Chapter 30: Libby
Eyes open, he’s not there.
Not what I want to see after a night like yesterday’s.
Utterly disgruntled, I roll myself out of bed and slip some of Liam’s clothes on he has lying around his room. Once fully clothed, I go for the first place I think he’ll be: Jere’s balcony.
I’m not surprised to see him leaning on the rails as I slide open the glass door, but I am surprised with the look on his face after I close it behind me.
“Are you o-” but he kisses me before I can get the question out.
Not that I mind - this passion of his is what makes my heart go erratic and my mind go numb. When we automatically deepen the kiss, his morning breath tastes way better than it’s smelled mornings before. The minty taste that lingered on his lips from brushing his teeth last night and the smoky breath of probably an early-morning cigarette.
“Something’s wrong,” I say, immediately pulling away from him. He looks at me for one heartbeat then finds the wall behind me much more appealing to look at. Ouch. “Liam.”
“Why do you think something’s wrong?” he asks, his voice monotone and casual as he tries to pull a smile to his lips. He looks away from the wall, but doesn’t dare look me in the eye.
“Do you want me to list these thing out loud?” When he doesn’t reply, I grow stiff. Something’s really wrong. “The cigarette, Liam. The kissing - like it’s gonna be our last one or something. Your... your need to look anywhere but at me.” As I say the last thing, I take my free hand and cup the side of his face.
It takes him a second, but he finally looks at me. Immediately I want him to look away again - I can’t bear to see him look like this. This... miserable. “Liam,” I whisper, rubbing my thumb back and forth on his cheek, trying to sooth not just him, but me too. “What happened?”
That’s when he tells me the thing that will change our lives forever. “Your dad called.”
He says this with no emotion in his voice, but all the anger and pain in his eyes are blinding. I can only imagine what my face looks like when he tells me this news. “I’m sorry?”
“Your dad called,” he repeats simply, like it’s just a fact that doesn’t mean much. To Hell it does!
“What. The. F-”
“Libby, it’s fine,” he sighs, shaking his head and trying (but sadly failing) to make a smile reach his lips. “He didn’t say much anyways.”
“I don’t believe you.” Why is he lying?
He doesn’t deny this statement, but instead steps away from me and goes back to the balcony’s railing. “What do you want to know?”
Is he going insane? “Everything! Liam, it’s my dad for crying out loud, what did he say?” He stays silent for a while, and to say it’s maddening would be an understatement. “Li-”
“I didn’t know it was him at first - just the bank or a salesman. I wouldn’t have picked up the phone if I knew who was on the other end of the line.”
He doesn’t look at me while he mutters these words, and his voice is like it’s defeated and ashamed. I step over to him and carefully loop my arm with his and look out at the city before us. It’s beautiful. But why is life so hard?
“I could tell he was trying to get me to surrender. He was playing mind games, Lib... I almost fell for them.”
I stared at him, watching every movement and spark on his face. He turns to me and looks me deep into my eyes, almost caught in some kind of trance. “What is it?” I ask him, my voice small because of all the horrors I can see in his blue eyes.
He’s seen so many tragedies, so many disasters for his young age. He may be twenty and he may be a father, but he still has the heart of a fourteen year old who never had the chance to have a childhood.
“You heard me last night, right?” he asks, searching my face like he’s trying to find my answer for himself. I nod and watch as he physically relaxes a bit. “I would never, ever betray you. You’ve changed my world too much for something as stupid as that phone call to make me forget that.”
I reach up to his cheek in time to catch a fallen tear. He’s breaking. “I know, Liam. You don’t have to convince me.”
He leans forward, but instead of kissing me, he engulfs me in his arms. He’s hugging me as if trying to fill the hole that’s digging inside him. He’s torn... but with what, I don’t know. And I don’t think now is the right time to ask.
“Just never let me go,” I think he whispers, but it’s carried away with the wind and I can’t be sure. But just in case, I say the one thing I know that can answer any questions he’s having: “I love you. Everything will be okay.”
He shakes his head, his chin grazing the top of my head. “How can you be so sure?”
I purse my lips. “I’m not. But I know that as long as your hand is mine, I’ll be okay. I just wish it was the same for you.”
He steps away from our embrace and looks down at me curiously. “Are you questioning my love for you?”
I reply with a small shrug, and he just shakes his head and wraps his arms around me once more. “Silly Libby,” he murmurs, and a smile begins to tug at my lips. “I knew I loved you before I even met you.”
Stepping away only briefly, my hands find their way to the back of his neck and I meet his lips with mine. Only when I taste salt do I realize that he’s crying. Breaking away, I tug his head closer to mine and rest my forehead on his. “Forget the past, Liam,” I whisper, kissing both of his eyelids that refuse to stay open. “Stay with me here.”
I watch as he folds his lips inside his mouth, as if having an internal conflict. If only he knew how much I wish I could patch up his wounds.
And that’s good enough for me.