Eyes don’t easily lie to eyes.
“Yes,” I whisper. “I waited for you. Until New York, it would have been you.”
His fingers come up, gently brushing a piece of hair from my forehead. “I really fucked up with you, didn’t I?”
“Neither of us was in the right place. It wasn’t our time.”
He moves closer, brushing his thumb against my cheek. My conscience whispers but the tequila screams. “When will it be our time?”
I think about Pierce. This weekend. Everything. “It may never come, or maybe, it’s already passed.”
“I’m going to fight for you,” he declares, propping himself up on his elbow to look down at me. “I thought I could let you go if I knew it would make you happy, but after sitting alone in this apartment all weekend while you were with him, I don’t think I can do that.”
I swallow hard. “And, if you don’t win?”
“I’ve already lost, so what do I have left to lose?”
And, he’s right. He’s already lost so much that the risk is minimal.
“Pierce trusts me,” I blurt, my palms sweating against the sheets.
He leans in, kissing my cheek. “He shouldn’t trust me, not when he has the one thing I want.”
He slips out of my bed without looking back, carefully closing the bedroom door behind him. He wanted the last word, and he got it.
And, as I continue scanning, I see him.
He’s here. The man who stole my soul is standing across the room with his back against the wall. My eyes are locked on him, but his eyes dance around the room like I’m not here. Maybe to him, I never was. Maybe he’s looking for the next one—the girl he’ll show the world to then disappear.
I look beside me—at Pierce—and I feel sick that any part of me even wants to go across the room. I feel sick because there’s a man here who I know could make me happy—who does make me happy—and yet I’m willing to throw it all away. He looks away from Royce, eyes instantly finding mine. He smiles, and I return it the best I can because for just a few more minutes, I need him to think that nothing has changed. And, maybe nothing has.
“I’m going to find the restroom,” I whisper to Pierce.
“I’ll come with you.”
Shaking my head, I say, “No, you stay. I’ll be right back.”
He nods, hesitantly, and I wait for him to turn his attention back to Royce before blazing a path through the crowd, anxious to prove to myself that this isn’t a dream.
The shield cracks.
My heart races.
His eyes still roam, taking in everything … everything but me.
I’m not going to let him out of my sight … I’m not going to let him hide from the anguish he’s buried me in the last several months. He has nowhere to run. Even if he did, I wouldn’t let him, not this time.
A few long strides and I’m standing in front of him, staring into those familiar pained eyes. When you love someone, it’s impossible to look at them and feel hate. You may want to feel it. You may think you feel it, but love and hate can’t co-exist. I hate that I love him, but I can’t hate him.
And, I want to hate him. It would make it easier to love someone like Pierce who deserves my heart. This man stole it months ago, and I don’t think he has any intention of returning it. Sometimes I don’t know if I want it back.
But then, I think of the last few days—few months actually—and I realize another man may be winning it back for me. Maybe it’s not gone forever but simply misplaced.
His hair is a little longer, but he’s the same. The way he stands … the way his fingers curl around a beer bottle. He’s exactly the same.
“Blake,” I whisper, afraid of what he’ll say, what he’ll do. Still afraid he’ll find a way to run away, and I won’t be able to catch him.
He stares at me like he’s never even met me, or maybe he’s spent the last several months trying to forget me. I can’t say I haven’t tried to do the same. There’s not enough alcohol in the world do erase him.
“Does he make you happy?” he finally asks, practically staring through me. He sounds so broken, so sad.
“Who?” I ask, caught off guard by his question.
“Pierce. Does he make you happy?”
My eyes well with tears I’ve left unshed … tears I left for him to see. “Yes,” I whisper, doing my best to hold them in. He deserves to watch every single one of them run down my cheek but not here … not now.
He nods, reaching his fingers up toward my cheek before quickly pulling them back away. And just as quickly as he came back into my life, he’s gone.
It’s really over.
If any part of him wanted me, he would have fought for me.