Chapter 9: The Final Chapter: Full Disclosure
There’s so much that Zoe needs to tell Trevor, all of the things that went through her head during the ten-mile race.
But first, she starts with, “I didn’t think you were going to make the race. And if you did, I thought you’d be helping out at the tents.”
“I decided not to volunteer after all. I wanted to see you at the end.”
Where did this man come from? He’s amazing. I need to tell him how I feel. The truth.
Zoe’s eyes start to glisten. “I’ve been running, Trevor.”
“I know,” he smiles. “And you’re really good at it. You almost took me down a second ago.”
“No,” she swallows. “I mean, I’ve been running from you, because I’m afraid. You’re so nice and sweet. And you’re sticking. I’m not used to that.”
The knot is returning to Zoe’s throat, constricting and expanding.
Speaking like this is unchartered territory for her. She’s wrestling with that unknown, unraveling the fear of falling in love.
She adds, “And that silly bet with my mom has been hanging over my head. I thought so much about losing the bet to her and about losing the blog, that I didn’t think about the possibility of losing you. So stupid. I wish I could have a do-over.”
“We could arrange that. But first, full disclosure.” He steps forward. She does, too. “I found your blog, and I read the last several posts.” He quirks a brow. “Quite interesting.”
Zoe’s posts run through her mind like cards shuffling in a deck. In them, she mentioned Trevor over and over again. First, it was in a haphazard way. Then, it was more detailed, especially as her followers expressed how much they liked him. She shared how good looking he was, how funny, how smart, how nice he looked with no shirt on…
“I’m Contestant Number One, right? C1?” he asks.
The color slowly drains from Zoe’s face, down her throat, and to her heart, which has stopped beating, and is dropping to her knees. “You’re right. And I’m mortified.”
“Don’t be. I was wrong. I should’ve just asked how you felt, instead of snooping. You know, I asked your mom at one point, but she wasn’t helpful at all,” he smirks.
“I didn’t think guys would do that sort of thing.”
“They don’t,” Trevor quips. “Don’t tell anyone. I’ll be kicked out of the Man Club.”
“I wasn’t talking to my mom about you anyway, with the bet and all.”
“The bet. I know.” He looks up a moment. “She did help me once, though.”
“Is this more disclosure?”
“Yes. I guess it was only half-full disclosure before.” He rubs Zoe’s shoulder. “Remember that day when I saw you on the trail? The first time, when I bumped into you?”
How could she forget?
“Seeing you there wasn’t by chance,” he says. “Marcy told me where you go running on Saturdays. I hung out at the intersection by mile-marker four, hoping I’d see you.”
Zoe gasps, feigning shock. “All this time, I thought our meeting was clandestine.”
“No. It was completely manufactured and self-serving.”
Her fingers gently brush his hand. “I can’t believe my mom tipped me off. Sold out her own daughter.”
“She’s on my side.”
“Sounds like it.”
He grabs her hand. “You’re going to lose this bet with her, you know.”
“That’s the other thing I was going to tell you. I was thinking about the bet during my run. I don’t care about it any more. I don’t mind losing to her.”
Six words Zoe thought she’d never say.
She can hear her mom now, especially if she and Trevor stay together: I set them up years ago. If it wasn’t for my matchmaking, they wouldn’t be together. Blah, blah, blah.
And her mom would be right.
Zoe’s willing to deal with the other part of the bet, too, shutting the proverbial door of her blog. She’s already devoted three years of her life to it. Maybe it was time to turn the page on The Bachelorette Blogger.
To enter into a relationship with this great guy, she’ll do it. And she won’t look back.
“I’m ready for us to go out on a real date,” she says. “Dinner, wine, and cloth napkins, like you said.”
“Would you settle for a sandwich, Gatorade, and a paper towel in the meantime?”
Trevor opens the sling-pack he’s been holding, and hands her a sandwich baggie. She drools at the oozing layers of purple and brown between bread.
He says, “I hope you like grape jelly.”
“You made me a P-B-and-J?”
His lips curl up in the corner, a gesture that she finds irresistible. She can’t contain herself. Not when the man’s given her a homemade sandwich.
She presses herself against him, kissing him with all she’s got, whatever energy is left after that ten-mile run, all of the salt and sweat mixed with emotion, everything she feels about Trevor, and how badly she wants him to know.
When she finally stops kissing him, he gives her a delicious smile. “I wasn’t expecting that,” he says.
“I’m sorry I slimed you with my shirt.”
He pulls her tighter. “Three-fourths disclosure. I don’t mind when you’re sweaty like this. It’s kind of a turn-on.”
Zoe sighs. Relief washes over her. The knot in her throat is gone. And so is the fear of falling in love.
Now, she welcomes it.
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