Her question seemed to almost shock him. “Why? Why would I be mad at you? None of this was your fault. You were the victim in that story Em.”
She heard Henry get up from his end of the sofa and walk over. She knew he was being intentionally loud, trying not to alarm her, but she didn’t turn. She stayed there, staring into the distance. He sat next to her and put his arms around her, enveloping her in a cocoon of warmth, safety and him, him and his understanding. “It wasn’t your fault Em.”…
She didn’t say anything. She didn’t want to lie to him. And she definitely didn’t believe him. He got up and walked around to kneel in front of her. She still couldn’t look at him. His understanding didn’t make sense to her.
He put his palms on either side of her face, forcing her to look at him, into his eyes.
“Em, do you trust me?” he asked. She could only nod yes, her words caught in her mind.
“You are wrong Em, nothing that happened was your fault. It was his.” He continued when she tried to look away. “Talk to me Em, don’t shut me out, not now.”
She couldn’t keep it anymore. This had been something she had never discuss, not even with Ryan. She had always known that Ryan would try to convince her otherwise, and she had always made sure it didn’t come up. But now that it was out, everything that she had been hiding from, all the feelings she had bottled, came bursting out. She couldn’t stop the tears that started streaming down her face.
Henry hadn’t expected her to start crying. He couldn’t believe how traumatized Emma was, years after things had already been over. He felt helpless. How could he convince her that she had always been in the right? That it wasn’t her fault that she had been a victim. He pulled her off the sofa, into his arms, making her sit on his lap. He wanted her to feel as safe and secure as possible. He wanted her to know that no matter what, he would be there for her. One thing was clear, these were tears she had kept inside for way too long. He wouldn’t stop her, she had to let it all out. It would be the only way she could move on.
When she had finally been quiet for a while, Henry turner her, looking at her face. She still seemed withdrawn, lost in her own thoughts. He put a finger under her chin, lifting her face so they could look at each other. He kissed her forehead, softly and he promised her, “It was not your fault Em, It wasn’t.”
Henry was stunned by the sudden rush of emotions he felt when she timidly smiled back at him. She was amazing. She had always seemed like an extremely strong, young, brilliant girl. The fact that she had kept so much inside for so long and still been this strong completely astounded him. He had had a thing for her for as long as he could remember now. But now, things suddenly felt different.
He didn’t pity her for what happened. He was proud of her for the way she had carried on. He didn’t feel bad for her. He was amazed by how strong she was. It wasn’t a crush anymore. It wasn’t a fling or just something.
He loved her.
Of this, he had no doubt. He had fallen for her, hard. She was everything he needed in life. He knew then that he’d spend the rest of his life treating her like the queen she was. If she let him. If she’ll be his. But today would not be the right time to tell her. That he knew for sure…