarded my clothes in a hamper before heading over to get the nylon that Ethan used to wrap my caste before a bath. I found it, but it was the process of tying it about my caste that was the challenge. I eventually ended up with a loosely done knot but it would have to do.

I stumbled into the bathroom, slumping down on the stool. I sighed in content at the immediate relief I felt as the pressure was taken off my ankle.

What now? I wondered as I looked toward the shower head and the soap dish. Using any of them would mean I would have to stand up again. I got up, heading over to grab the soap and sponge. I rested my back against the wall to try and reduce the pressure on my ankle. Try as I might I couldn’t exactly latter myself or the sponge for that matter.

“Andrew?” I heard Ethan’s voice say as the bathroom door creaked open. I looked over at him, my face heating up with embarrassment at the thought of how ridiculous I must look pressed up against the wall and fumbling with a bar of soap and sponge in one hand.

“What are you doing?” he asked as his green eyes gauged me.

“Taking a bath,” I muttered under my breath as I looked away. I heard Ethan sigh, followed by the sound of the bathroom door pining shut.

“You should have called me,” he said, making me look his way. He was hastily getting out of his clothes, pausing only to undo his hair from its French braid.

“I didn’t want to bother you,” I started as Ethan got into the bathing space with me. He led me to the stool; sitting me down before taking the soap and sponge from me. He put them aside tying the nylon around my caste more firmly. It had gotten a little wet from me manhandling the soap.

“You didn’t seem like you wanted to help again,” I said, realizing Ethan had not reacted to my first question. “You’ve been distant,” I confessed.

“I’m sorry,” Ethan apologized as he began to latter my body with the sponge. My body tingled as my stomach scrunched up from the attack of butterflies. Only Ethan could make me feel this way and I was afraid of losing that.

“I’ve just been in my head lately,” Ethan continued as he paused to get the shampoo.

“I noticed,” I stated plainly as Ethan massaged shampoo into my head. I could feel my eyes tingle with unshed tears. I never knew I’d miss talking to Ethan so much. I hadn’t had the pleasure of hearing him talk frequently for a while

“Drew, are you crying? shit...” Ethan muttered as he helped me to my feet. He took his face in his hands, inspecting me before asking what was wrong.

“I’m sorry, it’s just I’ve been a bit confused these past few days and I wasn’t sure what you were thinking, or where we stood since you kept avoiding me...” I soon became a babbling mess, clinging onto Ethan with my dear life. He dragged me into the shower.

“I’m sorry,” Ethan muttered into my ear. He sounded heartbroken. “I love you,” Ethan muttered, holding me close. My sobbing soon turned to sniffling. It was amazing how much those three words could do to influence my mood.

I rested my head on his shoulder, sniffling as the water ran over us. I wanted to tell him how much he meant to me too but I still couldn’t say it.

After the bath, Ethan did something he hadn’t done in a while. He cuddled up to me. I never asked him what was on his mind. I was too overwhelmed with relief that he was still talking to me that I never asked.

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