Chapter Twenty-One


"Please don't go
Without you I am weak
Find myself drinking and sinking
Seeking...
How do you still have grace
And mercy, mercy
To keep on kissing my face
Even though I am wrong, wrong, wrong, wrong..."

Grace ~ Chantal Kreviazuk

Meanwhile, Jason sat waiting. He, too, was thinking of the lonely week... one of the longest weeks of his life, no doubt. It sounded so easy - staying away from her for a few days - but it was so much harder than he’d thought it would be.

He missed her. Before, it had been hard sometimes... before it all began, and yet, he’d had feelings for her. It had been hard to always hide. But now that he’d had a taste of what it would be like, what it was like to hold her in his arms, it was infinitely harder. Every time his mind wandered, he’d see her eyes, looking up at him, so full of emotion... he’d hear her voice whispering his name... and as hard as he tried, he couldn’t block it.

He knew what he had to do. He’d been thinking about it, struggling with the decision for the past three days, but he knew it was the only way. He couldn’t go on like this. They couldn’t go on like this. He knew he had to do it, had to tell her... and yet, he didn’t want to. He didn’t want to lose her. Was it worth the risk?

He suddenly heard a knock at the door and slowly went to answer it.

He opened the door. She stood there silently, and for a moment, they just stared at each other.

He swallowed hard. He was not going to let himself be caught up in how beautiful she was. He was not going to falter under the fear and worry in her blue eyes. He was not going to give in... not this time...

“Hi,” he greeted softly.

“Hi.” She was staring at the floor.

“Come... in,” he invited awkwardly, pushing the door closed. He sat down on his bed, and she sat on Ross’, as far away as she possibly could, as if she was afraid that being close to him might... He pushed the thought aside. He’d called her here for a reason, and now he had to go through with it.

“Belle,” he started, not wanting to look at her. “This week has been... hard.”

“Yeah,” she agreed in a barely audible voice.

“I’ve missed you,” he confessed. “I know that sounds stupid, we skated together every day, but...”

She cut him off mid-sentence. “I know what you mean. Me, too. But that’s not why you called me here, is it?”

It was more of a statement than a question. He sighed. He couldn’t hedge any longer...

“No,” he confirmed. “Belle, I’ve been thinking this week... about us. About everything. And I’ve made a decision.”

She suddenly raised her head and looked at him. “Oh?”

He took a deep breath. “Belle, this can’t go on. I can’t do this anymore. I’ve stayed in way too long, I should’ve done this a long time ago, but I couldn’t let you go because I was afraid I’d lose you.”

She tried to interrupt, but he barelled on.

“I’m still afraid I’ll lose you,” he continued. “Terrified, actually, but if I don’t do this, I’ll never really have all of you, and I can’t go on like that anymore. I tried. Belle, I didn’t want to pressure you, honey, but now I have to say it, because there’s nothing else left for me to say. He stopped and gathered every bit of resolve left in him. “Belle, you’ve got to decide. Until then, I’m out of this. We can’t see each other like this anymore, we can’t talk about it, nothing. It’s your decision.”

He looked up to see her gaping at him with absolute raw terror in her eyes.

“Jay, you can’t,” she whispered. “You can’t leave me. Not alone. Not now.”

“I have to, Belle.” He prayed his voice wouldn’t betray him. “I’m tired of hiding all the time. I’m tired of sneaking around and lying. And I know this sounds selfish, but I’m tired of sharing you, honey. If I don’t do this, we could go on like this forever, and I can’t, Belle. We can’t.”

“But... but I...” Her voice was shaking, and she was fighting back tears. “You can’t leave me alone. I’ll never get through this. I can’t. You can’t leave me now.”

“Belle, I’ll always be here,” he said gently, willing himself not to be broken by her vulnerability. “But you have to make this decision alone. I can’t help you anymore. All I can do is promise I’ll be here waiting.”

“You can’t leave me,” she repeated brokenly. “I... I...” She stopped, gathered herself, and tried to steady her voice. “Wait. I’m *not* going to fall apart. You’re right. You don’t deserve this. I... I’m sorry... You’re right...”

He didn’t reply. He was too busy battling the urge to take her in his arms and kiss her until everything was okay again. He was trying too hard not to listen to her falling apart and trying to convince herself she was okay.

“I...” She didn’t know what to say, so instead, she got up and walked to the door. “Goodbye, Jason,” she said in a shaky whisper, and before he could reply, she was gone.

Goodbye. It was such a final word... Jason winced. That had been, unquestionably, one of the hardest things he’d ever done in his life. Now the question only remained - would breaking away bring them together at last?


Onto Chapter 22
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