This is a rewrite of my previous story 'Never Again'.
I want to thank my beta reader, Denise who has been amazing throughout the whole writing process. She deserves a lot of credit for cleaning up my writing! Thank you so much for everything.
It's going to be a five part story which I'll be updating once a week.
As always, the content is my own but I acknowledge that the characters and the inspiration behind the original story completely and utterly belong to Disney.
She was pining for him again. Freshly showered, the nineteen-year-old found solace on her bed. She sat in her flannel pyjamas, knees tucked up to her chin and arms protectively placed around her legs. Gabriella Montez had never felt so alone. Her wet curls cascaded down her back leaving a damp patch at the back of her pink flannel top. She had never felt this lonely when she had moved around the country, making little friends. No, this time it was worse. This time she had something to lose and she had never been so scared in all her life.
'How many times have I thought about him in the last thirty minutes?' The brunette teen shook her head and moved from her position on her bed over to her untouched suitcases. Maybe unpacking would take her mind off the ocean-eyed boy. The memory of his intense gaze made her shudder, anything to take her mind off him. She prayed for something to work.
It was official. Gabriella had stepped off a plane twenty-four hours ago. She had unpacked the night before, which had resulted in making her tired and soon after she was fast asleep, safe under her duvet. She had sat attempting to read for the last eight hours. She didn't know what else to do with her time. Her friends weren't back from college yet. Kelsi was staying in New York for a few extra days to work on her latest musical piece, Taylor was headed to Sacramento to see Chad's end of season game, and the Evans twins were spending Christmas with their parents in the big apple. Why were they not there to distract her from her agonising thoughts?
Stepping back into her world in New Mexico had been difficult. Her life at Stanford was strictly about her. She could block out her old life when she chose to and it was becoming more of an occurrence as a result of recent events. It was her life in California; she had her own friends and her very own barista job that she adored. It was so easy to escape and hide behind pretences. But that was not who she was. Gabriella Montez did not run away from anything, no matter how much it hurt. No matter how easier it seemed.
At Stanford, there was always something to do: an essay to write or a film to watch with her roommate, Cassie. A smile forced its way onto Gabriella's face and the smile widened at the thought of how close she and Cassie had become. She was really going to miss her over Christmas vacation, but she knew that she wanted to be in no other place right now. It was time to face reality and her situation. She grimaced. It was going to happen, even if she wasn't ready for it. She needed to make things right, or as right as they could be.
Gabriella heard the door close, but didn't look up to greet her mother who had just returned from work. She was engrossed in listening to commentary on a certain basketball game, but closed the page when her mother walked into the kitchen.
"Hey Honey, how was your day?" To anyone else Gabriella looked perfectly normal. She still had a shine in her eyes and didn't look like she was hurting, but Maria Montez knew her daughter too well. She was worried when Gabriella stopped talking about her boyfriend in their phone conversations and especially concerned when she had picked her up from the airport a few days ago. The small circles under Gabriella's eyes were starting to darken ever so slightly, and the shine in her eyes was a complete cover. She was hurting and Maria didn't know what to do about it. It especially did not help that her daughter's friends were nowhere to be seen, and with the blue-eyed boy in a completely different state.
"Yeah fine Mom. I completed the first draft of my paper today." The teen looked up and gave her mother a sheltered smile before looking back to her screen. She tilted it away from her mother's sight, now focused on the automatic update text commentary.
Maria Montez was not stupid. She knew that her daughter wasn't listening to her, but this was not a regular occurrence. She prided herself in having a close relationship with her daughter; it has always been solid and had strengthened after the passing of her husband, Jose. All they had was each other and they knew one another better than anyone else. She knew that her daughter was tuned out, focusing on something completely different than her attempt at conversation.
"So I saw Diane McKessie at the store today. She said that Taylor's due back tomorrow, she's coming back before Chad." Gabriella's eyes barely moved from the screen and all but grunted to show that she was listening somewhat to her mother. "So, how's the game?"
"The Bears are up by four." Maria smirked. Gabriella's head shot up, her mouth open in surprise. "How did you know?" She asked, shocked that her mother read her so easily.
Maria carried on unpacking the groceries and called behind her, "Mother's intuition, Honey." She turned around to smile at her only daughter. The smile on her face was soon replaced with a tender look. "When is he home?"
Gabriella's body language changed. She suddenly became protective, raising her legs to her chin on the stool on which she was positioned and closed the lid of her laptop. "I don't know, tonight's the last game so I guess sometime soon."
It was the first time she had spoken about him out loud in so long to anyone. She hadn't even spoken to Cassie about him, the girl that she shared a room with. Cassie had been respectful of Gabriella's space, but also tried to keep her busy – primarily away from the textbooks. Gabriella had never been so happy to have someone distract from her studies. It was so easy for her to burry her head in her work and not think about anything else, but Cassie made it all too simple for her to enjoy herself without thinking about him every second.
Maria had never seen her daughter look so fragile. She had barely spoken about her boyfriend in the past few weeks and refused to open up at all to anyone.
"Well, when I spoke to Lucille last week she said that she and Jack were headed to California to watch the game. They'll probably all come home together."
Gabriella raised her head at the mention of her boyfriend's mother. She winced. Was it right to still call him that?
"You spoke to Lucille?" She asked in a shy voice, looking at her mother as she nodded. Gabriella broke the mother-daughter eye contact and dropped her focus to her fingers, nervously playing with the open notepad placed in her front of her on the worktop. "Has she, did she mention anything about…" she closed her eyes as she said his name, "Troy?" Goosebumps appeared on her arms and legs, he still had an effect on her.
Maria Montez gave a knowing smile. "She might have mentioned something about him. She knows that something is wrong, too. Like I said, a mother's intuition never fails." She waited for Gabriella's reaction, waited for her to move, but instead her eyes fell to the floor. She jumped as she felt her mother's arm curl around her back. "He's been distant, just like you." She brushed a stray curl away from her daughter's face. "I know that you don't want to talk about it," she started quietly, "but if you do want to talk, if you feel you need to get it out, then I'm here for you, Mija."
Her mother had always been supportive of her young relationship. Right from the start she had encouraged Gabriella to go to Lava Springs to participate in the talent show, saying that people make mistakes and that everyone deserves a second chance. She tried to talk her into going back to Albuquerque senior year while she was at Stanford, after telling her boyfriend that she needed to stay right where she was. Maria only wanted her to be happy, and she knew the blue-eyed basketball player was the epitome of her daughter's happiness.
Gabriella took a deep breath before speaking up. "I know Mami, but I think I need to talk to Troy." She didn't want to add anything else and with a small smile she squeezed her mother's hand and picked up her belongings from the worktop.
"I'm going to read over this paper, will you call me when dinner's ready?"
Maria took in the sight of her vulnerable daughter. "Of course honey, it'll be ready about 7.30. I'll call you." She watched as Gabriella gave her a small smile and retreated upstairs to her room.
"You better come home soon to fix my daughter, Troy."