Zayne felt sick to his stomach for the entire rest of the afternoon. All he could think about was seeing Hope again… The thought both excited and terrified him. They hadn’t spoken at all since they’d broken up. She’d already packed up her things when he’d arrived that night, and she left soon after. Hope had been living in a hotel ever since.
The apartment felt so cold and empty without her… Everything did. Zayne couldn’t eat. He couldn’t sleep. All he could think of was Hope, and how terribly he’d ruined everything. His friends and family had been trying again and again to get him to open up. Dom, Remi, and Charlie had all been practically breaking down his door for the past two weeks just to get him to talk to them.
But he didn’t want to talk to anyone. He just wanted to be left alone. Why couldn’t anyone understand that?
This was different though. Hope wasn’t coming to rub salt in his wounds or make him feel worse. She was saying goodbye. Maybe forever. Zayne felt another wave of nausea at the thought. This time tomorrow, she’d be thousands of kilometers away in San Myshuno. Who knew when they’d even speak to each other again, let alone see each other?
Zayne lifted one large hand, wiping away a few tears from his eyes. Not tonight. He told himself. Keep it together. For her.
As though on cue, a faint knocking reached his ears. For one wild moment, Zayne almost wondered who it could possibly be. But the realization was enough to knock all the air from his lungs. It was Hope. Knocking. In the two-and-a-half years they’d lived together, she’d never knocked.
But she had to now, didn’t she?
This wasn’t her home anymore.
Zayne wiped away a few more stray tears and cleared his throat softly before finally opening the door.
She was so beautiful that it almost hurt to look at her. And who knows when I’ll ever see her in person again? Zayne tried his best to chase the thought away. “Hi.” He muttered at last.
“Hi.” Hope’s reply was just as soft and uncomfortable as his had been. “Thanks for letting me stop by.”
“Sure.” Zayne shrugged, trying very hard to smile. “Um… Do you wanna… Like sit down, maybe?”
“Yeah,” Hope nodded, her smile obviously forced as well. “Okay.”
The silence seemed to stretch on for hours, though Zayne was fairly certainly only a few minutes had passed. What could they say to each other now? How do you say goodbye to someone you’ve shared so much of your life with?
Hope’s voice finally broke the silence. “So… How have you been?” She asked softly, seemingly unable to meet his gaze.
“Um… Honestly? Pretty fucking terrible.” Zayne burst into laughter as he spoke. It was such a stupid question… And he had a feeling she knew it too. Her bright, beautiful laughter mingled with his almost instantly.
“Okay, that was so dumb.” She managed to choke out. “Please forget I asked that.”
Zayne shrugged, still smiling. “Hey, it was better than just sitting here saying nothing to each other all night.”
“True.” Hope agreed, her smile beginning to fade slightly.
He hesitated a moment before speaking again. “So… what time’s your flight?”
“You won’t believe this… 5:30.” The girl replied with a small laugh.
“In the morning?! Jesus.” Zayne shook his head. “Good luck with that.”
“I know. I’ve gotta get to the airport by four.” Hope smiled. “But at least I know I’ll get some sleep on the plane?”
“Good point… Might help with the jetlag a little.”
“Hopefully! I’m not gonna have much time to adjust… I already have a huge shoot scheduled for Saturday.”
She nodded. “Two back-to-back next weekend too. And I’m walking in a show on Tuesday.” Her smile widened a bit. “Once they found out I’d be moving to the city, some of the local designers got pretty excited.” She explained.
“That’s incredible!” Zayne replied seriously. “Look, I know I’ve done a shit job of showing it… But I’m really proud of you, Hope.” He meant every word. “You’re gonna do so many amazing things… Well, more than you’ve already done.” He laughed softly for a moment. “This move is gonna be great for you.”
“Thanks. I hope so.” She smiled warmly. “And, for what it’s worth, I’m proud of you too.” She paused for a moment before continuing. “I think I’ve been holding you back so much more than either of us realize. This could be a new beginning for you.” Hope’s voice was sincere. “Just learn to believe in yourself, Zayne. And you’ll do amazing things too.”
He knew she was trying to lift his spirits, but instead, her words simply broke his heart. Maybe she had a point. Maybe focusing on his restaurant would be easier without comparing himself to her, or feeling so pressured all the time…. But she was trying to imply that he was better off without her. And that simply wasn’t true. It never would be. Never.
“Thanks.” He replied at last. What else could he possibly say?
They fell into an uneasy silence once more.
“Hey, did you eat dinner already?” Zayne asked softly after a few moments. “I could make you something… For old time’s sake?” He offered, hoping she could not detect the desperation in his voice.
Hope shook her head slowly. “Thanks, but I’m really not hungry…” She bit her lip. “And… It’s getting pretty late. I should probably get going.”
Zayne felt his heart drop into the pit of his stomach as she rose to her feet. This couldn’t be it. Not yet.
“Hope, wait.” He practically leapt from the couch. She had barely made it three steps. “Don’t go.”
“Zayne…” Her voice was pained. “I have to. You know that. We –”
“I know you’re leaving. I know it’s over.” Zayne’s voice broke slightly. “That’s not what I meant.” He hesitated for a moment. “Just… Stay with me tonight. Please.” The words passed his lips before he even realized what he was saying.
Hope shook her head. “We both know that’s a terrible idea.” Her voice was barely above a whisper. “I can’t.”
“Look, I just…” A heavy sigh passed Zayne’s lips. “I can’t let us leave it like this. No matter how shitty things turned out, I still love you, Hope. And I just want the chance to say goodbye.”
For a few moments, Hope said nothing. Zayne was fairly certain he could detect the slight glistening of tears in her eyes.
“I love you too.” She whispered at last. “You know that, don’t you?”
He nodded, quickly closing the distance between them. “I do.”