BURNING LOVE

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Discovering him

The next day, Lizbeth had plans with Lauren. They were supposed to go eat and then go shopping, but Lizbeth didn’t want to leave Noah alone since Sawyer left, she was acting a bit strange.

They hadn’t talked much in a few months because Lizbeth chose to distance herself from everyone to put her shit together —not that she was around much anymore though, but after meeting again at the wedding they kind of bonded again.

Lauren was five years older than her, but she was very lively and feisty and most of the time people used to think she was younger.

So when Lizbeth called her to have a girls’ weekend, Lauren dropped everything and ran to her. However, their plans slightly changed when Sawyer had to leave and, instead, to walk around the city, they made some sandwiches and drove to a place Noah could enjoy too.

The dog was very obedient and she didn’t use to get too far away on her own. She was having the day of her life, running around like crazy and smelling everything. She was very excited.

“Ugh! I cannot breathe!” Lauren exclaimed.

“Well, you’re trying to keep up with her...” Lizbeth chuckled.

“You’re taking care of her now. When are you going to take care of her owner?” Her redheaded friend asked out of the blue.

“Lauren Harper Jenkins!” Lizbeth shouted.

“What?” She shrugged with a devilish grin on her face. “You like him, don’t you?”

“So?”

“So? You haven’t seen your face when you talk about him… I bet your folds clap every time you see him. What’s stopping you?”

“God! You’re so blunt!” Lizbeth facepalmed herself.

“Yeah, but I’m right. Ain’t I?”

“Don’t you remember what I told you?” The psychologist looked at her kind of annoyed.

“Yeah, yeah. But still! He invited you yesterday and cooked for you. That’s gotta mean something.” She rolled her pale blue eyes.

“I… This is confusing and he needs me now like a friend. Not like a horny teenager swarming around him,” Lizbeth sternly said. She didn’t lie, but she wasn’t being completely honest either.

“You’re just scared of being hurt.”

“I’m not ready to deal with this kind of thing right now. Besides, I need to focus on my job.”

“You keep using that excuse and you’ll die alone!” Lauren slightly pushed her.

“Maybe that’s what I want!”

“Yeah, right!”

“Anyway, why are you trying to fix my romantic life?”

“Because you were the most adorable couple back in college and when I saw you two at the wedding I saw the sparks around you!” She screamed while running after the dog.

“I don’t know what you’re talking about,” Lizbeth shouted.

“Yeah, right! The way he held you while you were dancing? God! I bet he was dying to take you right there!” Lizbeth couldn’t help it and burst out laughing.

“What?” Lauren asked, a bit lost with the sudden roar of laughter.

“Actually... I haven’t told this to anyone, so please...”

“What is it? Tell.me.right.now!” Her friend pressed.

“When we walked to our rooms... Well... We kinda made out.”

“Kinda?”

“Yeah... I mean, we just kissed and touched each other a little.”

“How much is a little?”

“Lauren, I’m not telling you the details, okay?!” She told her friend as her cheeks began to feel somewhat hot. With the days, her brain started to leak the information of that night and she remembered everything that happened between them. From him squeezing her breast to her unzipping his pants in the veranda.

“Oh my God!” Lauren exclaimed trying to catch her breath. “You’re so naughty!”

“I might be!” Both of them laughed.

Life didn’t feel so horrible when she had friends around to share her thoughts and concerns so openly.

After a while, they stopped and sat on a rock to eat. It was cold but the sun warmed them enough. The views were beautiful and the air smelled like pine, wet grass, and wood. Lizbeth took a deep breath letting it freeze her lungs. It was amazing.

Noah finally stopped going up and down for a moment and sat beside them, but only to stare at their food because when they were done eating, she left running after a squirrel. Lauren and Lizbeth laughed, shaking their heads. She sure had a simple, happy life.

They stayed there for a while. Enjoying the views and doing some small talk, catching up as it had been a while since the last time they spent some time like that.

Being far away from the insane pace of the city life and thinking out loud was definitely a healing sensation.

As the sky started to turn into a shade of orange, they decided to go back home. Feeling the cool wind on her face and listening to nothing but the birds and the crunching of the branches under her feet was fantastic. Connecting with her surroundings made her feel like herself again.

Back in the city, they bought some pizza and headed to Lizbeth’s place. The sensation of someone watching her hit the back of her head when they pulled into the parking lot of the apartments’ complex. She shook her head and followed her friend and the restless dog into the building.

As Lizbeth has her hands full with their food, Lauren grabbed Lizbeth’s keys from her pocket and unlocked the door. And as soon as they stepped into her place, her phone rang. “Can you take these?” Lizbeth asked her friend.

“Yeah, give it to me.” Lauren walked to the kitchen and started getting the glasses and plates out from the cabinets.

“Hey...” His voice sounded tired.

“Hey, you!” Lizbeth leaned on the back of the couch.

“How are you?” he asked.

“Good. You? How’s your mother doing?”

He sighed. “Fine, she just woke up an hour ago.”

“That’s great news!”

“Yeah...” He chuckled.

Lauren was making gestures to ask her what she wanted to drink. “Coke,” Lizbeth said.

“What?”

“Nothing. Lauren was asking me what I wanted to drink,”

“Oh! Sorry for intruding!”

“It’s fine Sawyer, you needed to check on your girl.” She smiled looking at the dog. “Besides, it’s not like we’re doing much right now.”

“Okay.” She could sense his smile at the other end of the phone. “Is Noah behaving herself?”

“Yeah, she’s been the best today. We went to Robious Landing Park.”

“Sounds like fun.” He laughed.

“Yeah, it was. I think we all needed it, right girl?” She said, looking at Noah.

“Good...”

“Sawyer, are you okay?”

“Yeah, just tired... Gotta go. Talk to you later?”

“Sure. Take care. Night, Sawyer.”

“Night, Liz.”

Lizbeth hung up the phone and when she raised her head, she immediately narrowed her eyes at Lauren, who had a smug smirk on her face.

“What?” She asked knowing what her friend was going to say.

“Sawyer... huh?”

“What?”

“Nothing!” She grinned and then wiggled her eyebrows at her. Lizbeth snorted and rolled her eyes, but couldn’t stop the smile that appeared on her face. “I knew it!” Lauren screamed.

“Shut up! The walls here are paper-thin!”

She put a hand on her mouth, but she was still giggling. “God! You gotta be made of stone, Lizzy. Sawyer's a golden bachelor, you know how he functions and you still haven’t jumped on him!” She said as she sat on a chair, a slice of pizza in her hand.

“If you like him so much, take him!” Lizbeth snorted.

“I already have my man... But I have eyes, and Sawyer is pretty handsome, and I think he’s interested in you… He always has.”

“Whatever... ” Lizbeth sighed as she bit on her slice of pizza.

“I really think you have a chance with him...”

“Not something I want to prove right now, to be honest, I’m still trying to process some stuff...”

“What stuff?”

Saying it out loud would make it real and that idea hurt so much. She sighed, not ready to talk about it yet, but tired of carrying that burden around alone. “Do you know how I always wanted to be a mom?”

“Yeah...”

“Well, apparently I’ll have a hard time to become one, if that ever happens.”

“Oh, fuck! Honey, I’m so sorry to hear that...” She grabbed her hand and squeezed it lightly. “What did the doctor say?”

“Well, my ovaries seem to have a problem that affects my uterus in some way, so getting pregnant in the traditional way is more than impossible for me, I would have to go try in-vitro fertilization and still... The chances aren’t high.”

“Shit, Baby...” Her beautiful eyes were fixed on her, filled with concern and sadness, but she didn’t see a trace of pity, which was the reason why she hadn’t told anyone yet.

“That’s why I don’t feel pretty comfortable having a relationship with a man... It’s stupid but I don’t feel like a real woman right now.”

“Hey! Stop it right there! First of all, the doctor hasn’t told you it’s a hundred percent impossible for you to be a mom, and even if you couldn’t, that doesn’t make you less of a woman,” she paused and searched her eyes. “Liz, you’re a wonderful person and professional, any fucking man in this world would be more than glad to have you, you hear me?” She slightly nodded. “And trust me, I’ve known that dumbass for too many years, he isn’t an exception.”

Lizbeth shrugged. Deep down she wanted it to be true because she wanted to at least have the chance to discover if they still had a chance.

“In fact, I’m wondering... You kissed, and you live like two feet away from each other. Has nothing really happened between you two?” Lauren looked at her friend, trying to read her mind.

“Okay! Change of topic!” Lizbeth exclaimed as she got up from her chair. She was tired of talking about him, of going round and round the same thing all the time and not getting to any conclusion. Noah jumped on her seat and looked at her.

“What kind of movie do you wanna watch?!”

“Hmm... I can’t stand horror movies, and I’m not in the mood for a romantic one. A thriller?” Lauren didn’t press any further and went along.

“Okay!”

They opened the couch, which was a sofa-bed, and lay on it with Noah in the middle. And after two movies and some popcorn, they all fell asleep in the living room.

✽ ✽ ✽ ✽ ✽

Spending the whole weekend catching up with Lauren was great, but then Monday came. It was a crazy day because since Lizbeth was taking care of Noah, she couldn’t do as many extra hours as she had been doing the past few months, so she had to squeeze her agenda the best she could.

The dog needed her cuddles and walks, and she was going to be spending the day by herself. She was used to that, but now she was alone and in a house that felt weird to her.

With barely any time to eat that day, she got home starving.

“Hey, girl!” She exclaimed when Noah greeted her frantically wagging her tail. “How have you been?”

She took her shoes off and left them at the entrance. Then she hung her coat on the closet and walked to the kitchen.

When Lizbeth took Noah’s bowl from the floor to fill it with dog food, she sat beside her, looking at her with puppy eyes.

“My God! This is why you get so fat every time you go visit your grandma!” She chuckled.

While Noah was eating, she prepared herself a sandwich. Sitting on one of the chairs in the kitchen, with her feet on the one beside her, her eyes fixed on the street.

Images of Sawyer passed in her head like in a movie. He had the most beautiful and honest smiles she had ever seen. His lips were full and perfectly shaped, they looked so delicious.

She remembered that one time he grabbed her and carried her on his shoulders, as if she was a sack of potatoes. The way his laugh vibrated through all her body was amazing, making her travel to the time when they were something more than friends.

He could be a tease but also serious when he had to. He liked to joke but also talk about interesting things. He was one of the few people she knew that could appreciate the smallest things in life. He was hot and stimulating.

Fucking shit. I’m falling for him... She internally cursed.

Suddenly, Noah whining forced her back to the real world.

“Sorry, girl! I promise I didn’t forget about you!” She said as she got up from the chair.

She went to her room to change her clothes, Noah following behind. When she was ready, she put the dog on the leash, and together they walked out of her apartment.

After thirty minutes of jogging in the park with Noah, she couldn’t breathe.

“My God! I didn’t know I was in such bad shape!” She said out loud. Noah was still running around.

She wanted to walk for another hour, but it started raining and she didn’t have an umbrella.

They ran as fast as Lizbeth could —Noah was obviously faster. When they got inside the building, Noah shook her whole body to get rid of the water. After that her hair was standing up, making her look like a huge puppy. Lizbeth laughed.

As they stepped into her apartment, she took off her sneakers and ran to the bathroom to get Noah’s towel. Drying that dog’s hair shouldn’t have been so hard. She had very short hair, but she was too playful.

Every time Lizbeth tried to grab her a leg to dry it, she tried to bite it. But when it was her head’s turn, she just went crazy. Noah finally managed to bite the towel and started pulling. She loved that game.

She was playing around and growling in a way that anyone that didn’t know her would have thought she was trying to kill Lizbeth.

“This is way more exhausting than the gym! God!” She laughed.

After a while, Noah relaxed and let Lizbeth dry her. Then they sat on the couch.

There was nothing interesting on TV, so Lizbeth decided to text Sawyer. It was getting late and he hadn’t called her yet to check on his dog.

Liz: Hey, you!

He didn’t reply right away. She put one of those romantic comedies that were on TV but didn’t pay any attention to it as she was scrolling down on her social media accounts. Later, she snuggled with the dog on the couch and soon after she dozed off.

“God!” She exclaimed when her phone vibrated under her butt, startling her.

Sawyer: Hi there, Kitten. How’s everything going?

Liz: Everything ok around here. How are you?

Sawyer: Good, my mother just fell asleep. I’m spending the night at the hospital today, that’s why I couldn’t call

Liz: It’s okay

Sawyer: So, how was your day?

Liz: Normal, I guess. But Noah almost killed me =D

Sawyer: Haha, how so?

Liz: First we ran in the park. It rained pretty hard and when we got home she just wanted to play with the towel

Sawyer: Hahaha. Yeah... She’s like that. Who won in the end? :D

Liz: Obviously her! Btw, when are you coming back?

Sawyer: Tomorrow most likely. Why?

Liz: Noah misses you!

Sawyer: If you’re feeding her like my mother does I doubt that

Instead of answering him, she got closer to the dog and took a selfie with her. She held a cookie on the same hand she was holding her phone, so Noah was looking straight at the camera. Then she gave it to her and pressed the send button.

Liz: See? Look at those puppy eyes!

Sawyer: Haha. Nice shot. You two look very cute

Liz: We ARE cute

Sawyer: Well, I’d say you’re more like gorgeous

Her heart skipped a beat when she read his words. She raised an eyebrow while she wrote him back.

Liz: Are you drunk?

Sawyer: No, but I have a good pair of eyes

Liz: What are you playing at? ¬¬

Sawyer: Nothing! I’m just being honest. What? I can’t say that you’re gorgeous when you really are?

Liz: Whatever

Sawyer: Haha. I just pictured you rolling your eyes

Liz: I think we spend too much time together, lol

Sawyer: If I made you smile with that, you may be right ;)

Liz: Ok, skirt chaser. I’m going to bed. Have a good night

Sawyer: LMAO, ok. Sleep tight, Kitten

She smiled looking at the screen when she was already in bed. It was a bit disturbing. He had never talked to her like that.

She left her cell phone on the night table and fell asleep right away.

✽ ✽ ✽ ✽ ✽

After their walk on Tuesday afternoon, Lizbeth and Noah came back home to find Sawyer’s SUV in the parking lot.

“Your dad is here!” She exclaimed looking at her. Noah seemed to understand what she just said and barked. Both of them ran upstairs.

Lizbeth rang the bell and waited for him to open.

An exhausted yet sexy Sawyer appeared behind the door.

“Hey!” He smiled at her. Noah didn’t wait for a second and jumped on him wagging her tail, whining and excitedly barking. Then she ran inside the house.

“Hey! Are you okay?” Lizbeth said as she gently placed a hand on his chest.

“Yeah, just tired,” he said, rubbing the back of his head. He was going to say something else but got interrupted.

“Noah! Look, Adam, it’s Noah!” Lizbeth looked at Sawyer, puzzled. It was the voice of a kid. He just sighed.

A few seconds later Noah ran to them again.

“Daddy, looks! She’s got a toy!” A little girl appeared behind him. She was wearing some super small brown boots, with dark leggings under a cute blue tartan dress. Her brown and curly hair bouncing in every direction.

Sawyer squatted down to be at her same level. “I know! She has her own toys, just like you, baby girl,” he sweetly told her. “Now go back inside and tell Adam to help you change into your pajamas, okay?”

“I’m a big girl! I don’t need help!” The little girl pouted and crossed her arms.

He tickled her and she instantly laughed. The sound of her voice and joy was so sweet.

“Alright... Go back inside. I’ll be there in a sec, okay?”

“Okay!” She hugged him, kissed his cheek and ran with Noah inside again.

Sawyer got up, looking back at the little girl. When he turned back to meet Lizbeth’s eyes, she was staring at him, her mouth open, gaping like a fish.

“Are you catching flies?” He teased her and smirked.

She blinked several times before any word came out of her mouth. She couldn’t believe her eyes.

“Daddy?”

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