**The continuing saga of Christian and Tyler**
Three months. We’d been back together for three wonderful months. But he was still holding a piece of himself back from me. I could tell. The truth was, I couldn’t blame him. I knew I hurt him badly when I walked out. I’d been doing everything I could think of to get him to trust me fully again. But nothing I did seemed to work. Perhaps I’d actually have to try words.
Christian was on the other end of the couch, a red pen in his hand and a stack of essays on his lap. The little frown on his lips was his concentration face. He hadn’t made too many marks on the essay he was reading, and every once in a while, a small smile would quirk his lips. I loved watching him like this, if only because it brought me back to our first few weeks together when we studied history for hours before falling into bed. He’d always had that same look on his face then too.
“Hey,” I said softly, nudging his thigh gently with my toe. “We have to talk.”
He jerked like I’d startled him, then he dropped the paper and pen to his lap. He took a deep breath, and squeezed his eyes shut tight.
“At least you’re talking to me before you leave this time.” His voice was barely more than a whisper.
I sat up fast. “What? No. No no no. I’m not going anywhere. Why would you think that?”
Christian opened his eyes, but he still wouldn’t look at me. He gave a tiny shrug of one shoulder. “You said we had to talk. That’s generally a bad thing.”
I mentally cursed myself. Yeah, I knew that. I hadn’t been thinking when I used that particular phrase. But at least it showed me where his head was at. He still expected me to leave him. I could have pointed out that the last time we were together, he was the one that did the leaving. But that wouldn’t serve anyone, and really, my indiscretion was far worse. Which brought us full circle again.
“Yeah, about that.” I took a deep breath, and then reached out to move the papers from his lap to the coffee table. He let me, glancing at me quickly. I could see the wariness in his gaze. I took his hand and tugged a little until he was facing me. He still wouldn’t look me directly in the eye, but at least I knew I had his attention. “When you hear what I have to say, you might truly hate me. And you’ll be the one to leave this time.”
For a long moment, Christian did nothing but breathe. Finally, he gently pulled his hand from mine and he looked me in the eye. “So say it then.”
I had to take a deep breath. “Eight years ago, I left because I was a coward. I was too scared to stand up for us, to fight for us, so I just let him have his way.” I stopped and shook my head. I was getting ahead of myself. “Christian, my grandfather offered to pay for grad school, but only if I went away and left you behind. And because I was so desperate to go, and I had a way to go to school without debt, I took it without a backwards glance.”
He closed his eyes again, blocking me out. I waited, trying not to hyperventilate. The minutes ticked by and still he didn’t say anything. Eventually, I couldn’t stand it.
“Christian?” I whispered.
He shook his head, and then looked at me. “That man always hated me.”
I blinked, nonplussed. “Yeah.” I didn’t know what else to say.
“You could have told me, you know,” he said softly. “You could have told me then. I would have let you go. You could have told me at the wedding, or at any time in the past three fucking months. What the hell?”
“I was ashamed,” I blurted. “Of what I did. I didn’t want you to know. Better you think I was simply an asshole for leaving, instead of a cowardly, selfish asshole.”
He laughed. It was soft and shaky, but it was a laugh. “You know, I don’t blame you.”
“I don’t,” Christian said with a shrug. “I get it. I understand why you did it. I still wish you’d talked to me. But now that I know why…” he trailed off, sighed, and then reached out a hand to take mine. I grabbed it like a lifeline. “Now that I know, maybe we can start rebuilding that trust, hm?”
“You’re amazing,” I breathed. “And way too good for me.”
“Yes, well,” he said with a nod. Then his face broke out into a beautiful grin. “You were young and stupid. And a cowardly, selfish asshole. But the man I’ve been getting to know over the past few months? He’s not. You keep proving to me you’re that guy, and we’ll be just fine.”
“I love you,” I said, my voice fast and fervent.
He just smiled, and gave me a little tug. I slid across the couch, and let him take me in his arms. He hadn’t said it back to me yet, but I didn’t expect him too. Not yet. He wouldn’t until he was sure of his feeling, and a lot surer of me. Like he said, we had to rebuild the trust.
But for the first time in eight years, I could breathe normally. Confession really was good for the soul. Now I knew that we’d be just fine. Eventually