Never Too Far (Chapter 15)
She looked like she was about to cry and I was afraid to ask her if she was okay. My fear that she might change her mind and stay in Sumit kept me quiet until we were safely out of the town limits. Seeing her hands knotted tightly in her lap bothered me. I wish she'd say something.
"You good?" I asked, unable to stop myself. My need to protect her took over.
She nodded. "Yeah. It's just a little scary, I guess. This time I know I'm not coming back. I also know I don't have a dad waiting to help me out. Leaving was harder this time."
"You got me," I replied.
She tilted her head to the side and looked at me. "Thank you. I needed to hear that right now."
Hell, I'd record it so she could replay it over and over if it would help. "Don't ever think you're alone."
She gave me a weak smile then turned her attention back to the road. "You know I could drive if you would like to sleep this time."
The idea of being free to look at her all I wanted was tempting. But she'd expect me to sleep and I wasn't wasting any time I had with her by sleeping through it. "I'm good. Thanks, though."
I'd gone through a drive-thru and gotten something to eat on the drive down here. She'd been sleeping and I hadn't wanted to disturb her but she had to be hungry.
"I'm starving. What sounds good to you?" I asked, pulling back onto the interstate that would lead us back to Florida.
"Um… I… I don't know. Maybe soup."
Soup? That was an odd request. But hell, if she wanted soup I'd get her some soup.
"Soup it is. I'll keep my eyes open for a restaurant that I know has soup."
"If you're starving please just stop wherever you want. I can find something to eat anywhere." She sounded nervous again.
"Blair, I'm getting you soup," I replied, glancing over at her. I made sure to smile so she would know I wanted to get her soup.
"Thanks," she said and studied her hands in her lap again.
We didn't speak for awhile but it felt good just to have her in the car with me. I didn't want her to feel like she had to talk.
The first exit with food I pointed to the sign. "Looks like there are good options here. Pick a place," I told her.
She shrugged. "Doesn't matter. You know if you don't want to get out and want to stay on the road I could eat something car friendly."
I wanted to draw this day out as long as I possibly could. "We're getting soup," I replied.
A small laugh startled me and I looked over to see her actually smiling. Making her do that more often was a new goal.
Blaire was asleep again when we pulled into the parking lot at Bethy's apartment late that night. I'd been careful to keep our conversation easy. After awhile we'd settled into a comfortable silence then she'd fallen asleep.
I put the Rover in park then sat back and looked at her. I'd glanced over at her sleeping a million times on the ride home. Just for a few minutes I wanted the freedom to watch her sleep. The dark circles under her eyes worried me. Was she not sleeping enough? Bethy might know. I could talk to her about it. Asking Blaire questions like that right now probably wasn't wise.
A soft knock on my window tore my attention from Blaire to Jace who was standing outside the car with an amused look on his face. I opened the door and stepped out before he could wake her up. I wanted to wake her up and I didn't want an audience when I did it.
"You planning on waking her up or are you considering kidnapping?" Jace asked.
"Shut up, asshole."
Jace chuckled. "Bethy's anxious for her to get back so she can hear about the trip. I'll help you with her stuff if you'll wake her up and get her inside."
"She's tired. Bethy can wait until tomorrow." I didn't want her to have to wakeup to a nosy Bethy. She obviously needed more sleep and she needed more food. She'd barely eaten her soup earlier. I'd tried to feed her again but she said she wasn't hungry. That needed to change. It was like those damn peanut butter sandwiches all over again.
"Then you tell Bethy that," Jace replied as I shoved the box in his hands and pulled the suitcase out of the back. "I got the suitcase; you take the box in and I'll wake her up."
"Private moment?" Jace smirked and I shoved the box in his hands a little too hard.It caused him to stumble back which only made him cackle with laughter.
I ignored him and walked over to the passenger side. Waking her up and letting her leave me wasn't exactly what I wanted to do. It scared the shit out of me. What if this was it? What if Blaire never let me near her like this again? No. I couldn't let that happen. I'd work slow but I would make sure this wasn't it for us. Although having had her to myself all day was going to make it real hard to go back to the way it was.
I unbuckled her. She barely stirred. A lock of hair had fallen in her face so I gave in to the urge to touch it. Reaching up I tucked the hair behind her ear. She was so damn beautiful. I'd never move on from her. It wasn't possible. I had to find a way to get her back. To help her heal.
Her eyelids fluttered open and her gaze locked with mine.
"We're here," I whispered, not wanting to startle her.
She sat up and gave me a sheepish smile. "Sorry, I fell asleep on you again."
"You must have needed the rest. I didn't mind." I wanted to stay there and keep her in my car but I couldn't do that. I moved back so she could get out. Asking her if I could see her tomorrow was right there on the tip of my tongue. But I didn't. She wasn't ready for that. I had to give her space. "I'll see you around then," I said and her smile wavered.
"Okay, uh, yeah, see you around. And thanks again for helping me today. I'll pay you back for the gas."
Like hell. "No, you won't. I don't want your money. I was glad to help."
She started to say more but snapped her mouth shut. With a tight nod she turned and walked to the apartment.