2 | Ashes
The promise, Andy Black
“H-Hello, Sawyer! How are you?” she stuttered, making his grin grow bigger, until she got up to properly greet him. As she got up from the stool and stretched her dress down her legs, his throat tightened, the lump spreading towards the pit of his stomach, and maybe even further down.
Her hair was shorter than she used to wear it when they were younger, but that mid-length hairstyle highlighted her beautiful oval face, stunning cat-like eyes shining even in the dark like amber stones. However, what shocked him the most was the energy seeping through her pores. Her usual sexy but careless gestures were still there, but the aura around her was more feminine, sensual. She demanded attention, almost commanded it as every inch of her was screaming at him to make her his.
It had been eight years, eight fucking years, since they had been together, but at that moment it felt barely like a day, everything rushing back when they hugged.
“Good. What about you?” He showed her his million-dollar smile. “It’s been quite some time!” He tried to cover his surprise, acting as if nothing had happened inside his pants—his body reacting just by seeing her was very inconvenient. But at least she seemed as uneasy as he was.
“Yeah... Six years?” She chuckled. “I’m fine, a bit overwhelmed with the wedding and all that but good.”
“Yeah, it’s been a while... What are you doing here alone, by the way?” he asked, leaning on the bar, scanning her.
“Feeling a bit antisocial, I guess.” She shrugged, avoiding eye contact with him. “Want anything to drink?”
“You haven’t changed at all.” Sawyer tittered. “And a beer, thank you.”
She called the waiter so he could order his beer. The man immediately opened a fridge they had under the counter and placed it in front of him over a coaster.
“Thanks!” Sawyer told him.
Silence settled between Lizbeth and him for a few seconds, and unlike with most people, with her, it felt right. Until his big mouth opened up again. “It’s a shame that you’re hiding here in the shadows...” She looked at him, raising an eyebrow. “Come on! Look at you!” He laughed as he blatantly eyed her up and down.
“Did he put drugs in that?” she asked, pointing at his beer bottle.
“I don’t think so.” He chuckled. “But I mean it, you’re beautiful.” He stared at her.
Okay, this wasn’t the plan, you twat, but whatever.
“Thanks... You don’t look so bad yourself.” She smiled, adding fuel to his fire.
Fuck my life!
“So I’ve been told,” he quipped, faking arrogance as he smirked. “Anyway, where’s that super boyfriend of yours?” He glanced around. “I’ve heard a lot about him but never got the chance to meet him.” He needed something, anything to extinguish the fire running through his veins at that moment, a cold beer obviously wasn’t enough. How could he still feel so fucking excited for having her around after so many years?
Her gaze turned oddly dull. “We broke up.”
Sadness and exhaustion shadowed her features. A kick in the balls would have hurt less. It hadn’t been a good week for him at work, and the last thing he needed was to make other people’s lives miserable, especially hers.
“Shit, Liz! Sorry, I had no idea.”
“It’s fine... It happened a few months ago and asked Liam not to keep it a secret because I didn’t want people asking or pitying me today.” Her face twisted on a scowl.
“I get it...” A part of him liked the news—what even—but the other hated seeing her like that, she looked truly sad. “Well, you’ve always been an independent and strong woman. You’ll get over it soon enough.” He tried to reassure her, giving her hand a light squeeze.
“Thanks.” Her eyes watered a little as she gave him a small smile.
“Sure.” He smiled at her. “And I know we haven’t talked in ages, but if you need anything...”
The last time he had heard her voice was the last year, when one of his sisters died in a car accident—and before that, he didn’t even remember. He knew she had been struggling with their break-up, that it still hurt her for a while, that after he started dating Madison she had even fought with Liam because she didn’t want to hear anything from him ever again—the douchebag told him everything one night they got drunk as fuck. However, she went out of her way and called him when she learned of Beth passing away. Lizbeth had always had that kind of warm and big heart.
“Thank you, Sawyer. I appreciate it.” She returned his smile and his heart skipped a beat.
She was so fucking gorgeous. No matter how much time passed, there was a part of him that would always long for her. But his life was a mess and she had enough on her plate. It was better if they kept it casual and easy.
He was about to say something else, but Liam interrupted him. “Sawyer!”
“Thank God! I finally have some free time!” He said, his hand on Sawyer’s shoulder.
“You bet!” Liam rolled his eyes. “Liz, do you mind if I steal him from you?”
“No, take him, but don’t do anything weird.”
“Thanks!” he said as he dragged Sawyer with him.
“So, how are you doing?” Liam asked as they walked into a quieter place.
“I’m fine.” Sawyer narrowed his eyes at him, not understanding why he was asking him that all of a sudden. “I’m having a deja vu. We just had this conversation ten minutes ago at the entrance.” He arched an eyebrow.
“I’ve been so focused on the wedding that I’ve barely had any time to check on you lately.”
“You know I’m not a kid, right? I don’t need you to check on me every damn week. It’s annoying!” Sawyer chuckled.
“I know but still... After everything that happened...”
“Liam, it’s fine. We’re all fine.”
“How are your parents?” He insisted.
Sawyer sighed. “They’re tough ones.”
“I can’t even imagine how they must feel... If you need anything, you know we’re here for you, right?”
“Yeah.” He smiled at his friend. “How are you doing? Nervous about the wedding and the honeymoon?” He teased. Liam could be the worst when it came to organizing big events and traveling, getting so anxious he would throw up or even pass out.
“I’m fine, I guess. April’s got the medicines to calm me down or knock me out for a long time.” He laughed.
“She knows you so well, huh?” he said before taking a sip from his beer.
“Hell, yeah. Maybe a bit too much.” He grinned.
“Yeah, to the point where you’re even disgusting,” Sawyer quipped.
“Well, you’ll tell me when you find the right one,” Liam stated.
“Yeah, right.” He laughed with bitterness.
“You know that there are more women in the world than Madison, right?”
Sawyer flinched when he heard her name. “I know, but after seeing a six years relationship shatter like that...” He sighed, rubbing the back of his neck. It had been a year and something since they had broken up, closer to two maybe. Whatever. And he wouldn’t go back to her, didn’t even miss her anymore, but it still stung. Betrayals are never easy to digest. “Stop looking at me with pity, dude. I’m fine being single, I kinda miss having time for myself. Besides, my life is too complicated to think about getting in a serious relationship anyway.”
“You still love her?”
He didn’t answer right away. They had broken up a long ago and he wouldn’t go back to her—didn’t even miss her—but he still thought about her from time to time.
Even though they fought from time to time because he hadn’t asked her to marry him yet, they had planned a life together. But maybe he was just unconsciously sabotaging everything because deep down he knew she wasn’t the one. Who cared anymore. “I don’t think so.”
“You don’t know?”
“I’m not in love with her.” He almost chewed the words. Why did everyone think that being single meant he wasn’t over her? “It sometimes feels weird not having her around, but that’s all. I thought we were gonna be forever and we weren’t, and then everything else happened...” He frowned. He wouldn’t change anything in his life, except maybe bringing his sister back. It had been indeed complicated and weird since Beth died. “How do you do it?”
“Do what?” Liam questioned as if he didn’t know what he was talking about.
“Turn the conversation around so we end up talking about me?” He raised an eyebrow as his lips curled in a crooked smile.
“April’s a great teacher. Besides, it’s fucking hard to make you talk.”
Sawyer chuckled. “Okay... For your information, my family is okay and I’m doing fine, alright? Life couldn’t be better right now, so stop being a pain in my ass.”
“Fair enough.” Liam laughed. He looked so full of life, so happy, Sawyer felt at ease.
The people he loved were doing fine, and that was all that mattered to him.
The after-dinner was brief. Talking with everyone, as if time hadn’t passed, felt nice. Dylan and Lauren’s kids were so big—he swore they had grown an inch since summer. Aaron was married and expecting twins, James was still single and the rest haven’t changed that much since the last time he saw them.
When everyone started going back to their rooms, to get ready for the big day, Sawyer walked Lizbeth to her room, which was the one beside his. Fate was playing a dangerous game with them.
“I loved what you said back there,” she said, talking about his speech during dinner, breaking the silence surrounding them as she was playing with the strings of her purse.
“I didn’t know you could be so cheesy.” She wiggled her eyebrows as she grinned, teasing him. ”Both of you are amazing people, but together you’re like a perfect being that grows stronger every day..." she repeated his words in a mocking tone.
He laughed. “What did you want me to say? That he’s a jerk and April should run away?”
“That would have been more realistic, yeah... But falling in love has turned you all romantic, soft, and cheesy.” She mischievously grinned.
Sawyer grimaced. She was the first one he had ever loved, but he let her go so easily she probably thought it was all empty words.
After sneaking around together for months because she was a friend’s ex-girlfriend and Liam’s little sister, after fighting them over her when they found out, their fling turned into a romance that lasted for almost two years. It was the most intense relationship he had ever had, she made her feel things he had never felt before.
He loved the crazy sex everywhere, the endless talks at night, or simply holding hands when they went out on dates... He would have lived in an eternal loop for that. But when she said she was moving to San Francisco to go to Stanford, his feelings got of hand and he decided to put an end to their relationship.
She chuckled as she opened her door, snapping him back to the present, turning her face to him to add another silly joke. But when he leaned forward, approaching his face to hers, taking her by surprise, she slightly blushed.
“You have no idea what you’re talking about...” He smirked. Seeing the effect he still had on her had exhumed emotions from the deep he thought were long forgotten.
“Good night, Sawyer.” She smiled, shaking her head as she entered her room, eyes lingering on him longer than needed.
“Good night, Liz.”