Focus (Page 58)

I escaped into the bedroom, closing the door behind me. I hoped Toby left in the morning. I wasn’t sure how much more I could take.

The sun had disappeared, leaving the room dark. I turned on a lamp and collapsed on my side of the bed. I fished my cell out of my bag. I had a missed text from Levi.

I miss you already. When are you coming home?

He already knew the answer, but I told him anyway. In a week. I pressed send and then decided to send another one. I miss you too.

Good. You should miss me.

At least I could rely on Levi being his cocky self.

***

I couldn’t sleep. I tossed and turned for hours, unable to quiet my racing mind. All of my confusion over what to do with Levi was made ten times worse after seeing Toby. It’s not that I wanted to get back with him—not at all—but he brought back so many memories and reminded me about my dreams and the life I left behind.

By one a.m., I’d had enough. I pulled on jeans and my coat and headed outside to get some fresh air. I took a seat on an Adirondack chair, wondering if I was being watched. I was positive Levi had covered all the security bases. I tried to sit, but I was too antsy. I got up and walked out onto the snow covered grass. The moon was full and beautiful.

The wind picked up, bringing the start of some snow flurries with it, and I pulled my coat tightly around me. I really needed to build my cold tolerance up again.

“You couldn’t sleep either?”

I didn’t need to turn around to know it was Toby. I’d never forget his voice. I’d dated lots of boys before him, but he was the first one that I ever let in.

“No. I got tired of tossing and turning.”

“Same here. It was hard knowing you were just on the other side of the wall.”

I turned to look at him. “I’m sorry.”

“For?” He studied my face intently.

“Hurting you.”

“You did what you thought you had to.”

“I did have to. I still know it was the best thing for both of us.”

He moved closer. “I still know that it wasn’t—for either of us. I don’t want to keep fighting with you, but I know we’re perfect together.”

“What does perfect even mean?” Without thinking, I brushed some snow out of Toby’s hair.

“Shouldn’t you know? You’re the one getting married.”

I looked away. “I don’t think anything can be perfect.”

“Sure it can. Perfect is when you’re with someone who completes you in every way: emotionally, physically, sexually…”

“But what does it mean to complete you? Can you be complete but still feel confused?” I probably shouldn’t have been so honest with Toby, but it was late, and I was used to being open with him.

“What are you confused about?” He moved so close I could feel his body heat. I’d forgotten how warm he ran. He was just like Levi in that way.

“Everything, but mostly what I want out of life. Sometimes I feel like I don’t even know myself anymore. It’s like life started moving forward so quickly, and now I can’t slow it down.”

Toby wiped away some tears that had slipped out. “It’s going to be okay, Allie.”

“You can’t say that. You have no idea what’s been happening.”

“I want to know. I want to help.” He pulled me into a hug, and I let him hold me. Maybe it was selfish, but I needed to be held. Without it, I might have unraveled completely. I tried to be strong, but sometimes I felt so weak.

I started to cry. Toby just held me, rubbing my back gently as I sobbed.

I finally composed myself enough to pull away. “I’m sorry.”

“Why are you sorry this time?”

“For breaking down. You know that’s not like me.”

“Yes. I do know that, because I know you. Whatever’s going on, I can help you. Maybe we can call Princeton this week and get your registration in order.”

“I’m not transferring, Toby.”

“I’m not asking you to do it for me this time. You said it yourself. Life’s out of control. But you’re wrong. You can put on the brakes.”

“You don’t understand. I can’t.” I ran a finger over my ring.

“If he loves you, he’ll understand. He’ll get that you aren’t ready for something like that.”

“I can’t just give his ring back.” For once, I didn’t mean it physically. I knew that I couldn’t give it back. Too much had happened since he gave it to me.

“You can do anything you want to do. Anyone who tells you otherwise is wrong.”

He took my hand. “Your hands are freezing. You should probably get back inside.”

“Probably. It’s late.” The snow had picked up, and my light-weight wool coat wasn’t designed for it.

“I know you didn’t want to see me, but I’m not leaving tomorrow.”

I was too tired and emotionally spent to argue. “Thanks for being here for me tonight.”

He took my other hand. “I want to be there for you every night. I love you, Allie.”

“Goodnight.” I pulled my hands away and walked inside.

“Goodnight,” he called, making no move to follow me inside.

Chapter Twenty-Four

After an early breakfast, Hailey and I stopped by the rental shop to pick out our gear before hitting the slopes. It was funny watching Hailey learn about skis for the first time. I was used to her knowing everything. I was giving her a hard time about it when an attractive guy, probably in his mid-twenties, walked over.

“Hi. I couldn’t help but overhear that you’d never been skiing before.”

Hailey smiled. “Yeah, it’s my first time.”

“I’m an instructor here. I’d love to give you lessons, if you’re interested.”

Hailey glanced at me and grinned. “That sounds nice, but I think I’ll be fine.”

“Are you positive? I’m sure your friend will help, but she isn’t actually trained.”

“Oh, I’m not relying on Allie. I think I’ll figure it out.”

He looked taken aback. “Okay. Have fun then.”

“We will.” I paid for our gear, and we headed out.

“So do you think I should start on the easy ones, or what?”

“I bet you can handle a blue slope.”

“I have no idea what that is, but that’s fine.”

I grabbed her arm through her parka. “Let’s go.” We got in line for the ski lift.