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only know you love her when you let her go

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He’s standing two inches from her, and he’s almost hers. Almost.

He touches her and she feels her entire body burst into flames. She’s tried to push him away, she’s pushed and pushed until her strength has failed her. But she can’t forget. She can’t forget the way his touch alights a million fireworks within her. She’s alive. Maybe for the first time ever.

No matter how hard she pushes him away, that feeling is something she can never forget. It’s torched her soul, her body in flames.

His hand brushes a stray hair behind her ear, she can feel his breath on her face. Everything about him sets her alight. She’s on fire.

“Gina,” his voice is just a whisper. They’re close, so close. She thinks she’s dreamed about this exact moment. Maybe. She’s never been a dreamer, never been allowed to think of possibilities. There has only ever been the goal. Maybe Ricky was the goal at one point, she’s unsure. Her entire world has been off balance since he walked into her life. His tongue swipes across his lips, she’s acutely aware of every move he makes, just like she’s always been.

Maybe she was made to watch the way he moves.

He leans in towards her, and she thinks; shouldn’t I be happy? Isn’t this what I’ve always wanted? But all she can think is, Nini, second choice, he doesn’t like me, I’m not worth it, I was never his first option. So she fights against every instinct in her body and moves her face to the right, feeling his lips graze her cheek. Tears pricking her eyes at the touch.

“This isn’t fair Ricky,” her eyes are glassy and she’s trying her hardest not to cry. She won’t cry. Not in front of him. He chose Nini, maybe it’s time they both dealt with that choice. It feels like her entire body has been split in half, but she won’t cry.

He stills, his eyes roaming over her face, confusion evident in his eyes, the small crease in between his eyebrows appearing. She loves that crease. High School Musical rehearsals used to be full of that little eyebrow crease. Maybe it was naive of her to think she was the only person that could get it to go away. But maybe it was his fault for letting her think that way.

They’re frozen. His hands are on her face, cupping her cheeks, his thumb rubbing along her cheekbone almost instinctively. She moves her hands towards him, aware of how much they’re shaking. And against every single nerve in her body, she pushes him away.

“I can’t do this,” her entire body is shaking and she feels like she can’t breathe. This is all she has ever wanted. It’s all she’s ever wanted and she’s finally getting it, but she’s turning it away. “I won’t be your second option. Nini was always first, always. I’m not going to be the person you settle for just because you can’t have her,” she’s trembling, fighting her entire body to fend off the tears. She doesn’t want to cry. She won’t let him know the effect he has on her. She doesn’t want to admit the way she feels about him. But she has to. She’s on fire and her organs are burning and she has to admit how she feels.

She loves him.

She loves him so much. And that’s why she needs to leave him. She won’t be a second choice. Gina Porter has never and will never be a second choice. And she will not change herself to benefit someone else. Even if she does love them.

“You aren’t a second choice Gina,” he trails off, trying to find the words to articulate the way he feels, but all she can feel is red hot rage. She needs to leave. She needs to remove herself from him before she explodes.

“I’m sorry,” she grabs his hand, runs her thumb along his knuckles and lets go. “I just hope you know I love you, and I have loved you for a long time,” she pauses, thinking of the time he played guitar for her, a bittersweet smile crossing her face. “Goodbye Ricky.”

And she walks away, for the last time.