The Reason Is You, Chapter 2: Gabriella

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  • David
  • Jesse walks into room
  • David
  • Claudia; Evie blushing
  • David looking at Jesse
  • Claudia
  • David
  • Jesse
  • Reshoot?
  • Taylor
  • David; Evie looking shocked
  • The Reason Is You, Chapter 2: Gabriella

    1. 1. Chapter 2<br />Gabriella<br />
    2. 2. “Hi mum,” Evie smiled warmly as she greeted her parents one morning. They had come to see her for the day, and as they didn’t get a chance to visit often she wanted to make the most of it. She loved her parents dearly and missed them a lot when she was away. <br /> “Evelyn, dear; we didn’t think we were ever going to see you again!!” Claudia Brooke exclaimed as she embraced her daughter.<br />
    3. 3. “Ignore your mother,” Evie heard her father whisper in her ear as she hugged him, and she grinned as he continued. “You know how dramatic she can be.” David Brooke often had to apologise for his wife’s outgoing nature, but it was easy to tell how strong his affection for her was. <br /> “Okay, dad,” Evie smiled. <br /> “What are you two whispering about over there? And do you have a kettle in this place? I’m dying for a cup of tea.”<br /> Evie laughed. “Right this way, mum,” she smiled as she led her parents inside. <br />
    4. 4. “Come on then, tell us,” Claudia pressed. “How is life at university? Are you making friends? Boyfriends?”<br /> Evie blushed a little at her mother’s questioning. “Erm... Not boyfriends, mum,” she answered quietly, not wanting to talk to her parents about her argument with Jesse. “But... But lots of friends... And the work is fairly easy so far...” She trailed off; her mother wasn’t listening.<br />
    5. 5. “You mean to tell me you haven’t met a single boy since you’ve been here?” Claudia exclaimed with a frown. “You need to start settling down, Evelyn; you’re not getting any younger you know.”<br />
    6. 6. “Mum, I’m not exactly a pensioner yet,” Evie muttered.<br />“Of course not, but you’re not a little girl anymore either; you should go out on a few dates! I’ve always said you were too shy, dear.”<br />
    7. 7. “Claudia, I’m sure Evie will start dating when she’s ready,” David murmured, trying to pacify his wife. “You can’t force her into it.”<br />
    8. 8. “I’m not forcing her into anything; I’m just giving her some advice,” Claudia retorted as Evie shifted uncomfortably in her seat. “Mothers know best, David.”<br />
    9. 9. David sighed. “Yes dear,” he murmured, smiling slightly.<br />
    10. 10. Just then, Jesse walked into the room, and David looked up with a smile. “Ah, look who it is,” he exclaimed. “How are you my boy?”<br />
    11. 11. Jesse smiled somewhat awkwardly and glanced at Evie, who kept her eyes on the floor. She wasn’t sure she could pretend like nothing had happened if she looked him in the eyes. Jesse turned back to her father. “I’m well thank you, Mr Brooke; how are yourselves?” he answered politely.<br />
    12. 12. “We’re well too, thank you lad,” David smiled warmly; he had always treated Jesse as he would if he were his son. “I’m sure you’re having an excellent time here?”<br />
    13. 13. “But not too good a time; you know your parents would be upset if you forgot about your work and enjoyed yourself too much,” Claudia reminded him quickly. “Although according to Evelyn there doesn’t seem to be much enjoyment to be had between you two,” she added, frowning pointedly at her daughter who blushed bright red and immediately wished she could hide under the couch.<br />
    14. 14. David sighed at his wife’s frankness and looked apologetically at Jesse, who just maintained his awkward smile and cleared his throat. “Evie and I have been... very busy with work, Mrs Brooke... I’m sure both you and my own parents would approve of what we’ve done so far.”<br />
    15. 15. “Hmmm,” Claudia answered, clearly not satisfied with his response. “Well... if you say so.” <br />
    16. 16. David drew in a deep breath. “Well my dear; we’d better be off if we want to make it home before this evening,” he said, hastily changing the subject. “Shall we make a move? It’s been lovely to see you, Jesse.”<br />
    17. 17. “Yes... and you too, Mr Brooke; Mrs Brooke,” Jesse answered quietly. “I’ll see you soon, I’m sure.” He gave them a small wave and then turned without another word, walking out of the room and not even giving Evie another glance. <br />
    18. 18. She felt like crying; was he ever going to speak to her again?<br />
    19. 19. As Jesse made his way to his room he bumped into Zara on the way, and she grinned at him. “Hey; I was just coming to find you. Want to come to the gym with me?”<br />
    20. 20. Jesse managed a small smile. “No thanks... I’m not really in the mood,” he told her as he briefly glanced past her to the living room and then back to Zara, who was now scowling at him. “What?” he asked, spreading his hands wide.<br /> “Are you and Evie still not talking to each other?” she demanded, and Jesse glanced away.<br />
    21. 21. “Come with me,” she said suddenly, grabbing him by the sleeve. “Zara...” Jesse protested, but she gave him a glare and he sighed before allowing her to drag him in the direction of her room. It was far enough away from the living room to ensure they wouldn’t be heard.<br />
    22. 22. Once inside, Zara pulled the door shut and locked it before rounding on Jesse with another glare. “Why haven’t you spoken to Evie?” she asked bluntly, and Jesse sighed.<br />
    23. 23. “You know why,” he mumbled. “Because of what happened the other night. Look, I know I made an idiot of myself by saying what I did—“<br />
    24. 24. “Well that’s true,” Zara interrupted, glaring at him.<br />
    25. 25. “—but I just don’t get why Evie felt the need to completely change who she was, just for one night,” he continued, frowning. “I wasn’t going to encourage her, if that’s what she wanted.”<br />
    26. 26. Zara stared at him for a moment and then threw up her hands in frustration. “You really have no idea why Evie dressed the way she did that night? Or why she’s so upset with you?” she exclaimed, and Jesse shook his head.<br />
    27. 27. “Because she’s trying to become a clone of Gabriella?” he sighed, shrugging.<br />
    28. 28. “For heaven’s sake, no, you complete doofus! Evie’s in love with you,” Zara cried in exasperation.<br />
    29. 29. Jesse blinked, unable to comprehend what his friend had just told him. “She... she’s what?” he whispered. <br />
    30. 30. “Evie’s in love with you. She has been since we were all kids, and you must have been blind not to notice,” Zara muttered. “The only reason she dressed the way she did at the Campus Lounge is because Gabriella was apparently trying to help her by getting her all dressed up to impress you. Evie thought you might notice her more if she wore make-up and a revealing outfit.” Zara sighed again, shaking her head. “She just wanted to get your attention.”<br />
    31. 31. Jesse was silent for a moment, processing what Zara had said. “Evie.... Evie’s in love with me?” he repeated in a daze. <br />
    32. 32. “Yes, we’ve already established that. Now are you going to go out there and apologise to her and tell her you love her too?” Zara demanded, and Jesse choked.<br />
    33. 33. “What?!” he cried. <br /> Zara rolled her eyes. “Well you do, don’t you?” she asked calmly, and Jesse spluttered for a moment before thinking back. Evie had always been a part of his life, and he’d supposed that that was the reason why he cared so much about her; they’d always been together, and it had become natural over time to want to make her happy. He just hadn’t realised that those feelings had grown into something a lot deeper than friendship as the two of them had grown up...<br />
    34. 34. Suddenly his eyes widened. “Why you didn’t tell me?!” he cried. <br />
    35. 35. “Because I thought you could figure it out, but clearly I was wrong!!” Zara exclaimed. “Jeez... if you can’t work out you love someone by yourself, there really is no hope for you, Jesse,” she added, grinning.<br />
    36. 36. Jesse sat down suddenly; his knees felt weak and he was shaking with the sudden realisation of his feelings for Evie. “I... love her,” he murmured, the words sounding so right to him now. Then he closed his eyes and exhaled slowly. “I’ve been such a jerk, haven’t I?” he said softly, and Zara shrugged.<br />
    37. 37. “Well... yeah, but you can fix it. Evie’s desperate to talk to you again; she just too shy to make the first move. All you have to do is go up to her, apologise and tell her how you feel. Things’ll work out perfectly, you’ll see,” Zara answered encouragingly, and Jesse laughed weakly.<br />
    38. 38. “That’s easy for you to say,” he muttered, and Zara laughed.<br /> “Trust me,” she replied. “It’ll work out.”<br />
    39. 39. After her parents had gone, Evie retreated to her room, fretting about what had happened. Jesse had practically ignored her again; had she really ruined their friendship for good? She tried not to cry; all she wanted to do was erase the past few days completely and start over again. If only she hadn’t acted like an idiot, they would still be friends at least. <br />
    40. 40. She had been staring at the ground for about five minutes, just replaying the past few days over in her mind, when a sudden knock at the door made her jump. She blinked and brought her mind back to the present. “Who is it?” she called anxiously.<br />
    41. 41. “It’s me,” Jesse’s voice answered, sounding strangely quiet and humble. “Can I... Can I come in and talk to you for a bit? Please?”<br />
    42. 42. Evie’s heart started thumping. Jesse wanted to talk... was that good or bad? But she knew she’d never find out until she let him in. “Um... o-of course... come in,” she answered in a shaky voice, and the door opened slowly as she stood up to greet him. <br />
    43. 43. “Hey,” Jesse smiled weakly as he walked into the room. Seeing Evie in person suddenly made talking to her a whole lot harder, and he almost wished he could have gotten Zara to talk to her for him. But he knew that was completely cowardly and that if he wanted this to work out well, he had to do it himself. <br />
    44. 44. “H-hi,” Evie stammered shyly, immediately blushing. “H- how are you?”<br />
    45. 45. Jesse sighed and hung his head. “I’m... I’m terrible, Evie; I hate things being this way between us. All I’ve wanted lately is to talk to you, but I didn’t know if it was what you wanted... and then I realised that I had to come and apologise to you, even if you don’t want to talk to me again.”<br />
    46. 46. Evie looked down at the floor, her cheeks burning. “T- that’s not exactly true,” she mumbled quietly, but Jesse was continuing.<br />
    47. 47. “Evie... I’m so sorry for the way I spoke to you the other night. I had no right to say what I did, and the next morning I felt awful. But... you have to know that there’s a reason why I reacted so badly to seeing you dressed like that,” he said, so earnestly that it made Evie look up at him and then wish she hadn’t as her cheeks grew even hotter. But she couldn’t look away as he carried on.<br />
    48. 48. “You see... well, all my life I’ve wanted to protect you; to keep you safe. You’re my best friend, and if anyone ever hurt you I’d rip them apart. I’ve always thought of you as... something precious, I suppose. So seeing you dressed the way you were, with all that make-up and everything... it made me angry. Not just because I was afraid of what other guys might think, but also because I didn’t understand why you felt the need to change yourself. Because, to me... you were always beautiful, and nothing could make you any more beautiful.”<br />
    49. 49. Evie felt like all the breath had been sucked out of her lungs; she could barely believe what she was hearing. Jesse thought she was beautiful? And he always had? She wanted to say something, but her mouth felt like sawdust. And Jesse hadn’t finished.<br />
    50. 50. “The thing is, I didn’t realise that that was why I was so angry, not at first. So I lashed out at you. I thought you were just trying to copy Gabby or something; it was the only explanation I could think of. But... well, I just finished speaking to Zara...”<br />
    51. 51. Oh no, he’d spoken to Zara. Evie dreaded to think what her well-meaning friend might have said to him. “Jesse,” she said hurriedly, finding her voice. “Look, whatever Zara said to you—“<br />
    52. 52. “She said you were in love with me,” Jesse interrupted her, and Evie’s words died in her throat. “She said you’d always been in love with me, and that you’d done what you did because you wanted me to notice you.” Jesse paused for a moment, not looking away from Evie’s shocked face. “And she made me realise... I’ve always felt the same way about you too, Evie. I just didn’t realise when it went from friendship to love.”<br />
    53. 53. Ohgodohgodohgod... Could this really be happening? Was she hearing him correctly? “I... I’m dreaming, aren’t I?” Evie whispered suddenly. “This is all just a dream... you’re not really real...”<br />
    54. 54. Jesse smiled fondly and reached for her hands, taking them in his own. “Evie... you aren’t dreaming. I’m really here. And I’m telling you that I love you. I always have, and I always will. Do you want me to prove to you that I’m real?”<br />
    55. 55. He reached out a hand to stroke her cheek lightly, moving closer as he did so, and Evie stared into his eyes, her heart beating wildly. <br />
    56. 56. Suddenly he kissed her very gently and sweetly, and any rational thoughts flew out of her mind. All her concentration went into remembering how to stay upright, and if it wasn’t for his arms around her she probably would have fallen.<br />
    57. 57. When he drew back he had a huge smile on his face, and she knew she did too. “That was real,” he murmured, and Evie nodded breathlessly. “Yes... that was real,” she whispered.<br />
    58. 58. Jesse’s smile grew wider. “So... am I forgiven?” he asked hopefully, and Evie couldn’t help but grin. <br /> “Definitely,” she answered, feeling happier than she had ever felt before. Jesse loved her as much as she loved him, and they’d just shared their first kiss; things couldn’t get any more perfect.<br />
    59. 59. “What do you mean, academic probation?!” Taylor demanded of his tutor that evening, who had rung him to speak about Taylor’s low grades. <br />
    60. 60. Gabriella walked into the dorms just as Taylor was hanging up the phone, and she frowned at the look on his face. “Taylor?” she asked him, concerned. “What’s wrong?”<br />
    61. 61. “My stupid lecturer’s put me on stupid academic probation,” Taylor muttered, and Gabriella gasped. <br /> “What? That’s crazy...” she cried, and Taylor scowled. “Tell me about it! The man’s insane.”<br />
    62. 62. “But you’ve been doing fine, as far as I can tell! And you’re keeping up with all your assignments and everything, right?” Gabriella asked, but when Taylor pulled a face she frowned. “Right?”<br />
    63. 63. “I haven’t bothered with assignments for weeks now,” Taylor muttered. “What’s the point? They’re a waste of time; I don’t learn anything from them.”<br /> Gabby sighed in exasperation. “You won’t learn anything if you don’t do the assignments at all, Taylor,” she snapped.<br />
    64. 64. Taylor glared at her. “Well none of it matters now anyway, because I’m quitting. Tonight. I’m going to speak to my tutors right now and tell them they can stuff their stupid course.”<br />
    65. 65. Gabriella gasped again. “You’re... You’re leaving?! You can’t, Taylor!”<br />
    66. 66. “Yes I can!” he retorted. “I’m not sticking around here to re-do a semester I’ve already done; it’s stupid! I’m leaving, and there’s nothing you can do to stop me.”<br />
    67. 67. With that he turned and stormed out of the dorm, and Gabby watched him go with a sigh. She’d never been particularly fond of work herself, but she did understand the need for a good education and she always tried hard to achieve the good grades she held. She knew Taylor could do better if he applied himself, but clearly he had no interest in doing that. But where did that leave their relationship?<br />
    68. 68. “Well this is nice,” Jesse murmured as he and Evie cuddled up on the sofa in the lounge, and she laughed.<br /> “Isn’t it just?” she answered a little shyly. “And almost everyone has gone out; there’s no one to disturb us...”<br />
    69. 69. Suddenly, Gabriella came rushing into the room. “Guys, I need to talk to you; I think Taylor’s about to do something really stupid and I’m...” she started hurriedly, and then stopped and stared at the couple on the sofa for a moment. “Wait a minute.... Are you guys finally together? Like, togethertogether?” she asked, smiling slowly.<br />
    70. 70. Jesse laughed. “You could say that, yes,” he grinned, and Evie giggled, blushing slightly. <br />
    71. 71. Zara, who was sitting with them, rolled her eyes and glared as Gabriella came into the room. “They’ve been acting soppy all afternoon; it was cute at first and now it’s just boring.”<br />
    72. 72. Jesse laughed good-naturedly and moved away from Evie a little. “Sorry Zara; we’ll try and tone it down a little,” he promised.<br />
    73. 73. “Thanks,” Zara grinned, and then turned back to Gabriella, who had sat down on the other side of Jesse. “So what’s this crazy, stupid thing Taylor’s about to do? He’s not proposed to you, has he?” Zara added sarcastically.<br />
    74. 74. “Oh, you’re so funny, Zara,” Gabriella muttered, annoyed, and then sighed. “No. He’s been put on academic probation, and he doesn’t want to do it so he’s quitting. Or at least he says he is. Tonight.”<br />
    75. 75. “Taylor’s quitting?” Jesse repeated in disbelief, and Gabby nodded. “No... He’s just upset. I’m sure when he gets back he’ll have changed his mind,” Jesse told her comfortingly. “I’m sure there’s nothing to worry about.”<br />
    76. 76. “Hey,” Taylor called then as he walked into the room. “Just wanted to say goodbye. My taxi’s waiting outside.”<br />
    77. 77. Gabriella jumped to her feet and ran up to him. “Taylor...” she murmured. “You don’t have to leave; come on. We can work this out together; go talk to your tutors and get them to change their minds. Or even if they don’t... I can help you; it’s just one semester. We can get your grades up in no time at all.”<br />
    78. 78. Taylor smiled ruefully. “Sorry Gabby, but I’m going. It’s not just because of the academic probation thing; I can’t stand it here any more. It’s just not me.”<br />
    79. 79. He glanced over at the other three. “I’m not one for long goodbyes, so see you round, guys. I’ll call you when I’m back home.”<br />Gabby stared at him; he couldn’t be serious, could he? “Taylor, don’t do this,” she pleaded, but he was already walking out of the room.<br />
    80. 80. “Taylor!!” she cried, running after him. “What about me and you?” Taylor stopped in the hallway and turned to put a hand on her arm. <br /> “Gabby,” he sighed. “Look, don’t worry. When I get back home I’ll find a nice little house for us both and you can come live with me there when you’ve finished uni. It’ll be great; you’ll see. Now I really have to go. I’ll see you soon, babe.”<br /> She stared at him as he walked off. “Bye,” she whispered.<br />
    81. 81. As she watched the taxi pull away, Gabriella didn’t know what to think. Her and Taylor had started out as just a fling, but lately they’d been spending so much time together that, for her at least, things had developed much more. She thought of them as a couple now, and to suddenly be deprived of Taylor was a huge shock to her. She sighed sadly and went back inside.<br />
    82. 82. “How’s Taylor doing?” Evie asked a few weeks later as she and Gabby sat down to lunch. “Has he found somewhere to live yet?”<br />
    83. 83. “He rang me the other night,” Gabriella answered. “He said he’s renting a small house until he finds somewhere better. But he’s okay, I think, just lonely.”<br />
    84. 84. “Actually,” she murmured, pushing the food around on her plate. “... He asked me if I would quit uni to be with him... And I’m thinking about saying yes.” <br />
    85. 85. “What?!” Evie exclaimed, looking up at her friend in amazement. “Are you serious? You can’t quit uni Gabby; you’re doing so well!”<br />
    86. 86. “I know... But grades aren’t everything, Evie,” Gabby replied. “And you know that you want to be a physicist... I have no idea what I want to be, so why carry on with a literature course if I have no interest in it? Besides... I miss Taylor. And he misses me.”<br />
    87. 87. Evie put her knife and fork down and sighed. “Well, if it’s what you want to do then I suppose I can’t stop you. I just...don’t know if you’re making the right decision.”<br />
    88. 88. “Gabby’s leaving too?” Jesse asked Evie in surprise later that day when she told him about her conversation with Gabriella. Evie nodded, and Jesse sighed. “She sure is silly sometimes.”<br />
    89. 89. “But we can’t just let her go,” Evie protested. “She’s making a mistake.”<br />
    90. 90. Jesse smiled. “If she is, then she needs to figure it out herself. You can’t stop her if she’s determined enough; you know what Gabby’s like. And besides, you have more important things to be worrying about tonight,” he added, and Evie frowned.<br /> “What?” she asked.<br />
    91. 91. “Oh, girly things like finding the perfect dress and getting your hair just perfect,” Jesse grinned as he pulled her closer for a hug. “I’m taking you out for a meal. And you’re not allowed to say no.”<br /> Evie smiled slowly. “That sounds wonderful.”<br />
    92. 92. Later on, however, as she stood in her room waiting for Jesse to come and get her, Evie wasn’t so sure about the whole thing. If Gabby was leaving soon, shouldn’t she be spending time with her? And she did have a lot of work to do.... And what if Jesse didn’t like the dress, or her hair?<br />
    93. 93. Her worries, about Jesse at least, melted away when he saw her and gently took her hand, staring into her eyes. <br /> “You look beautiful,” he murmured, and Evie blushed, a smile spreading across her face. <br /> “Thank you,” she said softly. “And you’re not so bad yourself.... Am I allowed to know where we’re going?” “Londoste,” Jesse smiled, and Evie gasped.<br /> “Jesse! The food’s so expensive there...” she began, but trailed off as Jesse spoke again.<br /> “Nothing’s too expensive for you. Now come on.”<br />
    94. 94. Jesse wouldn’t take no for an answer, even though Evie was panicking about the expense all the way to the restaurant, and she only stopped (reluctantly) when they got inside the building. Jesse got them a table quickly, and Evie was relieved to see it was a small one out of the way of everyone else. She still felt a little self-conscious, even though Jesse was constantly reassuring her that she looked amazing.<br />
    95. 95. Once they were at the table, however, Jesse seemed to be anxious about something, and as Evie read through the menu she glanced up to find him staring fixedly at the wall, a look of intense concentration on his face, and she smiled.<br /> “Jesse?” she murmured. “Are you all right? You look distracted,” she asked, and Jesse jumped before turning to smile at her. <br /> “Of course,” he said hurriedly. “I’m fine. Just thinking, that’s all.”<br />
    96. 96. “What about?” she asked, reaching for his hand, and Jesse’s smile grew into a steadier one. <br /> “Just about how lucky I am to have you,” he told her, taking her hand.<br />
    97. 97. For a moment, they were so lost in each other that they didn’t even notice when the waitress brought the food, and she stood awkwardly by their table for a few minutes before smiling.<br /> “I... Hope you enjoy the meal,” she said finally. “Please let me know if there are any problems,” she added and then walked away to let them enjoy their food.<br />
    98. 98. “This is amazing,” Evie exclaimed as she tucked into her lobster, but Jesse was distracted again and only managed to murmur a “hmm” in agreement, staring down at his own plate. Evie frowned.<br />
    99. 99. “Jesse... Are you sure you’re all right?” she asked him, and he sighed before looking up at her. “No, I’m not. I need to ask you a question, actually. A very important question,” he said, turning to look at her, and Evie found she couldn’t look away from him. He seemed desperate and eager, and she couldn’t speak.<br />
    100. 100. She was relieved when he broke out into a smile. <br /> “Evelyn Brooke,” he said, a little formally. “You are the single most important thing in my life, and I love you with all my heart. I always have and I always will... And that’s why I’m asking you to marry me and make me the happiest man alive.”<br />
    101. 101. Evie stared at him, dumbfounded, until he pulled out the little box and then she gasped, taking it from him with shaking hands. <br />
    102. 102. The perfect engagement ring shone up at her as Jesse looked on anxiously, and she knew she had tears in her eyes.<br />
    103. 103. “Oh Jesse... It’s beautiful!” she cried, holding out to look at it better. A thousand thoughts ran through her mind about how it was too soon; how she should wait until they’d been living together for a few years, or what her mother would say... But then she pushed those thoughts away with no hesitation.<br />
    104. 104. She slipped the ring on her finger and saw Jesse’s face light up as she held her hand out, admiring the ring.<br /> “You like it?” he asked her hopefully, and she nodded fervently. <br /> “Like it? I adore it; you couldn’t have picked a better one.”<br />
    105. 105. Suddenly, she realised she hadn’t given him an answer and reached for his hand again with a huge smile on her face. “By the way... Of course I’ll marry you,” she whispered, and Jesse let out the breath he’d been holding. <br /> “You’re sure?” <br /> “More than anything,” she murmured happily. <br />
    106. 106. The rest of the evening was just as magical as they talked and danced the night away. Jesse still couldn’t quite believe that Evie had said yes, and that nothing had gone wrong.<br />
    107. 107. And Evie just couldn’t believe that all her dreams were finally starting to come true; she felt like the luckiest girl in the world.<br />
    108. 108. As they were returning to the dorm, Gabriella was walking towards them. <br /> “There you are,” she smiled. “I was beginning to think you’d never come home and I wouldn’t have a chance to say goodbye.”<br />
    109. 109. “Goodbye?” Evie exclaimed. “You’re not leaving now, are you?”<br /> “Yes,” Gabby smiled sadly. “I’ve already spoken to my tutors; they were a little shocked but they’re going to let me leave.”<br /> Evie frowned. “Are you sure about this, Gabby? You can’t go back on this decision, you know...” Gabby nodded. “I know. But I’ll be fine, I promise. Taylor and I are going to really make a go of things together; you’ll see.”<br />
    110. 110. Evie sighed, knowing there was nothing she could do to change her friend’s mind, and pulled her into a hug. “Okay... But take care of yourself, you understand?”<br /> “I understand,” Gabby smiled. “I’ll see you soon, Evie.”<br />Evie’s eyes widened. “Oh my gosh; I’d almost forgotten: Jesse and I are engaged!” Gabriella laughed. “I know. Zara and I helped him pick out the ring.”<br /> “What?!” Evie exclaimed, and then laughed. “I should have known.... Thank you, Gabriella.”<br />
    111. 111. “You’re more than welcome; it was the least I could do after my failed attempt at helping you out before. And you know what? Zara does actually have good taste in jewellery, surprisingly.”<br /> “She certainly does,” Jesse smiled. “Goodbye, Gabriella... And thanks.”<br /> “Bye Jesse,” Gabby smiled. <br />
    112. 112. As she rang for a taxi, Gabby took a deep breath. Evie was right; she’d never be able to come back here. But she really did feel like she was doing the right thing; she and Taylor could make a go of things, she was sure. And it wasn’t long until university was over for everyone else; she would see her friends before long.<br />
    113. 113. In fact, time went faster than any of them expected, and soon enough Jesse and Evie had graduated, each with the highest grades. <br />
    114. 114. Zara, on the other hand, had had a difficult time of things and was forced to repeat a semester. However, she had surprised everyone by staying the extra few months, in order to finish her degree, of her own will. She had a new-found determination and was working as hard as she could on both her academic and physical skills, and she seemed to almost be enjoying herself at university for once. <br />
    115. 115. Of course, some people said her enjoyment was due to entirely different reasons...<br />
    116. 116. And after all the hard work was over, it was nice for Evie and Jesse to finally relax and celebrate their achievements with a fantastic graduation party.<br />
    117. 117. Evie had spent most of the time after the party worrying about where she and Jesse would live, but he had dismissed her worries with a grin and a wink. She had tried in vain to find out what he was keeping from her, but when they eventually left university and Jesse had brought her to their new house, she had gasped at the sight that lay before her.<br /> “This... This is ours?!” she cried, and Jesse laughed. <br /> “Yep. My parents and yours clubbed together and bought it for us as an early wedding present... Isn’t it beautiful?”<br />
    118. 118. The house was beautiful, inside and out. The rooms were lavishly decorated and perfect for a couple just starting their married life together. There was a large garden, four bedrooms and even a nursery, perfect for either a boy or a girl. It really was like a fairytale.<br />
    119. 119. A few months before Evie and Jesse had returned from uni, Gabby had made her way to the address that Taylor had given her to see the house he had told her about. As she walked up to it, she was a little disheartened to see that it was rather ugly-looking and needed a bit of a makeover. <br />
    120. 120. “You’re finally here!” Taylor called excitedly, coming down the stairs to greet her. “Isn’t this great? Our own house!!”<br />
    121. 121. “Yes.... but it’s not exactly what I had in mind,” Gabby said hesitantly, but Taylor rolled his eyes and pulled her closer.<br />
    122. 122. “Look, I know it’s not perfect but it’s ours, right?” he said encouragingly. “We can be really happy here.”<br /> Gabby still wasn’t convinced, but his eager expression and the excited tone of his voice quelled any arguments she might have made to the contrary.<br />
    123. 123. “What are you doing?” Taylor asked a few days later as Gabby started leafing through the newspaper. <br /> “I’m looking for a job,” she murmured, and Taylor groaned. “Why? Jobs are no fun,” he scoffed. “Because we need money, Taylor; we can’t stay in this place forever. Don’t you want to get out and buy our dream house?” she asked him.<br />
    124. 124. It was starting to seem to Gabriella that all Taylor ever wanted to do was lounge on the sofa and watch TV. She would have to make all of their meals and do all the cleaning, and she was the only one looking for a job. <br />
    125. 125. Many times she would go out and come back to find dirty dishes littering the house, and Taylor would simply sit and drink beer whilst she cleaned it all up. As months went by, it was starting to become a serious issue. <br />
    126. 126. Whilst Taylor was out one day, Gabriella called her best friend to discuss matters with her. Evie answered straight away in an excitable tone of voice, and Gabriella felt obliged to ask what the good news was first before discussing Taylor. <br /> “I’m pregnant, Gabby!!” Evie gushed in delight, and Gabriella’s eyes grew wide. “You are? That’s great news, Evie; I’m so happy for you both! When can I come and see you?” <br /> “How about now?” Evie answered happily, so Gabby made her way over to their house.<br />
    127. 127. Evie and Jesse were not having any of the problems that hounded Gabriella and Taylor. Their life together was practically without hardship, and Gabby couldn’t help but envy her friend from time to time. Evie had the perfect fiancé, the perfect house and the perfect life in general. <br />
    128. 128. Their wedding day had been perfect too, remembered Gabby as she thought back to the special day. Evie had spent most of the morning locked in her room, terrified of what Jesse would think, no matter how much Gabriella and Zara had tried to convince her that she looked beautiful.<br />
    129. 129. Her mother had bought her wedding dress for her, and although Evie loved it she wasn’t used to dressing up in such splendour and felt more than a little uncomfortable. In addition to that, she was terrified of dropping the flowers, or standing on the train of her dress, or falling over... There were so many things to worry about.<br />
    130. 130. “Here you are; I thought we’d lost you,” Zara smiled as she walked into the bedroom. “Planning on staying in here all day, or do you want to come downstairs and get married?”<br />
    131. 131. “Oh, Zara,” Evie said, turning to her friend and looking anxious. “What if something goes wrong? What if Jesse doesn’t like the dress, or... Or the flowers? Or the cake? Or—”<br /> “Evie,” Zara interrupted her firmly. “Jesse’s going to love everything. Especially you, in that dress. In fact once he sees you, he probably won’t care about anything else.”<br />
    132. 132. Evie paused for a moment and then smiled widely. “You really think so?” she asked, and Zara smiled in return. “Definitely.” <br />
    133. 133. “Are you both ready?” Gabriella asked then as she walked into the room, and Zara glanced at Evie.<br /> “Are you?” she asked, and Evie took a deep breath. “I guess so...” she murmured uncertainly, and the three girls made their way downstairs. <br />
    134. 134. However, once she was stood underneath the altar, Evie realised there was nothing to worry about. Jesse was gazing at her in adoration like she was the most precious thing on earth, and with her friends all around her Evie felt immediately calmed. <br />
    135. 135. The ceremony was over before she could get too nervous again, and as confetti streamed down around them and they slipped the rings onto each other’s fingers, Evie knew this would be the happiest day of her life.<br />
    136. 136. The party went on all afternoon and into the night, with dancing, music, good food and drink and wonderful company. And the first time Jesse whispered the name “Mrs Evelyn Roberts”, she had to grip his arms tightly in case she fainted. <br />
    137. 137. Looking at her now, Gabby could see just how much Evie had been brought of her shell since their days at university. Married life and blissful happiness clearly agreed with her, as did pregnancy, as she was positively blooming.<br />
    138. 138. “I can’t believe there’s a little baby in there,” Gabby said in wonder, and Evie laughed. <br /> “The morning sickness always brings it home to me,” she smiled. “But sometimes I can’t believe it either... I never even dreamed I could be as happy as I am right now. But enough about me... You wanted to talk to me about something?”<br /> The smile fell from Gabby’s face. “Yes... Can we go inside?”<br /> “Of course,” Evie smiled kindly. “Come on.”<br />
    139. 139. “So what’s the problem?” Evie asked.<br /> “Well... It’s Taylor. He... He doesn’t seem bothered about anything anymore. He just sits watching television and drinking beer, and expects me to clean up all the time and cook him food,” Gabby sighed.<br />
    140. 140. “In fact,” she murmured, glancing at the floor. “It’s not very fun living with him at all... And I’m starting to wonder if I made the wrong decision.”<br />
    141. 141. Evie frowned in concern. “But you love him, don’t you?” she asked.<br />
    142. 142. “I... I think so,” Gabby said uncertainly. “At least, I thought I did when I quit university for him. I just...thought life would be different, you know.”<br />
    143. 143. “Well... Maybe he just needs time to adjust,” Evie said uneasily; she hated saying anything bad about anyone.<br /> “Maybe...but I don’t know.”<br /> “You could move out for a while and see how you feel?” Evie suggested. “You could even come and stay with us for a few weeks if you want some space; we have two spare rooms that we aren’t using after all,” she added with a smile. <br />
    144. 144. Gabriella smiled in amusement. “Thanks. But you guys have the baby coming, and you’re going to be rushed off your feet as it is. You don’t need me getting in your way.”<br />
    145. 145. Evie gave her a worried look. “Well... All right, if you’re sure. But any time you need it, the offer’s still there.”<br />
    146. 146. “I’m sure,” Gabby said firmly. “Taylor and I will work things out eventually, like you say. Maybe I’m just overreacting; I don’t know.”<br /> “I’m sure everything will be fine,” Evie said confidently. <br />
    147. 147. That night, when evening came, Gabriella turned to Taylor as they were getting ready for bed and smiled. “So ... We haven’t really spent much time together lately... “ she murmured suggestively, and Taylor grinned, pulling her closer.<br />
    148. 148. “Well come here then; we can always fix that,” he grinned, and Gabby grinned in return. It was nice to be like this with Taylor for once; it reminded her of their more carefree days at university.<br />
    149. 149. A few weeks later, Gabby was making the bed when suddenly she doubled over, feeling incredibly nauseous. She made it just in time to the bathroom, and when she’d stopped throwing up her eyes widened as a realisation hit her. She and Taylor had been a lot closer lately, after all...<br />
    150. 150. “Evie!” Gabby cried as she spoke to her friend on the phone later that day when Taylor was out.. “I think I might be pregnant!!.... What? You’ve had the baby?! When?”<br />
    151. 151. Evie told Gabriella how she’d gone into labour a few days previously, and luckily it had been just after Jesse had gotten home from work. <br />
    152. 152. He was working in law enforcement now, and though his job meant him dealing with some very scary and potentially dangerous situations, nothing could have prepared him for the birth of his first child. He hovered anxiously around Evie, trying to help but not wanting to do more harm than good, and waited impatiently for the birth to be over.<br />
    153. 153. After an uncomplicated labour, Evie’s hard work was eventually rewarded with the birth of a baby boy. She could do nothing for a few moments except stare down into the face of her smiling son. He was the perfect mix of herself and Jesse, with her brown hair and Jesse’s sea- green eyes. <br />
    154. 154. After Jesse had come closer to see his little boy for the first time and the new parents had cooed over their baby, a long discussion over names was had, and eventually they decided to call him Joshua, or Josh. <br />
    155. 155. So enthralled were they with the baby that Evie and Jesse found it hard to put him down. Many times Jesse would walk into the nursery and find his wife curled up on the chair, rocking Joshua to sleep, or simply standing and watching him stare up at her in bewilderment as he woke up from a nap. As Evie spoke more and more about her joy at being a mother, Gabby found herself growing happier and more excited about the prospect of becoming a mother herself, and she resolved to tell Taylor the news as soon as he got home.<br />
    156. 156. “Taylor!!” she cried as soon as he got home. “Guess what?!” <br />
    157. 157. He grinned at her enthusiasm. “What is it, babe?” he asked her.<br />
    158. 158. “I think I might be pregnant!” she cried. “Isn’t it wonderful? We’re going to have our own little baby!”<br />
    159. 159. But Taylor was staring at her in horror, and then he threw up his arms. “You’re what?!” he yelled. “Gabby! You have to get rid of it!”<br />
    160. 160. “Get rid of it?” Gabriella demanded furiously. “I am not killing our child, Taylor!”<br /> He waved a hand dismissively. “Then get it adopted or something,” he muttered. “Anything. I just don’t want it around, okay?”<br />
    161. 161. Gabby stared at him in shock. “How...how can you talk like that about a baby? About YOUR baby?” she whispered. <br />“Look, I’m not ready to be a dad, Gabby. Besides, we don’t have any money; how would we take care of it? No, it’s impossible. The sooner it’s gone, the better.”<br />“Stop calling our baby an ‘it’, Taylor!!”<br />
    162. 162. “You know what? Forget it, Gabby. Do what you want. But just don’t expect me to be a part of it. I’m going out,” Taylor muttered, and with that he stormed out of the house.<br />
    163. 163. Gabriella closed her eyes as she heard the door slam behind him; she couldn’t believe he’d acted the way he had. He was right that they didn’t have much money, but they would make it work somehow, right? <br />
    164. 164. But things didn’t get any better after that night. From that point on, unable to deal with Gabriella’s progressing pregnancy, Taylor spent most of his nights at the nearest bar, drowning his sorrows.<br />
    165. 165. Most of the time he often found a woman or two to distract him as well...<br />
    166. 166. Gabriella usually slept in the bed alone, whilst Taylor had the couch. In fact, they spent as little time as possible with each other; for Gabriella, it was just too upsetting, and for Taylor it was easier if he didn’t see Gabby’s growing stomach to pretend that the situation wasn’t happening.<br />
    167. 167. Many times, Taylor came home drunk and collapsed on the sofa, not waking until the middle of the next day. Gabriella, although she hated the situation, kept out of his way as much as possible. And it was in this way that the months passed.<br />
    168. 168. When Gabriella eventually went into labour, she was pleased to see that Taylor helped her rather than running off as she thought he would. She wondered if, finally, he had changed his mind about the idea of being a father. <br />
    169. 169. After the birth, Gabriella held the baby, a little girl, out to Taylor and held her breath. He stared at the two of them for a few moments. Please, she thought to herself. Please say he wants to be part of her life....<br />
    170. 170. Suddenly, without a word, he turned and walked out of the door, slamming it behind him, and Gabriella felt her heart drop. He had made it perfectly clear; he didn’t want anything to do with his daughter or, by extension, Gabriella herself.<br />
    171. 171. “Oh my goodness; is that her? She’s adorable!” Evie squealed as she came running out of her house to greet Gabriella that afternoon. Then she noticed the sad look on Gabby’s face and frowned. “Gabriella? What’s wrong?”<br />
    172. 172. Gabriella gave her a weak smile. “Is that room still going free?” she asked quietly. <br /> ----------------------------------------------------------------------------<br /> Well that’s it for chapter 2! Thank you so much for reading, guys; you really do make my day :) Please go ahead and leave a comment on my Boolprop or Desirable Discourses threads and stay tuned for chapter 3!<br />

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