Addy made us sandwiches. We ate together as I recalled everything from what happened during the storm to my conversation with Elle.
“I’d always worried that it was gonna come to this,” she said, taking our plates away.
“Tell me what you mean.”
“From the moment you walked in here after first meeting him on the road, I was afraid this connection you two have would turn out to be stronger than either of you could handle under the circumstances.”
“I thought I could control it.”
She returned to the table and grabbed both of my hands in hers. There was a long pause while she looked me straight in the eyes. “You love him.”
Letting go of her and burying my face in my palms, I said, “I don’t know.”
“You love him, Vangie.”
“How do you know?”
“Because you would never choose this pain in a million years if you didn’t. It’s just like my being gay. Why would a woman choose to put herself in a situation that might mean being ostracized? You would never want to hurt your sister or be disowned by your family. The fact that you can’t shake this despite that is the very proof that you love him.”
What she said made so much sense.
“I would never choose this.”
“You can’t choose love. It chooses you, and once that happens, it doesn’t let go. You can pretend it’s not there, but when you try, it only fights harder…louder…until you finally get the message and give in.”
My lips were trembling. “Please tell me what to do.”
“I can’t tell you what to do, honey. What I can tell you is that you need to pick a side and stick with it. This middle ground purgatory you’re in right now has to end. You need to make a decision to either come clean to Elle about Sevin, tell her what’s been going on and be prepared to suffer the consequences, or you stay away from him altogether. You can’t keep living this way.”
“When you say stay away from him…you mean move away?”
“As much as I don’t ever want to see you go, I do agree that given the situation, you won’t be able to live here if he marries your sister. I don’t believe your feelings are going to change. I know you, Vangie. That scenario would be pure torture. I don’t want you to have to suffer, seeing her with him every day. There’s a reason for the old saying ‘out of sight, out of mind.’”
“I’m so afraid.”
“What are you afraid of most?”
“Hurting my sister.”
“Then maybe that’s a hint as to which direction you need to go. You shouldn’t make this decision alone.”
“You think I need to talk to Sevin?”
“Yes. I do. I don’t think it should wait.”
I couldn’t sleep at all. In the middle of the night, I got up and peeked into Elle’s room to make sure she was fast asleep. I couldn’t risk this being one of the nights that she planned to sneak over to Sevin’s, too.
When I was sure everyone was out like a light, I quietly tiptoed out of the main house. Still in my nightgown, my entire body was shaking because at that moment, I had no idea what was going to happen. I just knew it was necessary to take Addy’s advice and settle this thing with Sevin once and for all.
Unlike the only other night I showed up at his door this late, there were no lights on at the guesthouse this time. He must have been sleeping. I wasn’t sure how to wake him up. I grabbed a small rock and threw it at his window. The main house was far enough so that the noise wouldn’t wake anyone there.
On the second try, a light went on in his bedroom. He appeared, looking painfully handsome. He was shirtless, and his hair was unruly from sleep. “Evangeline?” he asked groggily.
I spoke up into his window. “We need to talk.”
He disappeared without a word. Seconds later, the front door opened.
“Come in,” he said.
“Thank you. I’m sorry if I woke you.”
“I wasn’t sleeping…trying to, but I couldn’t. What’s going on?”
“I came to talk to you.”
When he looked at me, I saw something in his eyes that I’d never seen before: fear.
His irises were dark, his face sullen. “I know why you’re here.”
“Are you okay, Sevin?”
Everything was still, except for the tick of a clock as we stood facing each other in the middle of his living room. He reached for my hand and placed it over his heart, which was beating so fast. His voice was strained. “No, I’m not, Evangeline. I’m really not fucking okay.”
I kept my hand over his heart for a while. My own heart was competing with his rampant beat. A revelation hit me in that moment. I cared for Sevin at a level that I hadn’t felt for anyone before. As much as I loved Elle and wanted to protect her from this, I loved Sevin equally and wanted to protect him, too. It was tragic, because that meant that either way, someone I loved was going to get hurt.
“Why do you think I’m here?” I asked.
“Elle and I had a talk out in your parents’ yard after dinner tonight. I know she mentioned to you what she was going to talk to me about. I also know that you encouraged her.”
“I guess I did in a roundabout way but—”
“She also told me something else.”
“She overheard you on the phone this afternoon asking Callum if he thought your parents and his parents would allow you to move to Missouri now instead of later, rather than him moving here. So, yeah…I can put two and two together as to what you came to tell me.”