“I can’t AJ. I’m sorry.”
She looked crestfallen and braced herself for how angry he was going to be. The kiss had been a mistake and she felt awful about letting this get as far as she did. Turning away from him, a few tears slid down her face; there was no way he was going to want her after this, she thought, but what happened next shocked her.
“I understand.” he said as he turned her to face him. “We’ll move at whatever pace you’re comfortable with. I will never rush you or make you do something that you’re not sure about.”
AJ hid his disappoint from her because it didn’t want to make it worse for her. He respected her and he knew that if he waited this long, he could wait a little longer for her. The only thing he needed tonight was one promise.
“I want one thing from you tonight.”
“I need to know that you’re going to stay. I wanna be with you and it’s going to crush me if, after all this, you leave.”
She was planning on leaving in a few days and hadn’t been able to tell him. The look on AJ’s face told her that he was already invested and she knew instantly what she had to do.
Max lay in her bed, completely unable to sleep with everything that happened at AJ’s house swimming through her mind. Her finger traced the curly design in her comforter hoping that if she could distract herself, there would be a chance she could sleep. Unfortunately, it didn’t and the choice she made early was coming back to haunt her.
AJ truly believed that he wanted to be with her and she could see in his face that he was sincere about caring for her and respecting how she felt. The problem was the simple fact that she didn’t have much experience with relationships and had lost herself in the couple that she’d had; it wasn’t a mistake she wanted to repeat. Even though he’d never given her any reason to question his intentions, all it would take was one little slip on her part and it would be right back to where she didn’t want to be.
Max didn’t realize she’d finally fallen asleep until the shrill ringing of her cell phone woke her up. Sun was shining through the curtains and she looked over to see what time it was. Surprised by what she saw, she rubbed her eyes with her hands and stared back at the clock; it was two thirty in the afternoon!
Grabbing her phone, she silenced it and turned it over; AJ’s number flashed across the screen. She groaned, set the phone on her nightstand and let it go to voicemail. There was no easy way to deal with what happened the night before and, even though she made him that promise, following through with it would be too hard. She didn’t want to open herself up again, especially to AJ, and was upset with herself for making that agreement in the heat of the moment. Her voicemail alert went off and she pulled her phone back over to check it.
“Hi Max, it’s AJ. I was just calling to see how you were and what you were doing tonight. I was hoping that you hadn’t made other plans and could come by for the fireworks tonight. The sky’s going to be clear and we’ll be able to see everything from the backyard. Call me back and let me know if you can make it.”
She wanted to text him that she just couldn’t come and then just leave before she had to deal with anything else coming up. A quick exit would probably be the best thing for both of them and it would have to happen soon in order to spare any more feelings from being hurt. Crawling out of bed, she showered and brushed her teeth in record time and was just pulling on her jeans and a t-shirt when the doorbell rang.
Creeping towards the peephole, she looked through the small hole and silently cursed herself for sleeping so late. AJ was standing on the other side of the door with something in his hand and a smile on his face. There was no way to avoid him any more so she’d have to think fast and come up with some reason for him not to stay. She could pack her things up as soon as he left and be out of there by dinnertime.
The bell continued to sound and she hoped that if she stayed completely silent, he’s just go away. Unfortunately, she still didn’t seem to understand that AJ was the most persistent person on the planet. After he rang the fifth time, she sighed and opened the door.
“Hi Max.” AJ sang as the door opened. He’d come by to see her, spurred on by the progress they’d made the night before; after seeing the look on her face though, he realized something had changed. “What’s wrong?”
“Nothing.” Max replied and refused to look at him. “I’m just tired.”
AJ knew immediately what was going to happen and he was not going to let her do this.