Rio sat on the sofa with the photos laid out on the coffee table in front of him. The same disbelief I had experienced mixed with so many other emotions. Guilt being the main one. At least for me.
“Holy shit,” he said, lifting his head to look at me. “Why didn’t he tell us? Or me? Back then he didn’t tell me. Why?”
I shrugged. “I don’t know. I mean Lily is, what in her late forties? She was old when she had Keerly. I just… I just don’t understand why he didn’t tell me. When I yelled at him and accused him of having an affair with a married woman. Why didn’t he explain? Why did he keep so much from me?” I hadn’t thought the pain could be worse, but I had found that mixed with guilt and shame it was, indeed, much worse.
“Saul has always been closed-off. It’s just this, he has a sister. He never told me. Not even when I went to the house and confronted him.”
“Was that before or after you punched him in the face?” I asked.
Rio winced. “Uh, before, and how did you hear about that?”
“Drake,” I replied.
He sighed and dropped his head into his hands. “This is my fucking fault. I assumed for years that woman was an affair. I never would have guessed the truth. An affair was all that made sense. I didn’t give him a chance to defend himself.”
I sat down in the chair across from him. “He could have told me. Sure, I yelled at him, but I didn’t punch him. I stood there waiting and he just left.”
Neither of us spoke for several minutes. My gaze was locked on the teenage Saul holding the baby girl in the photo. What had happened there? Why didn’t he tell me?
“I owe him an apology,” I said. “But this doesn’t really change anything. I love Saul and if the roles had been reversed, I wouldn’t have walked away. I would have explained. I would have begged him to listen to me.”
Rio turned his head and looked at me. Understanding in his eyes.
“He doesn’t love me. If he did, he wouldn’t have let me go without a fight,” I said for myself more than anything. I needed to hear it and accept it.
“Saul is different, Henley. You know that. He doesn’t react like normal people.” Rio tried to sound encouraging but he failed at it.
“That may be true but if he loved me, he wouldn’t have been able to walk away.”
I waited for Rio to argue and when he didn’t, I had to accept the truth.
Rio didn’t leave that night to go see Saul. I knew he wanted to make things right with him, but he refused to leave me. I don’t know what he thought I’d do if left alone. I went to bed and stared at the ceiling for hours before sleep finally came, and when it did, the dreams were all of Saul. His clear blue eyes, dark curly hair, and his smile. I knew it would forever haunt me.
The sound of a lawn mower woke me and at first I thought it was a dream. One created from my memory. However, the sound got louder, and when I opened my eyes, the sunlight streaming into the room made it very clear I was not dreaming. Sitting up, I swung my legs off the bed. My feet hit the soft rug and I walked over to the window to look outside.
Saul was cutting the grass. I acted on instinct. If I sat here and thought it through, I was afraid I wouldn’t do what needed to be done. What Saul deserved. My fear of what looking into his eyes would do to me shouldn’t keep me from apologizing.
I slipped on the cut-off shorts that I had left on my floor last night and slipped on flip flops then hurried outside. My heart was pounding from nerves as I walked down the steps. I had lain in bed last night, thinking about what I would say to him when I saw him. All of the well thought-out speeches left me though when I turned the corner and he stopped as his eyes met mine. The cowboy hat on his head shaded his eyes and I couldn’t see his expression to know how well my apology was going to be accepted.
He cut the engine off the lawnmower, but he didn’t move.
“Did I wake you?” he asked.
“Want me to come back later?”
I shook my head.
“The grass was getting high and I doubted you were gonna cut it,” he said.
“I’m sorry!” I blurted out. Nothing like the big speeches I had orchestrated in my head.
He said nothing and I wondered if I had time to fix this and try to do this more eloquently.
“I accused you because it was all that made sense. You never told me. You didn’t even tell me then. You just left. And that’s fine. You would rather walk away from me. I just wanted you to know I was sorry I accused you. You deserved better. From both me and Rio. You didn’t have to come cut the grass. I know you do it for Gran, but this isn’t her house anymore. It belongs to me.”
I was not going to cry. I was not going to cry. I was not going to cry. At least not in front of him.
He didn’t respond and I realized he wasn’t planning on it. I turned and went back to the stairs. With each step I took away from him, my chest hurt. My eyes stung and I wanted nothing more than to feel as he did. Nothing.
I stepped inside the house and listened for the lawn mower to start back up or perhaps his truck. Neither happened.
When the door behind me opened, I turned around to see Saul standing there in his sweaty white tank, faded jeans and the cowboy hat he had been wearing in his hand.
“I didn’t cut the grass the last time for your gran and I’m not doing it for her this time,” he said.
I waited. He was talking. I was afraid if I started talking, he would stop. Possibly leave.
“I did it for you then and I’m doing it for you now.”
“Why?” I asked, my heart pounding so hard I was sure he could hear it.
A half-smile touched his lips. “Because I love you. Pretty damn sure I’ve been in love with you since the first week.”
“You just left me,” I said, as my voice cracked from the well of emotion building inside me.
“Yeah, I did. I’ve never been in love. I’ve never been that vulnerable. Until that moment, I have never been so fucking terrified. I realized you could destroy me in a way I was unfamiliar with. I didn’t want anyone to have that power. So I left. I thought it would go away. This,” he paused and let out a hard laugh. “This overpowering need I have for you. To be near you, to touch you, to see you.” He took a step toward me. “It didn’t. Not for a moment. I’ve been lost. I can’t do this life without you and I was just fucking fine before you came, Henley. I didn’t feel much at all. But I do now. I feel too goddamn much.”
“You love me,” I said it, wanting him to say it again. To be sure.
“More than I thought was possible,” he replied.
I closed the distance between us and threw myself into his arms, wrapping my arms around his neck. His arms came around me tightly.
“This better fucking mean you love me too,” he said as he buried his face in my hair.
I nodded my head against his chest and a sob escaped with a laugh.
“Say it,” he said. “I need to hear it.”
I lifted my head from his chest and looked up into his eyes. The ones I had been dreaming about in my sleep. “I love you, Saul Hendrix.”
He closed his eyes for a minute. “That’s good,” he said then his lips met mine.
Loving Saul would always have its bumps. I didn’t expect it to be easy, but I knew living without him was something I never wanted to do. With him, I was complete.
“Come back to my house. I’ll finish the yard later,” he said.
“Okay,” I agreed and then fear hit me that this could be a dream. It would make more sense if it were just a dream. I held tightly onto Saul’s arms afraid at any moment my eyes would open.
“What if I’m dreaming?” I asked softly, as if talking too loud would wake me up.
“You’re not,” he said and kissed my forehead.
“If it’s a dream then you would say that. I would want you to and so you would.”
He chuckled. “If it’s a dream then it’s about to have a naughty turn because I’m about to lock you in my bedroom with me and not let you out for days.”
I looked around the room to make sure it looked normal. “Everything looks normal,” I whispered.
“Henley, you’re not dreaming,” he assured me.
I gazed back up at him. “How can you be so sure?”
He leaned down and kissed me softly. It was sweet and wonderful and-
“OH!” I yelped, jerking away from him. “You just bit my lip!”
He grinned wickedly. “And you felt it. Which means you’re awake.”
I pressed my lips together to keep from smiling. “You could have just pinched me,” I told him.
“If I have an excuse to put my mouth on any part of your body, I’m going to take it. Every damn time,” he replied.
A laugh bubbled out of me as I stared up into his baby blue eyes.
Our story wasn’t over. It was just beginning.
An unexpected affair leads to mind-blowing harmony in this Sea Breeze novel from New York Times bestselling author Abbi Glines. Jason is sick of living in his rock star brother's shadow. So when he ships off to Sea Breeze, Alabama, he's looking for a much deserved escape and a chance to blow off some envious steam.What is the synopsis of misbehaving Abbi Glines? ›
An unexpected affair leads to mind-blowing harmony in this Sea Breeze novel from New York Times bestselling author Abbi Glines. Jason is sick of living in his rock star brother's shadow. So when he ships off to Sea Breeze, Alabama, he's looking for a much deserved escape and a chance to blow off some envious steam.What genre is game changer by Abbi Glines? ›
Abbi Glines is the New York Times, USA TODAY, and Wall Street Journal bestselling author of the Rosemary Beach, Field Party, Sea Breeze, Vincent Boys, and Existence series.How many pages is under the lights by Abbi Glines? ›
|Publisher||S&S Books for Young Readers; Reprint edition (July 4, 2017)|
|Reading age||14 years and up|