Breaking Walls

Breaking Walls by Tracie Puckett

Book: Breaking Walls by Tracie Puckett Read Free Book Online
Authors: Tracie Puckett
talk to me .” Another beat of silence. “Let’s get out of this room. Go outside. Breathe fresh air. You’re missing out on so much.”
    I stood at the doorway and watched as Gabe pleaded with his mother, a mother who didn’t seem at all fazed by the fact that her son was down on his knees, begging for something he clearly and desperately needed.
    She wouldn’t even acknowledge him.
    He finally dropped his forehead on her knee, resting it there for a few, long breaths.
    “Okay. I’m going to go, then,” he said, finally lifting his head to look at her again. He waited another minute before he stood up, leaned down, and pressed a long kiss to her forehead. “I love you. I’ll see you in the morning for breakfast, okay?”
    Still, nothing.
    He headed for the door, so I quickly ducked away. But I didn’t get far enough before he walked out and closed it behind him.
    “Mandy,” he said, his eyes widening as our gazes met. His blue eyes moved rapidly, studying the guilt-ridden expression on my face. “Hi.”
    And there it was. The first, cordial word he’d said to me in two weeks.
    Backed up against the door, his hands still held the knob behind his back. Gabe stood a little taller and squared his shoulders. “What are you…?” His eyes darted down the hallway before falling back to me. “ What are you doing here ?”
    My heart pounded. It was a simple question with a simple answer: my friend needed me . So why couldn’t I open my mouth? Why couldn’t I find the words? I’d spent days fretting over this moment, and the time had finally come. There was no one else around, no one else to ruin the moment. I could talk to him, reach out. I could tell him everything I’d been dying to—
    Wait a minute . No.
    No.
    What was I thinking? Gabe and I weren’t in that place anymore. He’d run away from me; he’d turned his back. He’d chosen to confide in my sister when he couldn’t even muster the energy to look in my direction. This wasn’t the same guy I’d known and lost. This was some rude, twisted version of him—one who didn’t trust me!
    He wasn’t my friend, and I had no obligation to pretend he was. And as soon as I realized that, the words came out a lot easier.
    “I’m on bakery delivery duty,” I said, pointing at my name tag. There. That was short, simple, and direct. So now the polite thing to do would be to ask him, Are you visiting someone? And even though I already knew the answer to the question, and it would’ve been reasonable to ask, I was no longer in any position to pry.
    “Can I. . . ” He swallowed hard, finally peeling his hands away from the door knob and letting them fall to his sides. He massaged his temples before dropping his head back on the door, looking up to the ceiling. “Can I walk you to your car?”
    I nodded. It was the most I could muster.
    Finally pushing himself off the door of Room 115, he joined me in the middle of the hall. His hands found his pockets as I crossed mine at my chest. We started moving slowly toward the front reception area, neither of us walking all too quickly.
    “How’ve you been, Mandy?” he asked, glancing down at me from the corner of his eye.
    “Fine.”
    Don’t ask him. Don’t ask him how he’s been. Freeze—him—out.
    I’m here, Gabe. I’m standing right in front of you, and I’m not going anywhere.
    Shut up! That was before. That was before you found out about him and Bailey. You don’t owe him anything. Not now.
    “Hey, while I’ve got you,” I said, talking loud enough to drown out the voices in my brain , “can I run something by you?”
    “Sure,” he said, and we stopped off at the reception desk to sign out. Gabe signed his name first, passing me the clipboard after he was done.
    “Have a good evening, Gabe,” the cute receptionist said, and he nodded to her with a smile.
    “You too, Sara.”
    “Miss Parker,” she nodded. “Thank you for visiting Evergreen.”
    I smiled and nodded, turning away just as

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