She turns around and shoves her hands in her pockets, raising an eyebrow at him.
He closes the distance between them and holds out his hand, as if he’s asking her for something. She stares blankly at his calloused fingers and blinks up at him. “What?”
He makes a sound somewhere between a sigh and a chuckle, then suddenly he’s taking her hand, and then her fingers are wrapped around his umbrella handle. He gets sodden quick, and Lily thinks his hair looks ridiculous in the rain.
“I don’t need—”
“I’m sorry, Lily.”
Somehow, she believes him. It sounded like he’s been meaning to say it for a long time. She believes him—but she doesn’t think she accepts it. She doesn’t think she can yet.
“I know it’s long due,” he continues, “but I didn’t think you’d open anything from me over the summer. ‘Sides, just a letter wouldn’t have covered it.” He rubs the back of his neck and shifts his weight. “You’ve been avoiding me since we got back, and I just… I wanted to let you know. I’m sorry.”
She shrugs. “Okay.”
He stares at her, the pained expression on his face poorly disguised by the grimace she reckons was aimed at the rivulets of water drenching his glasses. He licks his lips briefly before diving into speech again. “I’m not apologizing for hating him,” he explains defiantly. “But I’m sorry you got caught up. I didn’t mean to… I didn’t think it would play out like that.”
She doesn’t say anything. She feels the anger threatening to lace whatever would find its way tumbling out of her mouth, but at this point she’s not even sure if it’s directed at him anymore.
“I know you must find it hard to believe, but I’m—” he struggles, but she cuts him off.
“You’ve always been the smoothest liar, James.”
He is taken aback for a second, silenced. “No,” he answers, clearly and firmly. “Not with you.”
She looks away.
“Be careful on your way back,” he mutters, and then he’s gone.