asked as he leaned over the counter.
"Actually, no." Grace
smiled at him as she finished unpacking a box of books. "In
fact, I was just about to take a break."
"Great! Then why don't we go next
door and grab a soda." He couldn't help but be mesmerized
by her. Her golden hair and delicate features could have him
transfixed for hours. He watched her nervously as he waited for
her response. Their friendship had been rather shaky since their
impetuous kiss. Now slightly uncomfortable around each other, they
were each working to put their own feelings into perspective.
Trevor loved her. He knew that much. He also knew
that Grace had no interest in him beyond friendship. He'd decided
then that he must refocus his feelings on his girlfriend Lorraine.
Of course, his feelings for Lorraine weren't the same as they were for
Grace, but he knew he had to try. If friendship was the only kind
of relationship he and Grace could share, then that would have to be
enough. "I've got a present for you." He held out
the gift wrapped box with the pretty pink bow for her to see.
"A gift? For me?" She looked at
it, a little unsure what to say. "For what?"
"Your birthday, silly!"
"H-how did you know it was my birthday?"
She reached out for the box, but he playfully snatched it away.
"I have my ways. Now, don't tell me you can't
accept a birthday present from a friend."
"Of course not." She sighed as she
realized that there was no reason they couldn't be friends.
She knew, however, that she had to be careful not to lead Trevor to
believe that there could be anything more than that between them.
"Okay, let's go get that soda.
When they had finally settled into a booth in the cafe,
he held out the gift for her again. This time when she reached for
it, he didn't pull it away. He waited nervously as she carefully
pulled the wrapping from the box.
"Can't you just tear into it?" He tapped
his foot rapidly on the floor. He hoped she'd like it.
Trevor had searched all day for just the right gift.
"I can't! The paper is too pretty to
ruin." She paused for a moment and eyed him closely.
"You didn't wrap this yourself, did you?" Trevor smiled
meekly as he tried to look innocent.
"Well....actually...no. The saleslady over at
did it. I've never been able to wrap anything and have it turn out
decent. Usually it just looks like a wad of paper."
"Oh, Trevor! I love it!" She
looked down at the beautiful cherry music box that the paper had
contained. Carefully, she opened the lid and listened to the
delicate tune the box played. Trevor heaved a sigh of relief.
Now relaxed, he settled back into his seat.
"I'm glad. I saw it and thought of you.
So sturdy and strong like the cherry, yet so sensitive and delicate like
the tune." Their eyes met for and instant and they both
began to feel caught up in the moment. Trevor slipped his hand
across the table and took her hand in his. Suddenly, she yanked it
back and looked away. Both became immediately uncomfortable and
began to wonder if a friendship between them was really possible.
"I...um...so...how are finals coming?"
"Good." Her eyes darted around the cafe
as she rested her hands in her lap. She frantically tried to find
anything to look at other than Trevor's eyes. She couldn't deny
how captivating the truly were and, despite her best efforts, she
couldn't help but feel a little excited every time she saw him.
"Graduation is almost here. I can wait to get it all over
"Ummm...so how are things going with this big,
secret love of yours?"
"Not good." She sighed deeply as she
thought of Dane
Manchester. His dark, good looks made her feel things she'd
never felt before. Every time she thought of him, her heart would
beat faster and she found it hard to catch her breath. "I've
barely even seen him since the first time we met. He seemed
interested in me, but now I'm not even sure he really knows I'm
alive." She looked down at her hands and began to feel
forlorn. She wondered if she was being foolish to even think she
had a chance with Dane.
"Grace, I'm sure everything will work out for the
best. If he can't see what a wonderful, special girl you are, he
must be completely blind."
"A-and how's Lorraine?"
Trevor flinched a little at the mention of his
girlfriend's name. "Um....she's fine. You know, I
really feel bad about staying with her even though my
feelings...well...my feelings for her aren't quite what they should be.
Grace...I...well...I love you. It can't be right what I'm
doing to her."
"You know that I can't return your feelings!
I told you we could only be friends." She swallowed hard and
spoke very pointedly to him. "Look, Trevor, even though you
and I have no future, you have to be truthful to her. If you don't
love her and don't think you could ever love her like you need to,
you've got to tell her! It's not fair for her to be misled like
she is. You've got to be honest with her and tell her that you
don't love her. If you don't, you're only going to wind up hurting
her more than you already have."
He paused for a minute and thought about what she'd
said. He knew she was right. It wasn't fair to Lorraine to
continue his charade. As much as he did care for her, he wasn't in
love with her and realized he probably never would be.
"You're right, Grace. I can't continue to keep this from
Lorraine. It's not fair for her and she's only going to be hurt
even more. She doesn't deserve that."
"S-so...what are you going to do?"
"I'm going to tell her the truth."
Trevor looked at Grace with a new determination in his eyes. He
finally realized the right thing to do and knew that he couldn't avoid
it any longer. "I'm going to tell her the truth and tell her
we can't see each other any more. I know she's going to be hurt,
but it's the right thing to do. It's the honest thing to do.
She deserves at least that." Trevor inhaled deeply as he
realized this would be the hardest thing he ever had to do in his entire
life. He felt good about wanting to be honest and truthful, but
how could he feel good about destroying every hope and dream that
Lorraine had ever had about them?