Sam was miserable the entire weekend. With his previous girlfriends, he had never analyzed his actions too much and was always in control of the situations. But here, he thought about his every move a thousand times. He wondered how she would respond when she saw him on Monday. He didn’t want to scare her away by moving too fast nor stay further away just watching her in agony.
“What was the thing that Jackie had mentioned about her being sensitive about men? Had someone hurt her in the past?” He wondered.
He wanted to know more about her, but felt stuck when the girl he wanted to talk was never alone and ran a thousand miles on hearing his voice.
“Why in the world am I drawn to her? I feel clueless, when it comes to her.” He thought and cursed himself. But he knew he couldn’t stop what he was feeling for her even if he wanted to.
After spending two agonizing days Sam decided that he needed to talk to her and let her know how he felt about her. He waited near the bus stop in his car where she usually got down; hoping Peter would not come along with her as well.
She got down from the bus at 8:45 am looking fresh as a flower whereas he looked as if he hadn’t slept for two days with dark circles under his eyes.
He honked his car and got her attention and opened the passenger door for her.
“Hi Ashley, Get in.”
Ashley had never expected to see him here and she was taken aback when he had asked her to get in. She got into the car nervously and closed the door gently wondering why on earth he was doing this to her. The radio was playing a song by Sheryl Crowe which she loved but she couldn’t relax.
“I think the door is not closed properly.” He leaned over her side to close it with a big thud. She could smell his after shave cologne and his brown hair though neatly combed was wet with water dripping on his blue collared shirt.
“Have you buckled up? Okay let’s go.” He turned to her side and looked at her. She sure seemed very uneasy.
“Ashley, I need to talk to you. You always walk away from me when I’m around. So I thought I needed to do this. Get you buckled up so that you won’t escape from me.” He chuckled looking at her. Ashley’s face had become red. She was mad and tense at the same time.
“If only he was not the institute head I could have just walk out.” She thought to herself.
Then he took out his phone and called the receptionist.
“Good Morning Ms.Peggy. This is Sam. I am running late today. So if anyone is looking for me tell them that I’ll be there around 10 am.”
Every passing second was making Ashley wonder if he could just finish off what he had to say and release her soon. But Sam seemed to take his time and he looked as if he was in no hurry. He was making small talks to her and it annoyed her even more.
“Did you have your breakfast Ashley?”
“Yes” she nodded looking outside window.
He drove her to a park nearby and parked the car. Ashley’s hands had become cold because she couldn’t think of what he wanted to say to her.
“Ashley I am not going to apologize for the kiss. Ever since the day you walked into my office I haven’t been able to get you out of my head. I have tried my best to go out of the way to talk to you but you seem to go further away from me every time I’m around. I really like you a lot and wish we could be friends and not be awkward around each other. Can you give me a chance to prove that I’m not like other men who might have hurt you before?”
Ashley turned towards him and looked at him with a distress in his eyes.
“Who told you that?”
“I’m just assuming; you are not like the other girls; you run away from all the guys and hardly take an effort to talk to any of them there. So I was just thinking that something would have happened to you in your past. Am I right?”
He could see tears waiting in her eyes ready to start flowing any moment. She composed herself and spoke.
“Can you please leave me alone Sam? Please find someone more interesting. There are so many women out there who are fighting for your attention; give them a chance. I’m not ready for a relationship of any kind. All I want to do is make use of this opportunity that I have been given and make something out of my life. My life has been at the mercy of the government and all the foster care people. Finally I’ve been given an opportunity to be who I want to be. I don’t have anything to offer you or to anyone else. I’m flattered that you have even noticed me. So please Sam, save us both the misery and don’t make too much of that one kiss. For you a hundred women would come at the snap of your finger. So please leave me alone.” She said with anger and not caring any more to stop the tears that were flowing down her cheeks.
“Ashley I am not interest in other women. I want you. I promise I won’t distract you from your course. Can’t we be friends? You know how many times I picked up my phone to call you; but I knew you would not talk to me. The heart chooses whom to love; we think we have a choice but actually we don’t. From the first day that I met you I felt a connection with you which I haven’t felt with anyone else. I chose to respond to it and I will not give up just yet.” He sighed and looked at her.
“Sam. Maybe you can’t choose how you feel about me but you can at least choose to understand that I am not ready for any relationships. Plus you hardly know anything about me and I don’t believe in fantasies anymore. I respect you and the work that you do. After many years I have found some peace here. Please don’t mess up things for me. I have nowhere or nobody to turn to if I don’t make it out of here. So please Sam, understand.” She sobbed uncontrollably now covering her face with both her hands.
“I am trying to Ashley. I want to understand you. I want to be there for you when you need anything; to protect you and to take care of you. Just don’t run away from me is all that I ask you. You are doing great in your course so far. I am already making arrangement for the best companies to come out to our institute at the end of the year. So you will definitely get a job by the end of the course. Look at me Ashley.” He held her face and wiped her tears.
“I want you to be happy as well. So don’t cry. Please trust me.”
For the first time since she sat down, she looked at his face and wanted to believe all that he had said. But all her past came rushing back at her. How many times men had said that to her “Trust me”; and in all her innocence she had trusted them – only to be betrayed, used and discarded.
She nodded her head still apprehensive about all that he had said.
“Only time has to tell the truth.” She thought to herself.
“Can we go back?”
“Okay. Let’s go.” He held out a bottle of water and started the car.
“So where are you from basically?”
“See you don’t know anything about me and you are bringing yourself to conclusions.”
“Maybe I’m doing everything in reverse. Anyway, knowing neither where you come from nor your past will affect how I feel about you. I like the Ashley that I see now; that’s all that matters.”
She shook her head and smiled.
“Okay you haven’t answered my question.”
“I’m from New York or that’s where I was born.”
“Both of them are no more.”
“I’m sorry.” He turned around to see her looking out through the window and lost in her thoughts.
“So what happened? How did you get into foster homes?”
She told him the story that she had told Jackie and turned around to see him shocked.
“If I tell you my whole story you would never come around me again. Probably I should tell you, so that you don’t have any of your fantasies. Sam, I come with a lot of emotional baggage which I need to address before I can open up my heart to someone. We can be friends; that’s all. Please don’t expect anything more from me and be disappointed. As I said before I don’t have anything to give anyone.”
“Okay friends?” he held out his hand.
She hesitated for a moment and sighed and shook his hands.
The car came to a halt at the entrance of the institute. Ashley got down and walked without looking back.
“I know one day you will look at me the same way that I look at you now. Until then I am ready to wait Ashley because I love you.” He thought to himself as he saw her walk away.