In pain, grieving, love, hurt, and every emotion imaginable, he has been the one to stick beside me. Zane is single-handedly the reason I was able to get through the period of self-loathing I was in, for he stayed when no one else did. He listened. It was entirely unfamiliar to have someone to talk to, someone whom around, I was able to let down the walls guarding my heart. Of course, I am partly the reason I began to heal emotionally as well, for I did take that step to grow; however, it remains as clear as the sun on a peaceful afternoon that I never would have taken said step without his words of encouragement.
He quite literally saved me, so why can I not thank him? Internally, I could not be more grateful for this man, yet I have a lousy way of portraying my gratitude. While self-aware that I am hurting him by denying my feelings, I am unable to change. Perhaps it’s my pride that is holding me back, or maybe it is the fear of not being everything he deserves. Whatever the reason may be, the effect of my denial has taken a toll on him, whether he chooses to admit it or not.
Witnessing Zane attempt to cover up the hurt I am inflicting on him and still make the effort to keep reaching out his hand to me, I desperately want to confront him. Tell him all that he means to me, show him all that he means to me, but somehow every time I find myself in the perfect situation to do so, I refuse. How I wish to thank him for all he has done and not done. For the days he offered me the words of encouragement I have longed to hear all my life, and for the days he simply sat in silence alongside me, reassuring me that I am not alone and never will be for as long as he is here. The words he never did say but I heard regardless.
Although I have never been the type to express my feelings to others, it’s easy with him. It comes naturally, something I don’t even mean to do, and yet I was never able to thank him. I could write a letter, but what difference would it be? I would see him again after sending him the letter and be forced to back up what I wrote. He loves me, everyone knows it at this point, and I love him too. No, I’m in love with him. I love him more than any combination of letters could ever begin to describe, and if I could just tell him. If I could tell him that while I do hate most people, I don’t hate him. I never have hated him, even from our first meeting, it frightened me that I did not feel repulsed by him. As a matter of fact, I felt drawn to him.
Admitting this to myself is already more than I ever could have imagined doing a few months ago, but here I am, practically confessing my love and gratitude for him in the comfort of my own mind. The comfort of my own mind. That sentence alone frightens me considering my mind has always been the least comforting place for me, a place where I felt trapped, undeserving, and unloved. A place that used to bring me nothing short of torture but now brings peace thanks to Zane. Yet another reason to thank him.
Being as he is currently practicing for the boxing tournament tomorrow, it may not be the best time or place to show him what he means to me. But then again, when will it be the right time? If I hold off any longer, it may very well never be the right time again. The guilt of denying him for so long is slowly drowning me once again and I will not put myself through it again, not when I can help it.
Walking to his training room, I feel at ease, besides the butterflies swarming in my chest, I am confident that this is the right thing to do. Whether I deserve him or not, he loves me just as I love him, and that is enough. “Zane,” I breathe rather quietly while opening the door. Just as his name leaves my mouth he comes to a halt and turns towards me. Without thinking of what to say, whether it’s not enough, too much, too abrupt, I release the words I have bottled up for all these years.
“I love you.” He stops breathing. “I have loved you for years, Zane. You have shown me more love than I have ever been shown in the entirety of my twenty-two years of living, you were there when no one else was. When my own family left and the people I looked up to most turned on me, you reminded me I deserve better time and time again. You have shown me that you never wanted nor expected me to change who I was and that I am worthy of being loved. I found my passions because of you. Because you inspired me to give it a shot and take the chance. I suppose what I’m trying to say is thank you. And I’m sorry for not saying it before when all I have wanted to do was tell you I love yo-”
“Adelaide,” he gapes, cutting me off. I stare at him for a moment and feel the weight lift itself off my shoulders, the invisible chains which have been dragging me down for so long broken. I meet his eyes, refusing to break eye contact and I notice a flicker of admiration course through his features. His lips kick up as a small smile appears in place of his usual cocky but playful grin. It’s a smile I have never seen before but would kill to see again. The little things, the things I have yet to notice while being so focused on my thoughts. The things I will continue to discover the more time we spend together. He takes a step forward, sweaty and all, and reaches out his hand. I take it. “I have been waiting for this, for you to finally open your heart to me Adelaide, something that I knew you were capable of accomplishing.” I open my mouth to reply but I feel a finger brush against my lips, preventing me from doing so.
“I love you, Addie. And I’m here.”