Quickly, I throw on some sleep shorts and make my way to the smell of coffee. The kitchen is deserted and dark, which is unusual. Someone is always around. Grabbing a mug, I pour myself some liquid energy. I make my way into the main room and slow down to watch him.
He’s lost in thought. Staring out at the magnificent view of Manhattan in her morning glory. Why does he have to be so beautiful? Why does he still have so much power over me?
He must sense me because he turns and his eyes take hold of mine. Exhaling, I wait for him to make his move. Instead he turns and looks back out the window.
“I would like answers.” His deep voice is smooth, calm. It carries across the room.
“Okay.” I hear a slight echo as I sit on the leather couch. The heat clicks on. Even though it’s summer, Brance’s building gets cold in the morning.
“Why are you back? And don’t say college.”
My head lowers. I stare, fascinated at the steam swirling up from my coffee.
“That is why I’m back.”
He doesn’t respond but keeps staring out the window. A garbage truck faintly beeps its presence.
Clearing my voice, I ask, “Can I get you a cup of coffee?” I don’t know why I’m being nice. Maybe because he’s actually acting mature, making my earlier outburst seem juvenile.
“I would like that, Tess.” His voice is rough, raising goose bumps on my arms.
Swiftly I stand, relieved to have a task. I’m already needing him far too much, and he is not mine to need anymore. I pour him a cup, leaving it black. That’s how we both used to drink it. Granted that was three years ago.
When I return, he has moved and now sits on the couch, elbows resting on his knees, fingers clasped together. Not hesitating, I invade his space, forcing him to lean back. He reaches for the cup. Our fingers touch. A zing of electricity hits me.
Pulling away like I’ve been burned by scorching water, I almost spill the coffee.
He arches a dark eyebrow. “Thanks, Kitten.” Both of us freeze at the endearment. He recovers first, taking the coffee from me with both hands.
“I didn’t put anything in it. I don’t know how you like it now.” Wow, if that’s not the truth. I’m flustered, which aggravates me. I sit, turning slightly so I can see him. He leans over again looking down at his coffee.
“I’m all fucked up, Tess. I have been since you left.”
Oh God, stay strong, I chant to myself.
“I want to say I’m sorry. But I think we both are so…” He looks at me, his eyes so blue and open. For a moment, I’m back three years ago, when his honesty was pure and no darkness haunted him. Time stands still as we evolve into each other.
“What do you want me to say?” I whisper.
“I want you to tell me the truth. How you feel about me… us?” He runs a hand through his exquisite curls. “I need to find a way back to you.”
I exhale. Even when I fantasized about Reed begging for forgiveness, it was never this. Sitting up straight, I look directly at him. “I don’t see how that can ever be possible.” Breaking eye contact, I sip my coffee.
“Why?” His voice sounds strangled.
My anger returns, and I look back at him, slamming the mug down. The loud crash almost makes me jump.
“You’re kidding me, right?” I puff out air. “If you don’t know, then you’re not as smart as I thought.” Jumping up, I pace back and forth.
“Humor me, Tess.”
My face heats up. Anger drives me to be honest with him. “I loved you. And you gave away all your firsts!” My hands are clenched in front of me. I need him to hear me… to know that his actions are why we are in the place we are today. “You betrayed me. By giving it to prostitutes and Lexi!”
“Tess… Christ.” His eyes are filled with tears. “I… you had all my firsts.”
Reed’s words bring me down. My legs give out, and I sink to the couch. I avoid looking at him and focus on the coffee table. If I see his pain, I won’t be able to stop my tears. Frantically, I reach for my coffee. I can barely swallow the mouthful with the lump in my throat.
“Go on. I want it all, Tess. Let it out.”
I blink a couple of times at the ceiling, trying to reel in my emotions.
“Cry, Kitten. Then we’ll put us back together.” His strong hands reach for me.
I twist away. “You’re with her now. What does it matter?”
“It matters. We’ll get to Lexi later. Talk to me!” He stands up.
I follow, not allowing him to intimidate me. “What should I tell you? That I can forgive you? Or forget that you used to be a different person?” In need of a barrier, I scurry around the couch.