Just The Way You Are

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Chapter 2.

Things had been different for Chris ever since Kayla left. Worse yet Chris hasn’t been the same since what he believes was the one left. Chris has been working at his family bookstore Harts Bookstore since he was 16. He knows that one day soon he will be taking it over. Chris looks over at his parents George and Jackie and knows they aren’t getting any younger. They had Chris later in life so he’s thankful for the time he continues to have with them. George and Jackie had been high school sweethearts and Chris was hoping that would be him and Kayla as well. But Kayla had to jet off to who knows where to achieve her dream. For all he knew, she had achieved just that. He wasn’t expecting to see her here. Right outside the shop. She had looked as beautiful as he had remembered. Blonde hair to match her fair skin. The combination of her mother and her father. Chris froze and thought for a second that he saw a ghost before George snapped him out of it.

“You know your mother still talks to Barbra right?” George asked.

“What does that have to do with anything?” Chris replied by asking a question.

“Just she said that Kayla might be coming back home. You and I both know how big of a gossip Barbra is. Plus it’s a small town where people talk.” George stated. Reminding his son of how small Lakehart was.

If it hadn’t been for the small town, Chris might not have to see Kayla ever again. It might not have been in her plans to come home in the first place. But he knew Kayla well enough to know that if she was back in Lakehart there had to be a reason for it. She never did something without some sort of reason. As well, Kayla had to be 100% sure of her decision before she did something.

“Just because she’s back doesn’t mean she’s staying permanently.” Jackie interjected.

“Last time I checked she’s only been coming back for Thanksgiving and Christmas dear. Why would she come the week of the 4th?’ George asked.

Chris knew that his father was right. Kayla never came back in the middle of the year. It made Chris wonder why even more on why she was here when she didn’t need to be. Chris needed answers to the like billion questions he had. But if Chris knew Kayla as well as he thought he did, he knew he didnt want to scare her off. Chris thought it would be a better idea to try and ease her back into Lakehart’s life before getting the answers he needed. It seemed too much of a coincidence that the girl that he had been in love with since he was just 10 years old was back in town. Especially now that it was the week of the 4th.

“She’s probably just back to get some stuff for a new book. She’ll probably be gone by the end of the week anyways.” Chris stated.

“Stranger things have happened. You could always help her get acquainted again with the town. It’s been a good 6 years since she’s been here for longer than a few days. Plus Barbra did say that if Kayla was coming home she would be staying for the foreseeable future. So don’t think she’s going anywhere anytime soon.” Jackie spoke.

Chris knew that his mother was right but how was anyone supposed to know that this could be the only time to tell Kayla that he was in love with her. Had been meaning to tell her since they were 14. But at the time it was near impossible. Kayla was always talking about her dreams and moving out of Lakehart. So after graduation, Chris literally thought that he would never see her again. Especially after her father dying a few weeks prior to her leaving. Yet, here she was. Back in Lakehart for the first time in 6 years for an extended amount of time.

Chris was thinking that maybe Kayla didnt want to see him. If she had left without saying goodbye when she left in the first place. Chris wanted to be sure that Kayla wanted to see him so thats when he went up to the coffee shop right up the street to see Hunter. It always seemed like life advice would bring him to her. Sometimes it felt like they should have ended up together instead of him being hung up on Kayla. And maybe they would have. But Hunter hand a past that she didnt want to talk about. It seemed like she was running from something but at the same time she felt at home right here in Lakehart.

"If this is about Kayla being back in town then just talk to her. She was your best friend at one point." Hunter stated.

"But at the same time this is someone who didnt say goodbye when she left. Plus we really didnt keep in touch when she did leave. Dont you think she would have done that?" Chris asked.

Hunter rolled her eyes before answering, "Im going to pull something from your moms playbook. Stranger things have happened. Maybe she was meant to come back and no one, including Kayla, understands what that reason is. But think it would be helpful for the both of you just to talk it out."

Chris didnt understand why everyone around him was making so much sense today. Maybe it was the fact that Kayla was home for who knows how long and they just wanted him to at the very least talk to her. Whats the worst in that. Maybe there was a reason why Kayla was back in town. But Chris knew that he would never get his answers if he didnt talk to her. He knew that one day soon he would have to talk to her. That would be the day were they both could rekindle whatever is left of their friendship.

Back at the bookstore after his talk with Hunter, he smiled for the first time in what seemed like forever. His parents, George and Jackie, noticed that it looked like the first genuine smile since before Kayla left. Whatever had happened it seemed like all three of them where happy that the old Chris was coming back around.

"So what happened when you went down for Hunters coffee?" George asked.

"Nothing. We just talked and that made me realize that I actually had to talk to Kayla. I think im just excited to rekindle whatever relationship is there." Chris replied.

"Well were glad that you are going to rekindle the relationship between you and Kayla. Who knows maybe this will be the time where you get the girl." Jackie stated.

"Thats what im hoping for. For that to eventually be the end goal." Chris spoke.

Chris turned the open sign to close as there was one person who was going to come in and pick up a book. Chris shooed his parents home as he always handled the last hour or so after closing. He was in the middle of picking up the store when the bell went off. He went up front to tell the person that they were closed but thats when he saw Kayla right there.

"Hey Chris. My mom wanted me to pick something up. I hope you dont mind I came in after close." Kayla stated.

"Not at all. Thats why we keep the door unlocked after closing till all the packages are picked up. Because all the businesses tend to close around the same time. Since some cant come in before work they tend to wait till after work. Its fine though." Chris spoke.

Chris handed Kayla the package as he noticed a smile on her face. He had only seen that smile on her books that he didnt pick up because he didnt want another reason to have missed her when he was already going threw alot while getting over her.

"Do you want to go get coffee or something tomorrow. Think it would be best if we talked." Kayla stated.

"Fine with me. Just text me the time and we can pick a time and a place to meet." Chris told her.

Kayla smiled again as she left. Chris couldnt stop smiling as he watched her walk away so he could lock up. There was something in the air that he didnt understand but he knew that this could be the start of something beautiful between them. He just hoped that this time he would tell her how he felt and has felt for the better part of 15 years. But Chris knew only time would tell if they should stay friends or be more.

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