Beckett could see the wariness in his eyes, in his expression. It had taken so much courage to come looking for her, to face another possible rejection—and that was one of the reasons she loved him. He was not afraid of taking chances. She wished she could say the same about herself.
He deserved better, far better than what she had given him, that's for sure. She had almost not come away with him tonight because she was embarrassed by how she had ended things between them, just walking away and breaking his heart. He deserved better than her, perhaps. Yet here he was, asking the questions she had wanted to avoid. She owed him answers.
"Because," she said, going back to fussing with his jacket, "it was the only way I could think of just then to . . . begin again." She stole a quick glance up and saw the hope light up in his eyes, just as quickly tamped down as he struggled to keep his expression neutral. "Because it felt right."
He looked down at her, and she could see he wanted to just accept what she had said and go with it. But he was right—they needed to talk. She needed to try and explain herself, if that was possible. She had treated him badly, and it was up to her to fix it. If that was still possible.
"Come on," she said quietly, linking her arm through his. "You're absolutely right, we need to talk." There was a bench just a few yards away, and she tugged him towards it. "I will try to explain, the best I can."
He moved with her, but did not get any closer, physically. Wary and definitely holding off on his own feelings until she had explained hers. Once they got to the bench, he sat, half-turned towards her, waiting.
She gave another heavy sigh. "Okay. I do owe you an explanation. Why I . . . left."
"Yes." His tone was not harsh, but she could feel his hurt and a bit of anger.
"And I know I did it in such a cowardly way, and I'm sorry for that, I really am."
Andrew said nothing for a moment, then seemed to relax a bit. "Apology accepted," he said quietly. "And I'm sorry I didn't speak up sooner than this, that I just let it go. It wasn't that you aren't important to me, that WE are not important. I hope you know that. I was just . . . so confused."
Beckett nodded. "I know. But. . . ."
He nodded. "But?"
She fidgeted a bit, staring out at the canal, waiting while another couple walked slowly by. Then she took in a deep breath for courage. "I was afraid." She paused again, searching for the right words.
"Afraid? Of what? ME?” She heard him breathe in deeply, struggling to control himself, to understand. “I'm sorry, but couldn't you have just told me that?" Andrew was keeping himself from moving closer to her – she could almost feel the effort he was making. "Couldn't we have just talked about it?"
"We should have, yes," she admitted. And tried to smile. "But I have a bit of . . . history I never told you about, and it's why I just took off.”
He went perfectly still. “History.” The word was spoken so quietly,
And it's completely unfair to you, that reaction, I know it. But . . . I was asked that question once before. By someone who was not as wonderful as you. By someone who hurt me. Not just emotionally, but. . . .” Her voice dropped to a whisper. “Physically, too."
Beckett couldn't look at him just now. She had to get it out before she lost her nerve. "I gave the wrong answer then, and I guess I just don't trust my own choices anymore. I wasn’t ready for that question a second time, not even from you. I panicked.”
Daring to look up into his eyes at last, she said, “You were too good to be true. So, I bolted, rather than take the chance of being hurt again.”
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