By Gabrielle Aurelius
*note: lyrics from Celine Dion

Chapter 2

It's now the morning after I found Donna in the hallway sobbing.
Kavin is still, I assume, going on with his life with no idea of the danger
that hung over him yesterday.  If Donna hadn't made me promise I wouldn't
make trouble for him, he'd be at home right now short a job and with an ice
pack on his face and his balls in a sling.
He has no idea just how close he came.  Mess with Donna, you mess with me.
Anyway, I called Donna this morning from home.
I was so happy to hear her voice- she didn't sound as fragile as yesterday.
  She had some of her old flair and confidence back.  I was so glad that
jerk hadn't taken that away from her, too.
She said she was feeling better and that she'd be in to work today.
And right before we hung up, she paused a little, and she said something
that grabbed my attention.  "I really care about you, Josh," she said, "and
I need to talk to you when I come in to work.  I have something to ask you."
I swear, my heart went on over-drive at that point.  My hands turned clammy
and cold, and my pulse was racing.  I sincerely thought I was going to get
What exactly had she meant?  The tone she'd used was so...suggestive.
Dare I hope?
I catch myself staring at her empty chair.  I am actually craning my neck
to look out the door and stare at her chair.  And all of this is done
unconsciously- it was so natural that I didn't even know I was doing it.
I can't help but laugh at myself a little.  I am so crazy for Donna.
But really, whatever happens when Donna comes in to talk to me doesn't
matter.  I will still love her.
There was never any doubt about that.
A knock on my open door draws me back into reality.  I almost fall out of
my chair when I realize who it is.
"Hey," Donna says.
"How did you get here?" I splutter.  "I was just looking at...I mean..."  I
am so going to shut up now.  I pick myself off of the floor and climb back
into my chair.
"Good morning to you, too, Josh."  She smiles at me slightly.  I'm happy to
note that the shadows under her eyes have lightened and the pained
expression on her face has abated somewhat.  Kavin's permanent absence
seemed just what she needed.
"Hi.  How you feeling?"
"Okay."  She shuts the door.
"So," I begin, attempting to sound casual.  "What's on your mind?"
Donna walks around the desk until she is beside me.  Instead of having to
look up at her, I decide to stand.
"Josh, I am going to ask you something.  Whether you answer or not is
entirely up to you."
"Okay," I say, beginning to get nervous.
"How do you feel about me?"
I gulp.  That was so direct.  So unlike Donna; so unlike our relationship.
I try to force words out of my mouth, but it seems my treacherous throat has
turned to sandpaper against my will.
"That's okay," she says quietly, and turns to leave.
"No, wait."  I put my hand on her shoulder.  "Please, Donna.  Wait."  She's
facing me now, her deep, compassionate eyes staring into mine.  I think I'm
going to die of bliss before I even get the chance to speak.  But somehow, I
say the words.  "I love you."
Her face undergoes a slight transformation.  The traces of sadness lift,
and she seems to brighten up a bit.  "Would you go out with me, Josh?" she
"I...I..." I stutter like a fool.  Of course I will, my brain is
screaming.  The trick is to get the words past my throat.  "Yes," I say in a
strangled voice.
Donna smiles radiantly at me and kisses the tip of my nose.  "Good.  And,
Merry Christmas, Josh."  She grins and goes back out the door.
I am left standing like a pillar behind my desk, utterly shocked.  "M-merry
Christmas," I stutter too late.
I don't know what to make of what just happened.  Did Donnatella just ask
me out, and did I just say yes?
I am totally confused.
Donna just broke up with Kavin.  By all appearances, she didn't seem to be
doing too well rebounding yesterday.  And only twelve hours had gone by
since then.  And here she was in my office, asking me to be her boyfriend,
and smiling like nothing had happened.
This doesn't make sense.
Somewhere inside, I have a bad feeling about this.  Or, maybe it's just
because I'm nervous.  I usually get nervous whenever I date.  Then again,
I've never felt quite this nervous before.  I'm usually more composed and
less panicked.  I also am not usually in love with the woman, either.
This time, though- this time it's all different.
This time, it's Donna.
And this time, I am in love.


One week has passed since Donna and I have become "a thing."
Already, I'm wondering if this was the wrong thing to do.
Donna seems withdrawn- not only from me, but from everyone else, including
Bonnie and Ginger and Margaret.  She's usually very close with them.  I
don't think they even know that we're going out.
So far, we've had dinner three nights in a row, and we've kissed twice.
Yes, I've been keeping track.
But there's something I should be seeing about our kisses.  Or, more
specifically, the way Donna kisses me.  There's something in the back of my
mind that's trying to tell me something about them, but I just can't quite
get it.
Sure, there's feeling in the way she kisses me; but there's something
And I can't put my finger on it.
Also, sometimes I catch her staring out at nothing, as if she's in a
trance.  When I try to get her attention, she snaps out of it quickly and
flashes me a smile.  As if that would keep me from worrying.
My sleepless nights have, as a result, become even more sleepless, if
that's possible.
Whereas before I used to at least get in a light doze for an hour or two
before I actually have to get up, now I remain wide-awake.  I haven't slept
at all in four days.  And it's beginning to wear on me.  CJ keeps shooting
these concerned looks my way and I think Leo is about one second short of
ordering me home to rest.
Still, I am way more concerned about Donna.  She has this detached look to
her all the time, like she's either about to wander off somewhere or take a
nap.  I don't understand it.
We really need to talk.
I'm just afraid that she won't tell me what's bothering her.
Maybe if I don't confront her about it, she'll deal with it; I'm a little
uncomfortable with prying into her life when she hasn't asked my advice or
help first.  It seems disrespectful somehow.


Two weeks have now passed since we became "a thing."
Donna still has that distracted, vacant look in her eyes.
No matter how much I try to show her I care, she brushes me off.
We kiss a whole lot more now.  I think it's because she believes I'll be
satisfied with that and stop bothering her.  It's slowly breaking my heart;
she thinks that she has to kiss me to keep me out of her life.  What kind of
a sick bribe is that?  That's not what kissing is supposed to be about.  You
only kiss people when you want to tell them how much you care without words;
it's not like a defense mechanism, to be used when you want to shut the
other person out.
I don't know what to do.  I'm going out of my mind.
I haven't slept for a record of eight days now.  I actually got a long nap
in this weekend, but that was only a result of taking sleeping pills.  I'm
more of an insomniac than I was before.  Now, the only way I can get to
sleep- or even a light doze- is to take a lot of sleeping pills.  I wonder
if it's possible to overdose on sleeping pills.  Well, if it is, I'll
probably find out.  It takes a large amount of them to even make me relax at
nights now.
This was not what I wanted for us.
Our relationship was supposed to be beautiful.  It was supposed to give us
comfort and security, and enjoyment; it's not supposed to be how it is now:
strained and dishonest.  Our friendship is even suffering because of it.  We
no longer banter like we used to.  Donna stares at me sometimes like a deer
caught in the headlights.
I don't know what to do; I am so frustrated!!!
Today, when Donna came over to tell me I had a staff meeting, I tried to
ask her what was going on.  Instead of answering me, she put her hands on my
face and kissed me.  When she pulled back, I swear I saw something in her
face that looked like desperation and slight distaste.  Tears sprang to my
eyes, but I held them back staunchly until she turned to go, my question
still unanswered.
After she left, I totally broke down.
This is not a relationship.
I was fooling myself when I believed she actually loved me.
Maybe I mistook her friendship for feelings towards me.
I bury my face in my hands and let the tears flow.
I know what I have to do, even though it will kill me to do it.
But I know that I will because I love her.
Even if she doesn't love me.
I have just one remaining hope- that she will tell me I'm mistaken, and
that she truly does love me.
But I don't dare to hope right now.  The fall would be too hard if I'm
I wipe my face on my sleeves.  I don't want it to look like I was crying.
I run my hands through my hair and take a deep breath.
"Donna," I call, just loud enough to be heard through the door.
A moment later, she opens it and looks at me with her distant eyes.  "Yes?"
"Come inside and shut the door.  I need to talk to you."
Donna has this frightened look on her face.  I don't know what she's scared
of.  The thought that she could be scared of anything I might do or say
nearly brings the tears spilling back again.
As I did two weeks before in this same place, I stand and face Donna.  I
fight the tears, hoping the struggle doesn't show in my eyes.
"Donnatella," I begin quietly.  I choke back a sob.  I'm going to do this.
For Donna.  Then, as much as it hurts, I say it.  "I don't think we're right
for each other."
This look of pure relief washes over her face.  It breaks my heart to find
out that what I suspected was true.  Donna doesn't love me.
"Oh Josh," she says, smiling for the first time in two weeks.  "That's
exactly what I was thinking!  I'm so glad, you lifted such a burden off my
shoulders."  She's practically gushing in her relief.
I feel suddenly sick.  All this time, I'd only been fooling myself.  I feel
like someone just plunged a knife through my heart.  There is one question
that I need to ask, even if the answer will probably be my undoing.  I can't
help it.  I have to know.  "Why did you ask me to go out with you?"
Donna thought for a moment in silence.  Then she spoke, her voice soft, yet
growing in confidence.  "I was getting over my break up with Kavin, and I
thought- were so sweet to me, Josh.  I thought I was beginning
to like you, and that we might have something together."  She cups my face
with her hands; I notice that now there is no discomfort in the way she
touches me.  Not like there was when we were a couple.  "I owe you an
apology.  I was just so emotionally torn that I ran to the one person who
cared about me like a brother and tried to use you to comfort me as a
"You didn't have to, Donna," I say truthfully.  "I would have been there
for you either way."  My eyes hurt; my heart hurts.
"I know."  She looks up at me and a sad smile passes over her face.  "Thank
you, Joshua.  For all the times you've been there for me.  I don't know
where I'd be without you."
I must have winced because she is suddenly wrapping me in a hug.  "I love
you, Josh," she whispers into my ear.  She hugs me tightly and rocks me back
and forth like she would a child.
I am going to lose it any second now; I can feel the tears getting ready to
spill.  This will probably be the last time I will get to hold her.  I
refuse to lose my chance.  I put my arms around her, too, and we stand there
together in my office, the closeness of our bodies natural and easy.  I
force back the tears; it is the hardest thing I've ever done in my life.
When we finally pull away, I hold her at arm's length and merely look at
I see the confidence ready to be reawakened lurking in the back of her
expression; I see her radiant beauty and innocence shining like warming
beacons.  It is then that I know she will never be mine.  The realization
slams into me like a wall of ice water.
I realize how much I don't deserve this woman.
Then for her, I say the hardest thing I've ever had to say in my life.  For
her, I seal my fate.  "We just weren't meant to be."  I watch as the last
fragments of my hope turn to dust and disappear in the wind.
Donna kisses me on the cheek- the chaste brushing of her lips on my skin
from two weeks ago.  "You're a good friend, Josh," she whispers.  Then she
leaves and I am alone again in my office, and in my life.
She will only ever see me as a friend.


        It's been a year since Donna and I broke up.  Not a day goes by that
I don't think about how it might have been; not a day passes that I don't
feel the same pain in my heart that the truth burned into it one year ago.
        We still banter like friends do and go at it in the office, waging
long and furious verbal wars to make our political and esoteric points.  And
it's still all in fun; it's an odd but necessary manifestation of our
        And, I am still very much in love with Donnatella Moss.
        For her, I continue to be the friend who listens to her gripe about
boyfriends and love problems; I'm still the one she turns to when she needs
a shoulder to cry on.  And for that, I'm glad.  At least I can show my love
in some way.
Tell me:  What would you give for the one you love?  What would you be
willing to do?
        As for me, I'm willing to let Donna love whomever makes her happy.
        I want that for her, even if it means that she'll never be mine.
        And even if I have to endure listening as she speaks about her
boyfriends, all the while trying to smother the painful flare of jealousy in
my heart, it's worth it.  I've chosen this path.
This is my gift to her.
Not just for Christmas, but for the rest of my life.


"Wish I could be the one
The one who could give you love
The kind of love you really need.
Oh I could say that I'll be all you need
But that would be a lie.
I'm not the one you're needing
I love you, goodbye.

Leaving someone when you love someone
Is the hardest thing to do
When you love someone as much
As I love you.

Oh I don't want to leave you
Baby it tears me up inside.
But I'll never be the one you're needing
I love you, goodbye.
Baby, it's never going to work out
I love you, goodbye."

The End




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