Shannon finally tells Skyla the truth.
A BEAUTIFUL LIE
Skyla stared at him. She realized he was hurting her hand.
“Jared! Let go of my hand!” she cried out, trying to pull her hand away.
“Skyla, tell me. I want to know if we were a dream or not,” he begged her, not letting go of her hand. Skyla gasped and tried to pull away even farther. He finally dropped her hand after a few minutes. “I see...”
Skyla quickly rubbed her hand. “No, it's just that... we are together. You lost some of your memory after being knocked out. But listen–if we weren't together, then why do I have this ring on my finger?” She looked at her hand, as if she were trying to make a point.
“I don't mean that. You and Shannon are still... “chummy” if I was out for eight or so hours, right?”
“Oh. That I don't know about,” she said, dipping her head low. Yes, Shannon had tried to hit on her right before everything happened. But she had made her choice, right?
“I'll be back, okay?” she told him. She gave him a smile and walked out of the room, closing the door behind her.
“Shannon! Shannon, where are you?” she hissed. She knew he had to be around somewhere. He appeared suddenly, right next to her. She jumped. “Geez! You scared me!”
“I figured it was obvious, since you jumped. What is it?” he asked her.
“Go in there and tell him there isn't anything going on between us. Go!” she demanded as she pushed him toward the closed door. He stopped short.
“I-I can't,” he stuttered. He turned toward her. “I still like you. And I don't know if I'll ever get over you. We had fun. We never got far. And I hate to admit it, but if it wasn't for Jared maybe we could have been together.”
Skyla stared at him. “I doubt we could've been together. I don't–” she began.
Shannon leaned in and kissed her. He pulled her as close to him as possible; Skyla went to pull away but faltered as she felt the warmth of Shannon's kiss on her neck. She began breathing faster as he started trying to kiss her shoulder.
“Stop, just stop it,” Skyla demanded of him. She had had enough of his advances, especially when she didn't want him to do anything that would make her change her already made up mind. “I've made my decision, and you can't change it.”
“Fine.” Shannon kissed her neck one last time and left her standing in the hall, where she pondered over what she had said to him. She slumped down against the wall and sighed, resting her head on her knees.
“Skyla? Are you okay?” she heard Jared ask her. She pulled her head back and let it thump against the wall.
“I don't know anymore.” She let her shoulders slump as she exhaled deeply. “I'm beginning to think I'm about to go insane. Everything is too much, and I need a huge break.” She looked up at Jared from beneath her eyelashes as she spoke, and Jared's face spoke volumes.
“Are you okay?” she asked him, a little wary.
“Yes. You know, I was thinking that maybe a little break between us might help,” he told her. Skyla looked at him in shock and had to shake her head before continuing what she was saying.
“Are you serious? Like... a break, break?” she asked. “Why would you say that? Just... why?” Skyla was speechless.
“Because I need time to think. I know everything you and Shannon did and have done. And I'm tired of it. So if I still want you around after this, then you're welcome back, anytime.”
“So... I can't even live here anymore?” she choked out, her eyes tearing up. “That's not fair!”
Jared shrugged. “You can go back home, if you want, while I make up my mind.”
“I knew I was being driven insane. I just didn't figure it would be by you, of all people!” Skyla huffed as she stomped past him into her bedroom.
“Start packing, okay?” Jared told her. He walked off to his own bedroom and shut the door.
“God, my mother was right!” she said, frustrated. She shut her door and flopped on her bed, tears rolling down her face. Instead of lying on her bed, crying, Skyla decided to get up and pack like Jared wanted her to. She heard a soft knock at her door while she was packing and turned to look and see who it was.
“Skyla. Jared told me you were packing, but he didn't say why. What happened?” Shannon asked her, sitting on her bed.
“He needs time to think, so we're on a break. He wants me to go back home for now. I kinda didn't expect to hear him to say that. I'm still speechless, to say the least.” Skyla heaved a huge sigh; when she looked at the calendar, she saw that it was the second week of October and her parents anniversary was looming closer. Maybe a trip home would be best. Her oldest sister, Madeleine, would be visiting from out-of-town, and she would get to see her again. She missed her sister; they were only four years apart, but they had had outrageous adventures together. Especially when her sister got her a fake ID and took her everywhere when she was just fifteen.
“If you want, you can stay in the beach house,” he had just finished saying.
“No, thanks. My parents anniversary is coming up soon, and I want to be there and see my brother and sister. My sister lives in Atlanta, and she can only get home to see us every once in awhile,” Skyla told him. She rolled a few pairs of her jeans and put them into her suitcase and began putting shirts in after them.
“How long have your parents been married?” Shannon asked her. She continued packing as he spoke. “I mean, if you have two older siblings then they've been married for awhile. Right?”
“Yeah. Almost 25 years. My sister is just four years older than me, and my brother is two years older. My parents kind of had a hasty marriage,” she said, not paying attention.
Shannon watched her hands move swiftly. He noticed that Skyla left her pajamas and a change of clothes out for the next day so she could leave and not have to worry about repacking everything; instead she'd just have to pack her pajamas into the bag and go. He sighed. “Why don't you bring your bags over to the beach house and stay there until you leave?”
“Thanks. I'd appreciate that.” Skyla walked out of her room and into the bathroom, where she grabbed her toiletries and came back out. She zipped them up in a different compartment on her bag and grabbed her carry-on to begin getting it ready; her laptop and some more changes of clothes made up her carry-on bag and she was ready. The bag weighed no more than fifteen pounds, and she was ready to go home and get out of L.A. for awhile.
“Ready?” Shannon asked her.
“Ready. Just let me shut the door,” Skyla told him. She pulled her bedroom door to and followed him out of the house.
“Are you going to stay through the holidays?” he asked her, leading the way to his Jeep.
“Yeah, probably. Halloween is coming soon, and right after it is Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year's. I'll stay with them until after New Year's Day.” Skyla began scratching her arms.
“No. Maybe Jared will change his mind and want you to stay,” Shannon said. He grabbed the handle on the passenger side door and opened it for her. “Here you go.”
“Thank you,” she said. She watched as Shannon loaded up her bags before climbing in himself. “I'm going to call and see if the airline has a flight to Chattanooga when we get there,” she said. “I didn't want to check just yet. Just in case, you know...”
“He changes his mind? Yeah. I know.” Shannon turned the steering wheel and kept his eyes on the road; his face was showing the same look of concentration he almost always wore. Skyla kept sneaking peeks at him to see if his stoic face ever changed; but it didn't, not once. She finally cleared her throat and decided to ask.
“Do you think Jared's decision was a good one?”
“Can't tell just yet. If he misses you enough, he'll want you back within a few days.” Shannon pulled into the driveway of the beach house and let the Jeep idle for a bit. Before he finally cut it off, “Walk with me for a little bit,” he said. He got out of the Jeep and walked around to her side and helped her down. “I'll bring your bags in first, though. Just wait here.”
Skyla stood outside in the cool October air and waited. When he came back out, she was shivering and had her arms wrapped around herself.
“Here. Take my jacket,” he told her. He handed her a jacket made out of thin material, but still warm enough for her. He wrapped his arm around her and pulled her close as they walked toward the beach.
“Why did you want me to walk with you?” she asked him.
“Because in a few hours, you could be in another state and I can't see you whenever I wanted. So I decided to spend as much time as possible with you before you leave.” Shannon looked out towards the ocean and sighed. “You know, at first, when I asked you for help I was extremely skeptical. Now you have grown on me so much, and I just want to hug you all the time.”
Skyla began drawing in the sand with her fingers. She wished she could think of Shannon in an older-brother way, like Jackson, but she never could. Instead all of the nights they spent together came to mind and she sighed. She instantly wanted to call Madeleine and ask her to meet her at the airport and give her a lesson on men.
“Skyla?” Shannon asked her.
“Yes?” she replied, snapping back to reality.
“Come back soon, okay?” he asked her. Skyla heard the pleading tone in his voice.