Blurred Lines Page 68

My heart breaks, even amid my confusion. “Parks—”

“Or I’ll go with you!” she says. “I mean, I’ll have to come back to Portland, like, all the time because of my mom, but I could live with you in Seattle some of the time, and—”

Something is wrong. She isn’t acting right.

I grab her hands, holding them still. “Parker. Sweetie. What’s wrong? Is it your mom? Has she taken a turn for the worse?”

Her eyes are overflowing with tears. “No. She’s the same. Prognosis is the same.” She licks tears off her lips, and my heart breaks all over again.

What is going on here?

I take a deep breath. “Did Lance—”

“We broke up.” She’s talking faster now.

My first reaction is relief. Deep, soul-wrenching relief. For me.

Followed quickly with pain for her. I hate that I have to watch her go through this again. No wonder she’s so worked up. She just got dumped.

And yet none of this makes sense. Why would he go from carrying a ring around to breaking up with her in twenty-four hours?

“Did he say why?” I ask.

“Why what?”

“Why he broke up with you?” I say, keeping my voice as gentle as possible.

“You’re not getting it!” Parker jerks her hands back from mine and takes a step back, only to come right back toward me, closer this time.

She meets my eyes. “Don’t mute me, Ben. Please don’t mute me. Let me say this.”

My heart begins to pound.

With fear. And hope.

When her hands come toward me again, they’re shaking, and she hesitates slightly before resting her palms lightly against my cheeks.

“Lance didn’t break up with me,” she says. “I broke up with him.”

I don’t breathe. Can’t breathe. “Why?”

Her eyes roam over my features as though searching for something. “You really don’t know?”

My heart is pounding in earnest now, but still I don’t move.

“I don’t think—” I break off, having to clear my throat. “I don’t think I could bear it if I was wrong.”

“Last night, after I sang to you, where did you go?”

My hands lift, covering hers. “So you were singing to me?”

Parker’s eyes manage to roll despite the fact that they’re watery. “Of course.”

I hesitate, unsure of how much I should tell her, but it’s too late for either of us to go back now. “Lance had a ring,” I say slowly.

“I know. I saw it.”

“He showed it to me,” I tell her. “He asked my permission or some shit, I guess.”

“Did you give it to him?” she asks.


“Did you give him permission?”

“Of course,” I say.

Her eyes go carefully blank, and her hands drop as she takes a step backward.

“No, Parks…you don’t…I thought you loved him. I thought you wanted to marry him.”

She shakes her head. “I didn’t. I don’t.”

I close my eyes, hardly daring to hope.

“Parker—” My throat closes, and I have to clear it again. “Why did you come over here tonight?”

“Because I made a mistake,” she whispers. “Because I promised my best friend that if we slept together, that I wouldn’t fall for him. I promised him that nothing would change. That we could go back to where we were.”

She glances at the floor before looking back at me. “But I did fall for him. And I don’t want things to go back to how they were.”

I open my mouth, but happiness is getting in the way of words, and I can’t seem to make a single noise.

“If you’re going to reject me, do it quickly,” she says. “Like when you ripped off that Band-Aid after my tetanus shot last year. Just end the pain fast—”

I put my hands on her face. I cup her head.

And I kiss her.

The kiss is rough and desperate and I pour every last drop of my feelings for her into it.

I pull back slightly, searching her face to make sure she’s getting it, but she still looks confused, so I kiss her again, more slowly this time.

“Ben?” she says when I pull back.

“You recently pointed out that I haven’t had a serious girlfriend for as long as I’ve known you,” I say roughly. “Don’t you want to know why?”

She hesitates, then nods.

I gently kiss her mouth before continuing. “It’s because I fell in love with this incredible girl my freshman year. Only I didn’t know how to be in love, so I did the only thing I could to keep her close. I became her friend. I became her best friend, and buried all of my own feelings so deep that I didn’t even recognize them, because her feelings were all that mattered, and she wanted this other guy.”

I take a deep breath and force myself to continue. To be brave like she was. “But when I touched you, Parker…I slipped up. All those long-buried feelings bubbled up and…you get what I’m trying to tell you, right?”

She wipes her eyes. Nods.

I smile at her. “Those sure as hell better be happy tears.”

She smiles back. “The happiest. I love you, Ben. I should have said it the second I came in the door.”

I laugh. “You probably should have. But I should have said it all those years ago.”

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