Epilogue

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I'd never felt so relaxed as I did stretched out across the beautiful French beach. It wasn't just the hot sun or the gorgeous location, it was me. I was better now. I was whole once more, and that felt amazing.

As I travelled, I started to write—almost instinctively at first, simply for something to do when I was riding on public transport, getting from place-to-place. I wrote down absolutely everything from the diagnosis, to the almost-death, to completely screwing up my second chance at life. It was more therapeutic than anything else. Even more so than seeing the best parts of the world—although that backdrop certainly helped.

Now I knew who I was supposed to be.

It took nine months of seeing the sights to figure it all out, but I was getting there, and that was worth something.

I wanted to write, to publish books, to use my experience to help others. As my head had cleared, I started to realise that maybe I wasn't quite so alone in my troubles, and that maybe I could make a difference to someone else, to stop them from going down the terrible path that I did. Maybe I would even do self-help courses or something. There was so much I could do—the world truly was my oyster—and now that I had a plan forming in my brain, I could really see the possibilities in the future that had seemed so endless and bleak before.

I'd kept in touch with people quite well, considering some of the remote locations that I'd been in. I emailed Kimberly regularly, I sent Facebook messages to Amy and Kai now and again, I'd even found time to ring my mum—who was finally beginning to understand me. On top of that, I'd been rebuilding bridges with some of my old friends. The ones from before. I'd even worked up the courage to email a real, heartfelt apology to Daphne. Just the once. She replied like a shot, giving me a much more positive and understanding reply than I'd been expecting, but I was just taking it all one day at a time. I wasn't pushing myself into something I wasn't ready for. If I was going to rebuild my relationship with her, it would be for good, and I needed to be prepared for what that meant, I would have to completely and utterly accept her and Bradley—especially now that they were husband and wife—no matter what, and I wanted to be in a place where I could truly do that first.

It had been a long road; and it certainly wasn't going to be easy from here either, but I was certain that it would be worth it in the end. I didn't think things will ever be as they were with Daphne—too much had happened for it to be exactly as it was—but I was willing to work to get something back.

I intended to visit her, to speak to her face-to-face when I went back, which was actually going to be very soon. After all, Nick and Kimberly were getting married in a month and a half! A whirlwind romance maybe, but they just knew that they were right for one another, and they were willing to risk everything for each other. Something I found incredibly admirable.

"Hi." A familiar, sweet voice rang out, dragging my attention away from my notebook.

I pulled down my sunglasses, stunned.

It couldn't be, could it?

"Charlie?" I gasped in total and utter shock. It couldn't be Charlie, here in France. That made no sense whatsoever.

After we left things on such a sour note, I'd decided to leave him be, to allow him to move on with his life—however much that prospect hurt me. He didn't need a screw up like me, and he didn't need reminding of what we went through, what I put him through. So as much as I'd wanted to, I didn't contact him. Not even once.

I'd written and re-written emails but never sent them. And I'd thought about him a whole lot too, but I tried to convince myself that he was a part of my past now, nothing more.

So how was he here?

And why did he look so sheepish?

"I'm sorry I'm here Lara, I just couldn't..." I sat up, growing increasingly curious. "Kimberly told me where you were—I've been bugging her a lot for information actually." He smiled shyly, causing my heart to melt like butter. That smile got to me every single time, and it seemed that time hadn't dulled that one bit. "I know we left things a bit shit and I know you came to sort yourself out, but..."

"But...?" I asked, my heart pounding loudly.

"Look, I like you so much. I haven't been able to stop thinking about you, however much I've tried. I might even love you—crazy as that sounds." He shook his head, fully understanding that what he was saying was more than a bit mental. Then again, everything I'd been through wasn't normal, so why should this be any different? "If I don't love you already, then I'm definitely on my way. I've tried to stop thinking about you, but you've been on my mine every single day." I couldn't breathe, this was all too much. "I understand why you did what you did, now that I've had time to calm down. I haven't always behaved well myself, as you know, so I'm sorry that I reacted badly..."

"No..." I started, but he carried on.

"I don't expect anything from you, I just couldn't wait another day to tell you that when—and if—you're ever ready, and you want to try things with me, I will wait."

I gulped, suddenly really afraid. I hadn't allowed myself to believe that this was even possible. I didn't want to admit to myself how deeply I felt for Charlie. Not any more, I was trying to believe that I was over him.

Now he was here. Now it was possible, and my emotions were all over the place at that prospect.

"I...I'm sorry." He took my silence for something else. "I'll go."

He turned to walk away from me, but I jumped up and grabbed his shoulders, spinning him back towards me. I pressed my lips up against his, feeling the sparks burst inside me once more. He'd always felt amazing, right for me. He was the one. I was sure of it—a thought that had terrified me in the past. Now though, I was ready to grab onto life with both hands.

I loved myself and I was ready to be loved.

I was no longer 'the dying girl', 'the virgin', 'the slut', 'the crazy girl'. I was just Lara. Lara with a long, exciting future ahead of her. One that would be filled with positivity and love.

Lara—ready to take on the world!

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