"I didn't know that," I said. "Why are you telling me now?"
"Because it damn near tore us apart," he replied. "And you know what I realized?"
I shook my head, not sure where he as going with this.
"I realized that I could live without your grandmother, but I just didn't want to."
"I still don't know why you're telling me this, Gramps."
"Why did you come home, son?" he asked, suddenly switching gears.
"Because I was unhappy in Chicago," I replied, perplexed.
"We both know it's more than that."
He stared at me and I finally understood why we were having this conversation.
"You came back for Demi," he stated, very sure of himself. My first instinct was to deny it, so I did.
"That's not true, Gramps. Demi and I are over. But you know all this."
"I know you don't believe that."
"Why else would I have come home?"
"You realized that you could live with out her, but you are choosing not to."
I looked at my grandfather, the man who had raised me taught me about what it took to be a man.
"Have you spoken to her yet?" he asked.
I put my elbows on my knees and pulled my fingers through my hair, the weight of the last two months resting heavily on my shoulders.
"No," I replied. "I'm not sure I'm ready for that yet."
"Bullshit," he said loudly. I was taken by surprise. He never cursed. "You came back to fight for her, didn't you?"
I couldn't lie to this man, but I wasn't sure. Had I come back to fight for Demi? I didn't even know if there was anything still worth fighting for.
Before I could say as much, my grandmother came outside.
"It's almost time to get leave for Huntley and Grayson's barbeque. You boys nearly ready?"
"I'm ready," my grandfather replied, "I don't need all day to get ready like you women do." He was teasing, and like most times, he was doing it to get a rise out of my grandmother.
She pointed her index in his direction and fixed him with her stern yet exuberant gaze. "Don't sass me Clayton Scott." He stood up and walked towards her, encasing her in his arms. "I wouldn't dream of it, sweetheart." He pressed a kiss to her lips, and I looked away to give them some privacy. Not to mention it was weird as hell watching your grandparents make out like teenagers. In many ways, I envied them. Who would've thought? They had the kind of love people write novels about, and I wasn't too much of a man to admit that I wanted it.
"Are you coming with us?" my grandmother asked after they'd unlocked their lips.
"I'll join you a little later," I replied. "I'm going to take a shower and unpack first."
"Don't take too long," my grandfather said. "I'm sure Grayson is eager to see you and catch up."
"Yes sir." I gave them a half smile and grabbed my bags from my truck. As soon as my grandparents had left, I hopped in the shower and got ready. I wasn't even sure I'd be seeing Demi tonight, but I couldn't ignore the small part of me that was hoping I would.
GRAYSON GREETED ME at the front door, followed by a rather enthusiastic Hunter.
"Good to have you home," Grayson said.
"I could say the same thing. You guys have a good honeymoon?"
His face broke into a grin and he replied, "Yeah, we had fun." He winked and I pretended to slug him in the arm.
"T.M.I man, really
. I don't need to know that shit."
Grayson laughed as we made our way outside, but stopped just before we reached the door. He hesitated, and then looked back at me. "Demi's here," he said carefully, no doubt waiting for my reaction.
"I was counting on it."
He gave me a its about fucking time smile and I followed him outside. I wasn't sure what I was going to say to Demi when I saw her, but I'd figured it would come to me as soon as she was in front of me.
Huntley appeared in front of me, a knowing smile on her face. Did everyone know why I'd really come home except for me?
"Welcome home," she said with a hug. "It's about damn time."
"Nice to see you too, Mrs. Carter."
She beamed and damn if I wasn't happy for them.
"She's over there," Huntley pointed behind her, "talking to your grandparents."
"Thanks" I replied. "You think she'll talk to me?"
Huntley looked back at Demi and then at me. "I think you have to try. We're all rooting for you." Her eyes softened and she touched my arm. "Don't let me down."
I dipped my head and made my way towards Demi just as she turned her head. Our eyes clashed, green to brown, and I was instantly thrown back in high school. My hands started sweating, and I rubbed them on my jeans. It didn't help. My heart raced, blood rushing to my ears. Dammit, I was nervous.
"Hi," I said, stepping up to her. My grandparents sidled away quietly, leaving me alone with Demi.
"Hey," she replied quietly. Her light, faded jeans clung to her body, making it obvious that she's lost weight. Her black blouse hung loosely around her middle, but still managed to show off the curves I'd fallen in love with. Her eyes were a little dull, and her face a little more hollow than the last time I'd seen her. She looked gaunt, but still gorgeous. She'd always be gorgeous in my eyes.
"Uh…" I stuttered. Fucking nerves. "Can we go somewhere and talk?"
She looked apprehensive, somewhat hesitant. "I don't think now's the time or the place."
"Please," I persisted. "It won't take long."
"Okay," she sighed. I followed her through Huntley and Grayson's house and out the front door to the driveway. It was a strange place to have this conversation, but I guess it was as good as any. It was the only place we could get some privacy.
She stopped next to Huntley's grey jeep and turned to face me. We stared at each other, as if to relearn what the other looks like. On the outside we might've looked the same, but inside we'd changed. For better or worse only time would tell.
I swallowed, and took a leap. "We have a lot to talk about and - "
"I'm sorry," she blurted. "For all of it."
I relaxed slightly, thinking that 'sorry' was a good place to start. "So am I. We made a real mess of things."
"I should told you about…" she blinked, hesitating, "the baby. I was wrong to keep it from you."
"You're right," I admitted. "You should've. But if I hadn't have left, then maybe things would have been different."
"It wasn't your fault, and it wasn't mine. We made some stupid decisions, reckless decisions."
I rubbed my face. "I know."
"Do you think we can move on?" Her eyes shone bright with hope, a hope that mirrored mine.
"Things can never be the same, you know that."