Never Too Far (Chapter 12)
I needed my things and I needed to sell my truck. It would never make it this far again. Cain had checked it out for me last week after it broke down and said he could temporarily fix it. The cost to fix everything that was wrong with it would cost more than I could afford to spend. Calling and asking Granny Q or Cain to ship my things and sell my truck seemed wrong. They deserved an explanation… or at least Granny Q did. She'd given me a roof, a bed and fed me for three weeks. I was going to have to go back to Sumit to get my stuff and say goodbye to Granny Q. Woods had given me a few days to get settled in before I started back to work.
Bethy had taken off yesterday to take me to apply for Medicaid. It was time I saw a doctor but I would require insurance first. Today I had overheard her tell Jace she looked forward to their date tonight. I'd been monopolizing all her time since she came and got me. I was beginning to feel like a lot of work. I hated that feeling. I could take a bus. It would be affordable and I wouldn't be a burden on Bethy. I opened Bethy's laptop to google the bus schedule.
A knock on the door interrupted my thoughts. I stopped my search for a bus station and went to open the door. Rush standing there with his hands tucked into the front of his jeans and one of his tight tee shirts on was not what I'd been expecting. He reached up and pulled off his aviator sunglasses. I wished he'd kept them on. The silver color of his eyes in the sunshine was even more breathtaking than I remembered.
"Hey, I saw Bethy at the clubhouse. She said you were here," Rush explained. He was nervous. I'd never seen Rush nervous.
"Yeah… um Woods gave me a couple of days to get my things from Sumit before I start back to work."
"You've got to go get your things?"
I nodded. "Yeah. I left them there. I just brought an overnight bag with me. I hadn't exactly been planning on staying."
Rush frowned. "So how are you going to get there? I don't see your truck."
"I was just about to google bus stations and see where the closest one to here is."
Rush's frown deepened. "It's forty minutes away. All the way in Fort Walton Beach."
That wasn't as bad as I'd feared.
"A bus isn't safe Blaire. I don't like the idea of you taking a bus. Let me take you. Please. I'll get you there faster and I it's free. You could save your money."
Ride with him? All the way to Sumit and back? Was that a good idea?
"I don't know…" I trailed off because honestly I didn't know. My heart wasn't ready for that much Rush.
"We don't even have to talk… or we can if you want. I'll let you choose the music and I won't complain."
If I went back with Rush, then Cain wouldn't put up a fight. Or then again maybe he would. He could tell Rush about the pregnancy. But would he? I'd never confirmed to Cain that I was pregnant.
"I know you can't forgive the lies and the hurt. I'm not asking you to. You know I'm sorry and if I could go back and change things I would. Please, Blaire, just as a friend who wants to help and keep you safe from crazy men who could hurt you on a bus, let me drive you."
I thought of how very unlikely it was that I'd get hurt on the bus. And then I thought about the fact I wasn't just keeping myself safe anymore. I had another life inside of me to protect.
"Okay. Yes. I'd like a ride."
Jace was sprawled out in the large stuffed blue chair that sat in Bethy's living room with his feet propped up on the ottoman and Bethy curled up in his lap. I was on the sofa feeling like a science experiment as they both stared at me in confusion.
"So you're fine with Rush taking you to Sumit tomorrow to get your things? I mean you don't feel weird or…" Bethy trailed off.
It would be strange. It would also hurt just being near him but I needed a ride. Bethy needed to work, not to take another day off to help me this week. "He offered. I needed a ride so I said yes."
"And it was that easy? Why am I not buying it?" Bethy asked.
"Because she's leaving out the parts where he begged and pleaded," Jace said with a chuckle.
I pulled the afghan up over my shoulders. I was cold. I was cold a lot lately which was odd because it was summertime in Florida. "He didn't beg," I replied, feeling an urge to defend Rush. Even if he did actually beg, it wasn't Jace's business.
"Yeah, right. If you say so." Jace took a drink of the sweet tea Bethy had fixed him.
"It isn't our business. Leave her alone, Jace. We need to decide on what to do about the lease on this place ending in a week."
I wouldn't be here long. I'd told her that. Moving into the more expensive condo wasn't a good idea. My half of the rent wouldn't be covered after I left and she'd be left with all of it.
Jacekissed Bethy's hand and grinned at her. "I told you I'd take care of things. If you'd just let me." He winked at her and I turned my head away. I didn't want to watch them. Rush and I had never been like that. Our relationship had been short. Intense and brief. I wondered what it would have felt like to have the freedom to curl up in Rush's arms anytime I wanted. To know I was safe and that he loved me. We'd never had that chance.
"And I told you I'm not going to let you pay my rent. Sorry. New plan. Oh, Blaire, why don't we go apartment hunting tomorrow?"
A knock on the door interrupted me before I could agree. Then Grant opened the door and walked in.
"You did not just walk into my girl's apartment without permission. She could've been naked," Jace snarled at Grant.
Grant rolled his eyes then flashed a smile in my direction. "I saw your car here, jackass. Calm down. I'm here to see if I can convince Blaire to take a walk with me."
"You trying to get your ass kicked?" Jace asked
Grant smirked and then shook his head before looking back at me. "Come on Blaire, let's go take a walk and play catch up."
Had Grant been in on the lie? Surely he had known about it. I couldn't tell him no. Even if he had known he had also been the first nice person I'd met here. He'd filled my tank up with gas. He'd worried about me sleeping under the stairs. I nodded and stood up. "These two need some alone time anyway," I replied, glancing back at Bethy. She was studying me closely. I gave her a reassuring smile and she appeared to relax.
"Don't leave on our account. We need to decide on where we're gonna live in a week," Bethy said as I walked to the door.
"Y'all can talk about that later, Beth Ann. Blaire's been gone for almost a month. You have to share," Grant replied, opening the door for me to walk outside.
"Rush is gonna go apeshit," Jace called out right before Grant closed the door muffling whatever it was Bethy had started to say.
We walked down the stairs in silence. Once we were on the sidewalk I looked over at Grant. "Did you just miss me or is there something you want to say to me?" I asked.
Grant grinned. "I missed you. I've had to put up with Rush's sulking ass. So trust me I missed the fuckin' hell outta you."
I could tell by his teasing tone he had wanted to make a joke. But thinking about Rush being upset didn't make me smile. It just reminded me of everything. "Sorry," I mumbled. I wasn't sure what else to say to that.
"Just glad you're back."
I waited. I knew there was more he wanted to say. I could sense it. He was taking his time and I figured he was trying to decide exactly how to say whatever it was he wanted to say to me.
"I'm sorry about what happened. How it happened. And Nan. She can come off as the world's biggest spoiled bitch but she's had a screwed up childhood. It warped her or something. If you'd lived with Georgianna as your mother you'd understand. Rush was a boy so he didn't get it as bad. But Nan, damn, her world was fucked. It isn't an excuse for her, just an explanation."
I didn't respond. I had nothing to say to that. I didn't feel sympathy of any kind for Nan. Obviously the men in her life did. Must be nice.
"Regardless of all that, what she did was wrong. How it was kept from you was really screwed up. I'm sorry I didn't say anything but honestly, I wasn't even aware you and Rush had anything going until that night at the club when he lost it over the snails. I'd noticed he was attracted to you but so were most males in this town. I figured he was the one guy who wouldn't make a move on you because of his loyalty to Nan… and well, what you represented to the both of them." Grant stopped walking and I turned to look back at him.
"I've never seen him like this. Ever. It's like he's hollow. I can't get through to him. He doesn't smile. He doesn't even pretend to enjoy life anymore. He's different since you left. Even though he wasn't honest and it looks like he was just protecting Nan… you two just didn't have enough time. Nan has been his responsibility since he was a kid. That was all he knew. Then you came into his world and apparently rocked it overnight. If he'd had more time he would have told you. I know he would've. But he didn't. It wasn't fair to him. He was falling for this girl he had always thought had been the reason his sister was without a dad. His belief system was changing but it was hard for him to work through it too."
I just stared at him. Not because I didn't agree. I had already worked through all this in my head. I understood what he was saying. The problem was… it didn't change things. Even if he had been going to tell me, it didn't change who he was or who Nan was. What they represented to me. My mother's last three years on this earth had been hell while they lived in their fancy houses and flitted from one social event to the next. Their belief in the lies they told me was the one thing I didn't think I could ever get over.
"Damn. I'm probably butchering this to shit. I just wanted to talk to you and make sure you knew that Rush… he needs you. He's sorry. And I don't think he's ever going to move on from you. If he tries to talk about it tomorrow at least hear him out."
"I've forgiven him, Grant. I just can't forget. What we were or what we were headed toward is over. It will never be again. I can't let it. My heart won't allow me to. But I'll always listen to him. I care about him."
Grant let out a weary sigh. "I guess that's better than nothing."
It was all I had to offer.