Without You(5)

By: Kelly Elliott

Gunner looked at me and said, “I trusted you, Will.”

My heart dropped.

He pushed his hand through his hair. “Have you…have you both…have things gone far?”

I began shaking my head. “No, sir. I would never do that to Lex—ever. Gunner…Mr. Mathews, um…” I paused and took a deep breath. What in the hell do I call him now? This was twice I’d stumbled over what to say to him. “I would never do anything to make you lose respect for me, sir. I love Lex too much.”

His face softened a bit, and he nodded his head. “I appreciate that, Will. But that doesn’t excuse the fact that you’ve been making out with my daughter in my own goddamn barn for over a year! I ought to kick your ass right here and now.”

“Gunner!” Ellie yelled as she jumped up.

I looked down at the floor. I couldn’t deny it, and I wasn’t about to lie to him.

“Daddy, I’m eighteen years old. You can’t tell me what to do anymore.”

Oh shit.

Gunner glared at me. “Since you seem to be interested in my daughter, cut the Gunner shit. It’s sir or Mr. Mathews.”

“Gunner,” Ellie whispered, “stop being so mean to the boy.”

He turned to Lex. “What happens in two months when you go to the University of Texas and Will goes to A&M?”

Oh hell, it keeps getting worse.

I turned and looked out the window. My father caught my eye, and I pleaded silently for him to come protect me. He laughed and shook his head.


Lex slowly stood up. “I’ve been meaning to talk to you and Mama about that. I’ve decided to go to A&M.”

Gunner laughed and shook his head. “Excuse me?”

“Daddy, I really—”

“No. You’re not going to A&M. You’re going to UT.” He pushed off the counter and began pacing back and forth. “We already have it all set, Alex. Just because Will is going to A&M doesn’t mean you will change your whole life to follow him there.”

Lex sucked in a breath of air. “What? Daddy, I’m not changing my whole life. I know what I want, but you seem hell-bent on making me do what you want.”

“Oh, Alex, honey, tread easy,” Ellie said.

Gunner stopped and pointed his finger at Lex. “Grace is going to UT, and you’re going to UT. If this whole”—he looked at me and pointed his finger—“relationship thing is real, then the two of you can just wait for each other for four years.”

Lex put her hands up to her mouth. I could see the tears in her eyes, and as she dropped her hands, I saw them ball up. I quickly looked outside and saw Grams. She walked into the kitchen and gave me a gentle smile. The way she was looking at me told me she knew exactly how Lex was feeling, and in that instant, I knew what I had to do.

I took a deep breath and stepped in between Lex and Gunner. I turned and looked at Lex. “Lex, don’t do this.”

She looked at me with a confused expression on her face. “What?”

I grabbed her hand and glanced back to Gunner. “Mr. Mathews, I have no doubt in my mind how I feel about Lex. I understand your concern, and if Lex going to UT puts your mind at ease, then that’s what we’ll do.”

Lex dropped my hand. “What? Wait a minute, Will. I thought—”

I turned and placed my hands on the sides of her face. “Lex, I love you. I know our love is strong enough, and I don’t want to start our relationship off like this with your parents. We’ll see each other on weekends, breaks, and during summers, sweetheart. I promise you, it will be okay. I promise.”

The tears forming in her eyes about made me sick.

She slowly shook her head. “I can’t be without you, Will.”

I longed to pull her to me, but if I wanted to live to see another day, I knew better. I used my thumbs to wipe her tears away. “I promise you, Lex, I’ll love you forever.”

She threw herself into my arms and began crying. I wasn’t sure what to do at first, but after one look from Grams, I wrapped my arms around Lex. I looked over at Gunner, but I couldn’t read his face. Ellie wiped a tear away as she walked up to us and took Lex from my arms. She began to walk Lex into the living room, but Lex stopped in front of her father.

She looked at him as she said, “I’ll never forgive you for this—ever.”

As she began walking away, Gunner closed his eyes. When he opened them and looked at me, I could see the hurt in his eyes, and I instantly felt like shit. The last thing I ever wanted to do was make him disappointed in me.

“Will, please go saddle up two horses. Let’s go for a ride.”

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