I roll over in bed and see that Dane is already up. I check the time and see that it’s just after nine a.m. Dane and I were out late last night. He took me out to a fabulous dinner and then we went to a nightclub dancing. It was so much fun. The cab dropped us off well after two in the morning so I told Dane to just stay at my place. We’ve been seeing each other since June, and I have to say that it’s been pretty great. He’s been really patient and understanding with me. We still haven’t slept together, I’m just not ready to take that step with him yet, but I might be getting closer. Last night it only got so far as some heavy petting.
He’s come a long way since the guy he was High School. He acknowledged that he made a lot of mistakes when it came to me when we were just teenagers, and I told him that I always knew there was a good guy underneath it all. I have to say, I like that guy and I’m glad that I finally decided to give him a chance. After having my heart shattered, it’s nice to feel like I could have happiness with someone again. I just never thought in a million years that it could be Dane Phillips of all people. Desiree is still unsure about my fledging relationship with Dane though, but she did say that she was happy that I seemed happy again, and she even acknowledged that Dane seemed different for the better now.
After I take a quick shower and get dressed, I wander out to my living room slash kitchen and find Dane at the stove. I smell bacon.
“Good morning beautiful,” Dane says with an easy smile when he sees me.
“Good morning. What do you got going on there?” I ask, peeking around him.
“Well, we have some bacon. I know it’s bad for you, but damn it’s good, and french toast.”
Dane fills two plates and brings them over to my tiny little table that just barely fits two, along with some syrup.
“Last night was fun,” he says with a mischievous grin.
I blush slightly, thinking about what he’s obviously referring to. Our make out session was pretty hot and it was the farthest I’ve let him go thus far.
“Yeah, that club was great,” I reply, ignoring what he was actually referring to. He laughs and shakes his head in amusement.
“Sure, sure. Well, we’ll have to do that again real soon,” he says, sliding his hand over and squeezing my knee gently.
I just nod and fill my mouth with a far too big piece of french toast. That’s when I hear a knock on my door. Dane and I both look towards my door in confusion.
“Expecting somebody?” he asks.
“Nope,” I stand up and head towards the door, “well I did order something on Amazon last week so maybe it’s that,” I say just as I reach the door and open it wide.
My heart feels like it just dropped to my knees. It’s not the delivery guy. Standing there before me, is Conrad Riley.
“Conrad?” I choke, my voice barely a whisper.
“Sydney,” he says, his voice like sweet, sweet honey.
“What…what are you…what?” I stammer, and look nervously back at Dane who is now standing from his place at the table, and looking a mixture of angry and nervous.
When I look back at Conrad, he has spotted Dane and also looks quite unhappy.
“I had to see you,” Conrad answers my unfinished question, “I couldn’t stay away anymore.”
“Well, you should have,” I hear Dane say as he comes up behind me.
“She’s moved on,” Dane adds, putting a hand on the small of my back. I don’t know why, but I feel myself move away from Dane’s touch.
“Sydney?” Dane says with a frown, “right?”
“Umm…” I don’t want to speak. I look at Conrad again, and I can see him scrutinizing Dane and I.
“No, no way,” Dane turns a glare to Conrad, “You don’t get to just come back here now. You don’t get to come back and pick up where you left off. Sydney is with me now, the way it should have been before you came along and broke her heart.”
Dane reiterates his point by jabbing a finger into Conrad’s chest, causing him to stumble back slightly, but I think it’s more from shock than actual force.
“I just need to talk to you Sydney, please,” Conrad pleads, pretty much ignoring Dane.
I look between Conrad and Dane, unsure of what to do. I know what my gut reaction is to do, but I don’t know if it’s the right thing to do. I want nothing more than to hear what Conrad wants to say, but at the same time I wonder, why now? I’m seeing Dane now, and it’d be unfair of me to send Dane away to talk to Conrad. Conrad broke me and I’m just finally putting the pieces back together now.
“I’m sorry. I can’t,” I say to Conrad, forcing the words out.
It hurts my heart more than I should let it. The expression on his face is what my heart is feeling. Conrad’s eyes drop to the floor and he just nods.
“I understand,” he murmurs.
“I’m so sorry,” i say again.
“What are you apologising for?” Dane mutters, “he doesn’t deserve your apologies Sydney, you deserve his.”
“You don’t think I know that?” Conrad replies to Dane, meeting his angry gaze.
“I’m glad you know it, but it doesn’t even matter anymore,” Dane spits, “she’s moved on and so should you.”
With that, Dane slams the door in Conrad’s face, while I look on in astonishment.
“What the hell did you do that for?” I blurt, anger bubbling inside me.
Dane starts to pace away from me, then stops and turns to look at me.
“What did I do that for? Sydney, that guy broke your heart and he doesn’t deserve anymore of your time. I can’t go through this again either. Please, please don’t let him come between us now, we’ve got a good thing going on here.”
“I know but…”
“But what? What more is there? Here’s a question, how the hell does he know where you live?”
I hadn’t even thought about that. How does Conrad know where I live?
“I have no idea.”
Dane snorts with contempt and shakes his head again.
“Fucker probably did some digging. Who knows how long he’s been keeping tabs on you. And he just decides to pop in now? What, did he sense that you might actually be happy with somebody else and decide that now would be a good time to come back and fuck it all up?” Dane’s voice starts to rise and I can tell he’s becoming increasingly agitated.
“Dane, just calm down okay? Please?”
Dane takes a deep breath and closes his eyes for a few moments. When he opens his eyes again, he already seems calmer.
“I’m sorry Syd. That guy just brings back bad memories for me. I just don’t want to be cast aside again.”
Dane walks quickly towards me and places his hands on either side of my face before kissing me, hard. The kiss feels good, but now I’m acutely aware that something is off, and I think i know why that is, but I can’t let Dane know that.
“I have to get going,” Dane murmurs, pulling away slightly, “I hate to go right now, especially now, but I have class tomorrow and I’ve got a lot of studying to do tonight. Just please promise me you won’t see him.”
I find that I can’t say the words to promise him, so I just nod.
“Okay,” Dane says and kisses my forehead.
I watch him as he gathers his belongings and leaves.
Not even two minutes go by before I hear my cell phone buzz. My heart rate picks up when I open the new message.
*I just seen him leave. Can we talk now?
Before my mind can catch up to my heart, my fingers are already typing out a reply.
I was sitting in my rental car just outside of her apartment, trying to convince myself to just go when I seen Dane leave. I can’t believe it, Sydney is with that guy? I don’t know if I am surprised, or if this is expected. No, I’m surprised. I thought he was out of the picture long, long time ago, but apparently I was wrong. I suppose if it wasn’t him it was going to be somebody, but him? No, I can’t do it. I can’t just step aside and let him have her. I pull out my phone and send her a text, hoping it’s still the same number. Almost immediately, I get her reply. One simple word, and it’s all I need. I’m out of my car and back up those stairs as fast as my legs will carry me. I only need to knock once before the door swings open. I soak her in. She looks the same but different. Where a girl once stood, is a woman, but she’s still my Sydney, and if possible even more beautiful than I remember. Her eyes roam up and down my body like she can’t believe I’m standing before her.
“Hi,” I breathe.
“Hi,” she whispers.
Then I see her eyes go glassy and tears start to fall from her big blue eyes. My heart constricts and like a reflex, I step forward and pull her against me, burying my face in her hair. She smells like home.
After a beat, I feel her arms wrap around my waist and hear her sniffling. I step us further into her apartment and close the door behind us with my foot. We stand there just holding each other for what feels like a long time, but at the same time not long enough before she pulls away first. She turns away and goes over to her couch and sits down, and I follow her and sit down next to her. I want to touch her again but decide not to push my luck. She wipes stray tears off of her cheeks with her sleeve and looks at me, he still doesn’t say anything, so I decide to.
“I’ve missed you so much Sydney,” I tell her, “every single fucking day.”
She casts her eye down to her lap.
“Then why’d you stay away from me?” she whispers.
“Because I thought I was doing the right thing.”
“I went through hell after you left,” she says, still not meeting my eyes, “the pain isn’t as bad anymore, but it’s still there.”
“Don’t Syd me!” she says, louder now and she finally looks at me, “I was fucking miserable for years after you left! You destroyed me Conrad, and I’m just finally getting back to normal and here you are all of a sudden and I don’t know what to think or how to feel and I’m scared shitless about what this means because I miss you like crazy but I’m scared you’re going to break my heart again. Why are you here? What does this mean?”
“I’m miserable without you,” I offer lamely, because there is so much more than that, “I’m still in love with you and I had to see if my leaving was for a good reason or not.”
“Well in my opinion, it was not for good reason. My life didn’t get better without you in it, in fact it was pretty bleak. How could you do that to me? After all we went through to be together, and all your promises that you wouldn’t get scared and run, you did just that. You confirmed every single fear I had about us being together.”
“I know that and…” I try, but she cuts me off again.
“And now what? What’s changed for you Conrad? Why now, why today? Why are you here?”
“I couldn’t keep going on the way I was, pretending to be okay when I wasn’t. Leaving you was the biggest mistake I’ve ever made Sydney, and I’ll do anything to make it up to you. I’ll do anything…” I reach out for her hand, and she doesn’t pull away much to my surprise, “I love you, I still love you and that has never changed.”
Sydney looks down at her hand in mine and then up into my eyes, searching.
“I’m with Dane now,” she whispers, but it’s a weak excuse.
“Do you love him?”
“No,” she answers quickly, too quickly but that’s in my favour.
“And me?” I ask, hopeful.
“Conrad…” she closes her eyes, “I don’t want to answer that question.”
“Because it’s not fair. It’s not fair for you to just come back, and expect us to just pick up where we left off, like Dane said.”
“I don’t expect anything from you Sydney. I guess I just hoped that you still loved me too and that maybe you could forgive me someday for betraying your trust in me.”
“Conrad, I do love you still,” she says softly, “I shouldn’t say that, but it’s the truth. But you broke my heart and I can’t just forget that. You did betray my trust in you. You told me over and over to never doubt you, to never doubt us, and when I finally accepted that you would never leave me, you did exactly that. How do I trust that you won’t do that to me again?”
“If you let me back in, I vow to never leave ever again. I shouldn’t have done it once, I’m not stupid enough to do it ever again. I only did it thinking that you would be better off without me, and now that I know that wasn’t the case, I know what I did was the most senseless waste of time, when we could have just been together this whole time instead of being miserable. I couldn’t stay away anymore, wondering what if? I had to know if I still had a shot or if I should finally move on because I still haven’t. Have you?”
“I…I don’t know Conrad.”
“Please Syd, just give me another chance,” I plead, “please don’t tell me I’ve lost you.”
I watch as her eyes fill with tears again, and before I can say another word, she surges forward, wrapping her arms around my neck and kissing me. The force of her attack causes me to fall back into the couch but I don’t miss a beat, kissing her back with enthusiasm.
“I fucking love you so much,” I murmur between kisses.
“I fucking love you too,” she responds, her hands finding their way into my hair.
Oh god how I’ve missed the feeling of her hands in my hair. Then her hands are pushing on my jacket. I shrug out of it before her hands have already started pulling on my shirt. Holy shit, is this happening? I let her pull my shirt over my head and her lips are on mine again. I kiss her like my life depends on it, but I let her lead this, keeping my hands on either side of her head as I kiss her, scared to break the spell by making the wrong move. Her hands caress my stomach, and move down the waistband of my jeans.
“Sydney,” I say her name like it’s a prayer.
“Make love to me Conrad,” she gasps.
“Are you sure?”
“Yes and no but mostly yes. Please.”
I don’t need anymore convincing. I grab her by the waist and pick her up. She wraps her legs around my waist and I carry her to her bedroom. I set her down next to her bed and she whips off her shirt and chucks it across the room. Making quick work of the rest of our clothes, I can’t believe this is actually happening right now. I never thought in a million years that this is what would happen. I’m desperate for her, and it seems she is for me too. I want her so much it hurts.
“I haven’t been with anybody since you,” I say as I lay her down on her bed.
“Really? Me neither,” she responds with a smile.
I can’t help the relief that floods through me. She’s still mine and only mine. My Sydney. If Dane thinks he’s ever going to touch her again, he’s highly mistaken. Sorry Dane, but Conrad Riley is back and ready to take back what’s his, and he’s never letting go.