45 | Letting Go and I Love You
After our little moment a few minutes ago that I know I’m going to savor for the rest of my life, I found myself sitting back on the truck bed with Axel opposite me, looking at me expectantly, waiting for me to say something. Although he hasn’t spoken more than that one word in a while, letting me do the talking, after all it was my idea to have this ‘talk’, I can feel his patience running thin.
I take a deep breath and bring my knees closer to my chest, resting my head on it. “I broke up with Sean.” I finally say.
“Did you know?” He asks, raising his eyebrows. Then he nods. “Well, it was a long time coming. But congrats, I guess?”
I scowl and hit him with my foot. “Asswipe.” I mutter under my breath. He cocks a brow but doesn’t say anything.
“After I visited you last, I took time in analyzing everything that happened, everything I did and no reasoning could justify my actions. I’ve been hating myself for a long time because of that, Axel.” I say, meeting his eyes. He has to know I’m sincere here. “And the only conclusion that I came to was a well needed and deserved closure. I needed to close the past, incomplete chapters with a proper goodbye.”
“About time you realized that.” He comments, cutting me off.
I scowl but pretend to ignore him. “So I first texted Veronica to meet me. We talked through things. She told me how and when it happened and we both apologized for whatever wrong we did to each other. It was emotional but I did end it right then, making sure she knew I don’t hold anymore grudges, that I forgave her not for her sake but for my sanity. And I gave away the last thing that I owed her. It was hers anyway.” I say, shrugging it off nonchalantly but he gives me a mocking look, knowing how hard it was for me, completing the most important chapter of my life and closing, turning the page forever.
He also seems curious about what I gave Veronica back but doesn’t question it, giving me space to continue.
I sigh and brush my hair out of my face, looking away. “I made up with Tracy, let her have the friend she always deserved to have. I’ve been a bad friend to her for too long, dragging her along with me through everything and never once did she complain. Even Maggie. So I had to make it right with both of them.”
“I saw the pictures.” He says, referring to the pictures of our trip on my Instagram.
“It came later.” I smile at the memories I made in the last two weeks. “But before that, I met up with Sean too. Told him how much on an ass he was, among other things. He didn’t have anything to say and now that I think about it, I did most of the talking.” I turn to Axel with wide disbelieving eyes. “Do you know, he didn’t even realize that we never broke up until I pointed it out. That bitch.”
I turn away from Axel. “And then he was thanking me for breaking up with him, I mean, who does that? But I’m glad it ended better than I thought. And surprisingly, it wasn’t even that hard as it was with Veronica. I was even questioning myself after getting home that night if I really ever loved him. But then, the truth is, that I did. I did love him. He’s just a different person now and things are so different. He’s not the same person I fell in love with when I was younger and even if he was, I don’t think it would have worked out for us in a long run. I don’t even know why I tortured myself with his thoughts all those months.” I huff and blow over my face to rid of the strand of hair that has fallen over my eyes.
When I’m met with silence, I turn around to see if Axel was listening or did he doze of. When our eyes meet, he bursts out laughing and I have a feeling that he has been controlling this laugh for a long while.
“You’re so cute when you’re angry and ranting off about your ex.” He says between fist of laughter.
“I’m not angry!” I defend.
He sobers up, still laughing lightly. “Yeah, you’re not. You’re frustrated.” I scowl and turn away from him, not acknowledging his statement. He chuckles and shifts closer to me. “Aww, did I offend Miss Scowls?” He teases.
Involuntarily, a smile slips on my face, no matter how hard I try to hide it. “Miss Scowls, huh? Well, learned from my guru, Mr. Scowls here.”
Axel completely sobers but there’s still an amused smile on his face. “I bet he’s a good teacher.”
“He is.” I nod. “The best.” It is me who breaks off our intense staring contest, it was getting too hot anyway.
“So yeah, after closing chapter Veronica and chapter Sean, I opened chapter Tracy, Maggie and Leah : Best Friends Forever. The trip was a getaway more than an escape from everything. We weren’t escaping reality, we were just taking a break from it come come back prepared for whatever comes our way. It was also a make things right with myself trip.” I tell him.
He nods, taking in my reasoning. “I guess that helped.”
“It did.” I nod. “And after all that, there was this last person left who I had to make things right with. The one who deserves it the most. And it’s not just to say sorry, which I’m completely sincere about, by the way, but something else too, which again, I’m sincere about.”
I meet his eyes, this sudden confidence oozing from me. And even if it feels like he’s staring back hard just to make me back away and look away, I don’t. “What is it?”
Suddenly, I’m nervous. My jean jacket feels sticky on my skin and I’m sweating? Oh what the-
“Leah?” Axel shakes me. “You’re sweating.”
I laugh nervously, distancing myself from him. “Yeah, it suddenly got hot up here.” I mumble stupidly.
“Thanks.” He smirks cockily making me scowl. “So, you were saying......?”
“Huh? Yeah.” I stutter stupidly. Where the fuck did my confidence go now? “I was saying something, wasn’t I?”
He purses his lips stop stop himself from laughing and nods slowly. “You were.”
“I think I forgot about it.” I let out a nervous sputter of laugh. “I think we should get bac home, I’ll let you know about it when I remember.” I say and jump from the back of the truck and start making my way towards the passenger seat.
Axel jumps behind me. “Leah.” He calls my name in a soft whisper, grabbing me by elbow and backing up at the truck’s side, closing the distance between us. I am breathing heavily and so is he and I can barely stand on my own legs. I’m so thankful for the support the truck and it’s owner’s one hand on my waist is providing me. His other hand is on the truck, trapping me between himself and his vehicle.
“What is it?” He whispers huskily, loud enough for my ear and silent enough to not disturb the tranquility of our surroundings.
“I love you.” I blurt out, whispering the words and tasting their truth on my tongue, no preamble at all.
Axel takes in a sharp breath and I close my eyes, not wanting to see the rejection in his eyes. I hear him sigh and lean down his head, touching both our foreheads. “Leah.” He whispers my name in a tone I can’t quite comprehend but it makes my insides turn in a bittersweet way. I like the feeling he gives me but I’m afraid I won’t last.
I gulp loudly. “I know, Axel.”
“Do you really?” He asks, his hot breath fanning my face.
“Yeah. So don’t worry about it. I just had to let you know, let it out there. And just know that I’m telling the truth. You might not believe me but I’m sincere here. And you don’t have to say anything to me. I know that I don’t deserve - ”
My self rejection rant is cut off by him when his lips come crashing down on mine and I didn’t realize how badly scared I was until I tasted him on my lips. As his lips mold into mine, moving slowly and softly, I sigh out in relief, raising my arms and wrapping it around his neck, pulling him closer.
Axel’s arm around my waist tightens and the other one comes to rest on my cheek, caressing my skin as if making love to it. He bites my lower lip, running his tongue along over it to sooth the sweet ache and I open my mouth willingly, eager to taste him more.
His taste is still familiar, mint and coffee but it feels like the first time I’m kissing him. At least, it’s the first time when I’m real about my feelings. As his tongue explores my mouth, I relish in the feeling, savoring every moment of it. Even though he’s kissing me, I’m scared that I’m still in for a rejection and the saddest part is, that even if he rejects me after kissing me like he loves me back, I might still not hate him.
I don’t realize that I’m crying until he pulls away and frowns. “Berry, why are you crying?” He asks in a panic laced voice. “Oh God, did I do something wrong? I shouldn’t have kissed you, should I? I just messed up, shit, baby, don’t cry, please -”
I cut him off by wrapping my arms around his waist, hiding my face in his chest as I sob.
“Leah? What’s wrong?” He asks softly, his one hand wrapped around my lower back and the other behind my head.
“It just that-” I sob and hiccup. “It’s just that I love you so much and it feels so perfect with you. And you just kissed me, making me feel that you might love me back too. But if you don’t and if you tell me that you don’t love me and that we can’t be together, I have no idea what would I do.”
Axel chuckles slightly, pulling me closer and sighs. “And why do you think that I’d do that?”
I pull back and look up at him, face stained with tears. “Because I’m a bad person. And I hurt you when you didn’t deserve it.”
He shakes his head, chuckling to himself and pulls be back in his embrace. “You’re not a bad person, Leah. And you were hurting too.”
“But that still doesn’t justify what I did.” I argue.
“It doesn’t.” He sighs. “But it doesn’t mean that you’re a bad person, Berry. We all make mistakes, there are tons of bad decisions in everyone’s life, but you know what matters? That you own up to it. And I know that you regretted it the next moment it happened.”
“I don’t regret kissing you.” I protest almost immediately. “I just regret the way I did. I would have liked it in a little more cliche romantic setting but that’s beside the point.” He chuckles and hugs me tighter.
“So you don’t hate me?” I ask, my voice hopeful and fresh tears ready to come out if he smashes my hope to ground.
He sighs and rests his head on top of mine, slowly mumbling, “I can never hate you. I don’t know if it’s stupid or not but I don’t really care. I’d gladly be foolish with you.”
My heart soars at his words and now I’m crying because he’s just so sweet. I just wrap my arms tighter around his waist, too afraid to let go. Can he be real or just a figment of my imagination I’m holding onto to keep myself away from reality?
“But it doesn’t mean I wasn’t hurt.” He adds.
“I know.” I mumble into his chest, tightening my arms around him, afraid he’ll pull away.
“And I’m scared too.” He continues.
“I know.” I swallow a gulp of saliva to wet my dry throat. “But I really love you, I’m not lying.”
“I know.” He copies me. “And I really love you, too.”
“Axel, I promise, I’ll -” I start to somehow convince him but then his words register. I pull away and look at him with wide teary eyes. “Wait, what?”
He grins, but it’s hesitant. “I love you, Berry. I think I have for a long time. I just didn’t know what to do or what it was. And when we kissed on Valentine’s Day, it was as if everything fell into place and I could see the picture clearly. I knew I was in love with you and right there, with you in my arms, I knew that was where I belonged, that was where I was supposed to be. And even if it wasn’t, I still be there, by your side.”
“But I ruined it.” My quivers when I say that. “But that’s exactly how I felt too.”
He smiles sadly looking down at me. “Sometimes, things don’t go as we want them to, baby. That’s yet another mysterious thing about this universe of ours. They don’t line up the stars like we want to, but however they do, even it is scattered all over the sky, it still looks a thousand times better than we can picture. Hell, it is a thousand times better than what we could have planned.”
“Do you think we’ll be a thousand times better than what we planned?” I ask, my voice laced with hope.
“I hope so.” He smiles. “And even if it isn’t, we’ll work it our and make thinks right, right?” I nod eagerly, liking the sound of it and he chuckles. “But we’ll take it slow this time, yeah? I have a feeling we fell too fast, too hard.”
“Uh hmm.” I say, agreeing. “Baby steps?”
He nods, a small, real smile lighting up his whole face. “Baby steps.”
I look down, smiling shyly and tucking my hair behind my ear. “So, are you my boyfriend now?”
He smirks and tilts his head in a cocky way. “I don’t know, am I?”
I scowl and hit his chest, walking back towards the edge of the cliff, liking how the lights down there looks like stars on the ground from up here, now that the sky is dark. Axel comes up behind me, wrapping his arms around my waist, making me smile. “Axel?”
“Hmm.” He hums, a content sigh leaving his chest.
“Will you be mine?” I ask.
“I wouldn’t have it any other way.” His lips twitch and he plants a kiss on the side on my head. “I love you.”
“I love you.” I repeat without missing a beat. I grin and tilt my head to look at him and he grins back before leaning down and capturing my lips with his.
And this moment, right here, it’s perfect.