3 | Flames
(Un)Lost, The Maine
“April, relax, okay?”
Telling a bride to calm down on her wedding day wasn’t the smartest thing to do, but Lizbeth didn’t know what else to say when she saw her close to having a panic attack because the florist said they could be late. Besides, her head hurt and she couldn’t think straight. No sleeping sucked.
“How am I supposed to relax when we have all these last-minute problems?”
“You want me to call Liam?” Lizbeth asked, not knowing what else to do.
“No way! We’re not supposed to see each other until I make it down the aisle.” She was pacing up and down her room, gesturing a lot, wearing nothing but a silky, white nightgown.
“Okay, breathe,” Lizbeth told her, hands on her shoulders to make her stop. “We’ve already taken care of the flowers problem and everything else is going according to plan.”
“I know, but...” She bit her bottom lip.
“You want me to bring you anything to eat or drink?”
“Some water, please?” She sat on her bed, letting out a heavy sigh. “I’ve known him my entire life. Why am I so nervous about this?”
“Well, it’s your wedding day. It’d be strange if you didn’t freak out a little bit.” Lizbeth smiled at her. “Be right back, okay?”
When she reached the bar on the main floor, she asked for a cold bottle of water. In the meantime, Sawyer approached her from behind.
“Hey! How is it going?” he asked, sending shivers down her spine when the warmth of his hand caressed the small of her back.
“Fine, I guess. Though I’ve never seen April so nervous.” She chuckled, trying to focus on something else than his perfectly shaved face and his completely wet and messy hair, a few locks falling over his forehead, or his body so close behind her.
“Yeah, I bet. Your brother is the same, and he’s supposed to be the man. I want to kill him right now.” The sound of his voice was so captivating, she fell in a daze looking at him. He let out a sigh of relief and bent down, smirking. With their faces inches apart, she could almost count the green freckles in his beautiful dark hazel eyes.
“So... See you later?” he asked when the waiter gave Lizbeth the bottle of water.
“S-sure!” she said in a strangled voice. “Bye!”
She ran back to the bride’s room, heart furiously hammering against her chest. That proximity made her weak at her knees, especially when the fresh sandalwood scent invaded her nostrils.
Why the hell does he still have this effect on me?
She shook her head to get rid of those confusing thoughts before entering the bridal suite. The only thing she could allow herself to focus on that day was April and Liam.
The hairdresser and makeup artist were all over her. One was making beautiful curls in her hair while the other one was applying the eye-shadow on her eyelids.
“Here, Hon,” Lizbeth said, handing her the water.
“Thanks! You’re a lifesaver!”
“No problem! Anything else I can do for you?”
“No, thanks. You can go change. They’ll be waiting for you when you come back.” She was referring to the women that were beautifying her.
Nodding, Lizbeth did as April suggested and went back to her room. She walked into the bathroom, undressed, and stepped in the shower, realizing how tense she was when she exhaled, her neck hurting like a bitch. In two days, her emotions were all over the place, an uncontrolled explosion she didn’t expect to feel. She wasn’t used to that anymore, and it was confusing—to say the least.
When she felt new and refreshed, she turned off the tap and exited the shower. She applied some lotion to her skin and checked her email while waiting for it to dry. A few minutes later, she walked to the closet to get her outfit for that special day. It was a beautiful V-neck purple chiffon dress with the back open to the waist. April had picked a pair of nude high heel pumps that matched it. She put everything on and looked at herself in the mirror, her dark caramel hair and her honeyed eyes standing up.
God, girl! You sure have a taste for this.
She walked back to her friend’s room and froze at the door when she saw her. Her face was glowing with a different light, blonde hair beautifully braided falling over the opened back of her mermaid wedding dress.
“You like it?” She beamed.
“Are you kidding? I love it! April you... You’re stunning!” She walked towards her. “Wow! You’re gonna kill my brother on the spot.” She chuckled.
“I hope not!” The bride giggled. “You look beautiful too.”
“That’s because you’re amazing with this kind of stuff.”
“I wouldn’t make any money if I wasn’t!” She laughed. The woman was a fashion designer, owner of a brand and a shop, and she was so damn good at it “Anyway, my mom wants to take some pictures before the wedding, so I’ll be going first. I’ll see you later.”
As April left the room, Lizbeth sat on the stool. The stylists were super-quick with her, combing her wavy hair to the right, letting it naturally fall down. Rose gold, plum smokey eyes, and nude lips were the icing on the cake.
When they were done beautifying her, she went down to look for her brother. Walking among the people already outside, talking and laughing under the warmth of the sun, the wooden platform cracking under her high heels, she finally spotted him. He was so handsome in his dark grey suit; smile impossibly bigger.
“Look at you!” she exclaimed. “I can’t believe you’ve grown so much!” Lizbeth quipped.
“Oh my God! You’re beautiful, Baby girl!” he said as he turned back to look at his sister.
“Are you nervous?”
“Like never in my damn life.” He laughed and looked at the sky. “How’s April?”
“She’s a mess too, but... Wow! You’re going to die when you see her!”
“Can’t wait!” He beamed, shining with glee. “Are you gonna be okay?” he asked out of the blue, his face serious.
“Huh?” She arched an eyebrow.
“I mean... With Nicolas not being here and all that...”
“Liam, it’s your day, so stop thinking about anything else. I already told you I’m fine, okay?” She held his hand and squeezed it between hers. “Focus just on you and April, at least for today, please?” She wanted him to be happy and enjoy his day. They deserved it. “Worrying about everything and everyone all the time will reduce your lifespan in so many years, and I still want to have my annoying brother around for a long time. So, stop it.”
“I’ll try.” He grinned.
“Great.” She hugged him, feeling him tightening his arms around her too. “I’m proud of you.” She sighed.
She was going to say something else, but music started playing in the background. It was a sign for everyone to go to their seats. “Okay! I better get going, I’ll see you later!” She tiptoed and kissed his cheek before following his best men down the platform.
“You’re gonna kill yourself with those shoes. Let me help you,” Sawyer offered as he held a hand out to her.
When did he get here?
“Thanks.” His warmth traveled all the way to her center, causing her stomach to twist deliciously when she glanced at him. He was all dressed up in a black suit that fit him like a glove, hair perfectly trimmed on the sides, the top longer and slicked back. He was imposing.
“What?” he asked.
“Nothing.” She moved her eyes to the ground under her feet.
“You were staring.” The amusement was clear in his voice.
“You look great,” she blurted, connecting their eyes as she did. Heat rising, quickly reaching her cheeks.
He didn’t say anything right away, his Adam’s apple bobbing as he swallowed, gaze heavy on hers. “So do you.” He smiled before walking away to stand beside the other groomsmen.
Maybe it was the late summer atmosphere or the fact that it was her brother’s and one of her best friends’ wedding, but she felt somewhat trapped by the romanticism floating in the air.
As everyone was in their position, music started playing, snapping her back to the real world, the bride started walking to the aisle, everyone watching in awe. She was stunning, beautiful, angel-like. A radiant smile was plastered on her face, eyes watery with overwhelming emotion.
Lizbeth and Sawyer’s eyes found each other again, the intensity sending electric shocks down her back, making her skin tingle. She tried to convince herself that it was because of the music and the breeze caressing her, but deep down she knew there was something else.
With mixed feelings swirling inside of her, Lizbeth broke the eye contact to look at her brother. He was on the verge of tears, overwhelming emotions reflected in the immense smile plastered on his face.
When April reached the altar, Liam held his hand out to her. She was so nervous one could see her entire body trembling, but he, who usually was as dense as a rock, caught the state his future wife was in and tightened the grip on her hand, mouthing I love you while staring deep into her eyes, making April instantly relax.
As the wedding began, the sun started to hide on the horizon, gently changing the shade in the sky to a warmer tone. Lizbeth was in a trance most of the time, thinking about how her life would have been if she was still with Nicolas, how her life could have been if she could have a family of her own.
Her gaze blurred when tears crowded her eyes, chest tightening. She didn’t love him anymore, not how she used to, but the aching was undeniable when she thought about all the dreams they had together. The dog they were planning to adopt, the white fence, and the front porch of that house they had visited a couple of times with the idea of buying it, the barbeque weekends with friends, the trips they wanted to do together... It was all scattered over the floor now, making her feel completely out of place.
“Liz?” April’s voice called.
She had promised to read a few lines during the ceremony, but with that tidal wave flooding her mind, she hadn’t noticed it was the time. Walking to the front until she was facing her brother and his soul mate, she cleared her throat. “So... I found this poem called ′to love is not to possess′ by James Kavanaugh, and I think suits you pretty well.” She smiled at the happy couple. “It goes like this...”
As she read the lines, a gentle wind swirled around them, giving the moment a magical atmosphere. That poem was perfect for them because it talked about how real love can endure anything, how it allows an individual to commit to another and feel free at the same time. Just like them, honest, raw, real.
As they finished swearing eternal love to each other, they had become two silhouettes merging in one with the orange sky, and the sea behind them melted in a colorful universe that belonged only to them. Forever.
The bass sounds pounding hard. People drinking and talking aloud, trying to get their voices over the music. After dancing with her brother, Lizbeth moved to the bar to order another drink, thirsty as if she had been wandering in the Sahara for days.
Everyone was cheerful. Even her parents, who used to behave themselves, were having the time of their lives. As her gaze kept scanning the place, she saw her brother and his wife. They were dancing to a rock n’ roll song, just like in the old movies. Unable to hold the giggle, she shook her head.
Hello, Danny Zuko and Sandy!
“They look delighted,” Sawyer mentioned as he placed himself beside her at the bar, his elbow touching hers, making her tense.
“I know, right?” she said, trying to ignore the shudder that had run down her spine.
They continued staring at them for some minutes, but when the music changed to a slower pace, swaying in the air as snowflakes on a calm winter day, Sawyer broke the silence between them. “Wanna dance?”
“A slow song?” she asked in a mocking tone as she thought he was teasing her—he had always hated dancing.
“You’d like something more upbeat to grind on me or what?” he quipped, lifting an eyebrow as he smirked.
“You didn’t say that!” Her eyes opened wide.
“I did!” He laughed. “C’mon! We’re supposed to have fun tonight, right?” he said, dragging her to the dance floor.
“Fine...” She bit the inside of her cheek to hold the grin in.
Without hesitation, Sawyer placed his hands on her waist, pulling her closer to him, the heat radiating from his body igniting her skin, making her heart furiously pound in her chest. She wasn’t supposed to feel like that. It had barely been five months since she ended things with Nicolas and she was already thinking, more like aching, to get closer to Sawyer again?
Lizbeth clenched her jaw, trying to damp all those sensations as she circled her arms around his neck. It was like stepping towards a cliff when everyone was yelling at you it was dangerous.
“I don’t bite, you know?” he rasped as he pressed their bodies together.
They were so close, she could smell the soft scent of his cologne waving out of him, a fresh and musky fragrance that intoxicated her. Exactly like it did when they were younger.
“Yeah... Sorry.” She was out of words as her mind took a ticket to a crazy rollercoaster of emotions. It had just been a couple of days around him and she was already losing it. After so much time she should be over all those teenage hormonal reactions. Right?
“And here I thought I was the one that didn’t know how to dance.” Sawyer chuckled.
“You’ve changed,” she muttered, avoiding eye contact with him. She was so confused, she didn’t know what to do, her mouth blurting all the shit she was trying to suppress.
“What was that?” He tilted his head to look at her.
“Nothing,” she said, glancing back at him, eyes betraying her as they flicked to his mouth.
His lips seemed so soft she found herself wanting to feel them on her skin once again. She had only been with two guys before him, a few more after until she met Nicolas. But she had never reached the same level of excitement with any of them. Sawyer had something. She loved every kiss, every caress, every conversation, every skin on skin night that they had shared.
Her heart rate quickened, and Lizbeth bit the inside of her cheek to take over her urges. No matter how intense their relationship was in the past, it had almost been a decade since they had been over for a long time. Why was she feeling so edgy around him?
When the song ended and the distance between them grew, she felt as if something was missing, but it was immediately replaced by frustration. Over the years, she had mastered the art of keeping any emotional disturbance inside her head at bay, letting her brain rule her life. She wasn’t used to being so out of control, not anymore.
“Want to go get a drink?” he asked.
“Sure.” She nodded.
After ordering their drinks, they sat on the beige couches around an empty table in the lounge area of the dancing hall. Catching up was awkward at the beginning but, as time passed, she relaxed and fell into a natural conversation with him. It hurt, and it was confusing, but she had to admit it was nice seeing him after such a long time, hearing his voice, seeing how his eyes squinted when he laughed.
“Anyway, what about you?” she asked.
“What?” Sawyer arched an eyebrow.
“You and your life,” she said, half annoyed knowing he was playing with her. “We’ve been talking about me for a while and I’m boring myself. So, what about you?”
“You seem pretty interesting to me.” He shrugged, his gaze never leaving her.
“Come on!” She rolled her eyes, acting as if she didn’t care about what he just said, but the truth was that those words made her entire being tremble with excitement. “I know you finished the EMT course and became a firefighter, but there must be something else!”
Yeah, that man not only had good looks but brains too. He got a degree in Electrical Engineering at Duke’s and later added some extra knowledge to his CV by becoming an emergency medical technician and a firefighter. Sexy, funny, kind, and smart. The whole pack.
“Life hasn’t changed for me in the last few years, to be honest. Same old friends, same old city... Everything’s the same.”
“I can’t believe your life is the same. I bet you have lots of interesting stories to tell. Saving the damsel in distress from a burning building or rescuing a kitten from a tree. You haven’t traveled in all these years? Or did something crazy? You used to do stupid things all the time,” she blabbered. Alcohol sure was taking effect. “And what about girlfriends?”
Someone, shoot me.
“What girlfriends?” he asked, raising an eyebrow.
“Well... I know you and Madison broke up a while ago, but I bet tons of women are over you, like always,” she stated. Even when they opened up about their relationship, chicks kept trying to hit on him—it was annoying.
“Haven’t been in a serious relationship since then.”
“Oh.” She bit her bottom lip. He clearly didn’t want to talk about that.
Seeing him or hearing anything from him hurt her for a long time when he started dating the blonde. That was why after having a fight with her brother nobody had talked about Sawyer in front of her, mentioning him only when it was strictly necessary. But there they were again, both single, talking as if a devastating wildfire had never happened between them.
He bitterly chuckled and then sighed. “It’s fine, no need to pull that face.” He paused for a second to drink from his bee, tittering when he looked at her again. “It happened a long time ago, and I’m more than fine being single. It’s easier.”
“I guess...” she mumbled.
“It’s not that big of a deal. Besides, it’s not like I’ve been lonely all this time.” He wiggled his brows.
“The cocky bastard for you, ladies and gentlemen.” She laughed, putting on a fake mask when her insides writhed at the stinging sensation wrapping around her heart.
After talking to Sawyer and some other friends, catching up with everyone, Lizbeth was drunk enough to loosen up. She joined Bella—April’s little sister—and the other bridesmaids on the dance floor, letting the music embrace her, she went with the flow. The bass notes and beat deafened her ears as her mind traveled to a parallel universe where time slowed down as her dress fluttered around her.
Blurry colors and faces passing by, smiles, giggles, and silly jokes. She let herself get carried away, feeling un-lost after months of being desperate and confused, caged between her dreams and what she was supposed to do.
She didn’t know where she was going now, and after being a control freak her whole life that scared the shit out of her, but made her free at the same time. Plans were useless, one day you were here and the next you weren’t. The universe was beautiful but ironically cruel too, but as long as she was true to herself she would always find her way back.
She didn’t know how much time had passed, but Lizbeth started to feel tired and dizzy. With the numbness invading her body, she hugged the girls with whom she had been dancing and waved goodbye to them, wishing the hangover wasn’t too bad the morning after.
As she was walking out the dancehall, trying not to fall because the world had decided to rotate too fast, Sawyer called her from behind, “where are you going, Liz?”
“What? To my bed, to sleep. Why?” she asked in an inebriated tone.
“Liam asked me to look after you,” he said.
“God! I’m not a baby!” She rolled her eyes and resumed the way back to her room.
“But you’re drunk.” Sawyer chuckled.
“I’m not. Look.” She stopped and stood on one foot while she touched her nose with her left index finger. “See? I’m fine. Go chase some hot bridesmaid.” She waved her hand, trying to shoo him, but right after, her feet stumbled upon her dress. Luckily for her, Sawyer was fast enough and grabbed, stopping her from smashing her face against the floor.
“Thanks,” she muttered, cheeks flushed red with embarrassment.
“I won’t be able to sleep if I let you wander around this place alone like this, so I’ll accompany you. I was going to my room, anyway.”
“Fine...” She rolled her eyes. “Are you gonna do bad things to me?” She giggled, as she circled one of her arms with his, pressing her side to him.
“Not in this state,” he replied.
The rational side inside her mind was telling her to shut up but the emotional, hurt, and drunk one didn’t care at all since that was probably going to be the last time she saw him in another long time. She teased and flirted with him all the way to her bedroom, but he didn’t play along. In fact, he seemed tense.
Such a party pooper.
When they got to her room, she searched for the key in her purse. It took her a while to find it, but that wasn’t as troubling as unlocking the door. She just had to put the damn card in the slot right under the handle but the bitch wouldn’t stop moving.
“Are you gonna be okay by yourself?” Sawyer asked, letting out a soft laugh.
She turned around and her eyes fixed on his—kind of. “You’re gonna take care of me if I say no?” Her body moved ignoring her brain’s commands, stopping inches away from him, hands trailing up his chest as the need of doing something reckless invaded her.
He raised an eyebrow half-amused, half-confused, a mischievous smirk on his lips. “What are you doing?”
“I don’t want to regret anything tomorrow...” she admitted, playing with his tie. She wasn’t sure if she looked sexy or pathetic, but she didn’t care. All she wanted was to feel his breath setting her skin aflame as he went down on her.
“You’re playing with fire...” he said, his voice deep and husky.
“So? Isn’t that your area of expertise?” she whispered, mirroring his lustful gaze.
“If you keep going, you might get burned...” He leaned his forehead against hers.
“Maybe I want to.”
His hands traveled down from her waist to her hips, lighting up a blaze on her body. The night was chill, but the atmosphere had turned into an inferno, so hot Lizbeth felt like melting under his touch.
Time stopped and the world around vanished, leaving nothing but them as they stared at each other, breaths hitching, hearts pounding hard.
And, as if someone had switched off the logical thinking, ignoring whatever consequences that could have, she yanked from his tie, shivering when his lips finally crashed against hers.