Chapter Thirty-Nine

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I made a ko-fi...which is a platform where supporters (like you) can donate to creators (like me). If you like what I do consider donating. I spend lots of time writing and editing and posting and know that it would mean a lot to me. ❤️ The link is in my bio. Thank you to those of you who have been generous enough to donate.

It's been such a long time... :( Let's not talk about it, lol. I made a statement on my profile but yeah. I think there's a mini story summary in ch.38 for those who haven't read in a while. I understand if a lot of people have dropped the story; it's okay. I just have to finish it for myself and people still following it.

WC: 3.1k

"Do you feel like you're making progress?" My therapist asked me at the end of our regular session. The question threw me off guard. I always felt like I could be doing more to push myself out of my bubble. I was trying— trying to talk more and go out more and not fall back into old habits but it was hard.

"I think so," I said softly, thinking that at least things with Trace were going better than I'd ever expected them to.

My anxiety didn't always make it easy to talk with Trace about things that were bothering me but I felt like I was making progress in my own way. The locations of our dates changed frequently and we'd been to all kinds of places— restaurants, aquariums, picnics and public places I never would have been able to go to before. There were times I couldn't do it but Trace was always understanding.

Things had changed between me and Trace since the night he hadn't been able to wear his prosthetic and confided in me about how being an amputee made him feel about himself. It was as though that small distance that always remained between us had disappeared. He'd trusted me before but now it somehow felt deeper and more meaningful.

"I think he wants to marry me," I blurted out suddenly, looking anywhere but at Dr.Yaya. "I don't know why," I continued in a whisper, unable to express how much it bothered me.

"Do you feel like you're not worthy of being in a loving long term relationship?" her voice was careful, and almost gentle.

I knew I was the one to bring Trace up but I wasn't comfortable talking about the subject with her. I fidgeted, not answering the question. "Uhm..." I trailed off.

"It's okay, I think that's all we have time for today, anyways. I still want you to think about your personal goals and short term goals until we see each other again. And Darius?" She paused. "You are very worthy of being in a loving relationship. You have things you struggle with but that doesn't take away from the fact you deserve to be happy and to be in love."

I swallowed thickly, nodding. "Thanks... I guess."

Her gaze softened. "Okay, same time next week?"

"Yeah," I said quietly. "Same time next week."

When I came out of Dr. Yaya's office Trace was waiting for me in the waiting room. He'd insisted on picking me up because her practice was just around the corner from a pop up rolled ice cream shop Trace wanted us to stop at. I'd said yes but I didn't really feel up for it anymore though I wasn't really sure how to express why.

Trace's hair was in a low-slung messy bun, a few wavy wisps framing his face. Trace smiled at me and it reminded me of how happy he always seemed to be when he saw me. That small expression made me feel wanted every single time.

"You okay, Darius?" Trace said softly, his smile slipping as he studied me. He touched my arm, stroking my skin for just a moment before goosebumps started to prickle and I pulled away.

"Just tired," I mumbled, annoyed with myself for not being honest with what was on my mind. It was like there was this distance between who I was and who I wanted to be and I could never bridge the gap.

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