Never Too Far (Chapter 14)
My heart was beating so hard I was sure he could hear it. This had been a bad idea. Being near him was so confusing. It was easy to forget who he was. Having him touch me, even if it was just my face, made me feel like crying. I wanted more than that. I missed him. Everything about him and I'd be lying if the idea of being this close to him all day hadn't kept me up most of the night.
Rush turned the radio back up when I didn't say anything. I should say something after that but what? How did I respond to that without just causing us both more pain? Telling him I missed him and I wanted him wouldn't make this easier. It would just be harder.
This time when the phone rang the computer looking screen in his car flashed the name "Grant." Rush pressed some button and then picked up his cell phone.
"Hey," he said into the phone. I chanced a glance over at him since his focus was no longer on me. The hard frown lines in his face made me sad. I didn't want them there.
"Yeah. We're on our way," he replied into the phone. "Don't think that's a good idea. I'll call you when I'm back." His jaw clenched and I knew whatever Grant was saying was making him mad. "I said no," he growled and ended the call before tossing it into his cup holder.
"You okay?" I asked before I could think that through.
He jerked his head over to look at me. It was as if he was startled that I was talking to him. "Uh, yeah. I'm fine," he replied in a much calmer tone then turned his eyes back on the road.
I waited a few minutes then decided to say something about what he'd said to me. If I didn't start talking about this with him we would always have this awkward silence between us. Even if I left in four months and never saw him again… No, I'd see him again. I would have to, wouldn't I? Could I really never tell him about this baby? I pushed that back. I hadn't even been to the doctor yet. I'd cross that bridge when we got to it. Even if I had thrown up again this morning when I'd opened the trash compactor and gotten a whiff of the left over fried fish Jace had tossed last night. I wasn't normally so sensitive. The hot ginger tea I'd been drinking when Rush picked me up had helped ease my stomach. I could pretend like that pregnancy test was wrong or face the truth.
"About what you said. I, uh, I don't really know how to respond to that. I mean, I know how I feel and how I wish things were different but they aren't. I want us to… I want us to find a way to be friends… maybe. I don't know. That sounds so lame. After everything," I stopped because my attempt at talking to him about this was sounding like a rambling mess. How could we be friends? That had been how all this started and here I was in love with and pregnant by a man I could not build a future with.
"I'll be whatever you allow me to be, Blaire. Just don't shut me out again. Please."
I nodded. Okay. I'd give this friends thing time. Then… then I would tell him about the baby. He was either going to run like hell or want to be a part of our baby's life. Either way I needed time to prepare. Because I would not let my child have anything to do with his family, ever. It was out of the question. I hated liars… but I was about to become one for awhile. This time it was me that had a secret to keep.
"Okay," I replied but didn't say more. My eyes were growing heavy and the lack of sleep from last night and the fact I couldn't drink caffeine to wake me up was getting to me. I closed my eyes.
"Easy, sweet Blaire. Your head is falling over and you're gonna have one helluva cramp in your neck. I'm just laying your seat back." A deep warm whisper tickled my ear and I shivered. I turned toward it but I was still so sleepy I couldn't wake up completely. Something soft brushed my lips then I fell back into my dreams.
"You need to wake up, sleepyhead. I'm here but I have no idea where to go," Rush's voice accompanied by his hand gently squeezing my arm woke me. I rubbed my eyes and opened them. I was laying back. I looked over at Rush and he smiled.
"I couldn't let you jack up your neck. Besides, you were sleeping so hard I wanted you to be comfortable." He unbuckled and reached across me to fiddle with a button on the side of my seat. It slowly eased back up and I could see the one traffic light in Sumit, Alabama in front of me.
"I'm so sorry. I slept the whole way. That had to be a boring ride."
"I got to control the radio so it wasn't a bust," Rush replied with a smirk and then looked back at the traffic light. "Where do I go from here?"
"Straight until you see the large wooden sign that is painted red and says "Fresh Produce and Firewood for Sale" and then take a left. It'll be the third house on the right but it's about a mile and a half down that road. The road will turn into gravel after about a quarter mile."
Rush followed my directions and we didn't say much. I was still waking up and my stomach was feeling queasy. I hadn't eaten yet and I knew that was the problem. I had saltine crackers in my purse that Bethy had given me but popping one of those in my mouth in front of Rush was a bad idea. Saltines were a major giveaway.
By the time we pulled into Granny Q's driveway I had broken into a cold sweat. I was going to be sick if I didn't eat something. I opened the door to get out before Rush could see my face. I was probably green or pale at the very least.
"You want me to go with you or is it best if I stay here?" he asked.
"Oh, um… maybe you should stay here," I replied. Cain's truck was here so that meant he probably was too. I didn't want Rush and Cain getting into any more fights. I also didn't trust Cain to keep his mouth shut about the pregnancy tests. I closed the car door and headed for the house.
Cain opened the screen door and stepped outside before I even made it to the bottom step. His face was a mixture of worry and anger. "Why's he here? He brought you home, now he can leave," Cain snarled, looking past me toward Rush. Yeah, it was a real good idea for Rush to stay in the car. My stomach rolled and I fought back the nausea.
"Because he's giving me a ride back. Calm down, Cain. You have no fight with him. You're my friend. He's my friend. Let's you and I take this inside. I need to get my things."
Cain stepped back and let me pass him then he followed me inside letting the screen slam shut behind him.
"What do you mean you're going back with him? That test come back positive? You running back to him now even though he broke your heart so bad you came here three weeks ago a mess? I'll take care of you Blaire. You know that."
I held up my hands to stop him. "This isn't about me being pregnant, Cain. He is a friend who gave me a ride. Yes, we were more before… things happened but now we're not. I'm not running to him. I am getting my job back in Rosemary and living with Bethy for a while. Then I'll go somewhere else and start over. I just can't keep staying here."
"Why can't you stay here? Hell Blaire, I'll marry you today. No questions asked. I love you. More than life. You gotta know that. I messed up when we were younger and that thing with Callie, she don't mean nothin'. She's just a girl who distracts me. You're all I want. I've been telling you that for years. Please listen to me," he was begged.
"Cain, stop this. You're my friend. What we had died a long time ago. I walked in on you doing things to another girl you shouldn't have been. That night everything changed. I love you but I am not in love with you and I never will be again. I need to pack and I need to move on with my life."
Cain slammed his hand against the wall. "Don't say that! It isn't over. You can't just run off on your own. It isn't safe!" He paused. "Are you pregnant?" he asked.
I didn't answer. Instead, I walked back to the room I'd been staying in while I was here and started packing my suitcase. "You are," he said, following me into the room.
I didn't respond. I just focused on my things. "Does he know? Is the rock star's son gonna take responsibility? He's lying, B. The baby will get here and he will run. He won't be able to handle it. A baby doesn't fit into his life. You know that. Hell, the world knows that. He might as well be a rock star himself. I saw his beach house. That ain't someone that'll be there when things get tough. They don't stick it out. I may have screwed up but I won't run. I'll always be here."
I spun around. "He doesn't know, okay. I'm not sure I'll even tell him. I don't want someone to save me. I can do this. I'm not helpless."
He started to open his mouth to argue when Granny Q walked into the room. I hadn't realized she was here.
"Stop begging her, Cain. You done made your bed boy, go lie in it. She moved on. Her heart has moved on. She's done shown us all she can go to school and take care of her sick momma and herself." She looked from Cain to me and a sad smile touched her lips.
"Breaks my heart that you got another hurdle like this to leap so young and this room is yours if you need it. But if you're set on leaving then I bless that too. You just be safe." She walked over and pulled me into a hug. "I love you like you're my own. Always have," she whispered into my hair.
Tears stung my eyes. "I love you too."
She pulled back and sniffed. "You keep in touch," she said and started to leave then glanced back at me. "Every man deserves to know he has a baby. Even if'n he ain'tgonna be a part of its life he needs to know about it. You just keep that in mind."
She walked out of the room leaving Cain and I alone again. I put the last of my things in my suitcase and zipped it shut. Grabbing the handle, I picked it up. My nausea had gotten worse. I covered my mouth with one hand.
"Shit, B. You can't do that. Give it to me. You're not supposed to pick up heavy stuff. See, you can't do this. Who isgonna make sure you take care or yourself?"
The best friend I'd had all my life was back and the crazy boy who thought he was in love and ready to sacrifice his life was gone. "I told Bethy. She knows and I'm careful. I wasn't thinking. This is all new for me. And I think I'm gonna be sick."
"What can I do?" he asked with a panicked look on his face.
"Crackers would help."
He set the suitcase down and ran out of the room to get me crackers. He was back in less than a minute with a box of saltines and a glass. "Granny Q heard you. She already had the box out and a glass of ginger ale poured. She said the ale would soothe your stomach."
"Thank you," I replied and sat down on the bed to eat a cracker and sip on the ginger ale. Neither of us spoke. My nausea began to ease away and I had learned from experience to stop eating then. Too much and I'd be seeing it again very soon. Standing up, I handed the box and glass back to Cain.
"Just put it down. I'll get it later." He picked up my suitcase. "Give me that box too. You can't carry it," he said picking up the box of things I hadn't unpacked from my last move. I pulled the last small bag up on my arm and he started for the door without another word. I followed him praying he didn't do something stupid when he saw Rush.
We got to the screen door leading out onto the front porch and he stopped.Putting the suitcase down he turned back to look at me.
"You don't have to go with him. I told you that I could fix this. You have me, B. You've always had me."
Cain believed what he was saying. I could see it in his face. But I knew better. If I needed a friend, Cain would be there but he was no one's savior. I didn't need one anyway. I had myself.
I pulled my bag up higher on my shoulder and thought carefully about how to explain this to him one more time. I'd tried everything. He wouldn't understand the truth. Bringing up how he had failed me when my mom was sick and I was so alone would only hurt him. "I need to do this."
Cain let out a frustrated growl and ran his hand through his hair. "You don't trust me to take care of you. That hurts so damn much." He let out a defeated laugh. "But then why should you? I let you down before. With your mom… I was a kid, B. How many times do I have to tell you that things are different now? I know what I want. I… God, B, I want you. It's always been you."
A lump formed in my throat. Not because I loved him but because I did care for him. Cain was a big part of my life. He had been for as long as I could remember. I closed the distance between us and reached out for his hand. "Please, understand. This is something I have to do. I have to face this. Let me go."
Cain let out a weary sigh. "I'm always letting you go, B. You've asked that of me before. I keep trying but it's slowly destroying me."
One day he would thank me for leaving him. "I'm sorry, Cain. But I need to go. He's waiting on me."
Cain picked the suitcase back up and opened the screen door with his shoulder. Rush stepped out of the Rover as soon as he saw us. "Don't say anything to him, Cain." I whispered.
Cain nodded and I followed him down the steps. Rush met us at the bottom and looked up at me. "Is this all your stuff?" he asked.
"Yeah," I replied.
Cain didn't make a move to give him the suitcase and box. A muscle in Rush's jaw jumped and I knew he was trying really hard to be good.
"Give him the stuff, Cain," I said, nudging him in the back.
Cain sighed and handed the box and suitcase to Rush who took both items and headed for the Rover.
"You need to tell him," Cain muttered when he turned around to look at me.
"I will, eventually. I need to think it through."
Cain looked past me toward my truck. "You leaving your truck?"
"I was hoping you might could stick it up at the bodyshop and put a for sale sign on it. Maybe get a thousand out of it. Then you could keep half and send me the other half."
Cain frowned. "I'll sell the truck, B, but I ain't taking no money. I'll send it all."
I didn't argue with him. He needed to be able to do this and I'd let him. "Okay, fine. But could you give Granny Q some of it at least? For letting me stay here and all."
Cain's eyebrows shot up. "You want my Granny to ride her ass down to Rosemary to tan your hide?"
Smiling, I closed the distance between us and holding onto his shoulders I stood on my tiptoes and placed a kiss on his cheek. "Thank you, for everything," I whispered.
"You can come back if you need me. Always." His voice cracked and I knew I needed to go. I stepped back and nodded once before walking to the Rover.
Rush had the door open on the passenger side when I got there and he closed it behind me. I watched as he looked back at Cain before going and getting in on his side. I was really doing this. Letting go of what was safe and taking the first move in finding my place in the world.