A/N: Oh gosh oh gosh oh gosh do you realize how long it's been since I updated? I certainly do. Far, far too long, that's how long. My sincere apologies for the wait. Things just kinda crept up on me and then all of a sudden I was supposed to be doing what seemed like fifty things at once. (Really only between two and five things, but hey, they each were time consuming and long-lasting. Like school.) Anyway, here I am now, and it's summer. So, this means that (since there's only another chapter or two (maaaayyyybe three if I really feel like it) the story should be finished soon! Yay! And only ten months after it was published, too, such an accomplishment...
Well, anyway, here's another chapter for you all. I made it extra long to thank you for your patience :)
Lots of love and hopes that I will be seeing you again soon,
It was quiet on the roof of the old high school back at home. Of course, I could hear traffic going by, and see the lights of the town against the dark of the sky, and watch people as they walked along the streets below. But I turned away and faced the houses, and something fell within me.
I called myself crazy and stupid and masochistic for coming back here. I took the train all the way from London to sit, alone, on an old roof on my twenty first birthday.
(On that roof, for some reason, I was even more alone than anywhere else, even though there were no fewer people.)
But I knew the real reason I had come back to that roof wasn't because I was lame, and it wasn't because I wanted to come home and see my family, but was too scared to do it. It was so I could sit, and look at the stars, and think. It was to be alone and to be sad and to remember how things used to be. For the past couple of days – well, past couple of weeks, months, years, but especially the past couple days- I'd been thinking about Tom. I can't get him out of my head.
So I looked about the roof where I had my first kiss and noticed how magic it was without the lights and the music and the roses and Tom (not magic at all) and promptly burst into tears.
It was wonderful.
I'd needed this, probably for longer than I'd like to admit. I'd needed to be able to just sit down and cry about Tom, cry about all that I'd lost without feeling guilty or being interrupted. I simply let all the regret come gushing out, gearing up for a long bout of sobbing, when a noise from below shut me up right quick.
I sniffled quietly and hoped whoever it was (probably a janitor) wouldn't come up here. And if he did, I hoped he couldn't come all the way up to where I was. And if he did, I hoped he wouldn't noticed me, dressed all in black as I was and tucked into the shadows.
After all, what would a janitor do with a strange girl sitting on his roof in the middle of the night and crying?
But I heard the ladder rattle, and gulped as I heard footsteps across the roof towards the high gym roof where I was. I could see the top of the ladder shake slightly, and I pressed further into the corner, watching carefully to see who would appear over the wall.
The sounds grew louder as the climber neared the top and then I saw a hand, and then tousled brown hair, and then a person clambered onto the roof and looked up.
And he looked around and all I could think was ghost Halloween trick Indy surprise revenge dream crazy wish dead and then Tom saw me.
My mind stopped.
He looked at me and I looked at him and then he took a step towards me and I silently shook and he whispered
And I burst into tears again.
It was stupid, I know. But my first thought when I saw Rose was not how she'd ignored my letter all those years ago, or how she'd moved right along to that other guy in the park, or how she'd probably been just living it up here in London while I was miserable in New York. I couldn't think about the past, I could only process the present.
Right in front of me, crouched in a dark corner in the last place I'd expect her to be, a place that somehow made perfect sense.
I took a step towards her, reaching out as if to touch and verify reality. I couldn't help but say her name, giving voice to my hope.
At the sound of my voice, a strangled cry rose from her lips, and she buried her face in her hands, shoulders shuddering with what I knew to be sobs.
And then I was at war. Part of my brain, the practical, logical part, told me to step away and leave, if this was her first reaction to my appearance. She must not want to see you, she still hasn't forgiven you, you should leave before you make things worse than they already are. It was a mistake to come here.
But the other part of me, which felt something like my heart, was urging the opposite. Go over there and comfort her, it said. You came here to try and make things right, didn't you? Well, now's your chance. Just walk over there and sit beside her, and if she doesn't seem to take it too badly then put your arm around her. She's obviously very distraught and likely in need of comfort right about now. And you know you can't wait to touch her again, to hold her, to breathe in the warm scent of her clothes and her hair and her skin, to feel the press of her body against yours….
One guess as to which part of me I chose to listen to.
I buried my face in my hands, unwilling to let Tom see how he'd affected me, yet unable to stop my reaction, to hold back the tears that had built up inside me for so long. I expected him to simply walk away when he saw me, especially once I'd started crying, because who wants to comfort their ex-girlfriend from five years ago who they cheated on?
But the next thing I knew a warm body was pressed against mine, and I could smell the fabric softener on his clothes, and I knew it was no dream or trick or ghost. Tom was really here, sitting beside me on this roof on the night I turned twenty one.
And I was still crying.
As the tears trickled out, a tiredness seemed to seep into my bones, and I could no longer hold myself upright. I slumped against Tom, resting my head on his shoulder, uncaring of his reaction. I was just so exhausted, tired of taking care of myself and putting a good face on things and pretending I didn't hurt.
And then I was surprised for what seemed like the millionth time that night when Tom reached around me and pulled me onto his lap, settling my body against his torso and sliding my head to the crook of his neck. He folded his arms around me, holding me tight to his chest. I could feel him murmuring something, could hear the rumble of his voice in his chest, but I could not understand him through the fresh wave of tears cascading down at this new kindness. The more I cried, the tighter he held me, until all the tears were gone and all we were left with was each other.
I pulled slightly away from him, enough to speak, and I mumbled some apology for the large wet spot now present on his shirt. He looked down at me expressionlessly and said only one thing.
"Rose. We need to talk."
I hid my face against his shirt again.
She sat in my lap, trembling slightly with the remnants of earlier sobbing, arms folded up in front of her and face pressed into my shoulder. Her breath came in short gusts, warm against my throat.
I couldn't help but be relieved, as if some huge weight I'd been carrying for the past several years had suddenly been lifted off my shoulders. Rose was here, in my arms. Even though she was bawling, I couldn't get over how good it felt. How right it felt to have her here, with me.
But when she finally quieted, I knew what had to happen next.
"Rose. We need to talk."
I could feel her shake ever so slightly as she nestled back against my chest, and all I wanted to do was hold her and make sure no one ever hurt her again. But there were a few things that had to be cleared up first.
"Rose. Look at me please."
She drew back to look into my face, and I missed her warmth.
But when it came time to talk about it, I had no words. Nothing I could think of would even go near to describing the past five years, or explaining anything that had happened. And I knew it would be the same for her.
So I did the only other thing I could think of.
I kissed her.
His lips were soft and warm, and he tasted just as I remembered. He kissed me and kissed me, and when I could bear no more joy I pulled back. There was a deep sadness in his eyes.
I reached up and stroked his face. "Tom."
He just looked at me.
I sighed. "Where did we go so wrong?"
And then he took a deep breath, and started to tell a story.