I stare at Dylan, my head reeling from the segue in the conversation. Wasn’t he just about to kiss me? Why on earth does he want to talk about this now?
“You’re the first person I’ve told. Not even Austin knows that I booked my ticket last week. I’m leaving in October, Claire. I’m going. I’m finally doing it.”
His words are like one hit after another. Of course I’ve heard Dylan talking about the big world trip he wants to take. How could I not have when he’s made a hundred references to what would be his biggest adventure yet? He pursues fun and adventure the same way I pursue security and stability, and I should have expected this would happen eventually. Still, Dylan is twenty-seven and when one year after another passed and he didn’t leave, I started to convince myself that maybe he wouldn’t go.
To hear that he is finally ready to take this adventure has me feeling confused and unsettled.
“Claire, if all you’re looking for is a bit of fun this shouldn’t be a problem.”
He’s right. I know he’s right, but it feels like a massive problem. I might have walked around telling myself that I hate him, but he’s been a very big part of my life – of my security – for all these years, and now he’s just going to leave.
“I don’t suppose you booked your return flight?” I try to make it sound like a joke, as if I’m not hugely bothered by the idea of not seeing him again anytime soon.
“I have no idea when I’ll be ready to come home.” He shrugs. “Hell, I might even find a place I love so much, I can’t bear to leave it.”
I nod, swallowing silently and trying not to look as dejected as I feel. Of course he won’t commit to a return date. He doesn’t even want to commit to coming home. He’s leaving. And even though the thought smacks me harder than any of his rejections ever have, I’m doing my best to see the positive in the situation right now.
The fact that I know he’s going to leave should make it clear that all we can have together is a bit of fun. There will be no future for us. I won’t have to worry about a deadline, or what happens when we’re over. In fact, this might even make it easier because afterwards he’ll be gone and I won’t have to worry about him sticking his nose in or reminding me of the time we shared together. Nor will I have to worry about accidentally becoming too emotionally involved with him and fantasizing about weddings and houses and babies. When it’s over, it’s over.
He’s watching me expectantly, waiting for me to say something.
“It’s fine,” I tell him. “Actually, it’s great.”
“Well, by October, I’ll probably be done having fun with you.” I pat his chest with my palm, half affectionately, half dismissively. “I guess now I don’t have to worry about you becoming so attached to me that you refuse to let me go.”
His expression shows just how much that sentiment amuses him.
“You might well laugh,” I say. “But with your reputation and all, I was really worried about that.”
“Well then, I hope I’ve managed to set your mind at ease.”
“You have. Thank you.”
“Are you going to set my mind at ease now? Normally, I don’t give a shit about rules, but if we’re going to do this, I need to you to promise me one thing: promise me you won’t fall for me.”
I do my best to feign amusement but can’t quite pull it off. Instead, I settle for being serious and genuine. “You’re leaving. I think you already know I’m not foolish enough to get hung up on someone who isn’t planning on sticking around.”
“So…you still want to go through with this, then?”
“Are there any other reasons you can think of why I shouldn’t?”
“Well then, I guess I should get you home.”
My heart, which has been hammering away in my chest, stops suddenly. “So, we’re not going to…?”
“Oh, we’re definitely going to do that.” “Oh, thank God.”
A/N: Thanks for reading! 🙂 Please like, share or leave a comment if you enjoyed the chapter, or please just keep reading.