Run, Girl (If You Can) - Chapter 96 - You Gave Up So Much For Me

[Updated at: 2021-01-11 19:15:17]
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Aaron spent most of the weekend trying to get used to having a cat. Lisa had been right—Dinah was calm, quiet, and typically preferred to do her own thing. She only came up to him wanting attention a couple of times so he pet her the way Keeley demonstrated. She seemed to like it.

The picture of Keeley with a kitten perched on his arm got the honor of being his phone\'s home screen but he set one of Dinah sleeping in a bathroom sink as the lock screen.

He scrolled through his camera roll, noticing that most of the pictures in it were of Dinah after only having her for three days. The pictures would give him something to talk about with Keeley.

Plus the cat did sleep in some fairly amusing positions that were worth capturing. They were more interesting creatures than he originally thought.

Glancing at the clock in his office, he figured Keeley would be done in the lab for the day and working on her dissertation. She would probably like receiving cat pictures about now so he sent her a few of the more interesting ones.

She responded immediately. \'What are these for?\'

Aaron knew Keeley had an offbeat sense of humor so he decided to try and get on her level rather than responding seriously.

Based on the progress they made on Saturday, joking around with her seemed to be the most effective method at becoming her best friend again. She had never seemed so comfortable with him around before in this life.

Slow and steady would win this race. He made the mistake of trying to rush things their senior year of high school; being her friend first was the only way he could win back her heart.

\'Dinah is encouraging you to do well on your dissertation research\'

\'Go ahead and thank her for me\' she replied.

\'I will. How\'s it coming?\'

\'How did you know I was working on my dissertation?\'

\'Lucky guess\'

Keeley didn\'t respond again for about fifteen minutes so Aaron went back to looking over the quarterly stock analysis. It was tedious; he had done this a million times.

\'I\'m gathering sources for the research portion of my proposal\'

She never mentioned what she was trying to research. Aaron realized that she must truly have a passion for genetics after she told him she wanted to get a PhD back in high school.

Keeley had given up that dream in order to be a full-time socialite. What he wanted to know was why she was so passionate about it in the first place.

\'What are you doing your dissertation on?\'

\'My faculty mentor still has to approve it but I want to research whether or not gene therapy is a plausible cure for cystic fibrosis\'

Cystic fibrosis…why did this ring a dim bell? Wasn\'t that a genetic disorder where people had a hard time breathing? Why would Keeley be interested in that specifically?

He wanted to ask but doubted he would get a straight answer out of her. It was amazing she had even responded to his texts up to this point.

A vague memory of a framed picture of a little blonde boy with a nasal cannula flashed through his mind. He had seen it at Keeley\'s house…That boy showed up in other pictures around the Halls\' living room as well, including ones with a much younger Keeley.

Kaleb. Why had she never told him her little brother had cystic fibrosis? Was that how he died? He always assumed his late mother-in-law had died at the same time, perhaps in a car accident, but it was entirely possible that their deaths were separate events.

If Kaleb died because of a genetic disease, Keeley\'s desire to become a geneticist and research a cure would be explained perfectly. Why didn\'t she ever tell him any of this?

When she originally double majored in biochemistry and molecular biology at Boston University he never thought to ask if there was a particular reason behind it.

He majored in economics because his father expected him to. He should have realized other people could be passionate about what they studied in college, especially someone as bright and lively as Keeley.

She probably intended to use her double degree as a stepping stone to get her PhD back then but she never mentioned it to him…did she think he wouldn\'t let her go back to school once they were married? It stung to realize he might not have.

He was far too concerned with how other people would treat her back then. Trying to help her blend in and live peacefully in his world had caused her to lose her spark. Guilt weighed down his heart.

\'Oh, Keeley, you gave up so much for me,\' he thought with a heavy sigh.

He finally responded to her message. \'That\'s a really cool topic. Good luck getting your approval! Dinah and I will be rooting for you\'


Aaron decided to let the conversation end. She was busy—busy living the dream she couldn\'t before as his wife. The dream she abandoned because she wanted to be the perfect Mrs. Hale.

He knew how much her family mattered to her! He cursed himself for not noticing any of this before.

His heart ached. Keeley loved her brother dearly but she chose not to honor his legacy in favor of winning Aaron\'s approval. She had loved him so much and he never truly tried to understand her.

He laid his head on his desk with a thud, overwhelmed with regret. That was how Aiden found him five minutes later after barging in without knocking.

"Boss man! I—whoa, what happened to you?"

Aaron straightened instantly and turned his professional demeanor back on as if a switch had been flipped. "Yes?"

"I just wanted to let you know I found a piece of evidence that might be the first nail in your father\'s coffin but if you\'re busy…"

He folded his hands on the top of his desk, giving off a cold, businesslike aura. "I\'m not. Close the door and tell me what you found."