Feisty Francesca

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#69 If you love him, let him go

By the time we get back to Joshua’s apartment, I don’t know how I feel anymore. I want to cry, scream, kick… Most of all, I want to crawl into bed and go to sleep, pretend this evening never happened, but I know I can’t do that. I need to talk to Joshua, not matter how awful this conversation is going to be.

“Franny,” he starts while he takes off his shoes. “I just want to say-”

“Why didn’t you tell me?” I ask, throwing my heels down angrily and pushing my coat off my shoulders, letting it fall on the floor while I make my way to the kitchen to grab a bottle of water from the fridge. I need something to do, so I twist the cap off and on while I pace around the living room, trying to keep myself from yelling at him.

“There was nothing to tell,” he says, sinking down on the couch with a sigh. He takes off his suit jacket and undoes the top buttons of his white dress shirt, looking all cute with his tousled hair. Damn him for making me want to melt into him when I’m mad at him.

“Is it all true, what your parents said?” I ask, pausing for a moment so I can study his expression. “It is. I can see it written all over your face. You got into one of the most prestigious universities of the world, and you picked a run-of-the-mill college instead just so you could say with Jasmine. Don’t you think that’s stupid, Joshua?”

He grunts. “Looking back, it was. Of course it was. Jasmine was a cunt. She still is. I loved her, though, and I didn’t want to move away from her. I don’t regret making that decision, even though it was the wrong one. I picked love over my dreams. That’s not something I will ever regret.”

“Then you’re an idiot,” I say, hating how harsh I sound. I need to get through to him, make him see how stupid he’s being for not picking himself over everyone and everything else. “You were 18, Josh. That’s not the time to pick love. That’s the time to just do whatever the fuck you want. When I was 18, I moved to a different state, away from my mother and friends, so I could go to the only nursing school I managed to get a scholarship for. It was hard and it took a long time for me to feel at home here, but I did it, and now I’ve got the job I’ve wanted all along because of it.”

He looks up at me with a stubborn look on his face. “That’s great, of course, because it’s what you wanted. It was the right thing for you. Staying here is the right thing for me.

“It’s not,” I say, twisting the cap off my water bottle and taking a swig. “You should go.”

“Fran…” He gets up with a grunt and grabs my hands in his. “I love you. You love me. Why the hell would I want to leave you?”

“Because I’m not Jasmine,” I tell him, trying to convey to him that I’m absolutely serious about this. “It’s just a year. We’ve got two more months to figure out all the details, arrange our vacation time so we’ll get to fly back and forth, book plane tickets, talk about how long-distance is going to work. I don’t want you to give up on your dreams a second time. Not for me. I’d hate myself for it, and you’d end up resenting me.”

He’s shaking his head while I speak, getting more and more frustrated with me. “No, Fran, I’m not doing it. This is my decision, not yours.”

“Josh…” I pull my hands from his grasp and start pacing again. I need to move, to gather my thoughts, to do something. “Looking back, would you go to Oxford?”

“Of course,” he says, sighing. “Jasmine wasn’t worth staying for. At the same time… I met you because I stayed here. Everything that happened led me to you, so I’m can’t be too broken up about not going to Oxford. I meant what I said back at the restaurant. I want it all with you.”

I smile a little at that. In the midst of all this chaos, it was nice to hear him say he wants to marry me and have kids with me. I want to take things slow and not rush into that, but I have been thinking about the future as well, and I see him in every single part of it. When I think of my wedding day, envision myself walking down the aisle in a white dress, I see the face of the groom in way I didn’t when I was still with James. It’s Joshua standing there under the flower arch. One hundred percent.

“I want that too, but you’re only 22,” I say softly, walking back over to him to hug him. “You’re so young. We’ve got years to have it all. A year is nothing. Twelve months. We’ll manage.”

He pushes me away and looks at me with an annoyed frown. “I hate it when people tell me that I’m only 22. Who the fuck cares how old I am? Girls always do this. They always think I’m too young, even though I don’t act like a 22-year-old dickhead like some of the other guys do. Judge me by who I am, by my actions, not by my age.”

“I’m not judging you,” I rush out, not wanting him to think that for even a second. “I’m not calling you childish or anything like that. I just don’t think it makes sense to make this decision based on me and me alone, on the future we want. Going to London won’t ruin that future. If we were 35 or something and I was pregnant with our second child, then it’d be different. I’d get it if you’d stay then. But now… you’re not the only one who’s young Josh. I’m only 26 myself. I don’t want to have kids with you right now. We’ve only been together for five months.”

“I know,” he says, throwing himself back on the couch and running a hand over his face. “I know, but I already know that I want all of those things with you, and I feel like going to London will ruin that.”

“Do you have so little faith in me?” I ask, a little hurt. “What do you think will happen? Do you think I will cheat on you like Jasmine did? I thought you knew me better than that.”

“No, of course not,” he replies immediately. “But… I mean… a year is a long time. You could fall out of love with me, Franny. There are so many other guys just waiting to take my place. Thomas, James, Christopher… and there will be others, for sure. You’re amazing, and I’m not the only one who sees that. You may not want to fall for someone else, but you might.”

“Yes,” I agree. “I might. But that might still happen if you stay here, you know. That’s not something specific to going to London.”

The hurt in Joshua’s eyes is so intense that tears spring to my eyes. “You think you’re going to fall for someone else?” he asks, sounding on the verge of tears. “But… we’re doing so great. We’ve been perfect from that first kiss. Why… I mean… why would you…?”

I sit down next to him and pull him against me, kissing him softly. “That came out wrong. Of course I don’t think that will happen. I love you. I’m just saying that you can never know what the future will bring. Four years ago, you chose Jasmine over Oxford, and look how that turned out. She cheated on you even though you were still in the country, in the same city even. Distance isn’t the only thing that can break people apart, you know. Staying here doesn’t guarantee that we’ll work out in the long run, no matter how much we want to. What I do know is that if you pick me over London, you will resent me for it, and that will break us up.”

“I won’t resent-”

“Maybe not right away, but one day in the far-away future, you might,” I insist. “Why take that risk when you can live out your dream and keep me as your girlfriend? I’m willing to do long-distance for twelve months, and I truly believe we can make that work. Do you not…?” Oh God, I didn’t even think about this before. “Do you think we’re not strong enough?” I ask, close to tears now. “Do you think you’ll no longer want me if you don’t see me every single day?”

“Are you crazy?” He takes my face in his hands and looks at me with nothing but love. “I’ll always want you, Franny.”

“Then tell your father you’ll go,” I insist, a tear rolling down my cheek. “We’ll make it work, I swear. Go to London.”

“Franny…” He swallows hard, trying not to cry.

“You know I’m right.” My voice breaks when I see in his eyes that he wants to go. He does. Me giving him permission and telling him I won’t leave him if he gets on that plane is all he needed to get excited about moving to London. I’m happy and sad about that at the same time. I don’t want him to leave, but I can’t ask him to stay.

We kiss, and there’s a desperation in there that has never been there before. Like we both want to make the most of this night, of our next two months together, knowing that things will get difficult once he moves across the world. I love him so much, I’m finally in a relationship that feels right on every single level, and now he’s leaving me.

“I love you,” he whispers, kissing my neck. “So much.”

“Then go,” I reply, needing to hear him say it. Needing the decision to be made once and for all. “Go to London.”

“It won’t be goodbye,” he says, wiping away my tears with a sad look in his eyes. “We’ll still be together.”

“Right,” I agree. “So… you’re going?”

He takes a deep breath and closes his eyes. “I guess I am.”

Fuck. I know this is the only right decision, but it’s also the one that hurts the most. I start sobbing for real now, full on ugly-crying.

“I’m going to miss you so much,” he breathes, kissing me even though I’m gasping for air, trying to stop crying. “So goddamn much.”

My hands start unbuttoning his shirt on their own accord, needing to feel his skin on mine, to have him as close to me as possible. I need to remind myself of why I love him, of how good we are together, of how right this is. He unzips my dress and rakes his nails over my back, making me shiver.

“You’re so beautiful,” he says as my dress falls down my shoulders, revealing my bra. “I love you so much, Franny. You sending me away might just be the sweetest, most romantic thing ever, even though it sucks.”

“Just kiss me,” I plead, unable to take talking about him moving away for another second. I’ll break if he keeps saying things like this, tugging at my heart strings.

Joshua takes my face in his hands again and brushes his lips against mine softly before deepening the kiss, making me moan into him. We undress each other slowly, touching and kissing every single apart of each other’s bodies. He’s so gorgeous, both inside and out. He is completely different from who I thought I’d end up with, but he’s exactly what I’ve needed all those years. What I want, crave, deserve. He’s not perfect, and neither am I, but we might just be perfect for each other.

And he’s leaving. For a year.

He lowers me onto the couch carefully, moving his body over mine and kissing me tenderly while he inches into me, taking his time before filling me up completely. We both moan, our eyes locking as we feel our incredible connection that has been there from the start, even back when we were just friends.

“I love you,” he says, keeping his gaze on me while he starts moving. “I’ll always love you.”

I just kiss him, unable to put all the feelings raging within me into words. We make slow, tender love, taking our time until we finally fall apart together, clutching each other for dear life. The moment we’re done, I start crying again, and he picks me up and carries me into the bedroom, his arms trembling a little, but not dropping me or stopping once. We snuggle against each other in bed, and he strokes my back until I’m done crying.

We make love again, just as slow and sweet and careful as we did on the couch. I never stop crying, but it doesn’t ruin the moment. We’re connecting in a way we never have before, feeling like we can see into each other’s souls. I reach my peak with a shrill shriek, clenching around him so hard that it feels like my whole body is trying to pull him further into me, to trap him, not let him go.

But I have to. I know I do. I need to let him go.

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