All These Years

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Chapter 10

When I wake around noon, Shane is still the only thing on my mind. I close my eyes and smile when I think of him standing by his desk in that dark grey fitted suit. His chestnut, wavy hair falling down over his forehead, and the way his arm muscles move as he pushes it back with his hand. Or the way his grey eyes narrow as he looks at me. I think of how I left things, too stunned to even give him an answer about a date, and wince. I should have said something other than 'I need to go to bed'. Wow, that was really smooth.

It has been six years and one look at this man and I'm right back in high school falling for him helplessly. I roll over into my pillows and groan. I really need to consider everything he told me last night. This definitely isn't high school anymore. This is apparently life or death, an illegal way of life and it is all or nothing. That's the whole reason why I panicked and demanded I leave right away. I'm not just getting Shane back, no strings attached. No, there are a ton of strings attached with a relationship with Shane Dillenger. And even though my heart screams ' To hell with everything take what you want!' my brain tries to remain rational.

I roll back over and grab my phone to call my favorite Thai food place and place a delivery order. I can't think about anything on an empty stomach. I'll eat noodles and Netflix binge, while I'm deciding whether to dive headfirst into the Organized Crime world and be the gang leader's girlfriend. I laugh out loud at the thought to spend the day inside just eating and thinking before I have to go back to work tomorrow and hopefully I'll have an answer to give Shane before then.

I hop in the shower before my food arrives. After sliding on some black shorts and a grey tee-shirt, I wrap my long damp black hair into a bun. Finally, a few minutes later there is a knock at the door and I run to answer it with cash in hand to pay for my food. I tip the delivery guy and go back to my bed turning on Netflix while I open my noodles.

My phone chimes a few minutes into my Netflix binge. My stomach drops and I hope it's a message from Shane almost as much as I don’t want it to be. I don’t want to answer him yet about a date but at the same time, I want to talk to him. Curiosity finally gets the better of me and I grab my phone off my nightstand to read the text.

* Did you get some sleep?*

I can definitely make small talk. That is easy.

*Yes, finally. I haven’t stayed out that late in a long time*

I have to resume my paused show just to keep myself from staring at my phone waiting for his response. He is a busy guy, I know that. But to my surprise, he texts back pretty quick.

* well I hope I didn't completely ruin your night. What are you doing now?*

God, if only he knew how I felt the complete opposite of last night being ruined. I look away from my phone then at the half-eaten Thai food boxes on my nightstand and around to all of the boxes I still have to unpack and chuckle. I can't lie and say I wasn't glad our paths finally crossed after all this time. But I still wanted time to process it all. I hope he doesn’t ask me to meet him somewhere today. Now all I can think about is how different our lives seem now. In high school, things were easy between us. Now I live in a tiny one-bedroom apartment alone. While I am very happy and proud of myself for how far I've come in a short period of time all on my own, my life is completely different from the world I walked into last night, the life that Shane now lives.

He was clearly well off and has anything he wants. All I can do no is hope that the boy that I grew up with, hasn't completely changed. So I finally respond, telling him what I was doing

*That sounds amazing. I haven’t had decent Thai in so long.*

I start to relax and our conversation stays completely small talk. We fill each text message exchange with snippets of our lives over the past few years. I try not to think about how much about my life he already knows, given the fact that he's had that protection order over me. But I force myself to keep the conversation light and file questions away in my mind for a later date. He must read between the lines of my light conversation and doesn't ask about our date and I'm relieved. I want to go on a date with him more than anything. I just need to make sure that I want to align myself with all of this. This is a big decision, one I wasn't planning on making on a random weekend in January. I have to force myself to actually think about this and see all of the risks instead of just telling him yes instantly like my heart wants me to.

We finally say goodnight and I fall to sleep with a smile on my face and Shane on my mind. Images of him fill my dreams and I wake up for work in the morning, completely restless. Being around Shane, after so long, has made all those high school love feelings rush back all at once and my mending heart is, unfortunately, falling for him all over again.

I try my best to piece it all together. The death of his father while we were in school, left him to take over the ‘family business, leaving him to decide to leave me out of this world or bring me in. Now knowing the entire story, could I really blame him for the decision he ultimately made? I know the answer is no, I can't blame him. What decision would I have made back then if he did tell me all of it? Would I make the same decision I am now?

While I get ready for work I can’t help but think, I know that I will accept him no matter what. I’ll give up whatever is needed in order to be a part of his life. And that honestly scares me.

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