Firestorm Pt. 02

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“Because I’m in love with you.”

I took a step back. I was so certain I could’ve found a way to get Hannah and I past whatever was going on with her. I was so sure I could’ve fixed things. But I was blindsided by her admission. It was actually the complete opposite of what I thought the issue was.

I was convinced that she didn’t want me to touch her anymore because there was a new person in the picture. She had been so distant, so withdrawn. I figured maybe she met someone, someone she saw herself dating. I knew from the very start that our arrangement was temporary and at some point, Hannah was going to move forward in ‘The Game of Life.’ The rainbow wheel was going to spin and her tiny car would carry her across the tiles, off to the future that she’d always dreamed of.

A future that I wasn’t capable of giving her.

My head was reeling. I didn’t know how to even begin processing what she told me. The influx of questions and emotions rendered me silent, motionless, stunned. I should’ve stopped her, but I didn’t know what to say. So, I let her leave my apartment without a word.

Waves and waves of guilt were crashing against every part of my body. I felt horrible for what I said to her, but I also felt horrible for what I didn’t say to her. I wasn’t in love with her, but even if I couldn’t say that I loved her back… She deserved so much more than my silence.

I got ready for bed on autopilot. Hannah’s words and sobs were replaying in my mind on a loop. Over and over. I tried to sleep, to shut my brain down, but every time I closed my eyes, I only saw her. The guilt I felt was nothing short of excruciating. She was in so much pain and apparently, I was the cause.

I should’ve just kept my mouth shut. I wasn’t prepared for the turn of events my words caused at all. If the idea of Hannah being in love with another woman made me sick to my stomach, the idea of her being in love with me terrified me to my core. I would’ve gladly taken the unfamiliar jealousy I felt when I thought she was moving on with someone else over whatever it was I was feeling.

If she really was in love with me, then there was nothing I could do. She was right. Because I couldn’t reciprocate her feelings.

I would’ve done anything within my power to keep Hannah in my life, unfortunately though, ‘love’ just wasn’t something I could’ve given her. I knew that she was a hopeless romantic at heart. She believed in true love, marriage, soulmates—all of the things I classified as fallacies very early on. She told me before that all she really wanted in life was to find someone to love who’d love her in return. She made it sound so simple, so doable… Like it was such an attainable form of happiness.

She deserved someone to love her the way she needed. Actually, she deserved so, so much more than just that. Whoever she ended up with would’ve been extremely lucky… It just wasn’t going to be me.

Hannah was intelligent, thought-provoking. She was also super easy to look at, a stunner. She was a starburst in a petite package. She brightened up any room she walked into. Plus, her pussy was golden (I missed it a lot). Having to keep my hands off her was probably one of the most difficult things I ever had to endure in my life. I’d describe sex with her as magic, but that wouldn’t have been accurate. I felt that ‘magic’ way, way before I saw her naked for the first time.

I had no idea how I was going to pull it off yet, but I needed us to bounce back from the ordeal we were going through. It was self-centered, but even if she had feelings for me, feelings that I wasn’t capable of returning, I wasn’t willing to lose her. I had to find a way for us to be friends again because I simply couldn’t live without her.

Me: Can we please talk?

Me: I’m sorry.

Me: Hannah, please.

It had been a week since Hannah and I last saw each other. No matter what I wrote, she left me on ‘Read.’ She never replied to my texts or answered my calls. I mulled over just showing up to her apartment a few times, but that would’ve been wrong, right? She was obviously not willing to talk to me yet. It would’ve been wrong to force her into doing so. But it was seriously using up all of my self-control to not take the elevator down to her place.

The longer she ignored me, the more my anxiety built. I hated how bad things were between us and I was so sure that if she gave me a chance, we could’ve talked through all of the issues. In the long days that passed since her confession, I felt like I finally figured it all out… She just confounded sex with love. There was no way she was in love with me. I knew that if she let me, I could’ve shown her that the whole thing was just a big mix-up.

I couldn’t really blame her for mistakenly thinking she was in love with me. I was the only person in the world aside from her who knew firsthand just how great the sex was between us (hands down, best sex I ever had). It was simple, she just misinterpreted how good we made casino şirketleri each other feel and mistook it for love.

It was hard to explain, but sex with her was like… Fire? Every time we slept together, it felt like flames were dancing on my skin in the most exquisite way possible. Our chemistry was undeniable, incandescent.

Hannah thinking that she was in love with me was exactly the kind of misunderstanding I was trying to avoid. I wasn’t an idiot. I knew that sex was going to blur lines, which was why I decided to set boundaries for us.

In hindsight, I probably should’ve discussed it with her before I took it upon myself to compartmentalize our relationship. But our little arrangement was supposed to be fun and sexy, a whole discussion on why we couldn’t hang out the way that we used to pre-sex would’ve been a massive turn-off. So, I made it my sole responsibility to ensure we didn’t enter the ‘more than friends’ territory.

Hanging out all the time? Friends. Having no-strings-attached sex? Friends with benefits. Hanging out all the time while also having sex? More than friends.

I forced myself to rein back my urges to always be around Hannah. I brushed aside the constant compulsions to invite her out, to crash her place, to be with her all the time, everywhere and anywhere. And even if it was super difficult, I fought the blazing temptation of falling asleep wrapped around her (well, for the most part, there were still nights one or both of us passed out after hooking up).

There were so many times I wanted to ask her to do something other than have sex, but I didn’t because of the limits I set to make sure she wouldn’t get hurt. And fine, maybe these ‘limits’ were also self-serving to an extent… What Hannah and I were doing always had an expiration date, I knew she would’ve had to move on with her life one day, so I couldn’t anchor myself to her more than I already did.

Yet, here we were… She was too hurt to talk. And her sudden absence from my life made me feel like I was completely lost at sea.

I had to keep telling myself that we’d find a way to move forward, we could’ve even gone backward (all the way to the start) if necessary. We just needed to do whatever we needed to, so things could be good between us again. I had no idea how we were going to do it, but I knew I needed to find us a way to fix everything… Because Hannah was meant to be in my life. Forever. I just had to show her things were going to be okay. We were just going to have to learn how to be friends again. It wasn’t going to be easy, but it was possible—and definitely worth it.

Turns out, Hannah was really, really good at ignoring me. In addition to an embarrassing number of unanswered texts, she also ignored a bouquet of flowers I sent. One morning, I even dropped off a phone charger outside her door with a note that said, ‘Just in case you need battery.’

I officially ran out of ideas. Which was why I decided to go out and have a drink with friends. ‘A drink’ turned into ‘a lot of drinks.’ And as more and more alcohol pumped through my veins, my need to see Hannah grew stronger and stronger. Too strong for me to fight. Alcohol always made me crave the touch of another person, probably because I felt lonelier when I was drunk. But I couldn’t remember a time where I felt that particular ache more than I did with Hannah.

I was consumed by my need to hold her. I didn’t care if everything was still up in the air, I just needed a good night’s sleep and I always slept well next to her. I knocked on her door loudly. I should’ve been quieter, more mindful of her dreaming neighbors. But I was just too gone to care about anything other than seeing her.

She opened the door. “Ellie?”

I had obviously woken her up. She was wearing cloud-print pajama pants and a white tank top. I couldn’t help but leer at her nipples poking through the thin cloth. Her tanned skin looked so inviting. Somehow, she was always simultaneously cute and sexy. I barely suppressed my need to reach out and touch her.

I tried to go inside. But she didn’t let me. Instead, she stepped out to join me in the hallway.

“Can I come in?” I asked. Her unfamiliar act of blocking my way affected me more than it should have. “I just want to talk… No sex, just talk. Maybe sleep in your bed tonight?” I rambled drunkenly. “Remember we said, if fucking wasn’t our thing, we could go back to cuddles? So, let’s just do that. I miss you.”

She shook her head, no. “You should go home.”

I eyed her closed door. I really couldn’t recall a time when she didn’t let me in. This was far from the first time I showed up at her place unannounced, but it was the first time I didn’t receive a warm welcome. A strange feeling of suspicion filled my gut. I knew I had no claim on her. I was the one who wanted us to remain just friends. The unexpected jealousy I felt was scorching though.

“Is there someone inside?”

My accusatory tone was unreasonable, illogical, casino firmaları ridiculous because if she did have someone else in her apartment, that would’ve been a good thing, right? That meant she didn’t really love me. I was off the hook. We could’ve remained friends. I didn’t feel any relief.

When I looked at her again, I noticed that she was mad, too. A lot madder than I was actually. She was glaring at me. “Go home.”?

“So, there is someone else.”

“There’s no one fucking in there!” She said pointedly. She wasn’t yelling at me, but it was clear that she wanted to be. It was the angriest I had ever seen her. Her brown eyes were aglow with rage.

My envy and possessiveness were swiftly replaced by apprehension. I was supposed to be making things better. I wasn’t supposed to be pissing her off. It was the first time we were together since everything went down and I so clearly dropped the ball. “Hannah—”

“Actually, I don’t care what you do, just go away!” She ignored me and my pleas for her to ‘wait a second.’ If it wasn’t so late into the night, she would’ve slammed the door in my face. I timidly tapped on the wood, but she didn’t open up again.

“I’m sorry,” I whispered out in the empty hallway.

With my tail between my legs, I knocked on Hannah’s door at a much more acceptable time. The shame from the night prior was very fresh. And though my memory was hazy, I knew I owed her a big apology for the way I acted.

“Hannah, it’s me. I just want to talk about last night,” I called out from the other side. “I was out of line.”

To my surprise, she opened up right away. She looked exhausted. There were dark circles under her eyes and I felt even worse for waking her up at an ungodly hour. I was glad it was the weekend and she didn’t have to be in work. She stepped out, making sure to shut her apartment door behind her.

Like our last one, the conversation was apparently going to play out in the corridor as well.

“I was drunk. I know that’s not an excuse, but I just need you to know I’m sorry. I shouldn’t have come here last night.”

“It’s okay…” She rubbed the back of her neck. “I’m actually glad you’re here now.”

“You are?” I furrowed my brow. She made a move to reach for the doorknob, but I stepped closer. I wasn’t done talking to her. There was so much I needed to say, so much I needed her to hear. “Wait, I am sorry about last night—but I’m also sorry about everything else.” I had a whole apology planned out, but seeing her again had me all tongue-tied. “I didn’t mean to hurt you.”

“I know.” She looked away. “It’s not all on you. I should’ve said something before things got so bad. But I didn’t.” She sighed. “Speaking of, I really need to talk to you about—”

“One second,” I interrupted her. I had to say what I needed to say before I lost my nerve. “You don’t love me,” I began. She looked back at me, baffled but also insulted. Like an idiot, I kept going despite the warning bells that her expression set off. “You’re not actually in love with me, I think you were just confused because we—”

“Wow.” She shook her head, disbelief evident on her features. She turned around and entered her apartment. I followed after her. I was going to explain what I meant, I was going to ask her to let me finish. But I stopped dead in my tracks.

Her apartment was basically empty, only two small cardboard boxes and a suitcase were on the floor. Her curtains were gone and her bed was bare. The explosion of unmitigated panic that burst through me was instant and unbearable. I looked at her wide-eyed, so many questions were racing through my mind.

“What?” I uttered stupidly. My anxious eyes dashed around. Everything was gone and Hannah was going to be gone, too. Images of my life before I met her flashed in my mind, memories of a time that was less saturated, less bright. The life that I was going to be returning to once she left me. She made everything so much better. “You can’t go.”

She scoffed. “I can’t go, I don’t love you…” She listed, her tone laced with venom. Her glare was icy, but her anger was scorching. If looks could hurt, I would’ve been in a world of pain physically. Fortunately, too, since my heart was already hurting way more than I could handle. “Anything else you wanna decide for me today, Ellie?”

“Hannah… You can’t go,” I repeated myself. I shook my head, dumbfounded. The fear I felt over losing her was white-hot. It wasn’t like anything I had ever experienced before. I knew in that moment, whatever hang-ups I had, nothing came close to how important it was to keep her in my life. She couldn’t leave me. It would’ve destroyed me. “Please don’t go.”

“Look…” She stepped closer and placed a hand on my forearm. She was still angry, but I figured that the pure devastation on my face was making her treat me more gently than I deserved. “It’s not like I’m moving to another country. My lease was up and I just really needed a change.”

“You were just gonna leave? Without güvenilir casino telling me?”

“I was trying to tell you outside!” She raised her voice, throwing her hands in the air, frustrated. She took a deep breath before folding her arms across her chest. “I know I should’ve said something sooner. I just- I’m still processing everything that happened. I swear though, I was gonna call you today before I left.”

“Don’t go.”

“Ellie, it’s already done. I’m just grabbing the last of my stuff.” She explained and it was as if the ground underneath me was crumbling. “I’m actually glad you’re here… At least now I can thank you in person before I go. ‘Cause even if the last couple months have been a mess, I just wanted you to know how glad I am that I met you. You’re such a—”

“No,” I cut her off. What she was saying didn’t sound like a thank-you, it sounded like a goodbye. “Okay, you’re moving out… But we still need to talk about things. We still need to fix things,” I said resolutely even if it felt like I was breaking from inside out.

I needed time (a lot of it) to process the news that she was leaving, but time was not on my side. Whether I liked it or not, she wasn’t going to be living in the same building as me anymore. But a change in address wasn’t enough of a reason for me to let her go. That just wasn’t going to happen.

She widened the space between us again.

“There’s nothing to fix. I don’t love you, right? There—fixed.” I wasn’t used to how sarcastic and snippy she was being with me, but her anger was justified. What I said to her was awful—I was awful. I studied her face, she was still so pretty even when she was so clearly going through a lot.

Actions had consequences, but was the damage I caused so destructive that she had to leave me?

“Hannah…”

“Why are you making this so much harder than it has to be?” She demanded. Her deep brown eyes were shining with unshed tears. “What do you want from me?”

“I want you.” I admitted not only to her but also to myself. I didn’t understand the specifics of what my revelation meant yet. But faced with the dark reality that I was going to lose her, I knew it was the truth. I knew I would’ve done absolutely anything for her not to disappear on me.

“Stop playing with me!”

“I’m not.”

“Then what the fuck are you doing?” She hugged herself. I fought the urge to unwrap her arms from her body. I wanted to be the one to embrace her. Regardless of the expletive, she didn’t look mad anymore. She just looked really, really sad. I wanted to wring my own neck. “Ellie, I told you, I can’t have you in my life.”

Somehow, even if the first time she said it wrecked me, hearing her say it the second time hurt more.

“Well, I can’t not have you in mine.”

“Ellie…” For a moment, it seemed like she was going to stop fighting the pull that was calling her body to me. She looked at her suitcase though then at her phone. “I really can’t deal with any of this right now. I have to go.”

Reluctantly, I was going to let her leave. But only temporarily. I was going to be mature and give her some time and space, and then we’d discuss how we were supposed to move forward. Together.

“Yeah, okay. Do what you need to, but promise me we’ll meet up when you can—when you’re ready.” Before she could stop me, I reached out and pulled her into my arms. I really didn’t want to let her go. “Wherever you want, anytime, I’ll be there. Please just promise me that I’ll see you again.”

She gave a hesitant nod. The rest of her body remained completely still. Her hands never left her sides. And although she wasn’t hugging me back, I kept my arms securely around her for as long as I could. Until she softly reminded me that she really had to go.

I fought the urge to kiss her goodbye, opting instead to squeeze her once tightly before finally leaving her studio apartment for the last time ever. Our conversation was life-altering. Losing her for good would’ve been hell on earth, it was a nightmare I couldn’t let become reality.

I replayed as many of my encounters with Hannah as I could. I called to mind as much of her as possible. Remembering every memory made me happy and sad at the same time. I wondered about when she first knew that she loved me… Whenever my mistake of trying to tell her she was just ‘confused’ popped into my brain, I felt my skin crawl. I couldn’t shut out the voice in my head that repeatedly told me I ruined things past the point of no return.

Everything was in pieces and there was no sure-fire way for me to put it all back together.

All of it was just so messy. It was like I unknowingly entered a labyrinth, and after already taking so many wrong turns, I had no idea how to get to where I needed to be. The goal was to be with Hannah, but I was at a loss on how to make that happen. The most straightforward path was usually the simplest one, right?

She couldn’t have me in her life anymore because she was in love with me and I didn’t believe in love. I shamefully already tried convincing her that she didn’t love me. So, the only avenue left was for me to adjust my own beliefs. A simple path didn’t mean the journey was going to be an easy one though.

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