I climbed out of the car and casted a glance back at Chloe. She gave me a reassuring smile and winked encouragingly.
“It’ll be fine, Chika,” she said. I nodded and closed the door behind me. She rolled down the window and leaned closer to me. “Want me to wait here?”
“No,” I answered, shaking my head. “I may be in there a while.”
She nodded and rolled the window up, then put the car in drive and drove away. I turned towards Elliott’s door and approached it cautiously. When I stood in front of it, I hesitated before knocking. What was I going to say? How was I going to explain myself?
I shook my head, trying to feel more confident than I seemed. I lifted my fist to the door and went to tap on the wood, but the door swung open before my hand could make contact. I jumped back and lowered my hand. Elliott stood in the doorway, like he knew I was going to be here. Tears formed at the edges of my eyes as I stared at him.
“Avery,” he nodded. He crossed his arms and leaned against the door frame.
“Why?” I whispered. “Why would you-”
“Quit?” he interrupted. He relaxed his arms and put his hands on my shoulders, griping them. “I did it because of you, Avery. I did it for you."
I opened my mouth to speak, but I couldn’t find the words. Elliott pulled me closer to his chest and I gladly accepted his embrace.
“Elliott, I’m so sorry,” I finally managed to say. “I’m so sorry.” I shook my head against his chest, ashamed of myself for everything I’ve done. My arms went from between our chests to around him, and I hugged him. He shushed me quietly, running his hand from my head to the small of my back repeatedly.
“I know, Avery,” he whispered. “It’s okay.”
He pulled me inside his house and I followed him. After he closed and locked the door, he guided me to the living room and sat me down on the couch. I folded my legs under me and snuggled close to him, putting my arm around his waist and holding him.
He wiped my tears with his thumb and smiled. “Don’t cry, Avery.”
“But after all I did-”
“It was for good reason,” he said. His jaw was tight, like he was remembering that the only reason any of this happened was because of Hunter. If Elliott didn’t like him before, he must’ve despised him now.
“You didn’t have to quit,” I said, looking down and away from him. “That was your dream job, and it’s because of me that you lost it. It’s because of Hunter and-”
“Avery,” he said firmly. I gazed up at him. “I didn’t quit for Hunter. I quit because there’s only one thing that I love more than my job. And that’s you.”
I tried to smile, but still felt sad for some reason. I blinked away the tears and closed my eyes as he caressed my cheek with the back of his hand.
“I love you, Avery,” he said. “I’ll give up anything and everything for you.”
My eyes fluttered open and I finally smiled. “I love you, Elliott Taylor. Damn you,” I laughed through tears. I brought my lips up to his and kissed him tenderly. He seemed surprised at first, but then grinned and kissed back.
“So does this mean we can be together?” I said when I pulled back. I leaned against his chest and rested my head on his shoulder. My body shook when he laughed beneath me.
“Avery, what’s stopped us before?” he asked. I took it as a rhetorical question and laughed with him.
“Hey,” I said, pulling away from him. He raised an eyebrow questioningly. “Christmas is in a week. And you haven’t told me what you want.”