At last, at last, here it is. The final chapter of I choose you. I know I've made you wait long enough for it, but I really hope it'll be worth it. I'm actually quite happy with this chapter, which almost never happens. Have to warn you though, the ending is so sweet it might hurt your teeth. But I thought it was warranted, since this story has already had more than it's fair share of angst and drama. So I hope you all enjoy!
I also want to thank all of you for taking the time to read this story, and especially those of you who have been reviewing! Thank you so, so much for that, it means so much to know your thoughts on the story and really inspires me to write. And I have to give an extra special thanks to The Bloody Red Queen Of Angst, who always sends in such amazing, beautifully detailed reviews. Thank you so much, your reviews really are an inspiration to me.
I hope you'll all enjoy this chapter and please leave me a review!
Before her sits a broken man. Head in his hands and the weight of the world on his shoulders. Nothing but a shell is left of the man she found waiting for her. She broke him, easily and ruthlessly, and without hesitation.
"It wouldn't be fair to you," she says. "No, Gill," Jeffrey says, still not looking up at her. "This isn't fair to me. None of this is fair."
"No, it's not," she agrees. Every single event in the past two years hasn't been fair. David leaving, just as she'd fallen in love with him, wasn't fair. Him coming back as Jeffrey, too little too late, wasn't fair. Her giving him another chance, eventhough she didn't really love him anymore, wasn't fair. Cal who loves her, but doesn't want to admit it, isn't fair.
This? Cutting Jeffrey loose now, allowing them both to go and find real love with someone else -it's the closest thing to 'fair' that's happened in a long time. But she doesn't say any of that.
"I'm sorry," she says instead. "Don't be," Jeffrey says, finally lifting his head up to look at her. "I just…" He shakes his head. "I just don't want to be here right now," he says, standing up from his seat. He pulls out his wallet and leaves a twenty dollar bill on the table, to pay for their drinks; true gentleman that he is and always will be -with or without a broken heart.
He walks away from her without saying goodbye, leaving her all alone in the crowded restaurant. She turns around and watches him leave, walking out the building. The sound of the door closing behind him is louder than anything she's ever heard before.
She doesn't know how much longer she stays seated at the table set for two, listening to all the talking and laughter around her, feeling lonelier than ever. Eventually a waiter walks up to her, asking if she's ready to order yet. She mutters an apology before leaving quickly and quietly.
She's not going home. She knows it as soon as she's out of the restaurant. She's come too far and lost too much to go home empty handed now. She drives the familiar streets until she reaches the house she knows so well, it has at times felt more like a home than her own house; the people living there feeling more like loved ones than her own family.
She wonders briefly if the throbbing, bleeding heart on her sleeve will destroy all that. Because, not to be dramatic, but those two people inside that house are everything she has left. She pulls up to the driveway and get's out of the car before walking to the frontdoor.
All-in. Cards on the table. She rings the doorbell.
Of course it's not him who comes to the door. Of course it's not him, but the smaller, cheerier and more feminine version of him who opens the door wide.
"Gill?" Emily's big, surprised eyes stare up at her. "You're here! What are you doing here? Weren't you on a date? Is everything okay?" The girl spits out question after question, not waiting for any answers. "Em," she stops her. "Can I come in?"
Emily stops her rambling abruptly and steps aside, making room for her to pass through the door. "Sure," she says, a look of ravenous curiousity still on her face, the girl knows enough not to press the older woman for information.
"Can I just have a few minutes alone with your dad?" Gillian asks. A wide, smug smile appears on Emily's face, making her look exactly like her father. "Sure," she says again. "I will just be upstairs."
Her hands are shaking and her breathing is shallow as she walks through the hallway and opens the door to the livingroom. She's never noticed before how much it shrieks as it swings open.
"Em? Who was that?" Cal's standing in the kitchen, cutting vegetables on the counter, his back towards her. She clears her throat. "Cal?" she whispers, not sure what her next words are going to be.
At the sound of her voice Cal immediately turns around to face her, dropping his knife on the floor in the process. He stares bewildered at her, for once left without words. He frowns his eyebrows and bites his lip before grabbing a towel to clean off his hands and walking up to her. "Well c'm on in then," he says, "don't just stand there."
Five minutes later they're both sitting at the kitchen table, drinking too strong coffee out of polka-dotted mugs. "I'm sorry," he says, slightly gritting his teeth as he's saying the words. "Y'know, for fighting with you."
"Yeah," she says, "me too." She takes a sip of her coffee. "Is that all you're sorry for Cal?" she asks. For several minutes they just stare at each other, neither one of them moving a mustle or making a sound.
"Y'know what Gill, you're the one who showed up here," he says eventually. "If this is gonna turn into some sort of soul-cleansing redemption, I suggest it be yours."
Fine then, if he wants a redemption, he can get one. "I left Jeffrey," she says. "You were right. I'm not in love with him."
He carefully studies her face with knitted brows. "You okay?" he asks. "Yeah," she says honestly. "Actually, I think I'm more okay than I've been in a long time."
"Good," he says, still staring at her intently, looking for possible hidden emotions on her face. "That's good," he says, when he can't find any.
But she's not done yet.
"You're the one who told me we always have a choice," she says. "Well, I've made mine." Her heart beats fast in her chest, pumping oxigen through her body at rapid speed. "Now it's your turn."
He's staring at her from the other side of the table, an amused smile forming around the corners of his lips, but not quite reaching his eyes. "What'd ya choose then?" he whispers.
"Isn't that obvious?" she says, her heart thudding louder and louder, her fingers growing cold and white. "I'm here, aren't I?"
Cal still stares at her, a smile still dancing on his lips because he just can't help himself, but his eyes seeming dark, tired of this game they've been playing for as long as he can remember. "Why are you here, Gillian?" he whispers, his voice strained and thick with emotion.
They've made up their own language throughout the years, a silent language, made up out of gestures and facial features, expressions and reactions; a language of reading minds and bodies alike. They've been speaking their silent language for so long now, they've forgotten how to communicate in plain English, with actual words and syllables.
"I love you," she says, because if one of them doesn't start talking now, she fears they might never be able to again. It's not a romantic confession, it's more of a rushed, forced blurt out; quick and sudden, like ripping off a bandaid. Now the wound is exposed and vulnerable.
Cal stares at her for what feels like forever, saying nothing. And for once, she doesn't know how to read all of the emotions on his face. All she really notices is that the dark clouds in his eyes have suddenly lifted.
"Well aren't you going to say something?" she asks, feeling braver than ever, now that she has nothing left to lose. "Aren't you going to tell me you love me too?" Nothing left to lose, no, but she's got everything to gain.
"Why would I?" he whispers, his voice smaller and softer than she's ever heard it before. "Y'know I do," he says.
She didn't know she'd been carrying the weight of the world on her shoulders until she feels it lifted off of her. "People need to hear the words, Cal," she whispers. "I need to hear the words."
He still stares at her, his eyes bewildered, surprised, confused. But above all, light.
"I love you," he says then. "Love you more than you'll ever know," he says, reaching over the table and grabbing her hands, holding them tightly. "Y're the sun, Gill," he says, "the light of my life. I only ever want you t'be happy, t'feel loved. I'm sorry I never told you."
He looks down at their hands and squeezes them tight. "Guess that's my redemption," he says, grinning widely.
He let's go of her hands and brings his own up to her shoulders, pulling her closer until they're both leaning so far over the table that their noses almost touch each other and she can feel his warm breath on her face.
With their arms wrapped around each other but a table in between their bodies, they must look like a pair of the most awkward lovers ever known to mankind, but she's never felt more euphorious.
"Promise I'll do better, love," he whispers. "Try to, anyway," he says, a mischievous smile washing over his face. She can't suppress a smile herself, nor does she want to.
She doesn't have to lean in much further to kiss him, and when she does it feels like the world stops spinning around them. It feels like fireworks in the sky and like soft, fresh rain coming down on your skin, all at the same time.
Not just like watching the fireworks from the ground, or feeling the rain on her skin, no. It feels like she is the fireworks, shooting up to the heavens at amazing velocity, bursting apart into thousands of golden, shiny slivers of fire. It feels like she is the rain, falling down from the clouds high above, being pulled down by gravity at unimaginable speed, crashing down to earth and eventually colliding with soft, warm skin.
She feels grand and small and wonderful all at once -and she feels loved.
When they break apart it's only because they both need to come up for air. "Now that," Cal says, a smile lighting up his face again, "I could get used to." She smiles too, pulling herself loose from his embrace and sitting back in her chair. Unwilling to let go of his touch completely, she still holds his hand over the table.
"What now?" she asks, softly biting her bottomlip. "I mean, what is this, us, going to be?"
Cal stares at her, his eyebrows raised and a smug smile dancing around his lips. "Well y'r the one who just confessed th'r love to me, sweetheart," he says, leaning back in his chair. "Y'd think y'd have some idea of all that."
She shrugs her shoulders and smiles again. "I guess I didn't really think it through past the kiss," she admits. Cal smiles his teeth bare. "Well, y'did nail that bit," he says.
She grins widely before sticking out her tongue at him. "I am serious, you know," she says. "I know, love," he says, squeezing her hand. "Why don't we just wait and see how this's gonna work out?" he asks. "Make up the rules as we go along, yeah?"
She smiles and nods. "Yeah," she says. "Seems like a good idea."
"Good," he says. "Now for tonight, I'd love to have ya for dinner, here with me and Em, if that's a romantic enough first date for ya," he says with a smug grin on his face. She smiles widely. "I'd love nothing more," she says.
"Are we gonna tell her?" Cal asks. "Who, Emily?" Gillian asks. He nods. She just smiles. "I think she knows," she says. "Yeah," Cal says laughing, "pretty sure y'r right. Adorable little pain in the ass, that one."
"Yes, I really don't know what's so appealing about that quality, but it's that exact combination that makes me love you both," she says. A smug grin appears again on his face. "So y'think I'm adorable, yeah?" he says.
She makes a face. "I think I'm going to go get Emily," she says, getting up and letting go of Cal's hand. "She's been waiting long enough."
She walks through the door and into the hallway, unable to keep the smile off of her face. Never has a conversation with a man she just confessed her love to felt so normal before, joking, laughing and talking just like they always have, like there never was a time where they weren't openly in love with each other.
"Em, come on down for dinner!" she calls, like the girl upstairs is hers to call down for dinner, and like this household is hers to meddle in. Emily is almost immediately down the stairs, staring at her with big, wide eyes, bursting with curiosity. "Shall we go and finish up dinner together?" Gillian asks.
"Come on Gill!" Emily yells, her nosy self getting the best of her. "Tell me what happened with you and my dad!"
Gillian smiles. "Well, I'm here, choosing to eat the cooking of you and your dad, instead of letting my date pay for sushi at a japanese restaurant," she says, "so what do you think happened?"
Emily squeals happily and throws herself at the older woman, hugging her enthusiastically. Gillian, surprised but delighted, wraps her arms around the girl and holds her tightly.
"I love you, Gill," Emily whispers. Gillian drops a kiss on the top of her head. "I love you too, sweetheart," she says.
She doesn't notice Call walking into the hallway until he's standing behind them, wrapping his arms around the both of them. No time or place have ever felt more right than here and now.
She carefully moves her hand behind Emily's back and pinches her own arm, just to see if it'll wake her up, and if this has all been nothing but a wonderful daydream. But they're both still there, holding her tight and close enough that she can smell a mixture of Call's cologne and Emily's vanilla shampoo.
She's wide awake.
Thank you so much for reading, hope you enjoyed! I'm not entirely sure if I can say goodbye to this story just yet, so I might be writing a short epilogue soon, I don't know yet. But let me know if there's something you guys would like to read in a possible epilogue, it might provide me the inspiration to write it!