Page 86 of The Keeper


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Even with my heart a hurting…

I should’ve told you you’re the one…

Spicy cologne intertwined with his natural scent creates an elixir that should be bottled and sold as something like…ManBeautiful…comes into my sphere when he reaches behind the driftwood to pull out an acoustic guitar.

It’s inevitable I’ll be ugly crying all over this stunning scene in the next few seconds, so I won’t even try to stop the tears.

I don’t want to stop them.

I need those tears to wash away these last painful weeks without him.

From the very first chord he plays, so many emotions, so many feelings, rush in—and the tears do come…right on cue.

33

ludwig thurman

Cal

From the first strum of the strings, Billie knows what I’m playing.

The song she wrote aboutme.

Tears well in her brown eyes and start rolling down her cheeks, but then a slow smile spreads across her beautiful face.

I start singing the words to her song and it’s truly awful. I have a terrible singing voice. So bad, in fact, that Billie starts to cry harder and maybe laughing at the same time…I think?

I start to laugh too, setting the guitar down and reaching out to offer my hand. She takes it, letting me pull her up and into a hug. I need to have my hands on her, or it feels like I might die. And I’m not even exaggerating a little bit. That’s exactly how it feels since I spotted her walking toward me on the beach. It took every ounce of self-control I have not to run up to her.

“I’m an idiot,” I rush to explain. “And I love you. I was so stupid. So wrong for pushing you away.”

“I’ve missed you,” she says, putting her hand up to the side of my face, caressing gently with her thumb. It’s the most wonderful feeling in the world to have her touch me again.

“God, so much,” I answer against her ear, feeling her shiver when my lips touch her skin. I hope that’s desire making her shiver because I have plans for later that will involve a helluva lot of naked shivering for the both of us. I can’t stop my fingers from playing with her braid. “I’ve missed this hair.” I press my lips against the curled purple ends of her braid. “These lips.” I take her mouth in a deep kiss that’s hot and wet and intense with every bit of passion I can put into it. We’ve never really had a problem connecting like this though. Chemistry’s always been there for us. I was captivated by Billie from the first moment I ever saw her playing those drums up on the stage. And she wasthe one to kiss me first.

I’m in a haze of feelings and emotions that are threatening to incinerate me on the spot. But as I kiss my girl, hold her body against mine, and take in the lovely scent of her shampoo, perfume or whatever it is she wears that intoxicates me, the haziness starts to clear. It all falls away like a dark curtain being pulled open. The late afternoon autumn sun warming the sand, the smell of the ocean, the sound of the waves…everythingbecomes sharply defined in contrast to the woman in my arms.

Billie is in my arms again, kissing meand loving meback.

My world and everything in it, rightly clicks back into place.

And then…peace.

Peace comes.

* * *

Billie

“You liked the song, Calum?”I ask once he allows us to come up for air.

“I loved it. And I hated it because it showed me how badly I’d hurt you.”

“Well…” I think that one word is enough to let him know just how much, because he looks sad for a moment as he brushes his thumb down the path of my tears, first one side and then the other. So gently and reverently, he wipes them away. He mouths,I’m so sorryand keeps brushing away my tears.

Nodding slowly, I let him know I accept his apology. There isn’t anything more to this. We were both truthful with each other at the time, and he honestly didn’t feel he could go forward with the relationship. I really hope that’s changed though.

“I couldn’t get the song out of my head. Couldn’t get you out of my head, Billie. Because this is a real thing between us. And I don’t want to screw it up more than I already have.”

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