35. Self control
"I don’t want to end things with you. Hell, I couldn’t if I tried. When I did try, it drove me nearly insane."
Marcy was at Gray’s. He had greeted her with a kiss but wasn’t immediately all over her so she knew something serious was up.
"The thing is, us being together is just too risky. I’ve been giving it some thought, and I think we need to put it on hold."
Marcy’s heart sank. Gray saw her face fall. "I still want to be with you. But for now, until school finishes, we should just keep things professional at school, and just be friends outside school."
"So what exactly does that mean? The end of the year or the vacation?"
There was sadness in Gray’s eyes as he spoke. "We should really wait the year out, and then see."
A lot could happen in a year. What if he started getting close to some other girl? "Would you date other people?"
"I don’t plan to. But I won’t hold you to living like a nun, you should be free to do what you want. I will admit, the thought of you with other guys kills me but I can’t stand in your way."
Marcy had absolutely no desire to see anyone else. But not-being with someone she cared about so much for all that time seemed unbearable too.
And pretty impossible, particularly if they kept spending time together outside school at the Springdale Theatre group. There were already early murmurs that Mrs Helberg had a plan to stage Hello, Dolly! in the new year. No prizes for guessing that she would take the starring role of Dolly of course. But she apparently had her eye on getting Gray back - and Martin - for the male leads.
"So can we still hang out after theatre?"
"That’s probably what we shouldn’t do, any more," Gray told her. "For now, anyway."
It was as though there was a big cold black cloud wrapped around her heart. Somehow this was worse than him getting angry over Josh and breaking it off with her, because this time he had really thought about it. It was a decision made in calm, not anger.
Because of this, she knew there was no point challenging it. It also wouldn’t be fair to try and seduce him out of the decision - though she was pretty sure she could manage that if she really set her mind to it.
But not even kissing him, ever. Or at least for months and months. How could she cope?
"Can you kiss me one more time? As a goodbye?"
Gray gave a sad smile and immediately took Marcy in his arms. It was a tender, beautiful kiss. His lips were firm but gentle on hers, warm. Their mouths parted and the kiss deepened.
Marcy was trying to concentrate on every detail of what it felt like to be pressed up against Gray. How his body felt, the warmth of him, his amazing, intoxicating male smell. She would have to live off this memory for a long while.
The touch of his hands on her hair. The feel of his skin. His height, how his broad shoulders made her feel protected.
The heat grew between them and she looked up at him, a question on her face.
"Could we - you know - just one more time? One last time, just for a proper farewell?" So I won’t forget you, she thought. So when I’m an elderly spinster of eighty I’ll have one more happy memory.
Because a part of her was convinced that Gray would forget her and move on, and she would never get to feel this way again.
Gray looked torn. "It’s not that I don’t want to, but…"
"I understand." She really did. He was right, she guessed. Being sensible started now.
"Come here." Gray took her in his arms again. "Okay then, one last time. Which I would prefer to make last all night, but I’m guessing you have to get home at some point."
He took her to the bedroom and made love to her, at least that was how it really felt. It felt like more than just sex.
He was tender, passionate, intimate. They both drew it out as much as they could. It was weird, doing it for the last time, or the last time for a good while. Marcy wanted to savour every moment, as did Gray.
Afterwards they showered together one last time and Gray made them both coffee.
"Think of it as though one of us is going overseas," he said. "If I was in the army or something we’d have to do this all the time, and be patient for months."
Being around Gray it was hard to be patient for a minute. Marcy didn’t know how she was going to manage until next summer. Most of all she was scared that it would all fizzle out. That he’d eventually meet someone else and want to date them.
She was also a little anxious about herself. After a year of interacting with Gray solely as her teacher, maybe he’d start to become Mr Grayson only, and not Gray any more.
"Do you think we’ll survive this?" Marcy asked. Then she felt kind of presumptuous in the way she had phrased it. As though they had something important enough to be worth surviving. They hadn’t been dating that long, all things considered. It meant a huge a lot to her, but did Gray feel the same?
He wasn’t fazed by her question. "I hope so." His green eyes looked into hers, intense, and she felt suddenly nervous.
Gray took her hands. He gazed at her. "I really care about you, Marcy. This isn’t just some fling. If it was it would be easy to end it. Or even to take the risk. But you mean too much to me for that. I don’t want to wreck your life."
Marcy swallowed. Gray had never said anything quite like this before and she wasn’t sure how to respond. "I care about you too" just sounded so lame to say back though.
"I feel the same."
"Good." He cupped her face in his hands and kissed her. It was a long, lingering kiss.
This is the guy I want to be with, Marcy thought. The only guy in the entire world for me.
Somehow, some way, we have to get through this.