Page 78 of Make You Mine

Font Size:  

The grass was freshly wet beneath their feet as Adam led the way, and Noah held the stones so tight they cut into his palm, feeling skin almost give way when he laid eyes on the names of the two women he had loved most in the world.

“They’d be horrified at the way I’ve lived,” Adam muttered, putting the stones in his left hand before laying them down—first for Bubbe, then for their mom. “They’d take one look at Talia and ask me what the hell she’s doing with a bastard like me.”

“I’m with a porn star,” Noah reminded him. He laid the black stone down for his mother but held the crescent a bit longer. “Anyway, they’d see the way you two look at each other, and that would be more important than anything in the world.”

“Do you think so?” Adam looked so young, sounded so young. He was suddenly the person of fourteen, holding Noah’s hand, wanting to know why Hashem saw fit to take both his mother and his grandmother away from him.

Noah had no answers then, just like he didn’t have one now.

But he had faith. He’d always have faith.

“I think so.” He felt Adam take his hand just before he bent over to lay Bubbe’s stone for her, and he pressed his fingertips to the cold, stamped concrete. He didn’t feel her there. He didn’t feel her anywhere. Not anymore. But he missed her.

“Does it get easier for you?” Adam asked, his voice thick.

Noah didn’t want to risk speaking, so he shook his head. They stood there, hand in hand, the last of their family. It was a little bit alone, but it wasn’t so lonely anymore.

“We should head back if you don’t want to miss the squatter.”

Noah let out a tiny sigh, but he knew Wilder would grow on Adam. Or he wouldn’t. He’d still find a home in Savannah like so many had. They made their way back to the car, and Noah took just a moment for himself to breathe again. When his lungs felt clear, he tossed a smile at his brother, then started back up the street.

* * *

Adriano waitedat the rental for Noah to finish up his day. He’d gotten a text from Noah, letting him know he was dropping Marshmallow back off with Isaac, then heading back to the shop to give the new guy the final tour. The leasing agency would handle the rest, and Noah would be free.

Or something like it.

He gave Jude a scratch and felt a sort of profound loss, looking around at all their things packed in neat boxes and bags. He didn’t want to leave—but Noah needed this. He needed to set foot out of the cage he’d created for himself. First it was school, then the world.

Adriano startled when he saw headlights, and he was on his feet and near the door when it opened. Noah looked a bit ragged and red around his eyes like he’d been crying. He pushed into Adriano’s arms easily, quietly, at least as far as Adriano could tell.

His back ached from not moving, but he was still content to stand there and hold the love of his life, just like that, as long as he needed. Noah, of course, didn’t make him wait an eternity. Just five minutes before he pulled back and cupped Adriano’s cheek, taking a kiss for himself before he moved to the sofa.

‘How was it?’ Adriano asked.

Noah shrugged. ‘Good. I think the place will do well. People need something new.’

Adriano nodded. ‘And the rest?’ He meant the cemetery—he meant the time with his brother—and the last moments they had with their childhood home.

Noah’s chin trembled a little, and he licked his lips before a few tears seeped out. Adriano brushed them away, but more replaced them, so he simply let Noah cry. ‘It’s over. It was hard. I miss them so much, but it was time, you know?’

Adriano didn’t know. He might, eventually, in some way. But he’d never know what it was like to lose his country and his language, to lose everything important to him and be stuffed into a tiny box the way Noah had been. He was grateful for it and still profoundly sad for his lover. But Noah wasn’t suffering all the time.

Adriano made him smile.

It felt…worth it.

‘Take me to bed?’ Noah asked after a short silence.

Adriano stood up and offered his hand. Noah slipped his own fingers between Adriano’s larger ones, and they made their way down the little hall to the primary bedroom for the last time. They’d wake up with the sun, they’d put the rest of their bags in the car, and they’d head west.

For now. Maybe for a short while. Maybe a lot longer.

But that didn’t matter right then. Right then, they had tonight.

And then, after that, they had forever.

The End