I knew I didn’t have long and I was taking a huge risk. I had to talk to him. I had to know where we stood.
He was waiting there for me by the time I rushed up over the hill. I’d been so anxious to see him but now that he was there, I found I was suddenly nervous. Maybe I didn’t want to know after all. What if he had moved on? How would I ever deal with that? I couldn’t make myself go any further.
My eyes shot up but there was no time to respond.
It was heaven being in his arms again. I knew I didn’t have long and we needed to talk but I couldn’t make myself pull away from him. It was Lotus who started the kiss and Lotus who eventually had to end it.
“I’ve missed you so much, Kiki. Berry, I don’t think I could have taken much more. I was so afraid he’d never change his mind.”
I looked down. I didn’t relish having to tell him the truth but I’d learned my lesson about being dishonest. “He didn’t change his mind, Lotus. He’s at the hospital with Ashley.”
Lotus pushed away slightly. “Berry, Ki! You’re going to get into worse trouble. Dad told me he’s going to pull you out of school if you get in trouble again!”
“I know, Lotus! I know. It was the only way. He won’t let me out of his sight at all. Ever. I can’t stay long but I had to talk to you. I-I needed to know…to know if…”
“Ki…why do you torture yourself. What did I tell you the last time I saw you? I love you, Kiki. Nothing will change that. I hate being away from you but it won’t change how I feel. I’ll wait as long as it takes.”
I let out a breath and fell into his arms. “Oh, Lotus. I was so afraid. This is such a mess. I’m so sorry.”
He held me for a bit, stroking my hair and whispering in my ear. When I’d composed myself, he wiped my tears away with his thumb and kissed me gently.
“Ki, I need to talk to you before you go.” His touch was still gentle but his tone was so serious. My heart sank.
“There’s no easy way to say this.” Oh Berry. I didn’t want to hear what he would say next.
“I’m going to Bridgeport.”
I’d known it was coming but it still took my breath away. I could barely manage a whisper. “When?”
He looked away again. “Soon. After my birthday.”
“Yes. Next week.”
And then the tears were back.
I managed to pull myself together again but I couldn’t make myself look at him. Instead I just stood there with my head hanging while I listened to him.
“Ki…I…Please don’t think I want to leave you. I just…You were the only thing worth staying here for. If I can’t be with you, then there’s nothing here for me. I’ll take some classes and get a job in Bridgeport. I can start making a life for us…if that’s what you want. I don’t care how long I have to wait. I would wait forever for you, Kiki. But I can’t wait here. I can’t make a life here.”
I nodded miserably. He was right. And it was true, we wouldn’t be able to see each other and there was no point in him sticking in this dead end town but the thought of him not being in the same town as me was sickening.
“I’ll come. Right after graduation.”
He shifted and looked uncomfortable. “Actually, Ki, I think you should wait a little longer.”
My head shot up. “But…why?”
“Just hear me out, ok? You know I love you but I think you should wait for just a little while. Get closer to your birthday. Berry, you’ve got a new sister on the way-your family needs you. I need to you to come to me without running away from this mess. You’ve got to get your head together and stop being so reckless. I think you should straighten things out with your Dad, too, Kiki.”
I shook my head slowly.
“Kiki. Do NOT think I don’t want you. If you told me to stuff it and insisted you come after graduation, I’d never, ever turn you away. But I just don’t want it to be that way. I want to be with you and I want you to be able to choose when and how to be with me. I don’t want you to run away and be with me just because you’re afraid you’ll lose me otherwise!” He threw his hands in the air. “Berry! Am I making any sense at all?”
I took a deep breath and nodded. He was right. I was so afraid of losing him that I would run away from everything I knew and burn every bridge in my life instead of working it all out. I could read between the lines. He was telling me I needed to stop running from my problems and stop acting like a…well, an over emotional teenager. He was right, of course, but it was so hard to think of waiting that long.
“Lotus, I-I don’t know when I’ll see you again.”
“I know, Ki. It doesn’t matter. I promise you, I’ll be there waiting for you when you’re ready.”
I nodded again. “I need to get going soon.”
“I’ll drive you but…before we go…”
A few days later, Ashley and Dad brought home Abigail Elizabeth and for the second time this year, I fell completely and utterly in love.