As I walk through the door, I hold my house keys so tight in my hand that I'm certain they're ready to pierce my skin if I would just hold that little tighter. Though, telling my body to do that seems entirely impossible. In my other hand I hold the sandals, the strawberries and the hazel branch. My heart seems to beat faster with every step I take, no matter how slow I walk.
I close my eyes, taking several deep breaths. It all seems too real. He can't be here. It's too far... He can't keep promises.
The smell of wild mint is now stronger as I walk further into the small but welcoming flat. My home never smells like this, especially in December. It's not true, I tell myself. Don't get your hopes up. How could he be here? The last time I checked, horses couldn't walk over the Irish Sea.
The smell makes my heart ache, it makes my mouth dry, and I feel compelled to throw up. I want to lick my lips to wet them but even that task seems impossible. They're as rough as sandpaper, and the boy I once knew has lips who's are the complete opposite.
Trust me, I know.
My eyes are still lightly closed, although I'm still walking. I can't open them incase I'm wrong. I try counting to ten steadily, taking deep Yoga breaths like Claire taught me. I'm not even in an angry state of mind and I'm following her orders in a bid to calm myself.
"If you don't open your eyes, you're going to walk into that wall."
I'm right, and knowing this, my stomach tightens and my knees weaken, yet I don't stumble or fall. I open my eyes to see him looking at me, a cheeky smile on his face, dark eyes shining in mine. His black hair flops into his face as he looks down at me and he makes no attempt to flick it back. He knows. He knows it makes me even crazier about him and I've thought of nothing else since summer. He's wearing the same faded T-Shirt and frayed black jeans that he was when he first found me. His brown hand is in placed his pocket. I make a note of every detail, memorizing him, just incase he leaves me again. My eyes fly back to his pocket, wondering if he's holding something.
That hand used to hold mine.
"Hi, Kian." I breathe, smiling faintly at him.
"Hi, Scarlett." Kian repeats. His voice is still the same, dipping ever so slightly like a whispered song. "I promised you, didn't I?" He adds, before I can even ask why he's here. He does that a lot, as if he's almost reading my mind. He can look right into my soul and either tear it apart or turn it inside out and I wouldn't care. Either way, nothing can change this moment.
I nod slowly, not daring to break eye contact. I drop my keys on the old table nearest to me which has food stains along with dried glue, even holes from where I stuck pins there a few years ago. I'm still clinging onto my old sandals, the hazel branch, and the strawberries, still smiling. Memories float back into my head, but I know they never really deserted me in the first place.
"I know. I never gave up hoping.."
He grins, nodding, expecting that answer. I know he's beckoning me over to him, leading me into his arms, once again welcoming me.
I move closer to him cautiously even though I know Kian is safe. I spent every day of the whole five week summer holiday with him, after all. He brought back my ability to imagine, to trust, to be the Scarlett he fell in love with. He believed I didn't have to prove myself to anybody. I didn't have to run any more. I didn't have to draw attention to myself. For once somebody had taken me for who I was once and not blinked, run off and he hadn't been angry. He'd never been disappointed in me. Not once.
He mimics me, moving closer until the tops of our toes are touching.
"Are you staying?" I ask desperately, being drawn back to reality. It's too good to be true. "You're not going to leave? I've can't do that again.. I've just started to get a hold of my self again." I sound like a child, begging.
"I'm always here." He says, his breath forcing me to close my eyes and lean against him, inhaling it. He wraps his arms around me and we drift into a comfortable silence which I want to stay in.
"I'm sorry, Scarlett." Kian mutters into my hair, rubbing my back soothingly as if I'm a toddler. I'm acting like one. "I'm so sorry for leaving." It's an apology he knows I won't accept. An apology I may have accepted a long time ago, yes, but not today. I know all the reasons which I won't make him bring up again, reasons which will make him run away. "It's all sorted out now." He mutters, nuzzling me. I press myself into him more, wanting to be protected after so long without him.
"You keep reading my mind." I say, my body now hardly functioning. If he wanted me to know something, he'd tell me. I'd never let myself ask, for there's never a need.
I feel him nod, every inch of his head still leaning on me. I like this feeling.
"How did you get here?" I'd spoken into his chest; my arms are still wrapped around him. He laughs lightly, hardly making effort to do so.
"I sorted out things with my dad," Kian says, and I feel his shoulders relax. He seems happy enough to talk. "And I'm back living with him now. I went back to your dad's cottage and met Clare." He pauses, waiting for my reaction. I make no movement and pretend not to be surprised. "Your sister's really cute."
I laugh, nudging him slightly. "Hey, it's me you're interested in here."
"Of course, of course." I can imagine the grin on his face and hear him take a breath before he continues. "Clare told me you're here, so me and my dad packed up and came over. He loves it here, and knows how important you are to me. Your mum knows I'm here, and your dad's coming around to the idea. I'm surprised they even helped me track you down, let alone see you."
I sigh dreamily, tightening my grip on him, ignoring everything else he said. "So you're really here to stay?" I ask once more.
"I'm here." Kian reassures as he leads me over to the sofa. I still can't really see anything – only him – and my vision's blurry because I'm so close. Or are they tears? I can't tell.
He falls into the sofa, bringing me down with him onto his lap. We're still attached; my face still on his chest, but now to the side, and my legs have been pulled up to rest next to him comfortably. One of his hands are around them while the other supports my back. I smile.
Kian bends down ever so slightly and pulls my head back gently to look into my eyes. I bite my lip nervously and look away, embarrassed. "Don't worry Scarlett. Everything's okay now, just like I told you it would be."
Maybe he's not so bad at promises after all.
He leans forward, his cheek next to mine, and I remember how we were in the same position so long ago.
"I love you."