Crossroads: Book 1

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Chapter 54

Elena


It doesn’t take long before I hear a knock at the door. I rush up from the couch to answer it.

“Hey,” the man before me says. He doesn’t seem to be quite sure of himself.

“Hi, come in.” I awkwardly step aside for him.

After he steps over the threshold and off to the side, I close the door and begin to play with the sweatshirt sleeves. “Do you want anything to drink? I can make coffee, or there’s water...?”

“Water is fine,” he voices as he takes an unsure seat on the couch. I grab a bottled water from the fridge then walk it over and sit beside him; I leave enough room so neither bubble bursts.

“How are you?” I ask, handing him the water, trying to create small talk. I never was one for small talk.

With a shrug, he responds while staring at the bottled water. “I’m okay, I suppose. My family is kind of going through something right now, but...I’m okay.” He cracks the top of the bottle and takes a drink.

“I’m sorry, do you want to talk about it?” I offer in hopes that whatever he’s going through might distract me from my own problems.

The man places the cap back on and looks at me. “Why did you call me over here?” he asks straight to the point.

With his eyes on me, I confess, “I don’t know. I’m lonely, I guess. I’m sorry, this was a stupid idea.” My cheeks flush from embarrassment. I should have called Rose, what was I thinking?

Declan reaches for my hand; I flinch because it feels different, but I don’t pull away. His touch is softer than Mike’s, but they are still warm. “Hey, it’s okay. Do you want to tell me what’s going on?” I look into his eyes, and he seems genuinely worried for me, but there’s something else there...

“You know that Mike and I have been hanging out for a while, right?” I check.

“Yeah.”

“Well, yesterday, he told me that he was paying attention to me only because he was bored.” Just saying it breaks my heart a little bit more. “He isn’t interested in me because I’m not his type...I’m sorry, I don’t know why I am telling you any of this. It’s just, ever since that night, he’s been glued to my side and now...it’s like he’s set on hurting me, to push me away,” I tell him while looking down at my hands to peel off a part of my nail.

“That doesn’t make any sense,” he says. “You seem to be everyone’s type.” His body turns to face me.

I freeze. “What do you mean?” I ask, looking into his eyes. His features are soft, and his deep brown irises have gotten darker.

“Elena, you have no idea how beautiful you are. You are sweet, forgiving, and kind. Any man would be lucky to have you. Mike is an ass. He clearly has issues,” Declan tells me.

I’m not sure how to take this. Does this man still have feelings for me?

My heart races as I notice Declan leaning towards me. “Declan, I...”

He reaches for something. “Sorry, you had fuzz on your shoulder.” He smirks, probably taking note of my ‘deer in a headlights’ look.

I look at his hand and see the fuzz he was talking about; he flicks it on our grey area rug. “Oh,” I say, a bit relieved. Mike and I haven’t dated officially, but he did grab hold of my heart, and then he crushed it. I’m not sure that I’m ready to let myself have feelings for another boy -especially Declan.

“Don’t worry, Elena.” Declan leans in close enough that I can smell his musky and earthy cologne. “I’m not going to kiss you unless I know you want me to.”

I can’t help the blush. He is so forward. I don’t remember Declan having this kind of boldness before...

The front door flies open with a loud burst. Declan and I both jump up from the couch. He takes his stance slightly in front of me; we set our sights on one ticked off Michael Gilbert. My heart picks up speed at the notion that Mike still seems to care.

“What the hell are you doing here!?” Mike shouts, pointing a finger at Declan. I need to remember to lock that damn door.

As Mike storms his way over to us, I move myself around Declan to stand between the intruder and my visitor. Hopefully with me in the way, Mike won’t be able to put his hands on Declan again.

“Michael, what are you doing here?” I yell. He has no business being in my house, especially after yesterday.

“Me?” Mike counters. “I told him never to show his face around here again!” he bellows and tries to move around me for Declan, but I shove my hand on his chest to try and push him back. It’s near useless, but Mike stops, not before towering over me to get into Declan’s face.

“Well, maybe if you treated her better, then she wouldn’t have called me,” Declan hisses at Mike coolly.

Mike tries to reach behind me for Declan; Declan tries to push Mike’s hand away.

“Stop it!” I scream while being sandwiched in the middle of two towering hot-headed men. With each of my hands, I try pushing away at both of their chests.

“You need to leave,” I stress.

“That’s right, Dipshit. You get outta here,” Mike scoffs.

I tilt my head up to Mike. “No. You need to leave.” Mike’s scorching gaze peels away from attempting to burn Declan to a crisp; they land on mine.

“You want me to leave?” The deep calmness in his voice is menacing; his eyes are dark with fury.

I lift my chin a tad, with all that is within me, the word pushes itself out. “Yes.” He looks a little hurt. Good.

Mike starts to warn me, “Elena, he is not a good guy, he’s—”

“Like you’re not a good guy,” I snap, cutting him off. His face falls.

Mike lifts his finger at Declan, but his eyes darken and stay on me. “He is bad news, Elena. I want him out of here and away from you!” he roars.

“That is not your call!” I shout back. “Get out!”

“You may want to listen to her,” Declan reasons.

Mike lifts his sights to Declan, and I turn around. “Shut up!” Mike and I both say in unison. Declan puts his hands up then steps off to the side, so I’m not in the middle of them anymore. I look back at Mike.

“Elena, you need to listen to me—” Mike tries to warn again; this time, his orbs are piercing mine with earnest.

Forcefully, I push him with both hands. “No! Get out! I want you out! You’ve done enough. Leave!” I can’t hold back the tears anymore; I wipe a few away. Through my blurry vision, I see Mike slowly accepting his defeat as he retreats for the door. His face is twisted with bitterness as he glares at Declan.

With a low growl, he slams the door behind him, causing the clock above it to rattle.

I let out a sigh of saddened relief as Declan reaches for me. He pulls me into a hug against his chest in efforts of comforting me.

I am now more confused than ever.

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