Not In That Way *Completed*

There is always that one little thing that can keep a person stable. That one little thing that makes a person feel alive. The thing that can make a person smile even when they are having a bad day.

For Cora Smith that thing is more like a someone. Her someone is Zachary Dawson. Her long time best friend and the person that saved her when her life was in shambles. For years, she has been battling for his attention against all the other girls around her. However, little did she know she had him wrapped around her little finger since the very beginning.

Join Cora on her journey in discovering the truth about Zachary, while all the while she is consumed with the fear that, in the end, the only words she will hear from him are, "I'm sorry, believe me, I love you, but not in that way......"

*Based on the song, "Not in That Way" by Sam Smith*

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24. Chapter 23

*Zach's POV*

By the time I reach Cora's street, my heart is nearly pounding out of my chest and my breath is coming out in short bursts. My legs feel like jelly and it makes me wonder why I thought it would be a good idea to run all the way here. I hadn't thought of it at the moment, I had just ran and not looked back. I was desperate to get to Cora and my brain must have been lost in the process. I couldn't help but think that this was a stupid idea. She had run away from me before, literally, so why would she stop and listen to me now? As I reach her house, my legs nearly give out and I slam face first down on the pavement. A groan leaves my lips as I feel the microscopic rocks digging into my flesh. I stand to my full height, dusting off my knees, and make my way to the side gate that leads to the backyard. Praying that it was unlocked from the other side, I raise a hand and press it against the gate. To my surprise, it swung open easily. I walk in and trudge through the muddy ground created by the many sprinklers that have been installed over the years. I reach the tree house finally and look up to see the hunk of wood up in the tree. It looks hideous to the naked eye and definitely not safe what so ever, but this was Cora and she loved this thing. It was the last thing that she had done happily as a family. From there on out, everything quickly slid down hill. I remember back to the day that she first told me about this place. She was depressed over her mother and she completely refused to talk to anyone. But of course, with me being me I eventually got her to talk after nearly hours of begging, bribing, and puppy dog eyes. When she finally snapped, I asked what her fondest memory with her mom was and she told me about this place. She looked so alive and happy once she told me about it and she insisted that she bring me here that very second. So with her hand wrapped around my wrist and a determined look in her eyes, she drug me out of my house and into my car, demanding that I drive her home. Once we arrived there, she immediately jumped out of the car and ran into the backyard, her light brown hair flying around in the wind. After sitting in the car for a while thinking of her, I made my way over to where she was standing under the tree. She had a spark in her eyes and looked happier then I had seen in her in quite a while. I remember looking up at the chunk of wood and thinking that there was no way that I was going to set foot in that death trap, but of course, Cora being Cora she got me up into the tree house and went into a full, in depth, story of building this thing. She was so proud of it and even though it was a sight for sore eyes it was the last big thing they did as a family. She loved this place, so I had no doubt in my mind that she would be here. 

I reach out grasp the hanging step-ladder, hoping that after all these years it would still hold me up. Stepping onto the last rung, I hesitate for half a second before I lean my full weight onto it. Thankfully, it does hold me up and I climb up the rest of the way. I crawl through the tiny trap door in the bottom of the house and remain sitting on the floor. Looking around the room, I notice that not much has changed from the time before, except for the small back pack sitting in the corner. I push myself over to the corner and carefully unzip her backpack. Inside, there are a few sets of clothes, the food that was taken from the house, and a pink slip of paper. My eyes widen and I pull the slip out of her bag. Just as I had thought, it was the court slip for her father. She was probably a wreck right now. She nearly lost it when that lady had talked about it. She needed someone to be there for her. She didn't have anyone in her life that even cared if she was alive or dead. Except for me and nothing can ever change that. 

I spot a pad of paper lying by the make shift bed she created and crawl over to it. I scribble a quick note to her and place the paper on her pillow and exit the tree house. 

Hopefully she'll understand. Hopefully, she'll let me in again. 

                                                                                ~~~~~

 * Cora's POV * 

Staring down at the paper in my hands, I feel tears well up in my eyes. It wasn't true. He didn't mean it. Why would he mean it? 

Cora, 

I know that you are going through a tough time right now and I know that you found out about the court date. I feel like absolute shit that you have been going through this whole charade without anyone by your side, so I want you to know that I am on your side. I'll be at the court date and I'll be there for you. You don't have to be alone through this anymore. I'm here and I care. I know I've been a dick and I've fucked up many times, but I hope that we'll get to talk about it soon. But for right now, I just wanted to let you know that you aren't alone. You have me and my mom right by your side. You don't have anything to worry about. I'm glad that you have been doing well and I hope that you will come home soon. We miss you. We love you. 

Until I see you again, 
Zach


He couldn't of meant it. That isn't possible. Why would he want to be there for me? I'm nothing but a worthless mistake. They shouldn't worry about me. How did he even know I would be here? I don't remember telling him of this place.

Laying down on my make shift bed, I clutch the paper to my chest as tears slip down my cheeks. Because even if I believe it or not, someone cares. 

He cares....

                                                                                    ~~~~~~

*Cora's POV ( 2 days later )*

Walking up to the giant house, I check to make sure that everyone is in fact gone and go around the side to back door. Pulling it open, I slip through and head for the stairs. Quietly, I tiptoe up the stairs and over to my old room. I check around just to make sure no one is around and I push my bedroom door open a crack. I peer through the crack, seeing someone on my bed. Being the curious girl that I am, I push the door open even further to get a better look at the person. My eyes widen in surprise at the site in front of me. Sitting at the edge of my bed, with tears streaming down his face, is Zach. His hands are clutching one of the tiny stuffed animals that I left behind. For a second, I stand there and watch him, my body and face hidden by the wall. He looks exhausted and his hair is in a knotted mess on his forehead. Tears freely leak from his eyes and his hands squeeze the life out of the stuffed elephant. I step forward a millimeter, my body aching to spring forward and comfort him. At the same moment, the floorboards under my feet decide to creak, and my heart begins to race as his eyes snap up and meet mine. His eyes widen in surprise and shock. I turn to attempt an escape, but that sends him hurling to the floor. He falls to his knees at my feet and wraps his arms around my thighs, his head rests on my stomach. 

My jaw drops at the action and I stare down in surprise. Silence fills the room, except for his quiet sniffles. Eventually, I raise my hands and place them on the top of his head. Immediately, his breathing stills and his arms tighten around my thighs. I absentmindedly begin to run my fingers through his hair, as he holds me in place. He raises his head and rests his chin on my stomach. I swipe the hair away from his face as he attempts to still his sniffles. The room is silent once again. We are in our own little word, staring into each other's eyes. A couple minutes pass, before I reach back and try to pull his hands away from my body. 

"No! Please don't leave me." he cries, holding onto me for dear life. 

I finally pry his hands from around me and I sink down to the floor. Wrapping our arms around each other, I burrow my face into his neck and whisper, "I won't. Ever again."

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