Twice The Charm Ch. 07bycassandraharper©
The drive home was filled with silence, especially since Star, the non-stop human radio, would be staying with her grandparents for the remainder of her birthday weekend. They looked at one another from time to time, both wanting to speak yet uncertain as to how to start.
As her mother had told her, the air was now clear yet somehow, to Manni, it felt all the more stiffling. Everything around them was riddled with detonation devices that were ready to go off with the slightest trigger. They both felt it, which was the reason they both decided to err on the side of caution and refrain from speaking.
Scott found it hard for him not to strike up a conversation. He knew that the things he had said had hurt Manni, but from the way she was positioned with her seat all the way back, as if sleeping, told him that she wasn't ready to speak to him. An hour had already passed this way with them nearly home and Scott knew that if they didn't continue the discussion they had started at her parents' home, it would be harder to do so in the future.
He cleared his throat as he turned onto his street then drove until he pulled into his driveway. "Are you going to continue ignoring this or are we going to talk things out?" he finally asked now that he had her on his territory.
"Don't say that you don't want to. It's been long overdue, don't you think?"
She repositioned her seat feeling an immense sensation of fatigue overtake her. She wanted to go home and sleep. "What else do we need to discuss? Isn't everything out in the open now?"
"I need to know how you feel about things. Do you think that we'll be able to get past all of this? What's going through your head?" He looked over at her needing to see some sort of reaction written on her face. She didn't want him to.
Manni exited the car almost rushing to her own to get away from having to finish their conversation, but Scott had other plans. He quickly reversed his car horizontally to block her in. "You have two options," he told her from out of his window. "You can either drive over my lawn and hit my mailbox to get out of my drive way or you can be an adult and just talk to me. No more games. No more encrypted conversations. Let's just talk like two normal, mature adults."
"How do you speak when you're ashamed?" she asked him resenting the fact that her eyes were already watering.
Scott cut the engine before exiting his car to go to her. She looked too vulnerable standing there in the middle of his driveway while fighting back tears. "Ashamed of what, Manni?"
"Of knowing that everything was my fault. Our break up, all of our arguments, all of our issues."
"Don't say that," he told her wiping at her eyes. "You'll make it seem as if I'm throwing all the blame on you. I never said that I was innocent. I gave you a lot of crap and at times I was never really certain why you put up with me."
"I'm sorry. I should have went to counseling. I just don't know what came over me back then. I wanted to be alone and I never once put myself in your shoes. I stopped caring about your feelings. I took you for granted as if you would always be there."
"Manni, don't make yourself out to be the bad guy."
"Scott, you don't always have to be the nice guy. You're the same now as you were back then."
"What's that supposed to mean?" he asked maintaining control over his barely settled temper.
"Exactly what I just said. I was the one who always had to make you angry to get a reaction out of you as if I was some kind of manipulator or something. You never wanted to talk to me and tell me how you felt so I would pull your strings like you were my little puppet boy to get you to open up and speak. So I was the bad guy. Maybe you didn't feel as if I cared enough to truly listen to your wants and needs. I guess that's why you never truly confided in me."
"We practically grew up together since high school and somewhere along the way we thought that we wanted to be together, but maybe it was all just...just an illusion. Perhaps what we really wanted was some kind of companionship since we were both only children and we never took the time out to make friends. We resonated with each other because we were both lonely and got caught up into thinking that it was love."
"Manni, stop," he told her not liking where their conversation was heading.
She looked up into his green eyes shaking her head, "everything between us, from then until now, has been a mistake. What if--"
"What are you talking about?" he interrupted frowning down at her. "Are you seriously going to stand there and tell me that we never really loved each other and that's why we couldn't stop arguing all the time? What? Were we just being complacent from the very beginning because we were both too lazy to get up and actually make people like us enough to want to spend time with us?"
"Scott, if we hadn't gone to separate universities, do you think that we would have even started anything in the first place? Yes, we were always together, but we hated each other's guts. It was so bad that we even argued about who would eat the last red Skittle."
"That was my favorite one," he commented disregarding the fact that it made him seem childish to say so.
"That's just it, we didn't know how to concede. I'm overbearing and dominate and you, even though you're a narcissist, you're quiet and you hate conflict. So what I'm saying is that we got our wires crossed into believing that we ever felt attracted to each other thus wasting our time and having a daughter who now has to suffer for our mistakes."
"Manni, I feel every ounce of emotion now that I felt for you back when we were in college and you came home the summer of our sophomore year. You're just as beautiful and breathtaking now as you were then. Are you telling me that you don't feel that? You don't feel this connection between us?"
She looked down at her feet uncertain of herself. "It's just that an hour is a very long time to think," she told him leaning against her car door. "When you said that I wanted to suffocate, I believed you because it was true. At times it was due to the side effects of the medication, but sometimes it was all me. I pushed you away, I mistreated you, and then I wondered where we went wrong when I was at fault from the very beginning. I was selfish to think that you would want to stay with me knowing that I'm an argumentative, hot-blooded person. That's why I'm telling you that somewhere along the way our signals were crossed and we should untangle them."
"And Star?" he asked not breaking eye contact away from her face.
"We'll continue like we are doing now. Nothing changes in that department. She needs you in her life."
"And what about you?"
She shrugged her shoulders, "even though I know what took place between you and your secretary was my fault...it still hurts. I'm sorry that I'm so selfish. That I'm always thinking about myself and my needs."
She looked up being caught off guard by his kiss. He wrapped his strong arms about her pulling her closer to intoxicate her with his taste as his warm tongue searched the crevices of her mouth. It reminded her of the first time that Scott had embraced her. It had been a little over a year since they had seen each other. And instead of returning her normal greeting, of playfully punching his arm followed by a slap to her back, he had hugged her gently splaying his hands against the small of her back in a show of possession. Then he slowly pulled her close as if they were trapped in a slow motion picture, silently pleading with her to not run away from the attraction building up between them since the day they had met, and kissed her in front of both of their parents who only watched stunned by it all.
When he had released her, she had felt flustered and unstable, barely able to speak and slightly dizzy, Manni could only sit down. And ever since that moment, they had become an official item. It had taken some time for her to come to her senses then, but today she was alert and refused to walk down the same path they had so many years ago.
She pushed him away glaring at him harshly though truthfully speaking, her insides felt like mush. "What are you doing?"
"Just proving to you that there's still something going on between us," Scott simply answered allowing his hands to slide down her back before returning to his side.
"Why are you doing this?"
"Why shouldn't I?" he responded with another question waiting for her reply.
"Didn't I just tell you that maybe we were a bit too crazy when we were younger and confused our feelings of friendship for genuine attraction? That's the reason why I took advantage of you and made your life so miserable. Did you not say that it was hell with me? Do you really want to go back to that?"
"Yes," he answered straightforwardly. "It was hell with you, but without you it was all meaningless. I want to live here in hell with you."
"I'm not ready," she mumbled as her heart thumped in her ears. Scott may have always been the silent type, but that never stopped him from directly expressing himself.
"Then when you're ready, I'll be here. Like I told your parents, I'm not looking for some kind of quick fix apology to give you. I'll earn it. We were both wrong so we both need time to regain each other's trust."
"What's that supposed to mean?"
"It means that you'll have to learn to trust that I will never again step out on you with another woman nor when you need me the most. And I need to learn to trust that you can change. You don't have to always be argumentative and on your guard with me, Manni. Just like now, without yelling and throwing things at each other, we can have a real conversation. So can we make a deal to work on that?"
"On what?" she asked slightly confused due to the after effects of their lip lock.
"You on trusting me again and me on trusting that you would rather talk things out with me than explode and transform into this beautiful, but crazy demon woman, who throws irons and encyclopedias," he teased.
She smiled nodding her head, "Scott, I just have one request out of all of this."
"What is it?"
"When you're feeling overwhelmed with anything, talk to me. I won't start fights with you anymore to get you to open up. You shouldn't have to express yourself only because you're angry."
"Alright," he readily agreed nodding his head. "And when you're ready to try again, let me know."
Manni cleared her throat while stepping on an ant or two, "we'll see how things go," she mumbled. Scott caressed her warm cheek then took her hand to lead her towards his front door. "What are you doing?"
"Bringing you inside to have dinner with me. We can start out on a platonic level then go from there," he told her unlocking his front door. "Now that we equally agree on something, let's not let this opportunity pass us by. I don't want anymore regrets in my life," he told her closing the door behind them. "So stay with me for dinner tonight."