Chapter Twenty-Four

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Writer's note: I write the chapters on my phone.  (Yeah, it's weird. Whatever.) And it's really easy to press the publish button by accident when I'm swiping away. So that moment earlier this week was an accident and I apologize for that. Wattpad doesn't even ask if I'm ready to publish or not. It just the hurtles the chapter violently into the universe. I'm going to be more careful.

WC: ~6k


I wasn't sure when it happened but I started to get really sweaty. Trace was still sleeping at my back and I didn't want him to get sweaty so I shuffled out of bed.

There was a sofa across the room and I slumped into it, strangely aware of how everything felt. The way I sunk into the plush material, my feet in my socks, Trace's almost imperceptible snoring and especially my heart beating as hard as thunder.

And in my mind, one word was rattling around haplessly. Love. What had he meant when he said that? Well, no, let me not be stupid for once. I knew what he meant. Trace always meant what he said.  I was supposed to be happy, but instead I felt sick. I felt like crying.

There were so many things wrong with me. And those things wouldn't go away. Maybe he was okay with it now, but there's no way he always would be. He didn't even know about my sometimes agoraphobia. He knew nothing about how I'd stayed in my apartment for months after resigning from my finance job that paid me so incredibly well. I got everything delivered, and for the first month I was so happy not to be bothered by the outside world which always judged me.

And then even the idea of even going outside turned into a terrible, crippling fear. It had taken months to even work up the courage to go beyond the lobby of my building.

And I didn't have any friends, which was weird and painful. I wasn't sure why Manny hadn't gotten rid of me years ago. And I didn't do much. My hobbies were weird.

I was weird.

No one loved weird.

My thoughts started to spiral and I couldn't breathe. I sucked in air harshly, my breaths coming shallow and fast. It was like all the air was getting sucked out of the room. I'd tried to push my examinations of what he said far away, somewhere deep in my mind, but I couldn't. The reality of Trace saying he loved me may as well have been ricocheting against the inside of my skull.

The words started to jumble in my mind, and I could feel that I was losing it. It was like a wave was heading straight for me and I was paralyzed by . The pain in my chest started to ache and spread and all I could do was attempt to ride this impossible wave.

But, my panic attack didn't feel remotely normal. It just got worse and worse, and all the stressors from the past month filtered through my mind and things I hadn't thought about in days burst into my mind. How am I going to be portrayed on TV? What's going to happen when my coworkers watch this? What if they make me the villain? How could Trace say he loved me? Why can't I be normal? Why can't I calm down? Calm down. Calm down. I can't breathe. I'm being so loud. He's going to hear. He's going to wake up. He's going to see me like this.

Whatever efforts I made to be quiet weren't helping and I felt like I was having a heart attack. I wanted to go to the bathroom but by that point even moving from where I was seemed like it would be excruciating. Was I having a heart attack?

The bedside light turned on and Trace's head shot up before he looked straight at me.

That sent me into another fit and I could hear the high scrape of my hyperventilating going up another level. Too much. This was too much. I was going to pass out. I couldn't breathe. I raised my shaking hands to cover my face because I couldn't bear to be looked at.

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