Falling
Destiny, Roses & Romance
Part II: Chapter 36

Walking past her slowly, Jamal sighed as he looked around the apartment, reminding himself harshly that it wasn’t theirs anymore. Some cheerful Christmas music was playing on the radio, but already he could tell she didn’t share the mood of the music. A pizza box on the counter, a plate on the floor and a half empty glass of milk were the only things sitting out now. A sharp contrast to the bags and boxes that had covered the floor a little more than twenty-four hours ago.

“Jamal,” Alison whispered, shutting the door. “What is it that you think we need to talk about right now?” She cringed at the cutting tone to her words, but pushed away any emotion when he turned to face her. Somehow she was sure that her emotions would only drag this visit out even longer.

He watched her for longer than he knew he should. The tense set of her shoulders, the lack of the smile he’d been missing these past few weeks, her puffy, red eyes, he took in all of it. “Us,” Jamal murmured after another moment of just staring at her.

She bit back a groan as she walked past him to pick up her plate off of the floor. “There is no us,” Alison said, the words pouring from her mouth before she could think them, much less stop them. Her back was to him, but she could still feel his eyes on her, the anger and hurt of his locked gaze seeping into her skin and causing her to try and hide a shutter of her own anger. Picking up the glass as well, she walked to the kitchen and put them on the counter.

“There was an us,” he finally managed to say, the sadness in his voice not nearly as well hidden as he would have hoped. “For a long time, Ally, there was an us. And it was great, remember? There was an us, Ally, and it wasn’t supposed to ever end.”

Her shoulders rose and fell on a sigh as she stared out the window above the sink to the stars. “But it did end, Jamal. And before you say it, it wasn’t because of Rafe.” Slowly, she turned to face him. There was still a good twenty feet between them, but she was suddenly feeling stifled by the unhappiness that seemed to surround them both.

“Then why,” Jamal demanded, taking a step closer to her though he knew he shouldn’t. “We worked, Ally. Me and you… It wasn’t supposed to, but it worked. Why are you telling me that it’s over now? Because some new guy came to town and is already hurting you? Why do you want to throw away everything that we are?”

“I’m not throwing away everything that we were, Jamal.” Alison sighed again, taking a few steps forward to rest her hip against the counter. “I’m not forgetting how well we worked together, and I’m not pretending that what we had wasn’t something really special. But it… We stopped fitting together like we used to. We don’t work anymore.”

“You don’t know that!” He inhaled sharply at his biting tone, closing his eyes he counted to ten and tried to reign in the anger he swore he wouldn’t let get to him tonight. His eyes went to the closed door of the extra bedroom then back to her. “Are you here alone, or are we going to get interrupted?”

“Rafe isn’t here, if that’s what you’re asking. Val is spending the night at Livvie and Jack’s if you want to find her I suggest you try there. So, unfortunately, I don’t think we’re going to be interrupted, no.”

The smile the played on his lips was somewhat sad as he shoved his hands into the pockets of his oversized jeans. “Unfortunately?”

“It’s been a long day,” Alison sighed, crossing her arms in front of her. “It’s been a bad day, I’m tired and not in the best of moods. Why don’t we do this later, Jamal?”

“Because, I have something that needs to be said.”

With another sigh, she moved away from the counter, walking toward him was a dangerous thing and she knew it, but she continued to step forward. “I have had a really long and tiring day, Jamal. I don’t feel like doing this right now.” Her words were softly spoken, kept at little more than a whisper for fear of taking out all of this on him. “I really, really think that we should just do this another time. And if it can’t wait, then hurry up and say it so that I can go to bed. Please.”

“I was actually hoping that Val would be here, I figured that I owe her an apology, you know?” His eyes fell to the floor as he chuckled softly. “I really was an ass. And I can’t blame you for… what you did. You always deserved better than what I gave you.”

“Yeah,” she laughed. “You were an ass to her. You tried to use her child to get her into bed, you tried to use your child. I don’t know what you think I did…”

“You… Ally,” Jamal sighed, he ran a hand over his cheek tiredly. “You fell,” he said after a moment. Nearly choking on the words, he tried again, “You fell in love with another man. One that made you smile and took the time to try and talk to you.”

“I’m not talking about Rafe with you, Jamal,” Alison groaned. She turned on her heel and grabbed the kettle from the top of the stove. “You were right though,” she whispered softly, filling the kettle with water.

“You’re in love with him, Ally,” Jamal said, watching her back, a smile once again playing on his lips. “And he loves you. Rafe seems to make you happy. I just… I can’t help but wish that it could still be me that makes you smile, that makes you laugh. I can’t help but still want to be the one that makes you happy. But you’re in love with him now.”

“Yeah,” she whispered quietly, nodding her head slightly. Sitting the kettle back on the stove, she lit the burner under it. “I am in love with him, Jamal.”

“And I pointed it out to you?” he asked with irony lacing his tone and a sad smile still on his lips. “How could you not see it before, Alison? The way that he looks at you…”

“For a really long time I told myself that he looks at me like you used to. It was just one of my many reasons that I had for why… for why I couldn’t possibly feel like I do about him.” She turned to face him again, and crossing her arms in front of her protectively, she stepped toward him. “I told myself that he looks at me like you did before Caleb, before Valerie came back, before we both let everything get in the way. He looks at me like he thinks I’m amazing and beautiful, Jamal, but there’s more to it than that. You never looked at me like that. No one has ever looked at me that way.”

“When you looked at me before, Ally, it was like you saw me. What happened to that?”

She tilted her head slightly as she thought about it. “I don’t know, Jamal. Maybe it was when Valerie came back and I found out there was a chance Hope was yours. I just… It was like I didn’t know you anymore, Jamal. You changed, so much that it was like I was laying next to a stranger most nights. I know that I was spending a lot of time with Rafe, I know that I… grew up a little bit. All of this started with vampires, and we had to grow up. Only we didn’t grow closer together like we were supposed to. What happened, it was horrible and scary, and I’m so glad that I had you to cling to and to help me be there for my friends. And it made things change, Jamal.”

He nodded and quickly crossed to stand directly in front of her. “I know. I mean, I get that. I guess we just weren’t meant to be,” he said with a half a smile and an almost shy shrug of his shoulders. Pausing for a second, he walked past her and got a mug from the cabinet, and then placed a teabag inside of it. When he turned back around and leaned against the counter, she was watching him.

Alison sighed, knowing he wanted her to reply to that but not knowing how. “We weren’t,” she muttered after a moment, realizing quickly from the brief flash of emotion in his face that he’d wanted her to argue. “We weren’t meant to be together forever, Jamal. But what we had, it was special, and you are always going to have this place in my heart. You’re my first love – you taught me how to love – and no one is ever going to be able to take away what you are to me. You’re the man that taught me what it felt like to be loved. I can’t thank you enough for that, for getting me out of my nana’s and giving me the first place that ever felt like home. But I can’t lie to you and pretend that I still think we were made and put on this earth to spend our lives and then eternity together.”

“You always were the romantic.” He looked down and brushed away a stray tear. “You stopped thinking that we were destined to be together… You think Rafe is that man now, Ally? Your soul mate? Sent here just to love you and be the man that you deserve?”

Laughing lightly, she turned to gaze out the window from a distance. She tried to blink back the fresh batch of tears stinging her eyes only to cause them to spill. “Who can say what their destiny is?” Alison asked finally, wiping her tears away as Jamal focused on the floor. “All I know is that I love him, I’m in love with him. And I guess the rest is up to fate, because I’m starting to see very clearly that I don’t have much of a say in it.”

“What you… have with him, the way that you feel about him… it’s different isn’t it?” Jamal asked, raising his eyes to study her while she was still looking out the window. “It’s better than what we had – what we were – together. Isn’t it?”

Nodding absently, she walked over to turn off the burner under the screaming kettle. “It’s different. Stronger, I think. I… Jamal, you have to know that I loved you, that I still love you. But the way that I feel about Rafe… I’ve never felt like this before. It’s just wild and something that I can’t even try and get a hold of and control. It’s like some out of control fire or something, and I don’t think that I want to control it. I’m practically begging him to burn me.” Alison laughed lightly again. “I know that it’s going to hurt, but I can’t stay away from him. I can’t stop feeling this way, and you don’t know how hard I’ve tried.”

Watching her pour hot water into the coffee mug he’d sat out as she spoke, Jamal couldn’t help but smile again. “Things could have been different, Ally. If I didn’t screw up with Val, and if you didn’t spend so much time with him instead of me-”

“You were with Valerie most of the time I was with Rafe,” she reminded him quickly. “And I’ve never slept with Rafe, I never even considered cheating on you, not once. I’m not going to apologize for how I feel about Rafe either. He’s an amazing guy, and he loves me. When I’m with him, it’s like the rest of the world melts away. I’m sorry that it hurts you, Jamal. But I love him. I love the way he smiles, the way he looks at me, the way he makes me feel like no one else matters to him but me, and the way he treats me.”

“He couldn’t possibly treat you good enough, Spunky.”

She softened as she pushed away her tears. “Why do you say that?”

“Because you’re crying,” he murmured, inching closer to her though he knew he shouldn’t. “Because there is no man in this world that is good enough for you.”

“Jamal-”

“No,” he whispered, shaking his head. “Just don’t, alright?” His eyes darted away before returning to her once more. “Just… Will you answer a question for me… Please? It’s something I’ve been wondering for a while, and I just… I really need to know the answer. I need to hear it from you, Ally.”

Tiredly, she nodded, as she dipped the teabag in and out of the water. “What do you want to know, Jamal?”

“What… What did I do to make you take your heart back and give it to him, Ally? Or was it ever really mine to begin with? Were you ever completely mine?”

Alison looked up from her tea and over to him. “Yes, Jamal, of course. I was so completely yours, and you were mine for not nearly long enough. But things changed. I don’t know when it happened, or what it was. I just know that one day Rafe kissed me, and I didn’t want it to end. And I realized that it wasn’t like that with you anymore. It was like we were together because we were supposed to be together. You had my heart, Jamal, but you have to understand that you broke it when you slept with Valerie.”

“And Rafe can fix it?”

“We fixed it, Jamal. You and me.”

He shook his head sadly, and flashed her a white smile they both knew he didn’t mean. “I just kept hurting you, Ally. And I didn’t mean to. I really was the world’s biggest fool. Any man that not only let’s you go but actually pushes you away is an idiot. You’re better than that, better than me. You never deserved the way I hurt you. I know it’s not enough, but I’m sorry. That’s… I came here to tell you that I was sorry for being such an ass to you and to Valerie. It’s amazing that you put up with me for as long as you did.”

“Jamal,” she sighed.

“Hey, listen,” he interrupted before she could continue. “You said you were tired. I mean, you probably are. I know that you think I didn’t notice, but it’s been a while since you slept all through the night. I can’t even begin to count how many nights I reached for you to see you staring out the window like you wanted the stars to come and rescue you.” Tears burned the back of his eyelids, but he pushed them away. “I know that I have no right to ask this, Ally, but do you think that maybe you could just do one thing for me?”

“Sure,” Alison said, a sad smile gracing her lips as she battled more tears of her own.

“Forgive me? For not knowing you well enough to see that you were as unhappy as I was. And for screwing up by sleeping with Valerie then my trick the other day. I’ve been a… really bad boyfriend lately, and you deserve someone better. Someone that makes you laugh and smile that beautiful smile. Can you just please forgive me for all the times I’ve made you cry? Please, Spunky? Living without you is going to be hard enough, don’t make me live knowing that… That you think I’m the scum I am for the way I’ve acted lately and treated you.”

“There’s nothing to forgive, Jamal.” She waved it off with one hand and wiped away her tears with another. “I hope you find what you’re looking for in life, Jamal.”

“I don’t know what I’m looking for, Ally. Maybe it’s just what you have with Rafe. Let him know that if he doesn’t treat you right he’s dealing with me, alright?” Smiling, he took another step forward and pressed his lips against her temple. “I want you to be happy, alright? Because if there is anyone that deserves all the happiness in the world it’s you.”

“You too, Jamal. Maybe… Maybe one of these days we can be friends again.”

“I’d like that.” He shoved his hands in the pockets of his jeans once more and rocked on his heels. “I’m going to go.”

“Ok.”

“I know that things between us changed, Ally, but there was one thing that never changed.”

“What’s that?”

“I never stopped loving you.” Chuckling lightly, more tears fell and he gave up wiping them away. “And I never will either.”

“You were my first love, Jamal.”

Jamal nodded. “Goodbye, Spunky girl,” he whispered thickly before turning and walking out the door.


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