Climb

By: Sophie Stern


“What about you, sweetie?” I whisper, not looking up at Sassy, not wanting to meet her gaze just yet.

“You saved me,” she whispers. “You saved me.”





Chapter 3




Sassy





The cops come and go, and Elliott still hasn’t looked at me. Not really. The man he took down is hauled away in an ambulance and I’m blown away by how quickly everything happened.

The “altercation,” as the police called it, was over in a matter of seconds, but only because Elliott was here. If he hadn’t been here, if he hadn’t saved me, I don’t know what would have happened.

By the time everyone leaves, I’m exhausted and worn out and ready for sleep. I canceled all of the clubs evening classes because the police were everywhere, so it’s not like anyone could even get into the club, much less back to the dance rooms. I hate canceling classes and try not to do it, well, ever, but I didn’t have much of a choice tonight.

“Are you okay?” Elliott asks me, breaking the silence between us.

“Yeah,” I manage to say, suddenly feeling very weak and very vulnerable and very scared. Everyone is gone and it’s just the two of us in the lobby. “But I should lock up. Do you still want to hang out?”

Please say you want to hang out.

He was planning to take me to dinner, I think, but honestly, I’m just happy he’s still here. I’m just happy we can chat. I’m just happy we can be together and talk. Even if all we do is sit on my damn couch and watch a bad movie or share stories from the last six months, that’s fine.

It’s all fine.

I just don’t want him to leave.

Not yet.

Not when he just got here.

“Sassy,” his hands are on my shoulders now, but this is different from when he grabbed the guy in the lobby. This is different, sweet, gentle. He’s not touching me like he’s going to throw me out. He’s touching me like he’s going to wrap me up.

Then he does.

He pulls me close and wraps his arms around me in a tight, wonderful, perfect Elliott hug.

And that’s when I finally lose it.

That’s when I’m not okay.

That’s when nothing makes sense, when nothing is fine.

When I’m safely in Elliott’s arms, I completely break down and let all the stress of the day wash over me, and I sob.

“It’s not fair,” I say. I wish I could stop, but I can’t. The words just start tumbling out of me, and I mumble incoherently.

“It’s okay, Sassy.”

“It’s not okay. Nothing is okay. None of this is okay. I was so scared. I was so scared and then you came.”

“That’s right, sweetie. I came.”

“You saved me.”

“I know.”

“What if you hadn’t come?” I whisper. “What if he had hurt me?”

“Baby, we’re not going to think about that.”

“Okay,” I whisper, and I let Elliott hold me a little more. I rest in his arms and he strokes my hair, and then I realize that he called me sweetie and he called me baby and it felt normal and right and not weird at all.

I try to justify it in my head, like maybe he calls all of his friends these names, but that sounds stupid even to me. I know he doesn’t. I know he doesn’t call them all these little pet names.

I know those are just for me.

And then it clicks, and I realize something I had only hoped before. I realize that Elliott has been trying to tell me how he feels, and that he feels exactly the same way I do.

“Elliott?” I ask, looking up at him.

“Sassy?” His voice is a whisper.

“Take me home.”

Elliott doesn’t hesitate. He doesn’t ask permission. He doesn’t play the gentleman. He picks me up in his arms and holds me.

“Yeah,” he whispers. “I’ll take you home.”

Then Elliott looks at me. He really, absolutely, completely looks at me. I thought he wasn’t looking at me before, but maybe that’s a good thing. Now I’m wondering why I ever thought his eyes held anything but lust, but passion. Now I’m wondering why I ever doubted the two of us had some sort of chemistry between us. Now I’m wondering why I ever thought we weren’t perfect for each other.

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