CHAPTER TEN

Needless to say, I avoided Ty after that. Like a coward, I stopped going to the bakery and I stopped answering my phone or replying to his text messages. It was spineless and rude, but it was easier than facing him.

Lisa's house became my refuge after Ty knocked on my door. After checking through the eye-hole, I curled up on my couch, waiting for him to go away and flinching every time he knocked and called out I know you're in there. Eventually, he gave up the cause and left. After that I stayed at Lisa's as often as possible. I hated myself for it, but Lisa told me that it was for the best.

"You have to let him come to you," she said knowledgeably. "Let him know that he's done something wrong."

Amy and Veronica knew only that Ty and I weren't talking because of something Ty had done. When they expressed concern about the situation, I told them I had it all sorted and that they shouldn't worry. Veronica accepted this without complaint, and Amy eventually – after some scolding from Lisa – let the matter drop as well.

It took Ty two weeks to find me. I was at Lisa's, watching TV and eating her endless supply of ice-cream, when someone knocked on her door. She glanced at me questioningly, and I shrugged. "Maybe it's Amy?"

Lisa stood and walked over to the door. She didn't have an eye-hole, so when she swung the door open we were both shocked to see Ty standing there, half-hidden behind an enormous bouquet of flowers. He looked wordlessly at Lisa then further into the room, where I sat on the couch, ice-cream on my lap.

"T-Ty?" I finally managed to say, incredulous.

Ty's face grew determined. "I hoped I'd find you here."

I stood, putting the ice-cream down so quickly that it tipped over. I scrambled to scoop it back into the bowl, fumbling and making more of a mess in my haste. Lisa moved to my side.

"I'll do it," she muttered to me. "Go, talk to him. He came crawling back like I said he would."

I stood, smoothed down my shirt and went to where Ty stood. He looked resolute but slightly awkward. "Charli I –" he suddenly stopped, looking pointedly over my shoulder. Without looking, I knew Lisa was listening intently.

"Can I talk to you outside, please? Alone?" Ty asked, his face hard as he looked at Lisa. I heard her mutter indignantly and sigh.

I nodded, swallowing. "Sure."

I moved out into the hallway, and Lisa's door swung shut behind me. Ty walked some way from Lisa's doorway and turned to face me again. I cleared my throat as I waited, expectant and nervous.

"These are for you," he started, holding out the flowers. I took them, and buried my nose in the petals. There were deep red roses, and strange flowers with six petals that had red lines down the centre.

"What are they?" I asked, running my finger over the silky petal.

Ty looked bashful. "Asphodels, I think. I…the lady told me to get them." He waved his hand impatiently. "Look, Charli, I'm sorry."

"For?" I wanted to hear him say it.

He ran a hand over his face. "For being so stupid and shutting you out like I did. And for what you saw…"

I lowered the flowers, lest the romantic gesture distract me from my goal. "I don't even know what I saw, Ty. And I don't know what…I mean, I don't get you, sometimes. What the hell happened there?"

There was a moment of silence. I stared at Ty and tried to look like I wasn't freaking terrified of having this conversation, and he looked back and mirrored my expression. Finally, when the silence grew unbearable, Ty ran his hand up his face and through his hair. "My friend from the army stopped by again."

I frowned. "So you destroyed your apartment?" It made no sense.

"No," Ty groaned, sounding exasperated. "I – we had an argument, okay? And I'd had a couple and he just wouldn't leave and then I – I just got angry and I lose my temper sometimes."

"Oh, you lose your temper?" I asked, incredulously. "Your apartment was destroyed. And your dogs? They looked terrified."

For the first time, a flicker of true pain flickered across his face. "I would never do anything to them," he said, angry and defensive and earnest all at once. "And I know. I was an idiot, and I lost my temper and I went a little out of control. But I'm good now. He's gone. My buddy's gone."

"Are you sure?" I asked. "Because if I'm your girlfriend, I really don't want to be caught in the middle of something like that."

"You won't," Ty said forcefully. "That would never happen." He looked me in the eye. "No matter what happens to me personally, Charli, I would never do anything to hurt you or to endanger your life."

His intensity scared me, but in a good way. I felt myself blush, and he smiled. I looked away.

"I believe you," I muttered. "And I guess I accept your apology."

Ty looked happy, but not overly so. He still seemed anxious. "That's not all I came to talk to you about, Charli" he informed me tentatively. "My manager says you took a key to my room?"

I gasped, suddenly remembering. "Oh, my God, I'm so sorry!" I said, my hands over my mouth. "I – it's in my car, I can go get it?"

Ty shook his head, smiling. "No, Charli I … I want you to keep it."

I froze. My hands slid from my face. "W-what?" I asked, shocked.

"I want you to keep the key," Ty repeated. "Not to m-move in or anything but, you know, just to let yourself in and stuff." He paused then ploughed on. "I know this is soon, and all, but I really like you and I think – well, I hope – that you like me too. And, well, you already have the key, so you might as well keep it?" he phrased it like a question, a hopeful, endearing question.

"Ty," I said, and he looked at me attentively. "I can't just accept this straight away. I have to think about it. You're a great guy, and I do really like you, but we've only been going out for two months. And after the first time I went to your place…"

Ty looked crestfallen. "I understand," he said, dejected but not bitter. "But keep the key. The offer stands, if you ever want to accept."

"I… okay," I replied. "Well, I, uh, I've got to...um."

"Would you like to go on a date with me?" Ty suddenly blurted.

I started. "Pardon?"

"To – to make it up to you? A date?" Ty reiterated, looking embarrassed.

I blushed. "Oh, okay. Sure. Where?"

Ty looked uneasy. "At m-my place? No, before you say no, I…" he groaned. "Please just say yes? Please."

His face was so beseeching that I couldn't help but agree. His face immediately broke into a smile, and he quickly scooped me into a hug that knocked the breath out of me. He quickly let go, though, and stepped back.

"I – sorry," he apologised.

I leaned forward, and hugged him around the middle. "Don't be," I told his chest. "I missed you."

A/N: So, are you guys liking it so far? It's a bit slow atm but I promise it picks up very soon. Please read and review! :)