The rain that started to fall came on fast, leaving everything soaked in a matter of seconds. Allison yelped at her sudden switch from dry to dripping and pulled back from the railing. She had planned to make a quick dash back into the house, but mid turn, her heel, the good for nothing thing, snapped in half, sending Allison sprawling forward. Failing at trying to catch herself and having nothing else to do, eyes squeezed tightly shut, she braced herself for impact, the ground rushing up to meet her. But before she could even touch the ground’s slick surface, strong arms came around her. Catching her and saving her from what would have been a nasty, and most likely, bruising fall.
She opened her eyes, and found herself looking into a sea of blue. Jared had caught her, thank God.
“Thanks,” she breathed. Boys …she blinked, clearing her head. Gripping his arms, she was in a strange position at that moment. Having no support to keep her off the ground besides Jared. “You really saved me there.” The rain pounded down around them, but it had become a thing of the past. The only thing that mattered at that moment was the deep and endless blue, mesmerizing her as she stared into it. Dogs … She had a fleeting thought that her dress was ruined, but that too, was forgotten at his next words.
“I’m just lucky I got here in time. You were halfway to the ground already.” He smiled and Allison melted. Dangerous position Ally, her self-conscious seemed to say, boys are dogs … where’s your head been all day? How could you do this to yourself … That thought made her entire body go cold, boys are dogs ... she had known that not too long ago … that had been her philosophy. That had been her grounding point … why she stayed away from guys, how she survived and yet … here she was?
Jared, had taken down all her walls by simply making her feel like he wanted to get to know her … but isn’t that what any guy would say, what he had said? Oh no … she had truly fallen. The pretty face and some sweet words were all it took, all it seemed to ever take. What am I doing here? How could she let herself forget a whole year, even push it to the side, for even the one moment of bliss that she was feeling then? Letting go of her inhibitions, for just a day?
She repositioned her hands, which were beginning to slip on his arms, and looked into Jared’s face for what felt like the last time. She must have wanted someone to open up to so badly, someone to understand her so much that … that time of sadness and insecurity …that time of fear and denial, had floated above her for a moment, not touching her, not bogging her down when others weren’t there to see, so much so, that she had projected feelings that weren’t even there, onto Jared.
Jared seemed kind, Jared seemed caring and he had listened to her, had shown interest in her … but … But what? She, if no one else, should know … that everything wasn’t always as it seemed. You can’t do this Allison; boys are dogs remember … boys are … dogs. They’ll use you and throw you away, he’s using you and he’ll trash you soon enough … you’ve had your fun, time to step back … She knew that Jared probably thought that her shyness was what was holding her back, but that wasn’t it.
Her being shy was something she had been born with, not something she had just picked up along the way, like other things, like the thing killing her slowly then. She didn’t have a name for it but she knew damn well where it had come from, and she wasn’t going back to that place. She wasn’t that stupid, she wouldn’t risk losing herself again … not even for Jared.
But yes, sadly shyness wasn’t her only barrier, and hadn’t been the only barrier used against Jared that day, she was somewhat proud to admit. All her defenses hadn’t been knocked down … he was close enough, he got you talking, that’s the first step … That instinct that she had felt missing earlier that day in the Dunkin’ Donuts, that instinct that she knew for a fact that she had. The one that had developed against her will, the one that always caused her to pull away … was just then kicking in, she didn’t want it to … but she couldn’t let herself get close to another person, she wouldn’t let herself be hurt, wouldn’t put herself in the line of fire, and that was the way she’d stay.
She’d had her fun, her day in the sun. She’d laughed, she’d smiled, she’d begun to maybe even feel something again. Dangerous talk, leads to dangerous things … Allison knew that she had everything she needed, in Derek, in Liz, in Sarah, in Drew and in Sam. They were all she wanted. Not him. Not this … not again … never again. Jared, I’m sorry.