Crossroads

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Chapter 19

Mia

“It’s astounding, really, how the weight of this day instantly washes away as soon as I touch him, how the compelling chemistry between us creates a potion that simply obliterates any trace of anxiety in my soul.”

PAST

I’m glad I took the motorcycle today. The rush of riding down the roads, of feeling the wind smash against my body with every mile I pass sends me on a high I so desperately crave right now.

It gives me a new sense of life, the adrenaline coursing through my veins drowns my mind in serenity. I need this like I need the air to breathe right now. Because this day emotionally exhausted me in every way imaginable. And as much as I love my family, as much as I enjoyed the time pops and I spent with grandma and my mom, right now I only want to get home.

I just want to feel Link’s arms around me, want him to hold me so tight that I feel his body more than my own.

And so I can’t help but rush up the stairs after I park my motorcycle in the garage, quickly waving hello to George who just shoots me a kind smile while I take two stairs at a time. The scent of basil and tomato lingers in the air when I reach the apartment door, and I can’t help but furrow my brows as I turn my key in the lock.

“Link?” I call out when I close the door behind me while slipping out of my shoes and jacket, the delicious smell only getting stronger when I walk down the hallway. But I stop dead in my tracks when my eyes properly take in my surroundings, my mouth hanging open in shock.

“What the hell...”

There are dozens and dozens of candles lit all around the apartment, the whole space glows in soothing golden light. I notice the living room looks freakishly clean, the books that were scattered around the room are now neatly organized in the bookshelf that I too rarely use, and the pictures of my family I printed a few weeks ago are now framed and hanging all over the walls of my apartment. I’m bad at interior decorating, and I’m also not the most organized person in my own home, so I’ve never actually gotten around to decorate.

“You’re home early...” Link’s voice makes me spin around, and I find him leaning against the kitchen doorframe, a dish towel effortlessly thrown over his shoulder. He looks formidably good today. It even looks like there’s something different about him, there’s this glimmer in his eyes, this animalistic aura surrounding him gives off an almost dangerous vibe.

“I uh...” he clears his throat before scratching the back of his head, “I wanted to be done before you got here...”

And I can’t help but stare at him. All sanity has fled my mind apparently because I am utterly unable to make sense of this situation.

“What is this?” I finally manage to ask, knowing that my brain needs a jumpstart if I want to get somewhere, today.

“Can you...” Link looks almost nervous when he grabs the towel from his shoulder before he continues, “Can you wait in the living room? I’ll come and join you in a minute...”

I nod my head, maybe it’ll give me enough time to actually understand what is going on. “Sure.”

There’s a shy smile on his lips before he turns around and walks back into the kitchen, and I spin around as well, taking a deep breath as I plop down on the armchair.

I take in the room, the candles illuminating it create a warm and light atmosphere, and I can’t help but wonder. Why?

Did I forget anything? Is today a special day, somehow? If yes, then I have no idea what it could be about.

I hear clattering in the kitchen which makes me turn around, just to see Link, now wearing one of the button-up shirts I bought him a few days ago, as he makes his way toward me. “Come here,” he says while stretching out his hand, and I take it with a smile, studying his way too handsome appearance as he gently tugs me toward him.

“Have I told you yet how goddamn beautiful you are?” his arms wrap around my waist as he whispers into my ear, and I can actually feel the heat creep into my cheeks when he leans back a bit, his eyes now searching my own.

It’s astounding, really, how the weight of this day instantly washes away as soon as I touch him, how the compelling chemistry between us creates a potion that simply obliterates any trace of anxiety in my soul.

“Maybe...”

The broad smile on his face takes my breath away, he looks so goddamn happy for just one moment that I’d love to just take a photo and keep it forever. His appearance is almost angelic in this amber light.

“Well, let me tell you again, then...” He brushes some hair out of my face, his eyes so intent on making me believe what he’s about to say, “You’re so damn beautiful, Mia. You take my breath away every single time I look at you.”

His words almost inaudible, but even if I didn’t hear them, I’d see it in the way his light blue eyes sparkle when he speaks, like he’s looking at the most precious thing on earth. My heart is pounding in my chest from the sole emotion in his irises, the longer I look at him the more I feel the heat running through my veins, his eyes darkening with every loaded second that passes between us.

“Thank you, Dr. Grey. You look quite dashing yourself,” I answer with a smile, my hands slowly circling around his neck as I pull myself closer to him. He smells like herbs and tomatoes, and I can’t help but want to lick his lips to see if they reflect the taste as well.

“Thanks...” he leans down, his nose brushing against my own when he speaks again, “Are you hungry?”

“Yes,” I can’t help but swallow after I whisper my answer, the ambiguity in it flowing heavily in the atmosphere.

He pulls back just a little, but it’s enough for my gaze to meet his, those light blue eyes diving so deep into my soul that I can feel their flames licking at my very being. And so I just can’t help myself, I dig my fingers into the back of his neck and pull him down, basically forcing his lips on my own.

Unsurprisingly he gives in, and it’s like I sent him a message, like I subconsciously told him what I want, what I need. Because he uses one hand to cup my cheek, while the other exerts pressure into my lower back, pushing me against him with purpose. I can’t help but moan when he sucks in my bottom lip, and it just awakes something in me, something I have suppressed these past weeks in an attempt to take things slow.

But I don’t care anymore, and so I take a few steps forward, forcing him to walk backward with me until he’s flush against the wall, a quiet gasp escaping his throat in the process. He groans when I run my fingers over his chest, his own now tangling in my hair as our tongues furiously attack our senses.

“Mia...” he growls, but I completely disregard him, the hot lava running through my veins burning down all inhibitions and rational thinking, and soon enough I find myself on my toes, my fingers digging into his chest as I try to keep my grip on him. And I know that I basically don’t give him any chance to pull back, but I can’t stop myself, my brain got completely fried from passion and desire as soon as I laid my eyes on him today.

“Wait...” he starts again, and again I don’t even let him continue his sentence when I chase him down again, but that just ends with him picking me up, my legs curling around his waist as he carries me around until I’m suddenly placed on a hard surface. The second my behind hits the cold granite do I know that he carried me into the kitchen, and he suddenly pulls back, his hands bracing himself on the kitchen counter while buries his face in my neck.

We both sit like this for a second, taking deep breaths while our hearts create violent thunder between our bodies. I have to physically force my hands into my lap in an effort to not attack him again, every part of me screams for him. “Sorry...” I have the decency to apologize, although every nerve in my body screams that it was right and that I want him, need him.

“Don’t...” his breath travels down my neck as he speaks, but then he pulls back completely, standing upright in front of me with his hands on my cheek. “Don’t apologize, sola...” he takes a deep breath, and before I can ask him about the nickname he just so effortlessly weaved into his words he already speaks up again, “I just... Let’s just take a breath.”

And I realize right then that I’ve been incredibly selfish by just jumping him like that. From the corner of my eye, I notice that he set the kitchen table with a hell of an effort, he even dug out the red table cloth I totally forgot existed, and there are candles lighting up this whole room as well.

“Link... What is this?” I finally ask, somehow coming to my senses, although I have no idea how.

There’s a faint blush crossing his features, though it’s almost invisible with the dim candlelight in the room. “I made lasagna,” he finally says.

“Lasagna?”

“Yeah...” He clears his throat as he runs a hand through his already messy hair, and I feel my heart bleed from how nervous he suddenly is. “I figured we could have dinner. Like... Properly.”

It’s a peculiar situation, really. All this time I’m preaching about how we’re stuck in this dynamic between us, how it’s unhealthy and not a good idea at all, but I don’t ever make an effort to change anything. Instead, it’s Lincoln who actually tries, who goes out of his way to create something resembling normalcy for the two of us.

And I know that I still have to talk to him about a lot of things. But for now, I just want to enjoy this, I want to show him how much I appreciate his effort.

“I’d like that.”

He must have waited for my reaction because all of a sudden there’s this enormous grin on his face, and once again I just want to etch it in my brain, simply to remember it for the rest of my life.

“You do?” there’s this glimmer in his eyes when he asks for confirmation, as if this wasn’t the sweetest thing anyone has ever done for me.

“Of course. You didn’t have to clean the whole apartment though...”

That makes him laugh, and I literally feel my heart soar from the sound of it, hearing him so happy fills me with content. Because the truth is, I’m not falling for Lincoln due to our one-sided encounter in the past. I’m falling for him because he’s a beautiful human being, one that has been dealt a gruesome hand and is trying to find back to himself. And I feel privileged to be able to help him during that time, to see the progress he makes every single day.

Every single day I notice the change in him, notice how he discovers himself again, and even though the pain will probably never fully subside, he’s doing a great job at trying to deal with it the best he can.

“I wanted to. Honestly, that chaos in the living room had me grinding my teeth for days now,” he retorts with a smirk playing on lips.

His words make me chuckle, but I soon follow with an exaggerated gasp, throwing my flat hand on my chest in mock surprise. “Wow. Here I am, thinking you’re trying to win me over by cooking dinner when actually this was all about my messy habits!”

There’s a rapid change in atmosphere when Link’s fingers brush through my hair, and he studies me with such an intensity that I feel I might burst if he doesn’t stop soon. His voice drops a few octaves when he suddenly speaks again, “Do you want me to win you over, Miss Esperanza?”

The hint of amusement in his voice makes me smirk, and I find myself pulling him towards me again, my arms wrapping around his waist as I look up at him. “I think I must really be doing something wrong if you don’t know the answer to that, Dr. Grey.”

And there it is once more, that devilishly handsome grin, the one that warms my heart and exhilarates my very being to the core with its intensity.

“No, sola...” There’s that nickname again. “I think I know the answer,” he whispers before his lips briefly meet mine again, and before I can even try to deepen the kiss he leans back, those stormy eyes now dancing with amusement when he says, “I also know the food is getting cold, so come on. Move that pretty butt of the counter and join me at the table.”

He winks before stepping away from me, and I swear I’m having a hard time preventing my jaw from falling to the floor, because this Lincoln is different. We’ve engaged in playful teasing more than once, but there’s this spark in the atmosphere surrounding him, and I immediately know I was right back then when I thought that Lincoln was danger, purely created to tease me.

And I can’t deny that I love every single inch of it.

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