Begin Again

Page 27

"You're quiet tonight," Jeff said in low voice. I looked up and found him studying me.
'I'm fine," I replied. I plastered on the fake smile I'd been wearing all day in the hopes that he'd believe it.
"You want to talk about it?" he asked, concern furrowing his brow. "I know last night couldn't have been easy for you." He was referring to the news Sienna had decided to share in the middle of Huntley and Grayson's rehearsal dinner. The news that had unraveled all the progress I had made because it reopened a wound that would never be completely healed.
"Please," I sighed, "I don't want to talk about it. I just want to enjoy the rest of my night."
"Why won't you let me help you, Demi?"
"Because you can't. No one can."
He tilted my head up with his index finger and pierced me with his gaze. "You can't carry it all alone. Please, let me help you. Let me be there for you."
His words sunk in and when he lowered his head, brushing his lips across mine, I knew we were both having an entirely different conversation. He wasn't just asking me to let him help me. He was asking me to give myself to him. He didn't need to say the words. It was all there in his eyes.
"Jeff, I…" I struggled with the words, not only because I didn't know what to say, but also because I knew I was about to break his heart.
"Have you considered the possibility that it's time to move on?" he asked.
We stopped dancing and stood in the middle of the dance floor. "I have moved on," I said. It was a lie, but it was a necessary lie. I had to convince myself more than anyone else that I had actually moved on from Brody.
"Then prove it," Jeff challenged, "Move on…with me."
"I don't think – "
"I love you," he blurted out quickly, looking down at my face.
"I love you too," I replied. "You're one of my best friends."
"You're misunderstanding me," he leaned in, "I'm in love with you, Demi. I want you to be with me, as my girlfriend."
My hands dropped to my sides and I took a small step back. I'd known this moment was coming ever since Brody's grandmother had pointed out how Jeff really felt about me.
"I can't," was my only reply, and this time I wasn't lying to him.
"Why not?"
I swallowed hard. "I'm not the woman for you, Jeff."
"How can you decide that for me?"
"I love you, but not the way you want me to. I just don't see you that way. You're a good - "
"Don't say friend, please. I thought after some time you'd start to feel more, but maybe I misread all the signs."
"I didn't mean to lead you on. I'm sorry – " Jeff put his hands up and I stopped talking.
"I'm such an idiot," he mutters, looking defeated.
"I can't lose you," I choked out, "I still need you in my life, please."
Jeff shook his head. "I don't know if I can."
"Jeff, please," I pleaded.
"I need some time," he sighed. He pressed a chaste kiss to my forehead and walked away, leaving me standing alone. A hand came to rest on my forearm and I turned around to find Huntley.
"Is everything okay?" she asked. The look on her face closely resembled pity and I hated it, but I couldn't lie to her.
"No," I replied. "I can't be around both of them right now. It's just too hard. I'm sorry, but I think it's time I left and went home."
"I understand. Call me if you need me, okay?"
I nodded. "I will . I love you, and I'm so happy you and Grayson finally got your happy ending. You both deserve it." I blinked back my urge to cry, I'd been doing that way too often lately, and settled for hugging my best friend.
"You deserve it too," Huntley whispered.
"I want to believe that," I sighed, feeling drained. "But I just need some time."
Huntley pulled back and looked at me. "Everything will be okay, you have to know that Demi. You're strong enough to get through it."
I couldn't respond because I had a hard time believing things would ever be okay again. God, I hated myself for being so weak.
"I'll call you tomorrow," I said.
I walked towards our table and picked up my purse. I poured one last glass of champagne and before I could throw it all back at once, Brody snatched it out my hands.
"What are you doing?" I asked. Irritation flared and I had to stop myself from going off on him. Who the hell did he think he was?
"I could ask you the same thing," he replied. I noticed the tick in his jaw and the way he ground the words out. He was mad. I just couldn't understand why. We'd barely glanced at each other all day.
I threw my hands up in exasperation. "What ever," I muttered. "I'm tired and I'm going home." I turned my back on him and headed towards the exit of the marquee tent. I heard Brody following me but I didn't care. I pulled my keys from my purse and walked through the other cars until I found mine. I opened my door and then Brody slammed it shut.
'You're not driving," he said, sounding angrier than before. My irritation morphed into rage.
"The hell I'm not," I snapped, trying to open my car door.
"You've had too much to drink, and you're obviously upset. You shouldn't be driving in your," he hesitated, "condition."
I scowled at him. 'What the hell are you talking about my 'condition'?"
"Just give me your Goddamn keys, Demetria, or we'll be here all night."
I was too tired to fight so I threw my keys at him. They hit his hard chest and bounced onto the ground.
I walked around to the other side and climbed in, making sure to slam the door. If he insisted on treating me like a child then I'd behave like one. He slid into the driver's seat, looking hot and disheveled in his black tuxedo. His hair stood in all directions, probably from running his fingers through it more than a few times, and his face was hard. He was quite a sight, even when he was pissed off.
We drove through the gates and onto the road, the silence stretching between us and growing more intense. I wasn't going to speak first. I had nothing I wanted to say to him.
He muttered something under his breath and turned my face to glare at him.
"What was that?" I asked.
"Nothing," he grunted.
"If you have something to say, Brody, then just say it! I'm so sick of your stupid games!"
"This isn't a game, Demetria." He drove faster and if I hadn't trusted him so implicitly, I would have been scared. We reached the edge of town and I was relived to almost be home. I needed to get away from Brody, and fast. He was no longer good for me, I realized.
"Well then grow a pair," I said, "and tell me why you felt the need to drive me home when I'm perfectly capable of taking care of myself. I've been doing it for the last year and I sure as hell won't stop when you leave again."

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