"Why are you so upset over this, Leah? What’s really going on?" He lifted her chin with his fingertips, hoping she didn't pull away this time.
"Why are men attracted to girls like that? Is it because they put out without any effort on the guy’s part?” She looked at him through black mascara tears. "Why do you like women like that, Stefen?"
This was a loaded question. Pausing a minute to contemplate his answer, he inhaled a deep breath without removing his eyes from hers. He wanted Leah to really hear what he had to say. "I can’t speak for all guys, but right now, I need a distraction. I’m so tied up with feelings that I don’t understand for someone who won’t have me. I’m losing my freaking mind every damn day. I have to do something, and this is the only way I know how to take my thoughts off of the constant ache I feel, knowing I cannot be with the one I love.”
With wide eyes that were still filled with tears, but now showed sparks of optimism, Leah stood, forcing him to back up a little. "You love someone? You've never said anything. Does she know? Why can’t you be together?”
Looking down at the gravel covered ground under his feet, he admitted. "No, and I'm not going to either." He interlaced their fingers and brought their joined hands up to his chest. His blood pumped vigorously under her touch.
Grasping on even tighter to his hands, she moved in closer. The hope in her eyes was evident. "Why can’t you tell her, Stefen? Maybe she loves you too?" Could she be talking about herself? That was just wishful thinking on his part. Leah wasn’t interested in a relationship right now and knowing that, he wasn’t willing to take the risk he’d been eager to before.
He had to move his eyes away as well as her hand. "Leah, I dug my hole a long time ago and won't be getting out anytime soon." Looking deep into her waiting eyes again, he felt his heart constrict and had to fight the urge to clench onto his chest. Before he could stop it, his admission came tumbling out of his mouth. "I’m simply not the guy for her. We could pretend for a while, but ultimately, I don't have what it takes to be her perfect guy.” He used the phrase she had when they’d first met to express the insecurities he thought he'd already overcame.