That was until that night–the one I can’t remember. It’s all my fault, and now the memories are all I have left of him. Of us.
My guilt drowns me until Sam Shea steps back into my life and helps me to the surface. He slowly opens my heart and crawls deep inside before I even realize what’s happening. I know I don’t deserve him.
While I’m trying to get used to my new life, pieces of that night slowly start to come back to me. Lies and secrets shatter everything I thought I knew.
Maybe I’m not the only one living with regret.
He’s got a hold on my heart. I feel it … he’s using his pull on it to bring me closer to him, my lips closer to his. It’s a moment that’s been coming for a long time. Two souls, once lonely, brought together in the fields but joined on the edge of the lake. When one story doesn’t have a happy ending, there’s always a chance to start another one. I don’t want to standalone for the rest of my life and wonder what could have been if I’d been given my happy ending. I’m going to go after it.
His lips lightly brush against mine, so quickly that I could debate on whether or not it qualifies as a kiss. The intensity of it is almost more than I can handle. Everything inside me warms. I’ve never experienced anything quite like it. Even when he backs away a few inches to stare me in the eyes, I can feel his lips imprinted on mine. He’s branded me. His lips own mine. His heart owns me.
One kiss is all it takes to make me an addict, and I crave a second. I focus in on his perfect lips, hinting for more. This time, Sam doesn’t give; he takes, pressing his mouth to mine. His hand cradles the back of my head, like he’s afraid I might pull away if he lets me go. He may not realize it yet, but he has me … I’ve given him little pieces of myself over all these years. He just had to claim the last piece.
His fingers curl around the back of my neck as his lips continue to work against mine. His lips warm, much more eager than the first time. He sucks my lower lip between his, then presses his tongue into my mouth. It tastes of peppermint as it tangles with mine. He’s methodical, making me feel and want more. Grabbing his shirt, I pull him closer until I can literally feel his heart beating against me. There’s more emotion behind this kiss than I’ve ever felt before. He’s telling me so much without words, and it feels like he’s been holding it in forever. He gently caresses my tongue with his, like he has wanted to do it for a long time and needs to savor it. I wish this moment could last forever … maybe it can. He cups my cheek in his calloused hand, running his thumb along my jawline as he slows his movements.
His lips linger for a minute longer before he presses his forehead to mine. “Do you know how long I’ve wanted to do that?”
I shake my head, pulling my bottom lip between my teeth in a bid to keep them off him. His eyes burn into mine, igniting a fire deep inside of me. I want to taste those lips on mine again.
“That night you disappeared with Cory at the party … I wanted you even back then. I’d wanted you for a long time. I knew if he asked you to, you’d be his. I didn’t think he deserved you, but I didn’t think I did either,” he says, skimming his fingers across my cheek to brush the hair from my face.
I’d always felt like Sam was trying to play the big brother role. Of course, I thought he was cute … he keeps getting cuter with age … but I never thought he saw me that way. Not then. Things might have been different if he had said something before that night, but we can’t dwell on the things we cannot change, and I’m grateful for the time I spent with Cory. I wouldn’t be the same person I am today without him. Thinking about him now is dampening this moment like rain in the middle of a perfectly sunny day. I hate that this keeps happening to me, but I know it’s inevitable.
When I don’t say anything, he continues, “Do you remember the last day we spent out in the fields before your freshman year?” I nod, holding my breath. He responds by closing his eyes and running his thumb along my lower lip. “I almost kissed you that day. I wanted to, but I was afraid that you didn’t feel the same, and I didn’t want to ruin what we had.”
My heart jumps. I’ve thought about that day so many times over the years. Now, everything I thought I felt that day has been justified. “I think everything happens for a reason,” I whisper. I regret the way I said that as soon as the words leave my mouth. “I don’t mean that I think there’s a reason Cory died, but I do think there’s a reason we couldn’t be together back then. We were both too young.”
He stares at me curiously with a hint of pain in his eyes that hadn’t been there before. He closes them, curling his fingers against my face. “I still regret not telling you how I felt. I could have saved you so much pain … sometimes I feel like part of what you’re going through is my fault.”
“What do you mean?”
“At least if you were with me, I could have controlled what you went through. I never would have hurt you, or done anything that could hurt you,” he says, opening his eyes.
I sit back, pulling my face from his as defensiveness takes over. “He didn’t hurt me. I hurt me.”
His face turns in the other direction until all I see is the squint of his eyes and the pensive line his lips have taken. “I’m sorry. I shouldn’t have brought it up. I always have shitty timing.”
I grab his hand in mine, bringing his attention back to me. “The only way this is going to work is if you accept my past, every part of it, and leave it there. I loved Cory. I still love Cory, and you need to know that.” I rest our joined hands on my thigh, feeling the brush of his arm against my chest. “Love doesn’t fade completely. In a way, I’ll always love Cory.. I need to know that you understand.”
He nods. “Are you sure you’re ready for this?”
“No,” I answer, honestly, “but I want to try. Something about this feels right, and I’m tired of living the way I’ve been living. Besides, I like you, Sam. I want to explore that, but I need us to go slow.”
He smiles, the cocky one I like so much. “Slow is the only way to go when you like something and want to savor it. Once you’re mine, I’m not going to let you leave for anyone else. I’ve waited way too long for this.” He places our hands over his chest. “There are things in here I’ve held onto forever just to give them to you. They belong only to you because you’re the one who made me feel them.”
I lean into him, kissing him sweetly, the way he kissed me the first time. “I didn’t know you were such a romantic.”
“It’s just for you. You’re the only person who ever has or ever will bring it out of me.”
It feels like my heart just blended itself into the lake water, but yet I still feel it beating in my chest. Never in my life did I see this coming, but I realize I’ve wanted it. Subconsciously, I think I’ve wanted it for a long time.
I realize this could all end badly. Another short story that leaves me lying on a pillow soaked in tears, but Sam’s worth it. He’s more than a constant for me. “So, what did you have planned for tonight?’
“I thought we’d put our feet in the water. See how it feels.”
“I think we already got that covered,” I reply, resting my head against his shoulder.
“I guess all that’s left to do is watch the sunset. You in?”
“We might as well.” I smile, feeling as content as I have in a long time. Life is a journey, and very few come without wrong turns and speed bumps. For the first time in months, I’m finally on the straight and narrow.
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