Hopelessly Devoted

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Chapter Twelve: Seriously?

I had crashed where body met couch. The sound of the doorbell woke me up, followed by the knocking. I sat up and yawned while reaching towards the coffee table. I had planned on checking my phone but it wasn’t there. Then I remembered my slug fest to the couch and the willingness to not care what ended up where. The door bell rang again.

“Coming.” I called out. I figured it was one of the girls. I had told them I was supposed to go out with Ryan tonight, but if they’ve been texting or calling, and I haven’t been answering…they were bound to come find me. “I’m alright guys,” I started saying as I unlocked the door, “I just fell asleep.”

“At least you’re rested, but tell me this…did you ever eat?”

I was wide awake now. Tex was on my porch holding a bag from Olive Garden. I stood in place, staring at him.

“You could invite me in.” he said.

“What….how even?” I mumbled.

“Normally the person in the home says to the person standing outside…come in.”

I frowned at him, “You know what I mean.”

“Ah…that, well you left this when you sped out of my office earlier.” He pulled my notepad from his pocket and held it out to me. “Your info is in the very front. Might want to be more careful with that.”

I snatched the pad from him and tossed it on the entryway table. “Thank you.” I said.

“You’re very welcome.” He told me and then held up the bag. “Fettuccini still your favorite?” he asked.

“Look Tex…I interviewed you, and thank you for allowing me your time to do that, but the interview is over now…so…I’ll write the article and I promise you that I won’t put anything disparaging or cruel in it. I’m a professional, there’s no need to make sure I behave.”

“I’m only here to make sure you eat.”

“There is food in my kitchen.”

“I seriously doubt that. Your mother is less than thirty feet from you. I’d say you eat there about every night, but lucky for me, I happen to know they are at the very Olive Garden I just left.”

I tightened my lips. Dang it, he was right. I was supposed to be going out tonight so mom and dad decided to have their date tonight as well.

Tex raised his eyebrows and moved forward. “It’s just food Selena, and we can finish the interview. I saw you had a few questions left.”

“You’ll leave after?” I asked, but in a way told, him what was going to happen.

“Unless you ask me to stay.” He said.

“I won’t.”

“I figured that.”

He moved past me and into the house. The living area opened up right off the entryway, so you just went around the wall to step down into it. The kitchen was past the living room and to the right. I followed Tex to it but lingered in the opening between kitchen and hall. He

put the bag on my counter and began pulling food out of it.

“In which cabinet do you keep the plates?” he asked me, turning to look at me as he opened the first of the two meals.

Giving in, I rolled my eyes and walked over to the cabinet above the microwave. I pulled out two plates from there, and then I opened the drawer by the refrigerator to get silverware. Tex was making himself at home. He opened the fridge, got two sodas, and brought them over to the counter. I brought one of the stools around to one side for him before walking back around to sit on the other. I was hoping this was letting him know I had no desire for him to be any closer to me than that, but he just took his seat and set to putting food on the plates. Men are hopeless. Can’t even tell that I was trying to be a jerk.

We dug into the food quietly at first. I admit I was starving and it was so good. Like, so very good. I can’t even…just, if you’ve never had Olive Garden’s fettuccini alfredo… go get some, like a.s.a.p., because it is delicious.

“Thank you.” I finally told him, after stuffing my face.

“My pleasure.”

I looked up to see him watching me so I wiped my mouth, grabbed a pen and paper from beside the Alexa, yes I had one of those, and started in on the questions I hadn’t asked yet.

“Let’s see. I asked you about your beginning and your current endeavors. That leaves how the steel mill came about after conception and your personal life. We’ll start with the conception. Once you had the initial idea for the steel mill, how did Generations get created?”

Tex finished chewing and swallowed, he was continuing to eat, but talking to me all the same. I mean he wasn’t gross about it, like chewing with half masticated noodles leaking out of his mouth or anything, but he was eating and talking just as we always had back then. When we just hung out.

“Basically that’s where the first designs and development came in…Mr. Ewing had a couple connections from his businesses out in California, so he made some calls and not too long after that we had investors.”

Tex took a drink of soda when he finished talking. This was my opportunity to ask another question.

“Mr. Ewing, he’s continued to be an avid partner all these years?”

“Yes. He’s actually the one who came up with the name Generations. See, he knew that dad and I are the third and fourth in our family line…turns out he’s the second in his, so he thought what better name for the company, than to acknowledge the generations who brought it to life.” He took another drink and swallowed. “He’s a good man, Jack Ewing.”

“Sounds like he makes a great father-in-law.” I spat before I could help myself.

Tex made eye contact with me. “I would say he does, but you would have to ask Evan that.”

I pulled at my notes and frowned, “Who is Evan?” I asked him, not finding the name anywhere in the things I had jotted down.

“He’s not in your notes. This is the first we’ve discussed him. He’s Elizabeth’s husband, and also…the father of her child. Jackson Ewing the third.”

I looked at the clock for an excuse to look anywhere but at him. I certainly wasn’t expecting to hear that Elizabeth Ewing was with anyone other than Tex himself.

This news did several different things to me, none of which I wanted to acknowledge at the moment.

Music sounded from the other room. Tex got up to move out there, but I got past him and assured him everything was fine. “It’s my phone, that’s Cassie’s ringtone.”

It was Baby Got Back by Sir Mix-a-Lot. Don’t judge me. She picked it out herself. I answered the call and listened as Cass told me if I hadn’t picked up when I did, she was coming over there to find me. I promised her I was fine and had fallen asleep. When she asked about Ryan I told her how he had to cancel for the night. She then asked if I had eaten since she saw my mom and dad out and about. I laughed at her, casting my eyes to the ceiling as I realized everyone just knows me too well. We hung up and I went back to the kitchen. Tex wasn’t in there so I checked the bathroom before making my way to the living room. He was on my couch, changing the channels on my television.

“Um…are we going to finish the interview?” I asked him, thumbing back behind myself and indicating the kitchen we had been in.

“Can we finish in here? I want to see if our ad has made the channels yet.”

“It has,” I told him, coming into the room and sitting in the chair opposite the couch. “I saw it day before yesterday. I didn’t know you were a part of Generations Steel at the time, but I saw the ad just the same.”

“Ah, well…that’s good then. I hadn’t seen it yet.”

He flicked a few more channels and I became agitated as he did this. I looked at him. He was still so perfectly handsome. His jaw line was still as strong as it had been, even though now his shape went from slightly boyish to definite man. The controller was in his right hand, which I followed up his arm to see the indention of muscle under the tight fit dress shirt. That was enough. I closed my eyes and put my head to my hand. My arm rested against the chair arm.

“I think I have plenty enough material to write a strong article in your favor Tex,” I said, “we can call it a night.”

“I searched for you Selena…I tried everything I could.” He scoffed, “I even begged my father to use his resources to help me find you.”

“What?” I asked, placing my hands in my lap and making myself look at him. I shouldn’t have done that.

He was leaned back into the couch, his hands clasped in front of him, and his eyes were glassy…the way eyes get when you have tears, but refuse to let them fall. “What are you talking about Tex?” I asked again, shaking my head.

“You know what I am talking about. After you left, after that…that night…I came straight to your house. I searched for you; I drove all night and into the next day. I wanted to find you so badly, to explain…to talk to you…”

“Don’t Tex. Just…don’t. I didn’t want to do this then, and I don’t want to do this now. It’s done, it’s over with. Five years have passed.”

“It shouldn’t have been five minutes.” He spat.

“It shouldn’t have happened at all.” I shot back, tossing my hand out in a cut across motion. I felt heat rise up my neck and knew I was getting into something I didn’t want to.

Tex got up from the couch and began pacing in front of it. He rubbed as his neck before turning to me in agitation.

“I know that!” he confessed, “I know it should never have happened, but it did…it did…but I wanted to make it right, I wanted to fix it. I tried…”

“There’s no fixing it. You broke my heart Tex, you utterly destroyed me…and you honestly think you could have found me somewhere, said some rehearsed words and it would have made everything alright?!”

“Nothing I said would have made a difference to the hurt I caused you. I get that, I KNOW that.” He argued, stopping to face me. “I’m not trying to justify myself or my actions in any way Selena…I just want…I just need…” he huffed a breath and looked up to the ceiling. After a few moments he sat down hard on the edge of the couch. I was at the edge of the chair. My eyes were burning with anger and years of hidden hurt.

“I need you to forgive me.” He said softly, his voice breaking as he did…and suddenly he wasn’t irritated or confused. He was broken, in that instant I saw the broken in him that everyone else must have seen in me all those years ago.

I swallowed and looked away, pursing my lips.

How dare him’ I thought. ’How dare he come into my home after all these years and ask me forgive him for what he did to me. To even think to show me any pain that might induce sympathy from me. I gave him parts of me that I can never ever get back and he treated those gifts as if they were gum under his shoe.’ I could feel the anger scorching my face as I looked back at him.

He was staring at me still, pleading at me with his eyes. I could rage at him. I could jump over the coffee table and hit him, beat him with my fists until his body hurt the way mine did five years ago.

But then what? What would happen after I unleashed the fury I wanted to? After I said every mean and evil thing I’d been holding in? The fact is, no matter what I said, or what I did…nothing would go back and keep me from the past years I’d lived. It was useless, there was no point. I acquiesced.

“Fine.” I said, standing up and holding out my arms. “You need forgiveness...you can have it. I forgive you.”

He stood up as well. His jaw twitched and he squint one eye at me a little. He always did that when he suspected I was up to something. “You do? You really do?”

I shook my head back and forth and held up my hands before dropping them again.

“Yes, I guess…or no, but what does it matter really? I mean, what’s done is done.”

“Selena…” he started, moving around the table to come into my space.

I jerked over and held out my hand to stop him from advancing. Hot tears were now spilling from my cheeks.

“No,” I told him, “No…just don’t, okay. Listen, I know you said you need my forgiveness…but you don’t okay. You’re doing great. You’ve got your own business now, you’re successful…you’ve probably got a ton of women just throwing themselves at you…so I’m irrelevant. I mean, my forgiveness or not having it hasn’t kept you from getting to where you are today so it shouldn’t matter alright. It’s done. I’ll just go my way…and you can just keep going yours…”

“I couldn’t find you…” he bit out.

“And if you had?” I argued back, “what then…we would be in no different place than we are right now.”

“I can’t believe that…I won’t.”

“But it’s true, right? You say you need something, but I can’t give it to you…I never could and I don’t think I ever can. I’ve had to live day in and day out with those last few months and that horrible last day. I’ll live with it for the rest of my life. You just have to live with being the one who did it. I think mine is the worst of our problems, so I’m sorry if you can’t leave here feeling relieved and unburdened; however, I know you’ll still be just fine.”

“Tell me what I need to do. I’ll do anything Selena, anything.”

I looked at him pityingly. “I can’t think of a single thing you can do Tex. Just let it go.”

He moved to me so quickly my breath caught. He had my head in his hands. His thumbs caressed my jaw as he placed his forehead to mine. His eyes closed as mine did. I weakly brought my hands up to grab his wrists, intending to move him away from me. But my attempt was halfhearted, so they just held on to him as we breathed together and cried

“I’ll find a way Selena.” He whispered as he brought his lips to my forehead and kissed me there. “You may not be able to think of anything, but I will. By the grace of

God you are back here, in my sight, in my presence. I have waited so long. There is no way I am letting this slip through my fingers again. I don’t care if it takes me five more years, or a lifetime…I will do right by you.”

He gently moved me to the chair and pulled tissues from the box on the table. He handed them to me and I pressed them against my face as I cried. Just after I had them in my own hands I heard the door close, his car start, and finally the gravel as he backed out of the drive and headed off down the road. I shook with fresh ache and tears.

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