Destiny, Roses & Romance
Part II: Chapter 28

“Four hours,” Alison nearly whimpered to the empty apartment. With yet another disgusted glare at the clock, she grabbed another handful of chocolate chip cookies and flopped down on the sofa.

She’d tried every possible way she could think of to get her mind off of him. But nothing seemed to be helping. She couldn’t bake without watching the clock, she couldn’t clean without breaking down, and a twenty minute soak in a hot bubble bath only left her with wrinkled fingers and toes and a fantasy that she needed to get out of her head five hours ago. There had to be something to do not the think about… him.

Alison rolled her eyes at herself and took a bite of her cookie. After the first hour she refused to even think of his name. It was ridicules and childish, but she thought maybe if she’d stop thinking or saying his name that maybe she’d stop staring at that damn clock. Well, that and after about forty minutes she realized that everytime she said his name it turned into some sort of a desperate sob. And she was really tired of being so pathetic. It was unbelievably unfair.

Why did he have to leave? She tried to understand, she really did, but it wasn’t working. Destiny drops her angel in her lap, lets her fall completely head over heels in love with him, then has the plan to snatch him away before anything can happen. Alison had no doubt in her mind that the universe was getting a damn good laugh out of the whole thing. And for that reason only she’d vowed two hours ago to stop blubbering like an idiot.

Not that it had actually happened right away. No, she had to cry into a batch of chocolate chip cookies after realizing that, yes, she was in fact blubbering like some heartsick fool.

The upside of that, of course, was that the cookies could no longer be baked. So she ended up with a damn good excuse to indulge in the wonders of having real chocolate chip cookie dough as comfort food. Comfort food was a great invention. Whoever thought of it should be rewarded a metal of some kind. The logic was fabulous! Even if she couldn’t have the man she wanted, at least she could have all the chocolate, cookies and other junk food that she could stomach and then some. After all, wasn’t it a fact that chemically there was no difference between falling in love and large amounts of chocolate? Or was that just something jilted women said as an excuse to dive right into their double chocolate fudge head first?

She was practically swimming in a pair of oversized sweats and a red t-shirt that was so old and faded it was pink. The fuzzy socks she had on had holes in the heels, and her hair was pulled back in a ponytail even sloppier than her half asleep then slept on version. There was some sappy, unrealistic chick flick on TV, and when she was paying attention she was throwing things at the screen and informing Meg Ryan that she was fooling herself because there’s no such thing as getting the perfect man and a happy ending.

“Why am I even watching this?” she shouted. Then sat back down, took a bite out of the last cookie still remaining in her hand and pouted at the TV. “Oh, that’s right,” she grumbled with a mouthful. “Because I usually love this stupid, stupid, sappy, romantic, crappy movie.” A whimper passed her lips as she slumped more on the sofa. “And it’s either this or watching the clock again. Which,” she told the half of a cookie in her hand. “I refuse to do anymore. Because it’s getting me nowhere. And I’m not that pathetic.”

With a sound that could only be described as a half sigh, half sob, she stuffed the rest of the cookie into her mouth. This wasn’t any fun. In fact, this was anti-fun. Pigging out in front of the TV, hating a movie she used to love for the sheer fact that it had a happy ending and she wasn’t getting one could very well be called depressing.

Alison Barrington wanted to cry. She wanted to go to bed, pull the covers up over her head, curl up into a ball and cry herself to sleep. Then she wanted to return to her wonderful, happy, great dream where her angel was her husband and her fantastic children had her smile and his eyes. And she wanted to stay there in the dream until the real world looked half as good. Well, maybe a little longer than that even. In fact, maybe she could just stay in that dream until the world stopped spinning or something. At least until her angel got back.

And he would be back, she reminded herself. Because he promised. And something in her knew that R… he would never break a promise to her. Not if he had anything to say about it.

Of course, there was a pretty big possibility that he wouldn’t have anything to say about it. Not that she knew for sure where he was, but something made her think he went… back, when he didn’t tell her who he was going to see. He trusted her, they were a team, dammit, so if he was anywhere else, to see anyone else then he would have told her. It was that simple.

It was the damn waiting that wasn’t simple.

With an exaggerated groan, Alison hugged a pillow to her chest and laid down on the sofa. There were plenty of things she could do to pass the time, she could clean, because after her attempts at baking while bawling the kitchen was a disaster. She could read a book, or better yet, the classifieds. Something made her feel like searching for a new apartment. Maybe she’d live by herself for a while. Not that she wanted to. But, of course, her preferred roommate was being yanked away from her soon.

Against her better judgment, she looked at the clock. “Four hours and nine minutes,” she said. And this time, she really did whimper. “What the hell is it with clocks?” Alison wondered aloud after shooting the time piece the glare it had been receiving since he left. “They either move too fast, or too slow. And it’s always fast when you don’t want it to be, and time just drags when you want it to hurry up and get over with. It’s not fair. Nothing is fair anymore!”

With tear filled eyes, she turned to stare at the ceiling above her head. She wouldn’t cry, she refused to cry anymore. Rafe didn’t like it when she cried, and even though she knew that he knew she had been crying, she didn’t want him to see her with puffy red eyes when he finally got back. Whenever that was going to be.

Despite her tight reign on her tears, one slid from the corner of each eye. Growling unhappily at herself, she swiped at them both roughly. Dammit, she thought his name again. See? What the hell was she supposed to do nine days, five hours and thirty-nine minutes from now?

A bitter laugh bubbled from deep inside of her, and a few more tears escaped with the action. Dammit, dammit, damn it! How much more pathetic could she get? Alison cursed under her breath. She was sitting her, once again crying, and counting down the damn minutes until he had to leave.

That was, of course, assuming that he got to come back at all. He did, after all, break the rules. Actually, she was willing to bet he broke a lot of rules. Starting with the fact that she knew about him, then getting so close, and all those kisses couldn’t have possibly been allowed, and then he told her about his life, she even knew stuff about his family. Not to mention that they may still be all curled up and naked in bed if she hadn’t opened her big mouth and proposed to him.

Seriously, she couldn’t help but wonder what the hell she was thinking. Well, to be honest she wasn’t thinking. It was nearly impossible to form any sort of a thought with him being that close. She was kind of caught up in the feelings and all those sweet things he said to her and the fact that she loved him so much it hurt. But still, to ask him to marry her? Not that she really asked. It was more like a demand. A very weak, very whispered demand, and one that he could obviously say no to, but a demand none the less.

Still, how could she have been so stupid? Alison knew, somewhere inside, she knew even then that the only reason he was allowing himself to get that close to her was because she was hurting. She was hurting, and scared of being rejected, and uncertain what he was really feeling for her. So he had to reassure her, he had to take away her fears of rejection.

He got lost in a fantasy life that he didn’t want to get out of. Ok, so they were both really lost in that perfect life of their dreams. That was no excuse for blurting out the words marry me like that. If he was anyone else she might have thought it scared him.

But he wasn’t and it didn’t. In fact, somehow, she knew he actually loved the idea. Well, she knew he loved the idea because he told her as much. But that didn’t mean he was willing to go for it. No matter how much they both wanted it.

A shaky sigh went through her as she fought off the urge to turn her face into the couch cushion and sob. And to think, this day started out so promising.

Well, the second time she started it anyway. Alison bit down hard on her bottom lip to keep it from trembling. She liked having him wake her up. She liked hearing his voice first thing, she liked how gentle he was with her, how careful he always was with her. Dammit, she loved falling asleep with his fingers tangled in her hair and listening to him breathing.

So why the hell couldn’t she have what she wanted? Not even for a little while, because he was terrified of hurting her. “I hate this,” she told the blurry ceiling. “I really, really hate this.”

Sitting up again, she buried her face into the pillow, biting back the urge to either scream or cry. Or both. Laughing through the tears that were once again falling, she threw the pillow across the room, giving a satisfied grin at the muffled thump against the wall. She had to do something, she knew that she did or she’d lose it here and now.

She had to stop thinking about him.

Alison stood up and tried to ignore the trembling in her limps. That’s what she’d do, she promised herself. She’d stop thinking about him.

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