Everything Changed That Spring

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Chapter 22

Natalie had been looking for Scott for almost an hour now. He’d gone off to get them drinks and he’d never come back. It was odd, unless maybe he’d just forgotten she’d asked for water, but no that didn’t seem right. The more she looked the more she started to think that something was wrong. She tried not to panic or worry, but she just couldn’t shake the feeling that something had happened. She needed to find him. Now. It didn’t help that every time she walked into a room someone tried to talk to her. She didn’t have time for any of it.

At last she decided to check his room and when she swung open the door she found him. He sat on the floor, in the dark, his legs pulled up to his chest, his shoulders sagging, and his head buried so deeply in his hands he wouldn’t have been able to see anything even if the lights were on.

He looked so small and lost, and broken. He was the kind of guy who was always so big, who’s presence commanded a room without him even trying, who made everyone feel important, seen. That guy was now curled up in a ball, and whatever war raged on inside his mind, it crippled him.

She didn’t feel herself move, but within seconds she was at his side, crouching beside him and wrapping her arms around his body. He turned and his lips found hers. Hungry, desperately he kissed her, his tongue pushing itself inside her mouth, exploring every corner of it as if he were trying to commit it to memory, like this was the last time he’d kiss her. It took her breath away, and she kissed him back just as fiercely, her heart breaking for him, for whatever had made feel like this.

He broke the kiss, but he didn’t move away. He rested his forehead against hers, his eyes closed and his breathing slow and deliberate, like he savoured every breath.

“Why do you love me?” He asked, the words spoken more to himself than to her, and once the last one left his mouth something changed.

His whole body kind of slumped, like he was giving up, and he moved away from her, swallowing as if it caused him physical pain to do so. She tried to meet his eyes, but he wouldn’t look at her. He was sitting right next to her but suddenly he felt so very, very far away.

Finally he met her gaze. His eyes were defeated, shining bright with tears that hadn’t yet fell. She became trapped, unable to look away, staring so hard into his eyes thinking maybe they’d tell her what he was thinking.

But she couldn’t read anything in them, because he didn’t want her to. He was closing up, pushing her away, just like he’d done all those years ago. Only now she was seeing it happen, in the slight shifts of his body language and the way he’d stopped holding her. Before he’d just come home one day detached. Now he was slowly letting her go.

“Scott.”

“This was a mistake.” He said, every word slicing a hole through her chest.

“What happened?”

“I can’t be what you need me to be.”

“Are you kidding me?” She demanded, backing away from him, anger taking over. “Are you fucking kidding me?” He blinked up at her, surprise taking over his features. He hadn’t expected this reaction. Well, what had he expected? What did he want her to do here?

“Natalie…”

“No.” She exploded. “Don’t speak. Just tell me what the hell happened.”

“Nothing happened.” He rose his voice, frustration coming out with every word. “I already hurt you once, and I haven’t really changed since then. Sooner or later I’m just gonna hurt you again and I don’t want to do that.”

“You’re hurting me now.”

Where the hell was the logic in this? He was leaving her because he didn’t want to hurt her? Really? Really? Did he not hear how stupid that sounded? He didn’t want to hurt her, great, then he should stick around, he shouldn’t dump her. What the hell was that going to accomplish?

“I know it hurts now. But it’ll hurt less now than later.”

“Every word you speak just becomes more and more stupid.” She screamed. She sounded insane, like a mental patient in hysterics, but even as she was telling herself to calm down her mouth just wouldn’t listen.

“Natalie.” He yelled, just as loudly as she was, as if he were trying to knock some sense into her. “I’m bad for you. All I do is hurt you.”

“No you don’t. You make me happy, happier than I’ve ever been.”

“You deserve better than me.” It was like every word pained him to say, like he hated having to say this out loud, admit that he was this failure. He crumpled back onto the floor, tears springing from his eyes, freely falling down his cheeks. He began to sob, loud angry sobs that made his whole body tremble.

And just like that something inside her broke. She’d never seen him cry before. Now he wasn’t just crying, he was completely falling apart and there was nothing she could do about it. Her breath hitched, and before she knew it tears were falling from her eyes too, just as strong, angry and powerful as his. Why did he think he wasn’t good enough? Who the hell had ever made him feel like he wasn’t good enough? She hated them. She hated them all. All the people who’s ugly words and impossible expectations had broken him like this. He didn’t even think that he deserved to be happy, when really he deserved it more than anyone.

“I’m not going to let you do this.” She said, choking through her tears.

“I can’t destroy you again.” He replied, his voice even as he fought to regain control.

“You didn’t destroy me.”

“This won’t work.”

“You don’t know that.”

“Natalie.”

“No.” She said. “I’m not going anywhere. You can tell me to leave a million times, but I am not going anywhere. There’s nothing you can say that will make me leave.”

“You have to leave. Please. Stop making this so hard.”

“I’m not going to make it easy.”

“Please, just leave. I want you to leave.”

“No.”

“You have to leave.”

“Or what? You’ll cheat on my again?” She wasn’t crying anymore, she wasn’t angry anymore. Now she was just desperate, because she couldn’t let this happen. She loved him. She loved him with everything she had. She loved him more than she thought it was possible to love anyone, and she wasn’t going to let him throw it away because everyone made him think he didn’t deserve her.

“Please just go.”

“I’m not going anywhere.”

“Fine.” He exploded, jumping to his feet so fast the movement startled her. “Then I’ll leave.”

He stormed out the door, just as quickly as he’d stood up. She almost went after him, but at the last minute she decided to stay. He needed to calm down, away from her, away from everyone. She’d wait here, he’d come back, and everything would be fine.

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