The Girl who was Meant to be Mine excerpt
As we enter the mall, Jace clasps our hands. Entwining our fingers together and I forget to breathe.
Staring at our hands as we walk, I try to remember the last time someone held my hand simply because they wanted to.
“Petal.” My last memory of someone holding onto me is not long before my mother took us away. Petal and I were walking to the park down the street. I used to hate that she always held my hand until we got there. Now I miss it.
“What about Petal?” Jace’s rumbling voice interrupts my contemplations.
“Huh?” I gaze up at him and his head is cocked to the side.
“You said your sisters name. What about her?” His smile is encouraging.
Stunned that I said anything out loud, and by the memory resurfacing, I find myself confessing. “She was the last person to hold my hand.” His smile grows. “Weeks before we left, I hated it. I was a big girl, I could walk to the park without her holding me.”
Realization dawns on his face. “Sweetness.”
But I don’t stop talking. The words just purge from my soul. “I told her I could do it. That we could race. That she was just trying to be the boss. But I told her, I was a big girl, Jace. I could walk to the park on my own.” He curses as he pulls me into his chest, wrapping his strong arms around me. Holding me. Showing me he’s a good man. “I was a big girl.” I cry into his chest.
“Of course, you were sweetness.” I can feel his cheek on the top of my head as we stand in the middle of the mall while I have a meltdown.
For the first time that I can ever remember, I feel like someone cares about me. Jace didn’t sign up for the crazy lady but here he is. Holding onto me like a lifeline. He’s got me and I love but also hate it.
Pulling back, I wipe my eyes with the back of my hand. I can’t meet his stare. “I’m sorry.” I mumble. “I need a washroom.” Spinning, I look for a sign and as soon as I see it, I dart towards the safety of feeble privacy in a public washroom.
Slamming the stall door shut behind me, I plop down onto the toilet seat lid and close my eyes. Taking in deep breaths, I try to control my erratic heartbeat. I can’t believe I confessed something so easily to him. He’s going to think I’m such a freak and he wouldn’t be wrong. The minutes pass and it feels like hours when I finally open the door to an empty bathroom.
Splashing cold water on my face and neck, I dry off with a paper towel before taking one last fortifying breath and heading out. Jace probably left. Realizing I’m more trouble than I’m worth so I start stressing about how I’m going to get home. I’ve never been anywhere but Long Beach and I don’t know the bus systems very well here. If I buy a present for Lily, I won’t have enough for a taxi, or vice versa. I’m stuck.
Except, there he is. Leaning against the wall with a bottle of orange juice in one hand and his other buried in his pocket.
“I’m sorry.” I say.
Jace shakes his head as he cracks open the lid of the juice and hands it to me. “Nothing to apologize for Calla.” I want to believe he means that.
“It’s just…” I pause because I don’t know how to finish. I’m not exactly ready to spill my guts even though I sort of already have.
“Hey,” he clasps my hand again and I feel the immediate sting of tears. “When you’re ready to tell me something, anything, everything, I’ll be here to listen. Don’t feel forced to explain yourself to me or anyone else until you’re comfortable with it. I won’t push.”
“Thank you.” I swallow roughly. Pushing back the sensations trying to climb my throat.