Acceptance

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Chapter Twenty-eight

[ANDREW]

“Don’t just stand there.” I directed towards Devein, making her sigh loudly. We were in her room doing a complete cleanup. I’d been greatly horrified when I’d looked under her bed in search of Roxanne’s lost ball only to meet a pile of garbage. Apparently, she’d just been hiding things about whenever I told her to clean, and there was no way I was going to trust her to do it by herself this time.

“I don’t know what to do,” Devien sighed, slumping down on her bed with a frown. Her face plastered with guilt anytime I moved something and found another hidden pile of garbage.

“You could start by sending that pile of clothes to the laundry basket,” I said, turning from looking behind her drawer to gesture to the pile of clothes in the middle of the room.

“Oh, please get the vacuum cleaner after that, there’s so much dust here,” I pointed out, wrinkling my nose. Devien nodded, before leaving the room.

I slumped down, waiting patiently for her to get back with the vacuum cleaner. I couldn’t do much because of my arm, but I could push a vacuum around and dust with my free hand.

When Devien hadn’t gotten back in a few minutes I decided to continue looking around the room for any more garbage piles. So far I’d uncovered the one behind her drawer, the one beneath her bed and the one in her closet. I don’t remember being this messy as a teenager but I could at least guess a few more places where she might have stuffed junk.

I sighed and shook my head in disappointment when I found empty snack wrappers inside the drawers of her side tables. I cleared it, deciding I better check within her main drawers. There were unfolded clothes, snack wrappers and paper balls on the top one. I decided to be careful while clearing this one since some of the papers might be important.

I put the clothes in a pile on the bed, while unwrapping the balls of paper one at a time before deciding if they were supposed to be thrown away. I was slow, and it was a little painful using the fingers of my injured hand to aid me in unwrapping.

Devien walked into the room with a vacuum cleaner some minutes later. She worked on getting her wardrobe in order while I continued to empty her drawers. We stayed like this for a while till I unwrapped a particular piece of paper. I frowned, realizing it was a letter.

Strange. Devein hadn’t received a letter from anyone in my knowledge.

My eyes widened a little when I read who it was addressed to. I quickly skimped through the letter realizing what it was about and who had sent it.

“Is something wrong?” I heard Devien ask, pulling me out of my thoughts. It was then that I realized that I’d been standing and staring at the paper for too long.

“Oh, it’s nothing,” I muttered, stuffing the piece of paper into the pocket of my jeans.

“Do you think you can handle the rest by yourself?” I asked Devin all of a sudden. She looked up at me, clearly shocked that I was asking. I’d made it clear that I didn’t trust her to clean the place by herself half an hour ago.

“I guess...” she trailed, earning a small smile from me. I walked up to her pulling her by the shoulder for a hug.

“Don’t kick everything back under your bed,” I warned, pulling away from the hug. Devein huffed, muttering a brief I know before turning back to the pile of clothes and snack wrappers on the floor.

I left the room soon after, fishing out the crumpled letter from my pocket. I understood the basics of its content, I expected something like this to happen sooner or later but it didn’t do anything to soothe the panic at having Ethan gone.

I wondered if he knew about it, whether he was already making plans to leave without telling me. I heard the thumping of my heart in my ears. I didn’t want him to leave, but it’d be selfish to ask him to stay. I just wished we’d had more time together. I’d estimated that he’d be here for at least two years or more because of school, but that clearly wasn’t the case.

I sighed, heading to my room to make sense of my fogged up mind. Ethan had gone out for weekend lectures, and I had about three hours to get myself together.

I sat at the edge of the bed, rehearsing how I was going to approach him about this. Maybe that’s why he’s been acting strange, maybe he was feeling guilty about having to leave.

“Roxanne,” I muttered as the dog burst into the room with her tail wagging. I smiled at her as she walked up to me before settling down beside my feet. I bent down to pat her head, earning the opportunity to watch her stick her tongue out and pant.

“Do you know Ethan’s leaving?” I asked the dog, my voice coming out choked. I needed someone to talk to and Roxanne was perfect. She’d never complain about me babbling and she was always all ears.

“I don’t want him to leave, do you?” I asked as I ran my good hand through her fur. Roxanne didn’t say anything as expected so I continued to pour my heart out to her as her wagging tail brushed against my pants.

I sat there and bared my heart out to Roxanne as I waited for Ethan to get back. I checked up on Devein a few times just to make sure she was cleaning up the proper way. I passed time by feeding the chickens. Hector was now affirmatively one of them. He was grown now and spent most of his time with the other chickens in the compound.

I was feeding the chickens when the roar of an engine caught my attention. I looked up to find Ethan driving into the compound. Roxanne barked, running up to the car. She jumped at the driver’s door, backing off when the car door flew open. Ethan stepped down with his bag before squatting to pat Roxanne in welcome.

“You’re back,” I said, as a sad smile graced my face. Ethan looked up at me with a small smile. I dropped the bucket of chicken feed before approaching him and Roxanne.

He smiled up at me before getting up. “Yeah, how have you been?” he asked as he adjusted the strap of his backpack.

“Good,” I muttered as we approached the cabin together. Our conversation has been like this lately, short and brief. Ethan held out the door making me utter a small thank you before walking in.

“Ethan!” Devien screeched abandoning the dustpan and broom she’d been holding. She ran up to us, throwing herself at Ethan in a bear hug. I smiled at the sight of them, they were very fond of each.

“What have you been doing?” Ethan asked Devien when they broke apart.

“Cleaning her room,” I answered on Devin’s behalf, making her sigh.

“It’s clean now, okay?” she whined before pouting. Ethan and I giggled earning a frustrated sigh from Devien before she left us alone in the living room while muttering a string of words.

I turned to lock the front door before Roxanne burst in unexpectedly. Ethan let out a low laugh as the dog ran past us. I smiled at the sound of his voice. I rarely heard him sincerely laugh these days. His laughs were less lively and short lived.

My smile dimmed when I remembered the letter addressed to Ethan from his mother. My hand tightened on the doorknob at the realization that I didn’t have much time left with him or Devien. I was going to be alone all over again in the span of a few months.

“Andrew,” Ethan called, making me snap out of my thoughts. I let my grip on the doorknob relax before locking the door.

“Ethan,” I called, turning to face him. His green eyes were watching me — they had a worried look in them. He was probably wondering about what I was in my mind.

“We need to talk,” I said, taking one of his hands with my good one.

Ethan nodded before sighing. “Okay,” he muttered looking down at the floor. We walked into the room we shared together hand in hand. I let go of his hand to open the door. We walked in and I shut the door behind us. Ethan walked to the bed, taking a seat at the edge. He took off his bag, dropping it on the carpet beside his feet. The evening light was making its way through the thin curtain and into the room. The clock ticked noisily in the background.

“Well,” Ethan muttered, breaking the silence. I opened my mouth looking for how to start. I let it close before sighing, not knowing how to begin.

“Damn me, I didn’t think this through,” I said in a low nervous chuckle. Ethan was looking at me as he undid his French braid.

“I don’t know how to start, I’m sorry,” I muttered, walking up to the bed to take a seat beside him.

“You don’t have to sugar coat anything,” Ethan said, making me look up at him with a confused look. “I kind of already know what you want to say.”

“Really?” I asked in a soft voice, sitting up. Ethan nodded before looking down at his thighs. I felt his hand feel the space between us for my hand. He took my hand in his, giving it a small squeeze.

“I know about Ace, it’s okay—”

“Wait, what?” I cut in, clearly confused. What was this talk about Ace?

“Ace. Didn’t you want to talk to me about accepting Ace’s proposal?” Ethan asked, a look of confusion plastered across his face. I gave him a horrified look. How did he even find out about that?

“What? No — I didn’t say yes. How do you even know about that?” I asked, feeling flustered. Ethan looked away just as red in the face as me.

“So you’re not marrying Ace?” Ethan asked, looking back up at me.

“Of course not, why would you even think that?” I asked, making Ethan look away from me again. I watched him bite his bottom lip before letting out a small sigh.

“I don’t know,” Ethan muttered shrugging. “He just seemed to really like you and...” Ethan trailed, pausing mid-sentence. He didn’t need to complete his sentence for me to catch on. He didn’t know where our relationship stood and I decided to change that.

“Ethan look at me,” I demanded. Ethan turned to look at me, his dark hair falling about his shoulders. I got to look into his eyes, to look into the eyes of the person that made me so happy and emotional, to look into the eyes of the person I sincerely loved.

“Ethan,” I started looking for a way to put my feelings into words. I wasn’t sure how to say them. I’d said the same three words to Christopher a time too many in the past, but this was different. This felt so much more personal and important.

“Ethan I really like you,” I started, slapping myself mentally. Why couldn’t I just say it? “You make me feel so special and wanted. We’ve only been living together for roughly a year and I can’t imagine living without you.” I tried.

I bit my lip looking directly at Ethan. He was looking directly at me, silently urging me to continue.

“Ethan I love you,” I muttered feeling my face heat up. “I love you so much. I really do.”

It was then I felt arms wrap around me and pull me close. I snuggled into Ethan’s chest, weighing my caste between us as I used my free hand to lace around him.

“Tell me I’m not dreaming,” Ethan begged, tightening his grip on me. I felt tears sting in my eyes.

“No, no you’re not.” I sniffled into his chest. We stayed like that for a while before Ethan muttered into my ear.

“What did you want to talk to me about?” Ethan asked, making me recall the reason why I wanted to talk to him.

“I found the letter from your mum in Devien’s drawer,” I said, looking out into the room. The initial panic of having him leave was suddenly back.

“Oh,” Ethan sighed, running a hand through my hair. “I don’t want to leave,” Ethan admitted. I snuggled into his chest. It wasn’t good enough that he wanted to stay. Even if I wanted him to stay I couldn’t be selfish and let him miss the opportunity of attending a better school.

“Don’t you want to get into a better school?” I asked, closing my eyes. “I don’t want you to miss out on an opportunity because of me.”

“I don’t want to leave,” Ethan said firmly. “I want to stay here with you. I’ll call my mum tomorrow and sort things out. I didn’t do it earlier because I wasn’t sure if you’ll stand by me on my decision,” he muttered into my hair. I couldn’t help myself anymore or control the stream of tears that were making their way down my cheeks.

“I love you,” I mumbled as I felt Ethan’s lips against my neck. It felt so good to say it, so good to make it known.

“I love you too,” Ethan replied, pulling me away from himself to look at me.

“I love you so much Andrew,” Ethan said as he leaned in to kiss me. I shivered, moaning into the warmth. It’s been so long since we’d shared a kiss. So long, that the sensations felt fresh and new. Or maybe because it was because I’d come clean with my feeling, I don’t know.

I gasped when Ethan pulled me on top of his laps. I Felt my face blaze with heat at the feel of his arousal against my tights.

“Ethan...” I trailed, pulling away from the kiss. I wasn’t sure how he wanted to go about all this with my caste and all. It wasn’t that I didn’t want to be with him that way, I just didn’t want to prove to be an inconvenience.

“I’ll be gentle, and careful,” he promised, leaving a trail of kisses up my neck as his hands found their way under my shirt. I nodded giving in, and he was gentle like he always was.

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