She said the words, and they broke my heart, because I knew she was right.
“Are we just avoiding one another now?” Greyson asked as I walked past his bedroom door after putting Lorelai to bed for the night. He was unhooking the cuffs on his sleeves as he stared at me.
I took a few steps toward his room and stood in his doorway. “I’m sorry, I just…” I took a deep breath. “I didn’t want to make you uncomfortable.”
“Make me uncomfortable? Ellie, I called you another woman’s name. If anyone should be uncomfortable, it should be you. I’m so sorry.” He rolled up his sleeves on his button-down, and sat on the edge of his bed. His hands gripped the edge of his bed and every muscle in his arm became visible.
I wished he’d stop looking so much like himself. I was still unable to get the taste of his lips off my mind, and the more I saw those gray eyes, the more I wanted them to stare into mine.
I shook my head, trying to keep myself together. “It’s not your fault. It’s no one’s fault. We had so much wine that night, anyway. Things got carried away...”
He lowered his head. “I wasn’t that drunk,” he truthfully whispered.
When those eyes looked back to me, every butterfly came rushing back. I slightly parted my lips and reminded myself to breath every now and then.
“I’m so sorry, Ellie,” he said quickly. “I didn’t mean for that to happen. I’m horrified and such an asshole, and I don’t know what is happening between us…”
I wanted to push him to give us a chance.
I wanted to tell him we could try again.
I wanted to hold him.
To kiss him.
To have him as mine.
But I also knew that those thoughts were selfish, and wrong. Also, I didn’t want to hurt him like that, because I knew he wasn’t fully healed from losing her. He wasn’t able to fully love, and I knew Shay was right, even though it made me sad. The best kind of love was the kind that filled one up completely, and Greyson couldn’t do that for me at this time.
If I couldn’t have all of his love yet, I didn’t want to keep falling for someone who wouldn’t be able to catch me.
“We go back,” I told him, walking over toward him and sitting beside him on the bed. My hands gripped the side of the mattress, just like him, and I gave him a slight nod. “We go back to how it was before that night.”
“But…” He stared at me so apologetically and I wanted to shake the guilt in his eyes. I needed him to know that I fully grasped how much his soul was struggling. Greyson was at war with himself, fighting to move on while still trying to hold on to the past.
He wasn’t ready to let her go, and I had to respect that.
My love was patient. For him, I’d wait forever.
“It’s okay, Grey. I swear, I’m okay. We’re okay.”
He gave me a half grin, and I gave him the other half. “I meant everything I said, Ellie, about how I feel about you. I just want you to know that I meant all of those words.”
I believed him, too. How could I not? He was my Grey. The first boy to ever leave his mark on me. “I know you did, but you don’t need a lover right now, Greyson. You need a friend. Let me be that. Let me be your friend.”
He cleared his throat and rubbed the back of his neck. “You have no clue how much I need that, how much I need a friend.”
I knew, because I needed one, too. We each needed the other, maybe not lips against lips, but hearts against hearts. Maybe we’d both needed someone to talk us through the hard days, to get us closer to the light.
“You don’t talk about her, do you?”
“Because you don’t want to?”
He shook his head. “No, because people get tired of a person’s sadness. They all start moving on, and expect you to do the same.”
I tilted my head and looked up into those gray eyes that I’ve loved so long ago. “Tell me.”
“Tell you what?”
“Everything single thing about her.”
“Hey, Eleanor? Can you come get me?” Karla asked as I answered the phone. It was around ten p.m. on Saturday, and I was beyond confused by her call. Claire and Jake were on a trip, so Lorelai and Karla stayed home for the weekend, which made the fact that she was calling me pretty odd.
“Please,” she cried.
Her voice was low and shaky. I sat up straighter in my bed.
“What do you mean, come get you?” I asked. “Aren’t you in your room?”
“I was, but I, um, I snuck out to go to a party. I…” She started to sniffle. “Please just come get me, okay?”
“Where are you?” I questioned, hopping out of my bed and tossing on a pair of jeans and a T-shirt. I scrambled around to get my shoes on, and I grabbed my purse and keys as she gave me the address.
“Are you hurt? Are you okay?”
“I’m fine, it’s fine. I just…I just want to go home,” she started sobbing into the receiver and it broke my heart.
“I’m on my way. I’m coming.”
“Just don’t tell Dad, alright? He’ll never trust me again,” she warned through her tears.
“Just stay there, Karla, okay? I’m on my way,” I said once more, trying to give her all the reassurance that I could over the phone.
I hung up the receiver and dashed out of the house, and drove straight to Greyson’s. I rang the doorbell repeatedly until he answered.
He raised an eyebrow. “Eleanor? What is it?”
“It’s Karla. She’s at a party, and we have to go get her.”
“What? No. She went to her room a while back,” he explained, rubbing the back of his neck.
“No, she just called me. She snuck out a while ago.”
“What?!” he snapped, his eyes widening from shock. “I’m going to kill her,” he hissed, hurrying over to get his shoes on.
“First let’s just make sure she’s okay. She sounded really upset on the phone. I’ll grab Lorelai.”
“Okay, I’ll meet you out front.”
When I grabbed Lorelai, she was yawning, asking what was going on, but I just told her we were going for a quick ride. We headed outside, and Greyson already had the car running. I placed Lorelai into her car seat and buckled her in, then I hopped into the passenger seat and closed my door.
“Where are we going?” Greyson asked with his hands gripped tightly around the steering wheel. “Where are we going?” he repeated, his voice stern.
I gave him the address and he took off, not speaking a word. I glimpsed the anger in his tense jaw and the way he gripped the steering wheel. The stress that was flying through his mind.
“That is the last time I give her a bit of responsibility,” he hissed beneath his breath. “She just proved—”
“Greyson,” I said lowly, placing my hand on his forearm. “There’s plenty of time for you to be upset. But right now, I think she’s just going to need you to be there for her. She sounded so distressed.”
He let out a quick huff and went silent, not speaking another word.
When we arrived at the location Karla had given me, we found her sitting on the curb. She was balled up, with her arms wrapped around her legs and her head down, rocking back and forth.
Lorelai was fully awake now, glaring out of the window at her sister. “What’s wrong with Karla?” she asked, confused.
“Stay here, Lorelai,” Greyson ordered as he and I got out of the car.
We walked over to Karla, and looked at her, and a strong stench hit our noses as we grew closer and closer. There were some liquids all over her and what looked to be pieces of trash, stuck to her clothes.
“Karla?” I whispered, and she jumped, alarmed, as if someone was going to attack her.
“Leave me alone!” she hollered, wide-eyed as she looked around. When she realized it was me, she took a deep breath. “Eleanor.” She stood to her feet and then saw Greyson and her eyes filled with fear. “You told him? I told you not to tell him!”
“I had to, Karla, he’s your father.”
She looked at Greyson and began shaking, as if she knew exactly how much trouble she was in. “Dad, look, I’m sorry, okay?” Tears started streaming down her face as her small frame shook. “I know you’re upset and you won’t trust me ever again, but look, you don’t get it. Nobody gets it.”
“Gets what, Karla?’ I asked, because Greyson was standing there speechless, and I wasn’t even sure what emotions were running through him. I couldn’t tell from his stance. I couldn’t tell from his facial expressions. He just seemed frozen in place.
“I’m lonely!” she cried out, tossing her hands in the air. “I have no friends, and everyone hates me and makes fun of me every day. Every day is hard, and you guys don’t understand. Nobody understands! I just thought when my old friends called me to hang out that maybe I was being let back into our friendship group, I just thought, I thought, I th…” Her words were so jumbled and shaky that they grew harder to understand as she sobbed nonstop. “I’m sorry, Dad, okay? I’m sorry. I’m sorry, I’m—”
Before she could continue, before she could push one more apology out of her mouth, Greyson stepped in and wrapped his arms around her. He pulled her in so tightly that she wouldn’t have been able to let him go if she wanted to. She kept saying the words I’m sorry to Greyson, and he held her so close to him.
“It’s all right, Karla. You’re all right, I got you.” He held her as she sobbed into his arms.
“You’re never going to forgive me,” she cried. “I keep messing up.”
“Hey, hey, look at me.” Greyson pulled away from her and bent down to look her in her eyes. “You are my daughter. I am always going to be here for you.”