Claimed

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17

Ophelia

Dinner was just like I thought it would be comfortable. We have fun and laugh until many in the restaurant think we’re all drunk. The only difference in the night is that Christopher is holding my hand under the table most of the night. I don’t pull away but to be honest I’m not sure that I feel that kind of spark. My mind lingers on this thought and I look up to see him looking at me with love in his eyes. I smile at him but it’s not one that reaches my eyes. I still can’t tell what my feelings are for this guy.

Over the years I have worked through the feelings and emotions that I have pent up. The incident with the first guy I liked and then with Cole and lead me to the brink of despair. I at one time thought that I would never be able to love or trust again. After getting myself some therapy and working through it all I realize that none of it was my fight. I didn’t deserve any of it and I know that now. I also now know that I can’t hate Cole for the rest of my life.

What he did was horrible and there really isn’t an excuse for it but, we were so young. Being young means that you get to be stupid and make even dumber choices because of it. I never gave him a chance to explain and I do regret that fact. Other than the claiming and the standoff that we had that day, there was never a time that he didn’t treat me with total kindness. As I worked through all this in therapy the question was posed to me if I thought he was only kind because of the claim. After spending a week thinking about it a realization that no I don’t think that is the reason. I really don’t.

I think that Cole had a lot of pride. Growing up in that town he was put on a pedestal, whether he wanted it or not. Reliving the conversations that I had with Maggie I am sure that all the attention and expectations that were on him warped him into what he was. This is not an excuse this is me realizing that kids are dumb at times and I can’t judge the rest of his life based on the choices he made then. The same goes for Maggie. She did what she thought was right and I respect that. At the time I hated it but now I see it for what it was love. She loved us both and she thought that getting it all out would help us both. I was stupid and didn’t see it at the time because I was young and lost.

As all of these thoughts swirl in my head, I realize that I can move on. If I ever see Cole again I will forgive him. I owe it to myself and no one else. If I forgive and let it go I can, in fact, move on, and hopefully, I will be able to find that love that I desperately want but will never admit to. I think that it’s time for me to give Christopher and myself a chance.

I squeeze his hand under the table and he looks at me with a raised eyebrow. I know he is wondering what I am doing since I have never really reacted before when he would hold my hand. I lean myself over to him so that I can whisper something in his ear.

“I need to talk to you when we are done. Do you mind coming over to mine after?” I whisper and then look up into those bright eyes. I can see the happiness swirling in those deep eyes and I know that I have made the right choice.

“Anything for you.” He smiles and then I feel his kiss my forehead. I blush furiously. He chuckles at this and I can see Emily and Alexander trying to pretend that they are not watching all this happen. I smile at them because I know that they have been wanting us to get together for a while now. This day couldn’t get better as I sit thinking about how I am going to move forward with my life.

Cole

My phone rings as I sit watching the restaurant where I have a clear view of Ophelia. I look and see that it is the person running the check on the gut Ophelia is currently making eyes at. “Talk to me.”

“Sir Christopher James is clear. He is from a middle-class family and works in publishing. No arrests, charges, or even traffic tickets. There is nothing wrong with him. He had a few

girlfriends in the past that have nothing but great things to say about the guy.”

“Thanks. The money will be put into your account.” I hang up and look in the window at them. Ophelia leans in to whisper something in his ear and his face lights up. He kisses her forehead and my heart breaks. There has to be something going on with them. I man up and realize I have to do this and get it over with. I hate to interrupt her but the longer I put this off the worse I am going to feel.

I walk into the restaurant and the place is slammed. There are people all over and I want to do this without causing too much of a scene. I let the hostess know that I am just meeting a friend really fast and she lets me in with no problem. As I walk up to the table Ophelia raises her head and I see the look of shock that I knew was coming.

“Cole?” Her voice is small like she almost doesn’t believe her eyes. She is even more beautiful up close and I can’t believe I was such a jerk to this girl.

“Ophelia, can we talk? I won’t cause any trouble I just need to say it and then I’ll leave.” The people at the table look at her in confusion and I can tell that something is going on here.

“Who is Ophelia?” The guy names Christopher asks. He looks at her and then it clicks. She is using a different name. That is why it took so long to find her.

“Since we have paid the check everyone comes back to mine. I have a long story to tell you and Cole you have something that you want to say.” With that, she gets up and heads out the door with everyone following her.

As we all make our way into her house I see that it is very Ophelia. Books are everywhere and it is very neat and clean. We all sit down and she stands up in front of us. She looks uncertain but then a look of determination comes across her face.

“Emily, Alexander, and Christopher my real name is Ophelia Harris. I changed it to Megan Jones to hide from my family and Cole.” Emily gasps and grabs the hand of who I am guessing is Alexander. “Please wait before you get upset with me. I need to explain it all and that will take some time.”

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