christmas eve

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2. b o n u s

A week later


“The snow is melting,” I whispered.

I swallowed as I peeked through the curtains, suddenly feeling uneasy. Usually, I hated the cold and would have celebrated the change of the season, but this was different.

It meant change.

And I had no idea what as about to happen.

I bit my lip anxiously, fumbling with the soft fabric of the flowy, white curtains.

I was so caught up with myself that I didn’t even hear the crack of the door or the footsteps that neared.

“What are we staring at?”

I jumped. Turning my head to the side, wide eyed, I looked up to Cade.

But before I was able to become lost in his dark eyes, I adverted my gaze again.

“Holly?”

I shook my head, still lost in my thoughts.

“It’s nothing,” I mumbled.

It was quiet, and then I felt him step closer to me. I leaned into him when he wrapped his arms around my middle and enjoyed his warmth.

This. Just this.

I needed more time.

He placed his chin onto the top of my head, and I felt his thumb brush over my side. A quiet moment passed.

“You said that before,” was the first thing he said. I felt him move and then press his lips to the top of my head in a soft kiss. “But you were happier then.”

I nodded slowly, licking over my lips.

I lifted my hands and wrapped my fingers around his forearms. He felt strong. And warm. Safe.

My grip tightened.

He must have felt it. “Is everything alright?”

His question made me tense.

“Yes.”

But then, I paused.

I didn’t want to lie to him. But even I wasn’t so sure about what was wrong or right.

I just felt… wrong. Full of unease.

“No,” I admitted quietly then.

I had no idea how I could tell him about this. My own brain was still stuck in a tornado full of all empty questions I had for myself. I wasn’t even sure if I made any sense.

His warmth seemed to pull me in as he engulfed me.

“Wanna talk about it?”

And there it was.

Instead of forcing me to tell him how I felt, he always asked me if I wanted to share my feelings with. I loved this about him. He could be as goofy as he was, but he still… cared.

He just cared.

A small smile tugged at my lips, but then it quickly faded again, as if it had never been there. I began to gnaw on my lip.

“I don’t even know how to explain this,” I whispered to him.

When I didn’t continue, he asked, “Did I do something?”

I frowned. “No.”

My answer may have had come to quick, because I felt him tense behind me.

“No, Cade, I mean it. This isn’t about you.”

A second passed, but then slowly, the tension left him.

“Alright,” I heard him whisper.

My fingers moved on his arm, drawing patterns.

“Did anything make you uncomfortable?”

I thought about that.

Yes, something had.

But it wasn’t about him. And it was hard to explain.

I only nodded my head, afraid of opening my lips and saying something stupid.

“You wanna talk about it?”

I thought about that for a second. Did I?

There was no real reason to not tell him about my worries, but I was scared that he’d think that I was annoying or that I was overreacting.

But, deep down, I knew, I needed to brush these thoughts aside.

Cade cared about me.

And I had no doubt about that.

I swallowed down my turmoil and sighed. My decision was final.

“It feels like… I don’t know, maybe like our time is over.”

I paused.

What I was saying sounded so goddamn foolish. It didn’t even make sense to me that I felt this way. It just… I couldn’t explain it.

Unease ran over me in a cold wave.

“I mean… before all of this, I didn’t even notice you. I didn’t know your name! Don’t you think that we would lose this?”

He hummed. I wasn’t sure what that meant.

“There will be so much to do! So much to take care of! What if we just forget about each other?” I asked.

Another hum. More unanswered questions.

Did he agree with me?

Did he want this to happen?

The thoughts seemed to topple over in my brain.

“I think you’re thinking too much about this.”

This made me halt.

What?

I turned my head just so that I could look up to him.

It made my neck hurt, but I needed to see his face to know what he was thinking. What he meant.

“What?”

A corner of his lips tipped up as if he wasn’t far away from smiling. Even if it felt like it couldn’t be possible, he pulled me closer to him.

“You don’t need to worry about loosing me,” he said. We stared into each other’s eyes. “You’ve been the one that kept me sane in this mess of a holiday.”

His eyes twinkled with mischief, golden galaxies within. “You really think that I would let you go after this?”

I rolled my eyes and turned in his arms, swatting his chest with both of my hands. “You make it sound like you were holding me hostage! Cade, I-”

He chuckled and tried to pull me to his chest, but I forced him away.

“Who said I wasn’t?” he laughed into my ear.

I snorted and leaned back, trying to get as far from him as I could. But there was no use.

Cade’s arms engulfed me in warmth, and I had to admit, that even though I was trying to get away, I wasn’t willing to let go of him either. I was weird like that.

“No one holds me hostage,” I complained to him. I made a face at him. “Who would even want my company for that long?”

He looked as if I had insulted him. “I do.”

I snorted again. “Really?”

This time, I let him pull me to his chest. He buried his face into the crook of my neck, and I circled my arms around his middle, one hand finding his hair. I stroked through the silky, dark strands, at I watched him from above.

“Yes, really.”

A smile tugged at my lips. Warmth ran through my chest.

“But, really, Holly. I mean it. I don’t think we’ll lose this.” I heard him say. His next words were only a whisper, but I heard him anyway. “I’ll make sure of that.”

I chuckled softly and shook my head at him. “We’ll make sure of that,” I whispered back to him. It was a promise. One I made to him and myself.

Moving my head down, I pressed a kiss to the top of his head. We could do it. Nothing would make us loose each other.

Despite all the odds, we could last.

“I love you,” I whispered into his hair.

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