I wake up wrapped in his arms when the light shines through a small crack in the curtains. I was worried I might wake up today feeling a little regret for sneaking off with him last night when I should have been hanging out with Rachel, but I can’t seem to find it in me to feel anything other than content—happy even. Last night was wonderful and I wouldn’t take it back for any price.
“Good morning,” his grumbly voice says from behind me, and his arm that is snaked between my breasts cinches tighter, pulling me back even closer to him. He presses a kiss to my shoulder before letting his head fall back onto his pillow.
“Good morning,” I sigh.
“What’s on your agenda today?”
“Nothing until the bachelorette party tonight. I can’t believe tomorrow is the big day. I thought this week would never end.” I laugh softly. His lips are on my skin again and I can feel them smile at my admission.
“No kidding. A whole fucking week to celebrate seems a bit indulgent.” He rolls onto his back and I follow, wiggling around until my head is rested on his arm. “Can I take you to breakfast?”
“That would be awesome. I didn’t really eat much last night since I was so worried about meeting up with Evan.” I reach for the hand of the arm I’m laying on and pull it over my chest. I can’t help feeling safe and happy wrapped up in his warmth.
“I’m trying really hard to mind my own business, but I would really love to hear what you guys had to say to each other. I could see on his face last night things obviously didn’t go the way he wanted.” His lips drift to the top of my head. This feels so familiar. It’s like this is the way it was always supposed to be.
“He’s such an ass.”
Andrew’s chuckle makes me smile. “Tell me something I don’t already know.”
“Ok, he said he still loves me and he will be waiting for me. He offered to call of the wedding. When I told him I wasn’t going back to him, he told me he would always be waiting. Basically, when I was ready to love him again, he would leave her. I can’t believe I ever trusted him.” That was the hardest part. I had trusted him. When he broke up with me it rocked that security, but when he started dating Rachel it made me doubt all of his feelings for me and even our history. He’ll never know how much it scarred me.
“What?” I ask when I feel his head shaking.
“Sometimes I have no idea who he is anymore,” he answers.
I know that feeling very well. “Well, I guess it doesn’t matter. I told him I was here for Rachel and that I would never be stepping back into his life.”
“Are you going to tell Rachel about it?” His arm around me tightens with his words.
“She wouldn’t believe me. I love Rachel, but she’s always been in some one-sided competition with me. I want to believe she fell for Evan because that’s what her heart truly wanted more than anything, but I’ve also wondered if it had anything to do with trying to be better than me. If I told her what he said, I would lose her friendship and she would have a little seed of doubt in her about their relationship and I know how horribly tight that sprouted seed can wrap it’s roots around your heart and head. I’ve been there.”
He kisses my head again letting out a big sigh when his lips leave my head. “She’ll figure it out soon enough. You don’t owe her anything. If she can’t see him for who he is then maybe she’ll live in a wonderful marriage built on blissful ignorance.”
I can’t help but laugh a little at his view of their future marriage.
“Yes it is, but it’s also true. Some people filter out the information they don’t want to accept. Even when it’s been right in front of their face the whole time, they just choose not to acknowledge it.” His words make me wonder if he is speaking from experience.
“Well,” I say, rolling towards him and letting my arm drape across his stomach, “I don’t ever want to be that person. Let’s stop talking about this depressing topic and go get breakfast. I’m starving.”
I quickly gather up my outfit from last night and decide to just borrow a towel to wrap around my body when I do my walk of shame across the hall. When I know the coast is clear I run across, quickly unlocking the door and jumping inside completely undetected by the other guests. This fling has really made the week exciting. I thought I’d be spending most of it in my room sulking, but instead I feel exhilarated.
I shower and blow dry my hair and then put on just a touch of make-up since I know tonight I will be wearing more than usual for the party. My face needs a little rest from all the humidity and pore clogging make-up. I slip on a loose fitting cotton skirt that falls to the top of my knees and a thin tank top that also hangs loosely giving it a very comfy, summery look. I finish it all of with my delicately beaded sandals. I grab my phone to send Andrew a text.
Me: I’m ready.
Andrew: Do you want to meet outside the lobby so no one will see us? I’d hate for the girls to give you hell tonight at the party.
Me: Good idea. I’ll see you in a few minutes.
I hear his door across the hall open and then click closed before his footsteps fall onto the thick carpet outside our rooms. My stomach tightens with the anticipation of spending more time with him. I never thought I wouldn’t want this week to end, but now I’m sad to know I only have two more days with him. Then what? He lives here and my life is in California.
When I’m sure it’s clear, I step out of my room and make my way down to the lobby. The big glass doors slide open after my short elevator ride and the wave of humidity hits me again, almost sucking the breath right out of me. It’s just another reminder of how much more I love my life in California. I wonder if he’s ever been. Turning, my heart rushes into a sprint as my eyes find him sitting on the small wall outside the hotel.
His smile is bright and mischievous as he lets his eyes roam down my body, effectively heating up every inch of my skin even though he’s nowhere near me. I should fix that. Taking a few steps, I stand in front of him and look down on his perfect face. I love that he didn’t shave this morning and his jaw is lightly shaded with stubble. His hands reach out and rest on the back of my legs, pulling me closer so I’m sandwiched between his thighs.
“Ready, sweetheart?” I can only nod my head at his words because my brain is firing off signals to every inch of my skin. It’s as if the heat of his palms has crawled up my body.
Once in his car, he leaves the beach area and drives us along the highway back in the area of my parent’s house. We take the exit three ramps before my hometown and my curiosity starts to grow as he weaves us through a small residential area. The lawns are all green and the houses are stunningly beautiful. He pulls into the driveway of a large two-story home and reaches for a button on his visor. The garage begins to open, revealing a street bike and a few large toolboxes.
We park inside the garage and the large door begins to close behind us. Clearly this is his place. “What happened to breakfast?” I joke as he opens the door that leads from the garage to the house.
“This is my favorite breakfast spot.” He winks at me and slides his hand into mine, guiding me inside and down a long hallway. The house is amazing. It’s all dark wood and grey tones, which fit him perfectly. It’s very clean and I wonder if he has roommates of maybe a maid, but the house is completely quiet.
“Do you have roommates?” I ask when he stops us in the large kitchen that proudly boasts a Viking stove.
“No. This is all mine. I don’t really enjoy the frat boy life style.”
I laugh and move towards the counter to run my hand along the beautiful granite counter top. He walks up behind me and rests his hands on my waist, kissing my bare shoulder before spinning me around to face him.
“Your house is really nice.” My voice sounds breathy and I tip my head to the side when his lips find their way to my neck. I close my eyes and take in the sensation, loving the way it fuels the fire that’s burning inside me. Too soon, his lips leave my neck and he puts some space between us.
“Thank you. I feel like it’s missing something though.” He looks around the room and shrugs before smiling back at me. “Stay right here. I’ll make us some food.” His hands grip me tighter as he lifts me onto the counter.
“I can help,” I offer, but secretly hope he doesn’t take me up on it. He’s already digging around for his pots and pans and I’m enjoying the view of his muscles flexing and pulling his shirt tight across his back.
“No. Sit there and tell me all about California.” His voice echoes out of the cabinet he’s searching in.
“Have you ever been?”
“Actually, I’m there all the time.” He looks back at me over his shoulder and winks. “My firm has an office there. Sometimes I’m stuck there a few months out of the year.”
My head spins with this news and I wonder if we have ever come close to our paths crossing. “I um, I thought about looking you up a few times actually,” he admits. He turns around and leans back against the counter. I’m a little speechless. “I wasn’t sure if you would be happy about that so I never could work up enough courage to do it.”
That warms my heart so deeply I feel the tears stinging the back of my eyes. I always thought everyone had forgotten about me. It felt so cold and lonely to leave my hometown and start over somewhere new. I would’ve loved for him to find me and come for a visit, just someone familiar and friendly. “I would’ve loved that,” I say. He smiles again and looks down to the floor. “You should have found the courage.”
His eyes meet mine again but his smile is gone. He shakes his head a little. “Even if I had found the courage, I wouldn’t have trusted myself.” I feel my brows pull together in question as he continues. “I’ve been in love with you since we were teenagers. I always thought it was just a crush, but I know now how wrong I was. You stole my heart that first time you walked through the door with Evan. I haven’t found a woman that compares to you since then. I guess I was afraid I wouldn’t be able to just be friends with you and you wouldn’t be interested in anything more.” I can see the weight of his words still between us.
He takes a minute to look out the kitchen window as I sit just staring at him, unsure of what I should say. Then his eyes meet mine again, “I’ve waited a long time to make sure you were ready. I wanted to give you time to get over what he did to you. I know being his best friend would have made me an enemy just by association. Every time I thought about reaching out, I would get this sickening thought that contact from me might make you hurt and I couldn’t do that to you.”
I can feel my heart swelling in my chest and I can’t help but fall in love with him as he shares this with me. All that time I thought I was forgotten. And all that time he was thinking about me. Not just because my break-up with Evan was the gossip of the week, but also because he truly cared about me. I feel a tear slip down my check and his face flashes with worry as he makes his way across the kitchen.
I close my eyes when his thumb swipes it from my cheek and then his hands hold my head and tip my face up to his. “I’m sorry,” he whispers. I try to shake my head and laugh.
“These are happy tears,” I manage as a few more escape. His smile is warm and inviting as he pulls me closer and kisses me tenderly.
“Does this mean I have a chance?” He asks in between our lips meeting each other’s. I nod my head and wrap my arms around him.
“You should be warned that Evan and Rachel really did a number on me. I haven’t dated in four years because I don’t trust anyone. I know it isn’t healthy and I promise I’ll work on that, but please don’t hurt me like he did. I just don’t know if I could ever survive that again. I need to know I can trust you with my heart.”
He is already nodding. “You can trust me.”
“I didn’t just lose Evan. I almost lost Rachel. I didn’t really care about the friends I lost, but I hated they all knew about it before me. I don’t want to live through that again. I need to know you’ll always be honest with me. No secrets. I can’t be in a relationship with someone who would be OK with keeping me in the dark.” I look into his eyes and watch as something passes through them. He blinks a few times and the pause he’s taking makes my stomach drop with worry. Does he know something else?
“You have to trust me that I’ll only ever do what’s best for you above anyone else. You put your trust into a kid that never put you first. I’m asking you to put your trust in a man that would never be happy unless you were.” With his words, the last little wall I had worked so hard to build up around my heart crumbles and I can almost feel the sensation of floating as my heart falls completely for Andrew.