“Tea?” Giles asks, already standing and moving toward his electric kettle.
“Please,” I say. I watch him. Hungry, as always, to see him, watch his graceful movement, more now than ever. “When are you leaving?”
“Three weeks,” he says. He leaves the office to get water for his kettle.
I wrap my arms around my body and stare out the window. A mockingbird jumps between branches of the maple before soaring downward at some target I cannot see. The campus is quiet now, after graduation, with just summer session students traipsing along the paths.
Giles smiles at me when he returns. He puts the kettle on its base before dropping tea bags, PG Tips, I’m certain, into two mugs. He turns toward me.
“Have I handled this badly?” he asks.
I swallow a laugh. “Why do you ask?”
“Because you seem off.”
I hug myself tighter and glance out the window again. “I don’t know how you could just do this.”
“What? Leave? Return to England?”
My eyes meet his. I feel feral. “Not tell me.”
My vehemence stuns him I think, because he takes a step back as if my words physically impact him. “But I have. I just told you.”
Anger builds in me. I realize that it’s wrong. He doesn’t owe me anything. He doesn’t know how I feel. He’s never known how I feel and that’s on me. I lower my head. “I’m . . . I just thought you might have mentioned it to me.”
“I told you that I couldn’t risk telling anyone.”
Now I glare at him. “Am I just anyone?”
He swallows, averts his gaze before turning around and pouring boiling water into the two mugs. After returning the kettle onto its base, he leans his hands on the table, his head lowered. I almost feel bad for confronting him.
“You have a crush on me,” he says, not turning around.
The silence that builds around us mocks me. I watch as his forefinger traces the title of the book—Remains of the Day, I think. Somehow, I feel as if he has dismissed me, my feelings.
I snort. “Really, Giles?”
He turns now. His eyes are filled with pity, “I’ve never been for you, Sara. If that’s why you’ve stayed here, when you could have flourished somewhere else, then I do apologize.”
His words are knife-sharp, scoring.
The fight in me dies. He returns to the mugs, adds a gentle shake of sugar and milk to mine before handing it to me. I grasp it between both hands, happy for the secure warmth. I can’t afford a glance at him because I know that it would be my undoing. I’ve plucked each daisy petal until I’ve come to the last, he loves me not.
. . .
the end until the next part