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Deliverance (standard:romance, 2957 words)
Author: ErekoseAdded: Sep 14 2000Views/Reads: 4834/2494Story vote: 0.00 (0 votes)
Can you give your heart to the same person twice?
 



Click here to read the first 75 lines of the story


"Isn't that the jumper?" he asked. 

She nodded silently as she sat next to him and cuddled close, burying
her face in his shoulder. "I miss you, John." 

"Rach, you see me all the time." 

"I know, and you seem to be rescuing me all the time," she said. "And I
never thank you properly." 

This was heading way out into no-man's land. John knew he had to tread
lightly here. 

"Honey, we're friends," he told her. "Friends don't need to thank each
other." 

"But I almost never do anything for you," she said. "You're always
picking me off the ground. How come I never do anything for you?" 

"Maybe it's because I don't need you the same way you need me." 

But she had struck a chord. There were times when he thought he was
being dealt with unfairly when it came to Rachel. 

"You're so sweet," she said and kissed him on the cheek. 

"And you're tired. Go on, get to bed." 

Rachel shook her head. She reached a hand up and gently pulled his face
down to kiss him on the mouth. He almost kissed her back, but managed 
to gently push her away. 

"Rachel," he said, "this isn't right." 

She looked as though he had hit her. "Yes it is, John. I need you." 

"Rach, we're friends. Do you want to risk losing that friendship?" 

She swallowed. "But, but I love you." 

John took a breath. This struck too close to home. He could almost
believe her, as he'd believed her once. This could be his chance to 
become a real person again. "Do you? Or do you need my company because 
someone left you?" 

He could see the tears welling up in her eyes, and almost relented. "I'm
sorry," he said. "I'm just as tired as you. Why don't you go to bed, 
and we'll talk in the morning." 

She nodded and stood up to walk to her room. She paused to look at him,
as if she were offering him one last chance before she closed the door, 
and then she was gone. 

John arranged himself as best he could on her couch and turned off the
lamp. His watch proclaimed flourescently that the time was 1:14 am. He 
set it to wake him up at six. Rachel was a heavy sleeper, and he could 
be gone by the time she awoke. Sighing, he pulled the covers up and 
went to sleep. 

*** 

John gazed at the new girl across the café. She must be new, seeing as
only school kids came here. Not that he could complain or anything; 
there weren't many places he could get paid to hang out with his 
friends. 

The new girl walked quickly to a table where a couple of her friends
were sitting. He knew that crowd; a real potpourri of people, and 
pretty friendly. He watched her as she sat down, and something clicked. 
He had to get to know her. So he grabbed his pad and pen and wandered 
down to her table. 

"Hi guys," he said cheerfully. "Can I get you anything?" 

They conferred for a moment, then one of the louder ones looked at him
and asked if he could get them a round of cappuccinos. 

He smiled. "Sure thing. Be right back." 

As he went back to the counter, he glanced at his watch. His shift was
over, and he should clock out. Well, he'd get this group their coffee 
and sit with them. 

*  *  * 

His watch woke him. Quietly, he slipped out of the covers and folded up
the blanket. He laid it next to the pillow on the couch and took his 
coat. A glance out the living room window showed him that it was 
raining. 

He sighed and slipped from Rachel's apartment. He couldn't face her
again, not yet. As he walked the few blocks to his place, he tried to 
sort things out in his mind. 

*  *  * 

"Look," said John. "I know you're feeling guilty about this, but you're
right. We do need to take some time apart." The words sounded hollow, 
but she needed to hear them. "No hard feelings, okay?" 

She smiled that beautiful smile of hers. "You sure?" 

"Absolutely," he said. "On one condition." 

"What's that?" she asked apprehensively. 

"That we stay friends." 

She was surprised. "Of course, silly. We'll be two real good friends." 

John smiled back at her. "That's good. So how good looking is this guy?"


*  *  * 

John unlocked the front door to his building and walked up the stairs to
his flat. He stripped of his wet clothes and had a shower. He didn't 
feel any better for it when he got out, and decided to call in sick. He 
could handle any urgent work matters from home. 

He fixed himself some breakfast and sat down to read for a while. 

The phone rang, its tone a harsh scream in his ears. John checked his
watch. He must have fallen asleep. He checked the caller-ID unit. 
Rachel was calling. He let his machine take the call, and turned down 
the volume so he didn't have to hear her voice. 

He sat at the edge of his bed and replayed the events of the previous
night in his mind. What had changed? 

*  *  * 

"Amethyst?" repeated the jeweller. "I thought this was an engagement
ring." 

"It is," said John. "My girlfriend's got a certain attachment to
amethysts." 

"I see." 

"Besides, I'm a poor student and can't afford diamonds," John told him. 

The jeweller scratched his chin. "Well, let's see what amethysts I've
got." 

He produced a lock-box and removed a pouch from it. Emptying the
contents onto the table, he held a stone up to the light for John to 
see. 

"How about that? It's about the right size for a lady's ring." 

"May I?" John took the stone from him and gazed at it. The jeweller
handed him a magnifying glass. "It's beautiful," he said finally. "How 
much is it?" 

"Well, why don't we see what kind of ring you want to make of it?" 

The jeweller made a few sketches on a piece of paper. 

"I like that one," said John, pointing at a picture. 

"So do I." 

"So how much is it going to set me back?" asked John. 

The jeweller reached for a calculator and punched a couple numbers. He
told him. 

"That's all?" John said, surprised. 

"Well, I think it'd look better if I put a couple diamonds on. Tiny
ones, you know." 

John shook his head. "Man, I told you I can't afford them." 

"I'm sure I've got a couple tiny ones lying around," the jeweller
replied. "And since this is special, I'll give them to you for free." 

"I can't take that from you," said John. 

The jeweller nodded. "Sure you can. Call it a favour for a poor student.
Just don't tell anybody." 

"You got a deal," John smiled happily. "When can you have it done?" 

"Give me about a week, come back and see me then." 

*  *  * 

John shook his head and went to his computer. He logged onto his office
network and emailed his boss, explaining that he had severe headache 
and couldn't come in today. He did a couple of routine tasks and logged 
off. 

He was still tired after staying up so late the previous night, so he
returned to his room and fell asleep. 

*  *  * 

Rachel. What a beautiful name to suit a beautiful girl. Her brown hair
curved down to her chin, framing her young features. She had deep brown 
eyes that he could gaze into forever, and the most beautiful lips that 
John wished he could kiss. 

John had soon found that he wasn't alone in lusting after Rachel's
attentions, but it seemed that she only truly responded to him. His 
heart pounded as he dialled her number. 

"Hello, how can I help you?" 

"Hi," he began nervously. "Um, could I please speak to Rachel?" 

"Speaking." 

"Oh hey!" he said. "It's John, you sound different on the phone." 

"Hi John," she replied. "How are you?" 

"I'm good. You?" 

"Not too bad." 

There was a pause, then they both laughed. "Silly," said Rachel. "What's
up?" 

"I dunno," he replied. "Just felt like talking to you." 

*  *  * 

When John awoke it was early afternoon. He wasn't hungry, so he sat down
in front of the television. There was nothing interesting on, so he 
wandered down the road to pick up a few videos. He wasn't even 
conscious of what he picked, he just knew that he had to do something 
to keep his mind off Rachel. It wasn't fair on either of them. 

His handphone beeped. He'd missed a couple calls while he was asleep.
There were a few from the office, and a couple from her. He'd get 
around to listening to them later. Maybe while he was cooking dinner. 

He returned to his apartment and sat down in front of a video. He didn't
pay much attention and soon got distracted with his own thoughts. 

*  *  * 

It was sunset. The last remnants of raindrops trickled their way through
the trees, keeping the paths damp and slightly slippery underfoot. John 
dreaded every step that he took forward, but knew that he'd come this 
far and there was no turning back. 

Rachel was already there, sitting on a rock that overlooked the lake at
the middle of the park. 

"I knew you would come," she said. 

John scrambled up to sit next to her. "It's kind of hard to ignore
messages on just about every phone that I have access to." 

"Where were you?" 

He shrugged. "I wasn't feeling well." He looked around. "Why are we
here?" 

"Because we need to talk." 

"Yes, but why here?" 

"Because this place is special to us," she told him. 

John sighed. "Maybe it was once." 

They sat there awhile in silence. 

Finally, John spoke. "So what do we need to talk about?" 

"There are so many things, I don't know where to begin," said Rachel.
She sighed. "John, why have you hung around me all these years?" 

"Because you're my friend, Rach." 

"Am I?" she asked silently. John could see that this was hard for her.
"I've hurt you so badly." 

"We were so young then, Rach," he said. "And you were right. You needed
space to grow on your own. And even though I was hurt then, I know you 
were right. I realised that I needed space as well." 

She sighed. "That was partly why I broke off the engagement." She
paused. "But the truth is that I was scared. I mean, I was eighteen and 
my life had been set, whether or not I had chosen it. I was scared, and 
I thought that maybe I should live a little first." 

John whispered, "I forgave you for that long ago." 

"I know," said Rachel, "and I thought that I'd gotten over it. But when
you left this morning, I realised that all I'd done was bury it. So I 
started thinking. I realised that I'd mistreated you so badly. In seven 
years I've gone through so many relationships. You were always there to 
help me." 

He shrugged. "What are friends for?" 

"You were more than a friend, though, John. You gave me wings to fly,
even when I didn't know where I wanted to go. You gave me your wings." 

"My wings? What are you talking about?" John was astonished. 

"How many women have you been with since you were nineteen, John?" 

"Plenty," he answered, a bit too quickly. 

"How many?" she persisted. "And how many of them made a difference to
your life? How many lasted any length of time?" 

She knew the answer. "Well, what about you?" he shot back. "How long
have you lasted with any of your men in the last seven years?" 

He saw the tears welling in her eyes. "Rach, I'm sorry. I just - uh, I
-" 

She sniffed. "No, John, I should be the one who's sorry. I've been so
selfish. So many men, so many breakups, and you nursed me through each 
of them. You were always there, and each one must have felt like a slap 
in the face." 

John was taken aback. "But how -?" 

"We're friends remember? And before that, we were going to get married.
I've seen the signs so many times I can't count them. Only, I just 
never noticed before." 

"Before when?" 

"Before this morning. I sat down and thought about it all. And I saw
that you stayed with me, not because you're my friend, but because I 
mean more than that to you." 

So she'd found out. "I see," he almost whispered, not daring to hope.
"So where do we go now, Rachel?" 

"That depends on what you do with two things that I'm going to give
you," she told him. She sniffed and wiped a tear from her eyes. She 
handed him a black velvet box used to hold a ring. John could guess its 
contents. 

"And the second thing?" 

She slid down from the rock and stood beneath him, looking up at him
with hope in her eyes. "My apology. I'm sorry that you've held your 
breath for so long, without me realising it. I'm sorry that I didn't 
realised you still cared for me, even after all this time." 

John slid down to join her. He looked her in the eye and smiled.
"Remember you always used to ask me what I saw when I looked into your 
eyes? Well, I used to see the children we were going to have." 

She smiled. "Nick and Michelle. Do you still see them?" 

"Yes, but they're not at the forefront anymore. When I was young, I
wanted a family above all things, and I was so happy that I could share 
it with you. Back then, I saw the future in your eyes. Now I see the 
present; I see us." 

He dropped to one knee and opened the ring box, presenting it to her. "I
gave this to you seven years ago, when I was young and foolish. Now I'm 
older, and maybe just as foolish, but you have always had my heart. 
Please take it back." 

She laughed, and it was a sound that he hadn't heard in years. "Get up
silly, you're making your trousers all muddy." 

He grinned and stood up. They embraced, and their faces drew near.
Rachel's eyes closed expectantly, then their lips met. They kissed, not 
the tentative kiss of a new couple, but as though seven years had never 
happened. Rachel smiled contentedly at him. 

"Nobody's kissed me like that in ages. You're still the best kisser I
know." 

"And nobody's told me that in ages," he replied. "I suppose that it
proves my theory that good kissing is something that you can only do 
with the right partner." 

She smiled. "Take me home then, John. Maybe we can test that theory
properly," she said, taking him by the hand and leading him away. 

---------------- 

visit The Manor <http://www.cyberknight.f2s.com/manor> for more of Sir
Twist's work. Feedback appreciated. 

© 2000 Sir Twist


   


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