Chapter 25

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November 2014

"If your here to ask me to ditch with you again today the answer is yes." I grin, surprised to see Jared standing at my front door on Wednesday morning. I kiss him on the cheek and he laughs but he doesn't sound like himself so I pull back and really look at him. "What's wrong?" He leads me over to the couch and we sit down. Jared leans back into the green cushions and lets out a big sigh.

"I got my first rejection letter yesterday. The school in California didn't give me the scholarship." After having seen Jared dive I don't understand how that's possible. I lean into him, pressing my body tightly against his.

"I'm sorry." I tilt my head up at him as he smiles sadly down at me.

"I'm not that upset, besides California seems too far away now." He leans down and plants a kiss on the top of my head. "But my dad is furious. He thinks I'm starting a pattern. This, combined with the drama from the other day and all the other stuff is making him ballistic." I begin to fear the possibilities.

"What does that mean?" He lightly rubs my temple with his thumb.

"My dad's forbidden me to see you. I'm grounded indefinitely. It means I don't think I'm going to make a very good boyfriend to you." I grow cold in his warm arms and detach myself from them, scooting back to the other side of the couch.

"Are you breaking up with me?" I can't hide the pain from creeping in my voice as it raises a notch. Jared looks like he's coming undone.

"I don't want to," he whispers, "but Ellie it's going to be like this all the time. Hiding, sneaking around, only seeing each other when I can get away with it. You can't be okay with that!" He doesn't seem to understand the depth of my patience to be with him or the fact that this is the only kind of relationship I've ever been afforded.

"I don't care."

"You deserve more Ellie, other people can give you more." I know he's thinking about Max. I shake my head; that's not an option this time.

"No. We only have this year before you're off to college. I want to spend anytime I can with you." He looks unconvinced.

"Ellie are you sure this is what you want? We won't be able to go on dates or to prom." I nod and Jared practically beams as he throws his arms around me, sweeping me up against him. "I honestly thought you'd want to walk away."

"Jared I didn't tell you that I love you lightly you know? I really feel that way." He looks deep into my eyes and holds me there for a while.

"I really love you too Ellie."

"I'm sorry about the scholarship. I don't want to be a distraction to you."

"That's the thing Ellie. It's like before I met you this, diving, was all there was and now, I just don't know how much I care about it anymore." I frown at him.

"Isn't there room for both? You're good Jared and you obviously love it; don't go giving anything up just yet okay? Not for me." His eyes darken.

"What do you mean not for you?" I scramble.

"I mean that you're going to college next year, things may change..." I let my voice drift off. I can't tell him the truth. I can't tell him that I might not be around. He nods but his eyes seem far away like he's reading more into what I'm saying.

"You know you can help Derrick out now if you want to," he bitterly points out.

"No." I shake my head. "I'm not going to do that."

"Ellie that's stupid. Help the kid out. I mean he's your best friend. It's just, I mean, you're sure he's gay, right? This isn't some elaborate play for you?" I laugh at the idea.

"Yes, I'm sure he's gay. But I still don't think it'd be good for us if I went along with Derrick's plan."

"We'll be fine. It's not like I'm going to be around to see it anyways. Just let me know if things between us change, will you? If you start feeling differently; I want to be the first to know. Stay honest with me, okay?" I hit him in the chest.

"Things will never change Jared." He grabs my wrist and pulls me towards him.

"They might. Just promise me, okay?" I nod, not taking my eyes off him.

"I promise." He holds me next to him and absentmindedly starts to play with my hair.

"It'll be fine you know, like nothing has changed." My heart breaks because he's wrong. Things have changed. He's doing it again; his father is keeping us apart.

"So we'll just tell everyone we broke up?" I ask quietly, already mourning our brief relationship.

"I don't care about everyone Ellie. It's just my dad; he can't know, but if you're going to help Derrick out, then yeah, I guess so." He kisses the top of my head again. "But we'll know the truth." I have a sinking feeling that I'm walking right back into fate's hands as Jared leads me to the door.

"Let me drop you off at school," he begs, as he fiddles with my hand not yet ready to let it go.

"I thought we were supposed to be broken up." He pulls me towards him and into a deep, lingering kiss.

"We can break-up on the way."

I grab my bag and follow him out the door, knowing for sure now that our time together is limited.

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