Crossroads

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Chapter 44

Chapter 44: Lincoln

“Being one with Mia feels like finding myself within her, finding the last fragment of my soul, right within hers.”

PRESENT

I knew today would get messy.

What I didn’t know was how angry I’d actually be over the fact that Mia got hurt once again. I can’t stand to see her being pushed and pushed, for whatever goddamn reason. She deserves to be happy, to be kept in the loop about everything so she can live life the way she wants to.

Mia tells me about all of it on the car ride home, and I have to admit that I actually feel for her brother, as much as he infuriates me. Unknowingly all three of us suffered the same fate, being lonely and miserable, but he has been dealt the worst hand possible for something he didn’t even do…

I don’t feel for Riley, though. Granted, I don’t even know her, but from what I can tell it feels like she knew what she was doing, like she knowingly manipulated both Mia and her brother to get what she wants - to make herself look like the victim. And that is just… Outrageous.

“God, I just want to sleep…” Mia sighs, closing her eyes and resting her head against the car seat. It pains me to see how exhausted she is, this day must have taken a lot out of her. We had a quick talk with her parents afterward, but I could see how drained she was, as could the rest of the family, and so they agreed to talk about this in more detail another time.

“We’re almost there, love…” I squeeze her thigh as I round the last corner, and we arrive at her apartment only minutes later.

I can feel how at least some of the tension leaves her body when we step through her door frame, the familiar scent of vanilla candles lingering in the air when she takes a deep breath. I close the door behind me and instantly wrap my arms around her torso, intertwining our fingers in front of her stomach as she leans against my chest. “Thank you,” she whispers, tightening our embrace.

“Of course.” I press a kiss on her head, not wanting her to elaborate, not needing her to. “Come on, sola. Let’s get you some sleep.”

She doesn’t even protest when I pick her up and carry her into the bedroom, her arms slung around my neck when I sit on the bed with her, just holding her for a minute. “It wasn’t me, was it?” she asks, her head still resting on my shoulder when I look down, seeing those emotional eyes staring straight at me.

“No, Mia…” I shake my head. “It really wasn’t. I’m sorry we all made you feel that way.”

“I think we all made some mistakes. I just want to press the reset button. Want to have my family back, have my life back… I want to have us back.”

“You have me, Mia. I’m here. I’m not going anywhere.” I brush some hair out of her face, reaching for her wrist and placing her palm on my cheek, letting her feel me.

“Do you promise?” she asks, and I see that question in her eyes, knowing that I made a hell of a lot of promises to her already, and that I didn’t keep most of them.

It’s easy to forget how young she is, how fragile and empathic.

Mia wears a strong mask, one that’s almost impossible to see through, but I feel like she needs to sometimes. She needs to let herself be the twenty-three-year-old girl she is, to let someone else take care of her, for once.

“I promise. No more running, no more hiding… I’m here. Forever.”

I wake up from the empty feeling next to me, realizing that Mia isn’t beside me anymore. For just a second do I panic, until I realize I’m in her apartment - she should be here somewhere, shouldn’t she?

Slipping out of bed and into my shirt, I tiptoe around the apartment, the cold air making me shudder as I look around, trying to figure out where she could be. But then I smell it, and I see it when I step into the living room, seeing Mia sitting on the window sill of the open kitchen.

She looks up at the sky, her back resting against the frame, cigarette in one hand and a zippo in another. As bizarre as this sight is, it takes my breath away. The way she almost calls out to the moon by just looking up at it, letting its glow cast over her features like it was made for just that - to put her in the spotlight she deserves, it just blows me away.

I can’t help but just stand there, watching how she opens her eyes to study the cigarette in her hand, watching with curiosity how it burns itself down. She suddenly stretches out her arm, and I realize she must have spotted me standing there like an awe-struck idiot. I walk over to her, letting her arm glide around my waist as she spreads the blanket that was resting over her shoulders to cover me as well. We just stay like that for a moment, watching the cigarette in her hand meet its slow demise.

“It’s the last one,” she says, lifting her hand, displaying that killing machine between her fingers. Her eyes almost sparkle when she studies it, watches it with great interest when I ask, “It is?”

“Yeah. I needed to carry them around for a while, you know.”

“Why?” I haven’t seen her with one since our encounter at the bar on her birthday, but I noticed the packages in her apartment, the zippo she carries around...

She chuckles quietly when she looks at me, shaking her head as she explains, “There are so many metaphors involving cigarettes out there. It’s such a symbolic thing, considering it’s so controversial and dangerous…” Another sigh escapes her throat when she spins and turns the cigarette in her hand, watching it move when she speaks again. “One day, a few weeks after Pops died, I felt like trying it. I don’t even know why, I just felt like it. I went to the store and bought a package, and I sat in the park, looking at this stick, thinking what it does and how dumb it is.”

Her thumb flicks against the filter, letting the ashes flow to the pavement before she pulls it back in, letting both of us watch the last inches of fire in her hand.

“There’s this famous metaphor that says a cigarette can only kill you when you light it. That’s bullshit.”

“It is?”

“Yeah. A gun isn’t dangerous when you shoot it at nothing. It’s dangerous when you shoot it at someone or something. That applies to cigarettes, too. It’s not dangerous to light them, second-hand smoking aside…” She lifts the cigarette right in front of her face now, watching the fire with that sparkle in her eyes, the one that could let anyone forget about reality for a moment. “The danger lies within yourself, within the temptation to bring this stick of misery to your lips, to inhale deeply, to feel how the smoke covers your lungs, only to exhale again, to breathe out the life you take from yourself with every drag.”

I can feel the breath that gets stuck in my throat when she turns to look at me, those dark blue eyes holding so much wisdom, emotion, and awareness, that I almost forget how to exist for a moment.

“It’s about taking control,” she says, a faint smile on her lips when she pulls me closer, averting our gaze to watch how she kills the cigarette in one swift move and presses it into the ashtray, suffocating that fire between her fingers like it never existed, its only remnant being the ashes around us. “I’m taking control again. I could control these things while I learned how to control my life. I’m ready now. I’m taking it back. I’m taking my life back.”

And I see it in her eyes. They have always held strength, emotion, and pure and utter devotion, but now they hold something else, too.

Courage.

I feel it when she suddenly turns, pulling me between her legs while her hands cup my neck, holding on to the hair at the back of my head as she studies me with curiosity. “You wanna know something?” she asks, the moon now illuminating both of us in its calm glow.

“I want to know everything about you, Mia…”

She smiles at my words, a smile so bright that I don’t know how I could ever remember it - my heart simply can’t contain its intensity, my brain isn’t smart enough to understand it.

“Good, then make sure to remember this.” She pulls me even closer, her legs now crossing behind my back as she cups my face, gently lifting me upward to meet her at eye-level. “I love you, Lincoln. Always have, always will.”

Her smile grows even wider suddenly, so wide that I think she might burst out laughing any second now, but she just looks at me, repeating those words with her glances, with the way she dives straight into my soul again.

“I love you, too…” It’s all I manage to say, honestly. She stole every single brain cell, stoly my whole heart with those words - not that she didn’t have it already.

“I know you do. I really do. I’m taking control again by admitting to this, Link. By admitting that I can’t live without you, by admitting that you hold my heart. Please don’t break it. Please don’t take my control away from me.”

A single tear escapes her eye, and I immediately cup her face with my hands, brushing my thumb over her skin. The salty water dries beneath my fingers as I just look at her, as I look at this marvel of a woman in front of me, letting this moment seep straight into my bones.

“I promise with all that I have, with all that I am… I will spend the rest of my life to make sure you feel loved, Mia. Because you don’t just hold my heart, sola, you own it, too. And I don’t want it back. It’s yours…”

And I can’t hold myself back suddenly, because it feels like I need to feel her to breathe, like I need to be one with her to know I exist again. She seems to feel it, too. Like two magnets we crash into each other, our lips colliding with an almost violent thunder, mimicking the raging storm in my heart as I pick her up and carry her to the kitchen island behind us.

She gasps when I dig my hands beneath her shirt, letting my fingers roam her back, digging into her soft skin while she tightens her legs around my waist, eliciting a growl from the back of my throat as I hold onto her, this sudden urge to feel every inch of her invading my mind.

I know she feels it, too, because I feel her heart thunder with mine, two storms creating a violent tornado of lust between us, ready to ravish our senses, our bodies, our every single shred of sanity left.

Our clothes are almost ripped off our body with how hastily we push and pull,, and when we’re finally rid of them I kiss every single inch of her, worshipping her naked body like it deserves to be. I feel her shudder beneath every single kiss, with every collision of our bodies, the reaction driving me bloody insane and clouding my instincts with pure and utter lust.

She takes control, weaving her fingers through my hair before she pulls me up and devours me, her tongue set on a mission I’m more than willing to accomplish. It’s only a matter of seconds before she pushes her hips forward, asking, begging for us to be one. I said I would give her everything she wants - and I will. That’s why it’s only a matter of seconds until we’re connected, until we feel every single burst of lust shooting through our veins, losing ourselves in each other completely.

It doesn’t feel like losing ourselves though. Being one with Mia feels like finding myself within her, finding the last fragment of my soul, right within hers. The way her body reacts to mine shows me that she feels the same, that she feels this connection as much as I do. I don’t even try to swallow her moan when she comes undone, when she screams out my name like she needed it to remember her own. I just bathe in that feeling, let it ride me to my high until we’re both panting heavily, holding onto each other while our bodies try to understand the passion we just shared.

We’re two halves of a whole, two ghosts resurrected by the sole act of finding each other again.

“I didn’t know it was possible to love someone this much, Mia…” I breathe against our lips as we share another kiss, diving deep into each other’s beings again.

“Me neither, Link…” she whispers, catching her breath before stealing another kiss, “But I can’t get enough of this, of you, of being close to you, of having you on my mind…”

I lean back to look at her, studying her flushed face and swollen lips, her body glimmering in the dim moonlight… And I just know, suddenly.

It’s over. The pain, the mistrust, the insecurities… They’re gone. We’ve opened this connection, completely. It’s more intense than ever, and I can’t wait to explore it.

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