This scene takes place when Foster and EJ’s world’s collide.
“I’m more than water!” Evelyn shouted across the table. Everyone turned and looked at her in shock. Not me. I was relieved. I knew that fiery girl was in there. She then said at lower volume, “I’m more than water.”
Her mother blinked and smiled, nervous. “I don’t understand.”
“No. You wouldn’t. You understand nothing about me.” Evelyn hurriedly got up from her seat. I rose to my feet as well. “Excuse me. It’s best if I leave.” She looked directly at me with a glare I had never seen before. At least not directed at me. “This was a mistake.”
My heart dropped to my stomach. What was a mistake? Me? Us? This meeting I agreed to be part of?
“Evelyn—” her mother said sternly.
“If you cared about my happiness at all, you would know why.” Evelyn addressed her and then looked to her father. “I’m sorry. I hope I haven’t ruined anything.”
She turned on her heal and walked out the door of the private room where the meeting was being held. It was just supposed to be a simple meeting—a business luncheon before I headed off to see my new nephew and in the blink of an eye, it was so much more. I knew she had issues with her family, they wanted her to be someone she wasn’t. She had mentioned it often and I had noted her struggle with being the person I loved and what her family wanted her to be. It was a common issue, I’d seen it before, but this was something else altogether.
Last night when we were at work, part of me wondered if she was related to the advertising firm my parents were talking with, especially when she mentioned her father was in public relations, but likelihood seemed too coincidental. It made no sense.
But we made sense. That girl, money or not, made sense to me. She made sense of me.
Without another thought, I followed after her, through the door and down the short hall.
“Evelyn,” I called, just as she was nearing the host station. “Wait.”
She stopped, not turning around. I quickened my feet, meeting up with her, standing in front of her.
“Hey…” she muttered, her voice slightly shaken.
“You didn’t say good-bye.”
“I’m sorry. Good-bye, Foster.”
She took a step, but I wasn’t going to let her go. She wasn’t one to leave a fight…ever. Even when she was scared, she always did her best to tackle a situation. She had done it with me several times—our road to becoming a couple wasn’t straight forward—but she now she was walking away. What was she running from?
“We need to talk about this,” I insisted, knowing that our lack of disclosure might jeopardize each other’s trust, but I knew we could work through it. We were both at fault.
“I’ll apologize to your parents and mine about my behavior. I’m sure a note will suffice.”
A note? Wait she thinks I’m upset about her behavior?
“No,” I stressed, “it was good to see that. It was killing me to watch you so…muted.”
“I should go.”
“I’ll go with you.”
“No.” She ran her hand down my arm and my insides melted. “Good-bye, Foster.”
“Good-bye? Wait, what’s going on?”
“I can’t…” She was near tears. I could see them forming. She was genuinely upset. What did I do?
“You can’t what?” I tried to hold back the desperation in my voice. “Evelyn?”
“I thought you were smart,” she snapped.
“Apparently, not smart enough. Maybe you need to educate me.”
“I’m not living like this anymore.”
“Like what? You’re confusing the hell out of me.”
“This.” She swept her hand down the front of her body, towards me, and then the room where our parents still remained. “That! All of the society bullshit.”
“I never asked you to be a part of that.” It was all starting to come together. “Hell, I never even expected it.”
“Why didn’t you tell me?”
“Tell you what?” I ran my fingers through my hair, frustrated. It was time to come clean about the one part of me I never told anyone, and for good reason. But it was out there and she needed to hear it. “About my family? The money? God, I don’t know. Maybe because it’s impolite to talk about? Because I don’t want people to know? Because when they do know, all they see is a future for themselves and a giant bank account? Or maybe it’s because I wanted to make sure you loved me for me, first and foremost? Take your pick. All of them are the truth.”
“Never mind.” She shook her head. “It doesn’t matter.”
“It doesn’t matter?” I repeated, totally lost.
“Don’t you get it? You’re exactly what they want for me. You fit the mold. My mother was practically marrying us off to each other while we were sitting at the table. I swear, from the way she looked at you, she could see diamond-studded babies being spawned between us.”
“Is that a bad thing?”
“Because you’re their choice!”
“Their choice?” I groaned. “Why in the hell should that matter? What’s your choice?” Fuck if I’m going to be the one to not give her one.
“I’ve never had one,” she muttered, a tear breaking through and trickling down her cheek.
***KEEP READING TO FIND OUT WHAT HAPPENED NEXT***
She walked away. I let her because I knew there was nothing I could possibly say. The woman I loved had been rebelling one thing her entire life, and I for some fucking reason, because life was full of cruel jokes, I resembled everything she denied. Her parents and their lifetime of expectations had messed with her more than I realized and it was fucking up everything between us. All because of money. Status. A stupid bank account that wasn’t me, but part of me.
For fuck sake it was part of her.
That one thing, a fortune that I was born into, was the only detail that could ever deter her from me. I understood that. We’d already defied so much, with so little in common. We were the epitome of opposites, she an artist and myself so logical, that wouldn’t life be an ironic asshole to make the one thing that we shared from birth, to be the wedge that would find a way between us.
Again, all because of the expectations she’d been fighting most of her life. I encouraged her to do so. I prompted her to find her own way, but I never thought would be away from me.
As I watched her leave the building, a rage grew inside of me. I was pissed at her for being so ridiculous, but I was even more angered by the root cause of it all.
Without a thought, I turned on my heel and marched back into the private room where my parents, including my brother, and hers were standing in conversation around the table. They looked in my direction as I closed the door and steadily approached her parents.
“She left,” I told them, stifling the urge to raise my voice. “She’s gone. I know you think you know what’s best for her, but you don’t. She’s right. You don’t know anything about her.”
“Foster,” my father interjected, placing a hand on my arm. “I’m sure—”
“No. There’s nothing to be sure of. There are no certainties other than these two people here have…” I grunted. “Tainted that poor girl’s mind with nothing but nonsense.”
“Now listen here, and I mean no disrespect to you son,” Evelyn’s father began to interject. “I’m here solely for a business meeting. Nothing more. I have no idea what you’re even talking about.”
I turned to Mrs. Cunning. “Why don’t you ask your wife then? Maybe she can enlighten everyone.”
Her eyes fluttered rapidly. “I assure you I don’t know what you are trying to say, but I do apologize for her outburst. She’s not usually like that.”
“That’s where you’re wrong,” I told them. “She’s very much like that and I love her for it.”
“Foster,” my mother said.
“You love her?” Evelyn’s mother breathed, a smile spreading across her face.
“Yes,” I said hard. “But don’t get your hopes up. I can see how happy that would make you, but your daughter wants nothing to do with me. Apparently, I’m a mistake. Thank you for taking her from me.”
“Foster,” the blonde said in a friendly tone. “I assure I would never deny you two seeing each other. Let me speak with her. I’m sure we can fix this.”
“Don’t you dare. Your fondness is to my detriment.” I paused, staring at the ground and then narrowed my eyes directly into hers. “Maybe if you hated me, my life with her wouldn’t be prematurely ruined. You see, unlike you, I love her for who she is, not this person I want her to be. And I think she loves me too, for me. But because…” I tightened my mouth. “For my own reasons, I never told her about my family or our business and now that she knows, she wants nothing to do with me. And do you know why?”
“No,” her mother stated, truly shocked. “I can’t imagine.”
“Because apparently that would make you happy, which she has learned directly leads to her unhappiness.”
“I never wanted her to be unhappy.”
“Then maybe you need to really think about what makes her happy for once in your life, instead of yourself. Not what you think is best. A girl like that can’t be caged. She’s only happy when she’s free. Please, just let her go.”
“What good will that do?” Mrs. Cunning asked me.
“Hopefully, she can then find her way back to me.”