Kara stopped dead in her tracks.
Her world came to a screeching halt.
She stared at the light from the nearby lamppost as it illuminated the ground beneath it with a white halo.
It felt as though the entire space around her had just turned into a vacuum, completely devoid of sound and breath. All she could feel was the hard thud of her heart in its ribcage, a slow thump that complemented the rush of blood in her ears.
She couldn’t have heard him right.
Abruptly, she turned around, her wide eyes taking in Adam’s tall figure standing a few feet away from her, the torn, fearful expression on his face mirroring her own.
He took a tiny step forward when he saw her turn around.
In response, Kara involuntarily stepped back. She saw the flash of hurt in his eyes before he blinked it away.
“W-what did you say?” She stammered out loud, her mind unable to digest the meaning of those four words that he had just uttered.
Surely, she had heard him wrong. He couldn’t have possibly said that to her.
He just couldn’t.
Adam took a tentative step forward again and her entire body recoiled, the doubt and anticipation forming a knot in her stomach.
She heard the plea in his voice and she stopped, her heart rebelling against her mind.
“What did you just say, Adam?!” Her voice rose slightly, demanding an answer, both hope and fear curling in her belly.
“I said I love you!” He retaliated in kind, throwing his hands up in a gesture of surrender, halfway to her.
Kara froze again, the first hint of shocked pleasure beginning to take root in her being.
He loved her.
“So much,” Adam confessed in a hoarse voice.
They continued staring at each other for a long moment. Kara couldn’t find it in herself to move. She simply couldn’t. Her legs felt weak, her knees threatening to buckle out from beneath her.
She looked away quickly, hoping to see a bench right next to her. She needed to sit down.
That was all it took for Adam to close the distance between them. She couldn’t decide what to do. She couldn’t decide if she should reach out for him, wrap herself around him or take a minute to process his declaration.
He took the choice away from her when he reached out and took her hands in his.
“Kara, I don’t mean to scare you.” He bent low so he could look into her eyes.
When she didn’t answer and just looked back at him, her gaze feasting on his beautiful face, she saw worry creep into his eyes. “Baby, please talk to me.” He sounded on the verge of panic and for some reason, Kara found that funny. Here he was, telling her that he loved her, and he was the one panicking?
She swallowed, “I need to sit down.”
Taking her hands away, she went back to the bench they had occupied a few moments ago and sat, her hands right beside her thighs, her knuckles grasping the wood. She closed her eyes and took a deep breath.
When she opened them again, Adam’s worried face was before her. He was kneeling in front of her, his tall frame still towering over her.
When she looked at him, he gently reached out and cupped her face in his hands.
“Hey, are you alright?”
Kara nodded, feeling as though her world had just tilted on its axis. It would never be the same again.
She would never be the same again.
He didn’t relinquish his hold on her, his forehead slowly resting on hers, his thumb brushing against her cheekbone, leaving a hot trail of warmth behind.
“I’m so sorry, Kara.” He brought his head up and kissed her right between her eyebrows.
Kara felt a relief unlike anything she had ever felt before, and instinctively leaned into his touch. The horrible feeling in her gut disappeared at the feel of his mouth on her skin.
She reached up and locked her fingers around his wrists.
He stiffened immediately. Kara looked up to see the question in his eyes. He thought she was going to push him away.
Adam carefully wiped the remnants of tears from her cheeks, making her sniffle at the tender action.
“Can you forgive me?” He inquired again, his blue eyes gazing at her with an emotion she was too anxious to identify.
Kara nodded, “With time, yes.”
Stark relief flooded his features at once and the pain in his eyes instantly vanished, replaced with joy. Kara expected him to finally kiss her, like she wanted him to. But he surprised her when he suddenly grabbed her by her waist, one hand at the back of her head, lifting her into his arms and standing up at the same time. Adam crushed her to him, hugging her so fiercely, she couldn’t breathe for a second.
He kissed the side of her face, her hair, her neck, her ear, any inch of skin that he could find with her tight against his chest.
She went absolutely pliant in his arms, hugging him back, her heart finally settling in her chest, a peace she had never known before wrapping her in its blissful embrace.
“Thank you,” Adam whispered it over and over again into her ear, his arms bands of steel around her body. It took her a moment to realize that her feet were off the ground and his arms were the only thing holding her up.
She wrapped her arms snugly around his neck, tucking her head into the crook of his shoulder.
He alternated between stroking her hair and kissing it, making Kara smile for the first time since she’d seen him that evening.
He must have felt her move because he gently let her down, holding her close at the same time, moving just a bit away so he could look into her eyes.
Kara still had the smile on her face and she knew he could see her heart in her eyes if he just looked.
It was plain to see that she was just as smitten with him but she held back any confirmation of her feelings. For now.
He reached down again and kissed her forehead. This time reaching lower to kiss both her eyes, making her close them and smile even wider. She couldn’t stop it.
Adam pulled back and then smiled down at her.
“So,” she said, moving to place her arms around his waist.
“So,” he responded, gently tucking her hair behind her ear. Some strands had escaped the hair tie when he had grabbed her tight to him.
“Do you want to see my apartment?” He asked her with a hint of uncertainty.
Kara nodded without hesitation. “Sure, I’d love to.”
Adam smiled sheepishly, “Can you stay over?” He took her hand in his, already leading her toward the path that lead to his place. It was only a few blocks away from where Megan and she lived.
Kara bit her lip from smiling back at him.
“I’ll have to take a raincheck on that.”
Her heart turned over when he gave her a grin and brought her hand to his mouth, kissing the back of it.
“That’s not a no.”
Kara rolled her eyes and looked away, smiling inside.