“Don’t tell me what I’m feeling, and if I’m allowed to love you.” I ran my hand down his arm, and he shuddered under my touch.
“You can’t,” he said again. His voice sounded strangely hollow, like a man on the track, staring down a train he knew he couldn’t avoid. “You can’t, Livvy … because you’ve been actively hating me since you were twelve years old.”
His words hung, his tone, like a deep dark abyss, a terrible gaping horror, dragging me forward.
“What?” I shook my head. “What do you mean?”
“You know what I mean, Liv. You know who I am. You’ve met me before. You’ve blocked it out, that’s all. I kept waiting for you to remember. But then it went on, and you thought I was the caretaker or some stupid shit.”
“And then it became harder and harder to tell you because I felt like if you knew, really knew, you would run.”
I shook my head faster, my skin getting tight and cold. This was not real.
“And you would’ve run. But I, I needed you to stay. I needed to right the wrong. To make sure you were okay. To …” his throat bobbed heavily. “To make up for not saving you.”
“Saving me? From what?” But the knowledge crept in around the dark recesses of my mind. Crowding me. Pressing in on me from all sides.
“No,” I whispered.
The world stilled. Everything around me slowed and quieted and disappeared except the light brown eyes in front of me.
Air expelled forcefully out of my chest like I’d been punched. “No,” I gasped.