I fold my hand into a half-fist over my heart, feeling suddenly hollow. I’ve lost him. I never thought I’d lose him.
I hear an astonished laugh, and look up just in time to keep from being bowled over. Ray lifts me, swings me, and I laugh with him… I laugh for the first time in weeks. “Ray!”
“Jessa! Gods, Jessa – you came back!”
He sets me down, and I look up at him. I was so innocent when I told him that. “I promised,” I reply, quiet but smiling.
Jeff claps Ray on the back, grinning. “I told you she would.”
“Hey, little one.” He hugs me, firmly but not back-breaking – affection without Ray’s heedless jubilance.
Ray is bouncing on his heels. “Jeff, could you-“
“Take your class. Yes. Go.” He smiles at Ray, and I feel his love for him.
Home. I’m home.
Ray pauses before he takes my hand. The hug is our old greeting. This is new – and while it may look more casual, it’s far more intimate. He looks down at me, and I squeeze his hand; he relaxes and leads me from the dojo. Goodness gracious. Ray… I’d forgotten how handsome Ray was. So different from Seth, so different from Marcus. “All grown up, now, Jessa…?”
“I was grown up before I left!” Fevered nights and days with Seth in my room, in his, in the forest…
“But you were still my student.”
I stop him and raise his hand to my lips, kissing his knuckles softly as I look steadily into uncertain aqua eyes. “I’m not your student anymore, Ray.”
The uncertainty resolves, and his smile spreads… and he pulls me in close, holding me. I relax into his arms. Thank you…
We're still at $2,755.60! Let's see if we can push it to $3,000!
Remember, every dollar facilitates one phone call to RAINN's hotline.