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“Why would you do this?” My voice came out a whimper.
“Babe, I’m trying to help.” He sounded more than a little exasperated.
“How does it help me to know I have so many people pitying me?” I shook my head as tears dripped down my nose. “All I have is my self-respect and my pride. You’re killing it.”
“How’s that?” Ben backed away from me and threw his hands in the air.
“My father obviously now knows we’re struggling. He’ll run and tell my mother. She’ll get to be all smug about our situation.” I dabbed at my eyes with the handkerchief he’d given me when he arrived.
“Listen, if they are sitting around gloating about your ‘situation’ as you put it, then they are shit human beings. If they have the ability to help out and they aren’t, they are shit human beings. If they aren’t there for you in your time of need…”
I glared up at him. “Newsflash, Ben. They are shit human beings. Glad we’re all caught up.” I watched as he swallowed hard. Obviously, my words hit him hard.
“I don’t know why this surprises me so.” He closed the distance and reached out to hold my hand. “I guess it’s more that I don’t understand how someone could abandon you, hurt you and Ollie.” Ben pressed his cheek to my thigh.
“Good Lord! Are you pitying me too?” I reached out to push him away.
“No one pities you, Charlie. Do you not get that yet?” He stuffed his phone in his pocket. “These people donating want to help. I want to help. No one should have to go it alone. Understand?” He gazed up at me with these pleading eyes.
“Not really. I’m not used to this. It feels bad to me.” My head hung and I couldn’t face him.
“An outpouring of love can be overwhelming at first. Just accept it. Let them love you.” Ben took both of my hands in his. “Let me love you.”
$1,440.00 AMAZON GIFT CARD
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Mr. X by Cambria Hebert
Indemnity by K.A. Hunter
Escaping the Cocoon by Jade C. Jamison
Hard Luck by Liv Morris
Filthy Rich (Blackstone DYNASTY 1) by Raine Miller
The Decoy by Emma Nichols
Book Boyfriend by Melanie Shawn
Again, she beat me to my advisor’s office, my crying girl. I heard the sniffling as I sat in the chair outside the door.
“You could’ve called,” Professor Morceau suggested.
“You refuse to get a cell phone. I think we both know why a call wasn’t possible.” She released a mirthless laugh. I heard shoes padding back and forth across the floor.
“Sit down at least. It can’t be that bad.”
“I can’t sit. I can’t stay. I have to get back before Ollie wakes.” She sighed heavily. “We have to meet the doctor in a few hours for the test results. If they can’t tell you over the phone, it’s bad.” She hiccupped.
“Does ‘we’ mean you finally reconciled with the father?” Professor Morceau’s voice sounded flat.
“No, we is me and Ollie, same as always. Us against the world.” She released a mirthless laugh.
“I don’t know what to say.” Professor Morceau sighed.
“You never know what to say. Words were never your thing.” She sounded angry and frustrated. “I’ve gotta go. I don’t even know why I came here.” Then the door flew open again. This time, I was prepared.
Standing, I held out a handkerchief. I’d started carrying them with me after the first time I met her. “Here. Take it.”
She stared at me a moment. This time the tears spilled over her cheeks and rushed down her face. Reaching out, she held the soft linen in her hands a moment, then she fell into my arms. I held her close while I murmured in her hair. “I don’t know why you’re crying,” I whispered. “All I know is I wish I could take your pain away.” It wasn’t much, but it was the truth. My heart had ached for her since our first meeting. The pain was both real and acute.
For several minutes, we stood there with her face buried in my chest. Professor Morceau looked at us thoughtfully, then backed away and disappeared inside his office once more. When she finally stopped crying, she gazed up at me sadly. “For some reason, I believe you.” Then she wrapped her hands around my neck, forcing my head toward hers. Her eyelids shut, but mine never did as she leaned in and touched her lips to mine. A warmth spread through me, building like a wildfire, sparked from a simple kiss. As quickly as she had burst through the door, she backed away and rushed down the hall, taking my handkerchief with her.
From then on, the crying girl was forever in my heart and thoughts. I never told anyone about her. There was nothing to tell, really. I didn’t even speak about it with Professor Morceau, since it seemed rather personal to him. Over time, as the years passed, I gave up and decided I’d never see her again.
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