A/N: So sorry for how long this update took! I think life got a little bit hectic on us both, and then I finished this chapter and then forgot t send it back! Doh!
Sarah and Beth xx
"Gerry?" Sandra said, leaving out her icy tone in the bout of guilt that came to her very suddenly. She couldn't bring herself to treat him any worse than she already had. She'd spent years shouting at him, blaming him, making fun of him, taking her anger out on him...and yet somehow, she couldn't make herself hate him to protect herself.
"Yes, Sandra?" Gerry replied, feeling relieved that she'd spoken to him in a tone absent of that iciness which scared him just that tiny bit. That frigidness only entered her voice when she was too livid to shout and bawl at him, and it was always when he knew not to argue for fear of his job, his pride and quite possibly his health.
Any sense of self-preservation abandoned Sandra for just a moment as he softened the hard, set lines in her face that told the world she was sticking to her decision. Just long enough for her to state what they needed, but what she dreaded: '"We need to talk."
"I know. Why do you think I came to see you this morning, then followed you to the baker and waited outside for you in this weather?" She felt even worse at this, which was strange for her - she didn't think she could feel any worse. She didn't know what to say, so instead chose to stay silent. "So let's talk."
"Not here, Gerry." She wanted to tell him they could talk at hers, but the words just wouldn't come out. She was scared of what he'd say; she was scared about what was going to happen next, but for some reason she didn't want to be alone with him. She didn't trust herself around him anymore. She hated feeling out of control. "How about we talk at yours?" Sandra managed to get out.
"Sandra it's about -3 degrees and your house if just down the road. Why don't we just talk at yours?" She just nodded. If she put up any more of a fight she'd have to explain why she didn't want to talk at hers. Something she really didn't want to have to do.
The pavement had not been treated and was hazardously slippy. Something she discovered the hard way when she lost her footing and fell backwards. A strong pair of arms caught her, and when she looked up, she saw Gerry's face, and she felt her heart crack at the prospect of pushing him away from her. She was doing this for one reason, and one reason only, and as she gazed up at his face for that tiny moment, she realised that reason wasn't a good enough one.
She stood upright and pulled herself forcefully out of his grip. She was sending him a message: stay back.
Sandra walked up the steps to her house to open her front door, Gerry following a few steps behind. Sandra threw her bag down as she stepped inside her front door and walked through to the living room to sit down, hoping Gerry would follow, which he did.
She stared into nothingness and realised just what her life had become. She knew nothing of love and hope. She worked. It was all she had. A one track life. This...accident...was the closest she'd come to letting herself feel in years. And just her luck, it was a huge lapse in judgement.
After a while sat in an awkward and thoughtful silence, Gerry chose to speak.
"Have I done something wrong, Sandra?" she shot him a strange look which he couldn't read. "It's just the other night things were perfect. Then when I woke up you weren't there and you didn't answer any of my calls or texts. I was worried." She smiled when he reminded her of that night, but the smile soon disappeared. Now she realised she had to pour her heart out.
"No, Gerry, you haven't done anything wrong." She didn't add that she was being cowardly, or that by now it was very much possible that she was incapable of sustaining anything worth having. She left those thoughts to float around the room unsaid, hoping to God he wouldn't see them.
The confusion on Gerry's face was unmistakable. He was not unintelligent, and he was well accustomed to Sandra's greatest strengths. He also knew of her most crippling shortcoming; she was scared of showing weakness. And he was beginning to believe that was what was at the root of all this. "Then why did you leave and ignore me?"
"I can't do this." It was a statement of was Sandra honestly believed was pure fact. In fairness, she'd never really tried anything as potent as this love she'd found in Gerry. It was something she was unaccustomed to, and it was something she didn't know how to handle.
"Do what, Sandra?" She knew he was genuinely confused now – after all, how could he understand her actions when he wasn't a mind reader?
"Allow myself to let someone in. What if I hurt you or mess everything up? What if this messes UCOS up" Most of all though I'm scared, if I let you in you have the power to hurt me." He looked shocked. He'd never seen her so honest and yet so cruel to herself at the same time. She was actually denying herself the option of what was possible because she was feared what could happen.
"It'll be OK, Sandra, you wont mess it up. Believe me there is nothing you could do that would change how I feel about you. And about me hurting you, I wouldn't dare do anything that meant hurting you." This was the moment he chose to kiss her; she kissed back but only until she remembered what this chat was about. This was about ending this, here and now. Not digging a deeper hole to fall into.
"No. Gerry I can't do this. You can either be my friend and forget all about this or…" she hated the other option but she had to put it out there. "...we stop talking as of now."
"Well, I can't just be friends with you. I love you to much. It would kill me. So I'll email you my resignation later today and then you'll never hear from me again." He stood up before Sandra could object and stormed out of her house. She couldn't believe the simplicity of what had just happened. How easy it was to get him to do what she wanted. That frightened her. That ability to get what she wanted and not even have to shout and scream and argue to get it
"Oh god, what have I done?!" Sandra said to herself as tears rolled down her cheeks. For now though, she had to put on her brave face and show no-one how much she was hurting. Now was time for work. She could cry later.
Hope this is OK!
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Sarah and Beth xx