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I Choose You

Here’s a deleted scene from All That Stands Between Us. This was an alternative way that I had come up with for Julie to make a big gesture and ask Drew to take a leap of faith with her.

In the end, I ended up going a different route because the timing was off and this moment didn’t feel quite big enough. But I still love her brave, rambling confession.

My breath hitched as I forced myself to rap my knuckles on the door, then stepped back, my heart in my throat.

I heard his footsteps approach the door and my stomach clenched with nerves. The door swung open and Drew’s face twitched in surprise.

“I graduated,” I blurted without preamble.

He looked me over for just a moment, obviously surprised to see me, before saying, “I know.”

“And it should have been a good day. And I guess it was, sort of, better than it could have been, but it still wasn’t good good.” 

“Okay.” His voice was quiet and there was a question in it.

“I wanted you to be there. I wanted you to celebrate with me. I wanted to show off for you and have you be proud of me.” My words were coming out halting and heavy because holy cow, I was pretty much confessing my undying love for Drew. “Not the self-righteous martyr kind of proud like my parents, but the real kind of proud.”

“I am proud of you,” he stated with such conviction that I had no doubt of his sincerity.

“But it’s not just that.” I shook my head, frustrated that I couldn’t find the words to encompass everything that roiled within me. “That sounds selfish and self-centered. I also wanted you to be there because you belong there, and I wanted my parents to see that you belong there, in my life.”

His frame slumped and he leaned on the doorframe. “They’re never going to see that, Julie, and you won’t be happy if you choose me over them.”

“I already chose you! I want to fix things with my family and be with you, and if they won’t let me do that then screw them!”

His eyes were sad and proud and glittering all at the same time. “Julie…”

“No, this isn’t some knee-jerk reaction. I’ve spent the past four months having almost no contact with my parents.”

His brow scrunched together. “Why?”

“Because they were awful to you, and they were awful to me, so I packed up all the things that mattered to me and I left just a few hours after everything happened.”

“You did?”

I nodded. “I refuse to let them poison me anymore. And for as much as I love them, as much as they are wonderful and hilarious, I can’t keep ignoring this one thing. This one awful thing that they did, not just to you and your family, but to me.”

“And you haven’t talked to them?” 

I shook my head. “Not at all, up until last week when my mom reached out, wanting to come to my graduation. And I wanted them to be there. Of course I did. They’re my parents, and not talking to them has been hard, really hard. But”—I swallowed down my emotions, though my voice still shook—“but then when I was with them yesterday and today, I didn’t feel any better. Because as much as I want to be around my parents, and have them wrap me in their safe, parental arms and give me nothing but unconditional love—that’s not what happened.” A tear sprang to my eye and dripped down my cheek. “I could hold on to family loyalty, but I’m pretty sure I’d end up as miserable as my parents are, and that’s not something I aspire to. So,” I swiped viciously at the rogue tears that wouldn’t stop. “You can keep being noble and staying away from me, but I’ve decided my parents need some tough love, and that’s not going to change regardless of what you decided. I choose you whether you choose me or not.”

Several interminable seconds ticked by before he reached for me. My heart jolted, thinking he was going to take me in his arms and kiss me senseless. But he didn’t dip his head. He just pulled me into his chest, his strong arms holding me fast. It wasn’t the thing I really wanted, but I sank into it anyway. It was so much more than what I had had for the past four months.

What do you all think? Was I smart to go the direction I did? Let me know in the comments!