Sunday, August 11, 2013

Cambridge Connections - Chapter Twenty Eight

A Letter from Home 

Dan's email had made her smile return, and she felt inside like she did on the first day of spring. Claudia called her, and she nipped from her bedroom down to the kitchen, where her flatmate was straightening her hair in the only socket that was close enough to a mirror to prevent accidental incineration. "Ah, Sammy, cherie, you couldn't just help me with the very back could you?" she asked when Sam's footsteps echoed on the hardwood floor.

"Sure," she said, taking the straighteners from her.

"I'm going to miss you so much," Claudia continued. "You will keep in touch, won't you?"

"Of course I will. You guys have been so great," she beamed.

When Claudia's hair was straight as spun gold, Sam excused herself to go and change. It was drizzling outside, and she would rather have stayed inside on the sofa and played Boarderlands or something, but her inner geek would have to be suppressed in favour of Sociable Sam.

"You have half an hour, before I come and collect you..." Claudia laughed.

"When have I ever taken longer to get ready?" she retorted playfully. Chuckling, Sam closed the door with a wave and a quiet, "See you in a bit."

She crossed the room to her bed, flicked the radio on to find it half way through a song by Coldplay, and picked up her iPad. There was a single red notification next to the mail icon, and she tapped it. Her heart lurched when she saw the name, and then began hammering away against her ribs, the blood pounding in her ears, masking her sight from everything, except that name, for a good half a minute. From: Alexander Norwood.

Gathering her courage, and fighting down acrid bile in her throat, she touched his message and began to read.

Dear Sam,

I cannot tell you how many times I have begun this letter, or finished it and then deleted it. Its the hardest thing in the world to write something which apologises and explains, without sounding like youre just coming up with excuses. That is what I have tried to do here; to explain to you a bit about why that incident happened, and what it really was. This message is not one of those "this isnt what it looks like" excuses from the cheating asshole from any film or novel you might care to mention; it is me telling you why you found me the way you did and with whom.

As you probably know, Rachel was someone I grew close to in rehab. She was also recovering from a life-changing event, though she was many months further down the line than I was, and was not a full-time resident. At a time when I was very low, my friendship with her helped me to adapt to my new life. Losing your legs is not an easy transition as I'm sure you can appreciate, and when youre a guy and you lose most of your abilities below the belt, it makes you feel like youre no longer a man, in any aspect of the word. You lose your reference point for your sexuality when you lose feeling there – no longer a man because you no longer feel what you thought made you a man. And you think you cant be with a woman because theres no way youll ever satisfy her or be enough for her. Im sorry thats all rather blunt, but there's no delicate or 'politically correct' way to explain it. And then I met Rachel, who wasnt in any kind of rush. She wasnt trying to push me in any direction, towards ‘healingor ‘acceptanceor anything; she just sat with me and chilled out with me while I floundered around trying to work out who I was supposed to be from now on.

Id only spent about seven weeks in hospital before I was packed off to rehab, so I was still dazed when I got there. I dont think the reality of having an SCI had really set in until I was there, surrounded by all the other people in wheelchairs, some of whom were perfect minds trapped in broken bodies, who could only move their chairs with their mouths, their atrophied limbs strapped up like matchsticks, or other people who had to have feeding and breathing tubes… you get the picture. I was a lucky one, and Rachel gave me the space and the support I needed to see past my resentment and anger and guilt. The guilt is something I'm still riddled with today. I'll tell you why one day, maybe, but for now, it's not relevant. 

Towards the end of my time there, we started a relationship, and for a very short time it was great. Im not telling you this to make you feel anything in particular, just to tell you what she came to mean to me at the time. And at the time, she meant a great deal, and, until eight months ago,  I would have regarded her as a friend, but nothing more. Weve not seen or spoken to each other since that day.
Once I left rehab full time, she and I drifted out of contact over the course of a couple of years. Towards the end of June last year, we ran into each other at the gym, and she told me about her fiancé's long-term cheating on her, and how she left him, and I figured I owed her a listening ear and a shoulder to cry on. We reconnected. Im not sure why I didnt share this with you at the time. Maybe because it involved 'me' as 'disabled me', which I was constantly trying not to show around you (idiot that I was), maybe because I knew it wasn’t quite right because I think Id guessed she had other intentions. I dont really know the exact reason, but I do know I was a coward, and that I should have talked to you more, about everything.

Finally, I get round to that afternoon. She had called by the flat unexpectedly after doing some shopping in town, and found me having a pretty bad day, physically. She had done a couple of physio courses, intending to go into physiotherapy herself, before deciding that teaching maths was a better career for her. After I'd taken some more meds, she offered to give my shoulders a rub – as you know, the life of a wheeler isnt kind to shoulders, and they were pretty gnarled up. I cant deny that it was maybe inappropriate for me to have taken my shirt off, but at the time I figured that shed seen me before, and I suppose I didnt think too much of it because for me there was nothing else. I can see just how it must have looked from your standpoint though, and Im so deeply sorry that I hurt you. I keep seeing your face when you came through the door, and it cuts me to the quick every time knowing that a sequence of my decisions and actions caused you such pain. I dont know whether youll be hurting more from the lack of trust or the physical closeness, but I am equally sorry for both.

Im also ashamed of the way I behaved afterwards. My regret quickly turned into that awful and unforgivable monster ‘self-pity. It seemed easier to give myself to it rather than face what the thought of what I might have made you feel, and since you came and shook me out of it, that has been all I can think of. I think of you all the time. I wonder how youre getting on in Canada; what youre doing; whether youre alright; whether youve made new friends and have a new life out there; whether youre looking forward to coming home, and when that will be. And of course, whether I'll ever see you again.

I know that the word “I” appears more in this letter than “you” does, but this is a chance, possibly my only real chance, to let you know how things look from my side, and how much I miss you. God, I miss you so much, Sam. I miss the fun we have together: the goofy, wild fun of two people in love; the fact that we didnt have to go out and buy into the cheesy stereotypes to have a good evening together – we could just curl up on the sofa and just be two people in love; the fact that when I was with you, that was all I felt - like I was just one of two people in love.

If you dont reply to this, then although it would break my heart, I wont contact you again, but just know that if ever theres anything you need, I will be there – I will be there in a heartbeat, Sam – no matter what, or where, or in what capacity: as listener, as friend, or as more, whatever you need me to be, I will be, for the rest of my days.

Ever yours,

The world spun and, behind the empty, ringing, tundra of space in her reeling mind, her heartbeat hammered on her eardrums. Then suddenly she was in tears, and they took a very long time to stop flowing, and it was even longer before the screen came back into focus. The radio was still playing but she couldn't really hear it; a lilting guitar or something. Her insides were a writhing mess of feelings, and she didn't know whether she was predominantly angry, frightened, moved, relieved, in love, or any number of other emotions. Above the image that kept flashing across her mind's eye - that of Rachel all over Alex on the sofa - was a clear, ringing kind of silver sound: it said 'Alex is innocent: he may have been stupid, but he wasn't disloyal.'

It took real effort to resist the sudden and unexpected urge to type a hasty reply to him to tell him everything was ok and that she wanted nothing more than to fly home and see him. Especially since she now realised that the song playing was John Mayer's 'Comfortable'. Half a second's more thought however brought a second voice in her mind, which said 'Yeah, but he still let himself get into that situation. He didn't stop. He could have done, but he didn't.' With the returning pangs of anger and hurt, she retracted her hand from the iPad and sat a while, staring at the words of his email without taking in their meaning, her mind switching faster than alternating current between forgiveness and hurt.

Claudia knocked on her door and found her like that, about half an hour later. "Cherie, you ready?" she asked, her French accent on ‘cherieresounding in the empty room. She must have realised that something was wrong from the way she was transfixed to the spot. “Ça va?"

"Huh?" the sound startled Sam and she whipped around, tears still staining her face.

When Claudia saw the blotches on her cheeks, she moved swiftly to her side and put an arm around her. "What's happened?" she asked kindly. She let her big blue eyes scan the screen in Sam's lap, and she saw the name. "Is that the guy you left behind in England?"

Sam nodded. "It's from him. Giving me a bit of background to what I saw..."

"Right before youre due to go home… Let me guess," she said sourly, gripping her shoulders with a tightness that was incongruous with her tiny, bird-like hands, "He told you that what you saw didn't mean anything, and that he wasn't cheating on you...?"

"Is that what Kyle told you?" she countered, still feeling a bit blurry round the edges.

Claudia nodded. "Fresh from Katy's bedroom..."

"But Alex didn't sleep with Rachel," she argued. "As far as I know he didn't even kiss her..."

"As far as you know... Cherie, if you ask me, you let this one go. You've been carrying him around with you since you got here, and it's time to let him go."

The thought of never seeing him again, of not hearing his rich, dark voice, or feeling his arms around her ever again filled her with a new and deeper kind of terror, and she fixed Claudia with a horrified and slightly crazed look. "No," she said, "I can't do that. I can't."

To her surprise, Claudia smiled, and sat back a little on the bed. "You still love him, don't you? Even after all this time…"

Without a heartbeat's hesitation, she replied. "I do."

Claudia had softened and looked a bit sad as she said, "The moment I found out about what Kyle was doing, I didn't love him any more, and I knew I wouldn't ever love him again. Seems like maybe this guy might get a second chance out of you, if he proves himself, that is..."

"You serious?" Sam asked incredulously. "You basically just said he was a scumbag and that I should ditch him!"

She smiled. "I'm sorry. I just wanted to see how you felt about him. If you really love him, then maybe you should listen to what he has to say. You know him better than I do, obviously. I knew Kyle, and I knew he'd cheated, no doubt about it. Maybe Alex didn't do anything serious after all..."

"Should I reply?" she asked, feeling like a lost teenager, not a capable grad student.

Claudia shook her head. "No, not tonight. You're going to wear that sexy grey dress, and you're coming out with us and we're all going to have a fantastic evening. And you're not going to spend the whole time worrying about what you're going to write, ok?"

Sam nodded. She took one last look at his message, the 'Ever Yours' making her heart lurch up to her throat and back, and then closed the iPad cover firmly over the screen. "Ok."

Their usual bar, on Adelaide St West, was nicely crowded that night, the tiled walls and comfy seats looking welcomingly full, with enough room for their small party to join without filling up the space and making it over-full.

Jake was there she noticed, and as Claudia and she approached the small group of friends already seated, his eyes danced when she caught his gaze. With a mere lift of an eyebrow and a twitch of the lips, they shared a silent joke about the successfulness of their 'date' as she approached, and as she sat down beside him, he said, "Hey there, how are you?"

"I'm good," she smiled, pulling the hem of her warm, woollen jumper dress down more towards her knees over her black tights.

Jake leaned forward with a cheeky, conspiratorial smirk on his handsome face. "Have to say, I was nervous when Jenny texted me about this evening..."

"Thought it was Sam and Jake vs. Jenny and Mel: Round Two?" she grinned back, crossing her legs and leaning back into the chair.

He laughed, his coppery-blond hair shivering as he tilted his head backwards. "I might have done... Don't get me wrong though, I had a fantastic evening with you that time."

"It was just so painfully obviously a set-up, right?"

"Yeah." He ran his hand through his hair and said, "Well, since I was so painfully awkward last time, can I get you a drink this time?"

"Sure, that'd be lovely," she smiled a fragile little smile, still thinking of Alex, and said, "One of their dark ales would be great." Alex would approve, she thought, the corner of her lips twitching.

"Alright then," he said, standing and making his way over to the bar. At around six foot, he was about as tall as Alex was when he was on his feet, and he was built similarly, with broad shoulders that, even Sam had to admit, filled out his blue plaid shirt beautifully.

After a few minutes, Jenny sidled up to her, her sharp green eyes boring into Jakes back as he ordered the beers at the bar. With her short dark, Cleopatra hair falling forward as she leaned inwards conspiratorially, she said, "Hey Sam, you two forgiven us for trying to set you up yet?" There was a glint in her eyes that told Sam she would still love for them to get together.

She smiled, with her very English, long-suffering humour written loud and clear on her lips, and said, "We're thinking about it, Jenny, but we're still not sure we can bring ourselves to forgive you for such an awkward evening..." Tyler's friend smiled and Sam added, "He's a really nice guy though."

"Who's a really nice guy?" Jake asked, returning with two pints of dark ale. "I hope you're talking about me." His smile was broad, confident, even sexy, Sam thought as he set the drinks down on the table and reclaimed his seat from Jenny, who promptly parked herself on his knee like a resting budgerigar.

"We were, as it happens," Sam chuckled. "Jenny was trying to get us to forgive her for playing Cupid."

Jake shook his head in mock condemnation and said, bobbing her on his lap once like a small child, "I don’t know, Jenny… Itll cost you."

"Alright, alright," she giggled. "Well, you two seem to be getting on just fine now anyway," she added, springing to her feet and moving round the table to park herself in an empty seat on the other side.

"We're working through it," Sam grinned. "It's tough, but when there's ale, it's not so bad." She raised the glass, chinking it with Jakes. "Cheers, and thank you."

His eyes met hers over the foamy head of his beer, and he smiled. "You're welcome."

Sam never had to buy herself a drink that night, and more than a few of them came from Jake, though Tyler and Harry chipped in a fair few was well. Whether Jake was trying to make up for being so awkward before, or whether he had decided that he actually did like Sam after all, she couldn't be sure, but she wasn't about to turn down free beer from a handsome acquaintance on one of her last nights in Toronto.

At around ten, someone behind the bar cranked the volume of the music, and Jenny, Mel and Claudia leapt to their feet with a whoop, hauling several of their guy friends to their feet as they left. Harry bellowed, "Sam! Come dance!" and so they dragged her towards the open space a few yards away. It had a heady beat that filled her whole body, and though she wasn't really used to dancing in bars, she closed her eyes and let her body sway. It wasn't just their party who had responded to the raised volume, and there was soon a pretty large crowd moving, hands in the air. She was well into her fourth or fifth pint by then, so when she felt two large, strong hands on her hips, and the presence of a fairly huge guy behind her, she whipped around and inevitably lost her balance.

Jake steadied her and said with a laugh, "Steady there Sam, it's only me."

She laughed in relief, and put her hands on his chest with a gentle smack. The heat radiating off him was incredible, but he still smelled so good. His hands found their way to her hips, lingering on her sides.

She began to dance again, feeling the beat in her chest, thudding against her ribcage like a second heartbeat. He was close, so close. His height was a bit of a challenge, because she only came mid way up his chest, so she turned away from him and put her back against him. They moved together like two blades of grass in the wind, his body pressing against hers like a protective outer shell. As the track pulsed, nearing the end of the song, he took her raised hand and spun her around like a jive dancer.

“Maybe we were wrong last time?” he said, his deep voice carrying over the  tail end of the Swedish House Mafia track.

Her head felt light and her heart was racing. Bellas girly voice rang in her head as Sam imagined her friend telling her to go for it; to let go; to have fun. She was only there for a few more days anyway. He was leaning in before she could reach the end of the imaginary tape in her head, and his good-looking but slightly sweaty face was right in front of hers. The kiss that followed wasnt quite how she would have imagined it. He was a damned good kisser, their was no denying it, but it felt empty. She kept expecting him to move like Alex had, to nibble her lip like Alex had, to cup the back of her head, like… She pulled back with a clear ‘this isnt quite rightwritten all over her face.

His foot took half a step backwards and his eye searched her face. “Too much?” he asked kindly.

She blinked a couple of times. Whoever was in charge of the music had changed the mood. Snowpatrol's 'Set the fire to the third bar' whined above the murmur of voices and the clink of glasses. "I'm miles from where you are / I lay down on the cold ground / I, I pray that something picks me up / And sets me down in your warm arms…”. Sam choked up. Jake was painfully obviously not Alex.

As gracefully as she could, with one of those 'I'm sorry, it's nothing to do with you' excuses, she left with a watery smile, and made her way to the bathrooms, in search of a moment alone. Closing the evergreen-painted stall door behind her, she sat down on the seat and suddenly began to ball her eyes out in silent, shuddering sobs. She knew that she was ready to listen to Alex. She missed him too much and she was still comparing perfectly nice, technically compatible, guys to him – a screaming neon warning sign if ever shed seen one – and above all she couldn't bear the thought of them both being in the same country, the tiny island of the UK, like this, with a broken heart each. People change, people grow apart, but they had been wrenched away from each other, leaving a gaping hole between them which time was not going to fill for either of them, she sensed.

Sorting her eyeliner out with tear-blurred vision took another few minutes, but when she returned to the group, there was only the vaguest tint of pink in her eyes, and, with a new sense of decision and purpose, set out to enjoy the evening as best she could, but maybe a little further from Jake. Two final beers later, things were still blurry, but for an entirely different reason. They all laughed, shared embarrassing stories about their time together – usually of Sams linguistic or cultural gaffes, but the odd story of her falling over in the winter and disappearing like a stoat in the snow might also have surfaced, until closing time.

Jakes parting hug had a good deal of feeling, but drunk as she was, Sam made sure they parted as friends with a chaste kiss on the cheek. Harry and Tyler walked Claudia and Sam back to their apartment, one girl on each of the boys arms for support.

Once inside, Claudia came into Sam's room and sat down on the bed. With the solemnity of a drunken seventeen year old, she said as Sam picked up her iPad, "Sammy, do I have to change the wifi password so you don't email Alex tonight?"

Hurt that she'd felt the need to point it out, Sam retorted, "Of course not! I'm not going to email him until the morning." That wasn't strictly the truth; she had planned to write the email that night, and then send it in the morning, when Sober Sam could vet what Drunk Sam had written, and take out the mis-types, mis-spellings and misplaced 'I love yous' that her fumbling fingers would no doubt have worked into it. She blinked and added, “Besides, you wouldnt remember what youd changed it to, and then youd never have internet again…”

As Claudia left with a laugh and closed the door, Sam began a fresh email to Alex, and gave it the subject '\n', hoping she was making the right Python reference for 'new line', and that she wouldnt look like shed made a typo.

Dear Alex,

Thank you for your email.

No, that sounded like she was considering a job application and was about to turn him down.

Dear Alex,

Thank you for sharing what was going on


Dear Alex,

I miss you too.

God no.

"Sleep on it," she scolded herself, slamming her iPad cover shut again. "Write it when you actually have some brain cells that aren't pickling in ethanol."

Her coordination was a little off, so brushing her teeth proved a little tricky, but eventually, she was fit enough to put her pyjamas on and climb into bed.

When she woke, her head stuffed with hangover-infused cotton wool, it was ten o'clock, and Claudia was knocking on the door. "Sam? I hope you're feeling as awful as I am, and if not, I want to know why."

She smiled groggily. "Stop hammering on the door..."

"I have my answer." Pushing in, she asked, "Breakfast at Madeline's?"

"Let me humanise myself a bit first," she croaked.

Claudia blearily ordered the coffees, and walked slowly over to where Sam had chosen to sit in a dark corner at the back. They both began to feel a little more alive as the caffeine washed through their systems, and the power of full sentences also returned gradually.

As Sam nibbled at her chocolate cake, Claudia said, "I don't know how you can even think of eating, let alone that, after last night."

"Chocolate is the cure for all things," she said, wiping the corner of her mouth with a serviette, "From hangovers to ghosts from the past."

"Oh that's right," Claudia said, her blue eyes widening, "Did you reply to his email?"

She shook her head, slowly. "Wanted to, but didn't know where to start. I'll do it when I get home. Only trouble with doing it in the morning is that they're only five hours ahead, so I might get a reply straight away..."

"And you're not ready for that?"

"Not with a head this fuzzy," she laughed.

After three quarters of an hour they'd drunk their big mugs of restorative coffee, so the two friends made their way back to the apartment, the clear, bright Canadian light working some kind of photosynthesis-like magic on the pickled, tired cells of her body, and bringing them back to life.

In the stillness of her room, Sam sat down apprehensively at her desk. A good twenty minutes of blank screen time elapsed before she even started to write anything. Intending to copy her reply into an email when she was finished, she huffed a laugh as the empty Microsoft Word document reminded her horribly of undergraduate essays she hadnt known how to start.

She puffed the air from her cheeks and said to herself, “Well, how do you feel about it?” Her fingers wrote her answer on the keyboard: I love him and I want to give him a second chance. “Now to write that in a way that sounds like Im still pissed off with him!” she chuckled, feeling better and more alive than she had in a good many months, but maybe that was the intense caffeine rush and the nerves talking.


Alex would have been lying if hed not leapt for his phone or iPad each time it made a noise. But each time it proved to be just an email from the department, and there was even one from his grandpa. However, just when hed abandoned all hope, he picked it up from habit and could hardly believe his eyes – or his good eye, at least – and his heart felt like it stopped beating when he read her name. Samantha Fey. His brain stalled too, unable to process the words or the facts. His finger hovered above the screen, loath to touch it in case her message was finite and would cut her off from him forever.

He was sitting in his chair beside the window in the living room of the flat. The afternoon light was clear, bright, and he hoped, prophetically optimistic. His knees were still as he sat in his chair, but his heart was pounding thunderously against his ribs. Suddenly his finger tapped the screen and he began to read her email. It was short, which he hoped wasnt a bad thing. He took a raspy breath for courage, but it did nothing to stop the sweat flashing across his nervous palms.

Dear Alex,
I have to say your email caught me off guard when I found it last night, but Im glad you sent it to me. I dont have time to write a proper reply right now – Ive got to pack to come home – but I will say that you were on the right track: the things that struck me most about all of this were actually both “the lack of trust” and “the physical closeness”.
Thank you for explaining to me what happened and what was really going on. I didnt know – I didnt really want to know – who she was, or what she meant, to you, but now that youve told me how you met her and what kind of relationship you forged together, I find it easier to believe that what I saw was indeed what you described to me.
My flight leaves tomorrow, so Ive got a lot to do, but when Ive had a bit more time to read your email through and think things over, I hope we can talk some more.

Alex blinked. The screen swam. It wasnt until hed read it through five times that he realised what it really meant. She hasnt written me off completely.

With his blood pressure probably somewhere around 170/80, he typed a quick reply.

Dear Sam,
Thank you. I look forward to hearing from you whenever youre ready.

What he had wanted to say was how much he missed her, how much he wanted to meet her at the airport, to sweep her off her feet when she got off that plane, lay a million red roses at her feet and tell her that she is the only one for him, but somehow that felt like overkill…

He set his iPad down, not expecting a reply, and wheeled away towards his room. A nice long session of complex coding would take his mind off her. As he woke his desktop up again with a shake of his mouse, his near photographic memory replayed her message over and over. Had he climbed the first metaphorical mountain? Did she believe him? “Stop it,” he snarled aloud. “Just stop thinking about it.”

“Thinking about what?” Wills voice rose above his swirling feelings from the doorway.

His head snapped round and he said, “I heard back from Sam.”

“I didnt know youd actually sent that email to her…”

“Yeah,” he said, scratching the back of his head. “It was my last-ditch attempt at a peace treaty…”

Wills smile hitched up at one corner, becoming a cheeky grin. “And your efforts paid off then?”

His hands fiddled with the rims of his chair and he turned to face his brother. He glanced back at the screen and leaned back against the backrest of his chair. His code was still compiling; it would be perfectly possible to procrastinate for a little while longer, and he had the authority of XKCD to back him up too. “I think so,” he said cautiously. “Shes flying back tomorrow, so she said she didnt have time to write a proper reply, but at least I got one…”

“You think thats girl-speak for ‘I don’t want to deal with this right now?” he asked, arching an eyebrow.

Alex smirked. “Who knows…” Suddenly, he sat forward and said, “You know what I really want to do? I want to meet her at the airport. I want to be there when she gets off that plane.” And every day after that, he thought, but was too much of a guy to say it out loud.

“You should.”

Wills response surprised him more than his own crazy idea had.

“You should go and meet her,” he repeated. “Otherwise shell get on a train, or her parents will whisk her away, and shell have time to overthink everything, or chicken out, and youll never see her again.”

He tipped into a wheelie and said, “Will, this isnt some chick-flick – Im not standing at the airport with a boombox and declaring my love for her.”

“Well thank fuck for that,” Will laughed, clearly happy enough for his brother to ignore the wheelie. “Because then Id have to say youd cracked. Im not asking you to do that.” He pushed himself off the doorframe and said as he left, “Just let her see you. Shell know you meant it.”

A little frown tugged Alexs brows together for a second. Before he could work out what his brother had meant by that, his attention was drawn to his phone on the desk. It had vibrated briefly to alert him to an incoming message.  Wondering whether it was too much to hope that it was another message from Sam, he reached for it. The Android nearly slithered from his fingers when he saw that it was.

Dear Alex,
So, against the advice of my flatmate, I took a grand total of ten minutes to reread your email, and I want to meet up with you. Ive missed you so much. This year was hard enough – being on a different continent, where although everything is in English, its all alien, or maybe its more alien because its all in English, I dont know – but without having you there, without having you to Skype and share stuff with, it was just that little bit harder. I worked myself harder than Ive ever worked in my life, and that was because I didnt want to give myself time to think about those few months of heaven with you in Cambridge. I figured if I could just throw myself into studying, I would forget that I left a little piece of myself with you in your living room on that day I ran away.
I want to come and collect that little piece of myself from you, but Im not sure Im entirely ready for it, but you never know if you dont try, right? Im writing this email straight from my heart, and Im not even going to check it through before I send it, because I know that if I stop between typing and hitting send, I wont send it.
Sam x

“Yes!” Alex roared triumphantly. “Fuck, yes!”

“What?” Wills voice was muffled, coming from another room in the flat. “What is it?”

“She wants to see me,” he said, repeating it in a whisper to himself. “She wants to see me.”

He lost no time in writing back and saying that he would be at the airport to meet her when she landed and drive her home. The next quarter of an hour proved the tensest he had lived through in a long time, but when her reply eventually came, his heart sank a little bit.

Its a late flight from Toronto which lands sometime around 10am (your time) I think. But I've booked a train ticket from Heathrow because mum says the car is playing up… It might be better to wait and see you when I havent been in the air for seven and a half hours? Its a long way to come when Im going to have to dash off…

He wasnt about to let this opportunity slip out of his fingers so easily. Getting to see you for even a minute is worth the journey. If youre ok with seeing me, Ill be there.

Ok, be there then.

Her four word answer sent adrenaline flooding through every artery and vein in his body. He was going to see her. After eight months, he was going to see his Sam in just two daystime.

To be continued...


  1. Yes! Yes!
    Oh, Rose, you made me cry again! I don'n know since when I've become such a whine-screamer!
    I hope the last two Chapters won't be too short! :(

    1. Aww, thanks Andrea! Not to make you cry more, but there's only one more chapter... Hope it doesn't disappoint though...

  2. The build up is phenomenal.
    So good!
    Thank you!

  3. Aaahh - that's all so sweet, so emotional too! I even had a tear in my eye when I read Alex's first and long e-mail. It really came so much from his heart, that I was sharing his emotions too.

    1. I tried to go for a Captain Wentworth in Persuasion feel to his letter, which always makes me tear up a bit.

  4. I keep enjoying this, the more you write for us. Thanks for the regular updates.

  5. Ah!!!!!! Yes!!!!!! Finally!!!!!!

    Yes, I abused the explanation point. It was completely worth it!

    Well done,

    1. I also was so busy exclaiming that I wrote "explanation" point.

      You're just that good!

    2. Ha, I'm so dyslexic I didn't even notice you'd said that! Glad it was that good.

  6. Oh wow! THIS IS WHAT I NEEDED TO READ! I'm glad she got her education, but I'm glad they are meeting up!!! Please, please, please is the next chapter the meet up?!

  7. Have meant to comment since you posted on Friday, but things have kept coming in the way.

    Amazing chapter!! So happy to see that Alex and Sam seem to be on their way to making amends, but sad that this story is coming to an end. I have enjoyed each chapter and will miss it.

    1. Thanks Mille. I'm loving your story, so I'm glad you like mine! I've been crazy busy so I've not had a moment to comment on yours for ages!

  8. It has taken be days to comment on this chapter only because I've read Alex's letter eight times or maybe more. Your story is like a painting of a person, know matter wear you stand looking at the picture the eyes follow you. Rose your story follows me everyday and it will be a part of me forever. You've shown us battles and conflicts of true life. I sincerely thank you for you story and hope there be many more to come.

    1. Lynn, I read your comment via the email notification system while I was doing the same journey that Sam did from London to Cambridge today, and I nearly cried. I was so touched! You're very generous with your praise, and I hope I can do your support justice in my final episode on Friday. I'm particularly glad that you liked his letter so much, because it's something I've had written for ages before I'd even got to that point, and it's inspired (as I think I said in an earlier comment) by Captain Wentworth's letter to Anne in Persuasion, which is a letter I have read through many, many times.

      I have a few more stories which are nowhere near completion, but which I fully intend to post up here at some point.

  9. Great emails exchange. Glad Sam is going back to England and never forgot who she left behind and what he means to her. They both needed a break and some thinking. Now we are ready for their sweet reunion. As I am eager to read the next chapter I am upset it will be the end of this romantic and complicated love story. Rose, you really should have the book published!