Chapter Twenty-Five - Forgiveness

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~Chapter Twenty-Five - Forgiveness~ 

Cole's POV -

Fine, I admit, I seemed to have developed a small addiction to Orange-Zest-And-Lemon-Drop-Calming-Tea at Gypsy Rose.

I sighed and stared out the window as the snow fell on the sidewalk. The temperature seemed to have dropped considerably since Grace had run away from the bleachers earlier.

I frowned into my cup. Why had she run away? Her words echoed through my head: "You deserve someone who can love you back."

And then she left. I had really thought she felt something, too.

But why? Did it have something to do with Fordman, or maybe –

"Cole?"

My head jerked up at the sound of the new voice, and my breathing stuttered for a second as I stared into those beautiful brown eyes I'd recognise anywhere. The eyes I had once been in love with.

"Alyra," I whispered, standing up shakily. "Um, hi."

She shoved her hands in her pockets and looked around. I spotted Emilie in the corner, watching her sister warily. Ever since everything went down between Aly and I, Emilie had become an extremely protective sister. I had to admit, I admired her for that. I had always thought Alyra was very fragile.

"Hey," she murmured quietly.

We both sat down and I looked into her eyes.

"Look, Aly... I just... I wanted to say I'm sorry," I said abruptly, cutting right to the chase. No use beating around the bush.

"Look, Cole," she said sharply, then cut herself off, registering my words. "Wait, what?!"

"I'm sorry," I said, meaning every one of my words. "I thought I owed you an apology and an explanation." I didn't give her a chance to say anything; I needed to get this out. "Believe it or not... I really loved you. But I was afraid of doing something wrong and hurting you. I loved you enough not to do anything. And then the party happened and I got drunk and all of a sudden I wasn't worried anymore. I didn't mean for it to go as far as it did. But then one thing led to another and I woke up the next morning and realised what we'd done and I just... I didn't want to hurt you." I hung my head, ashamed still at my actions. "So I did what I had to do to make sure you didn't get involved with me. Even though every single word hurt. I thought about you every damned day. I watched you get bullied and I tried so hard to make it stop. Eventually you transferred schools, but I still couldn't get you out of my head. I was such a... a bastard to you. Eventually I got pretty good at not thinking about you. But then Grace went and brought you to that party. And I remembered all the bad things I did to you. I swear if I could I'd change what I did... I never wanted you to hate me."

After my confession, I looked up at Aly to see her eyes filled with tears. She looked at her gloves.

"Why now?" she whispered. "Why not eleven months ago?"

"Because I never got the chance before. I just... I had to tell you how sorry I was. I needed you to forgive me."

"I forgave you a long time ago, Cole," she whispered. "You're not a bad person. I never thought you were. At first I was bitter but now I just... I realised that you weren't what everyone thought you were."

"Thank you Alyra," I whispered. "I just needed you to know."

"No, thank you, Cole," she said with a smile. "I feel a lot better knowing that you could admit that."

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