Sixteen Miles

by Mackenzie L.

She was unprepared.

He had not been gone more than an hour, and yet she felt the distinct pressure of his presence, lingering somewhere so close to her.

No garage door. No footsteps on the staircase. No warnings. No prelude to his presence.

All at once, her senses sparkled with the vastly familiar scent.

He smelled like the wind over the ocean and daydreams and the golden rays of sunlight that sometimes streamed through storm clouds unexpectedly. Unassuming divinity.

Faster than reflexes, she turned to the source of the aroma, alive with delighted shock.

There he stood — a solid sculpture of unheralded color and beauty. Powder blue and charcoal gray and vanilla white. Blond.

Obscenely handsome. A vivid hallucination, perhaps.

But no, he was speaking.

"I forgot to say 'I love you' this morning."

The aching tender softness of his familiar voice pierced the room; pierced her. That voice that made satin feel like sandpaper.

Her shy, cherry lips curved into a curious smirk.

"Hm. I thought you did say it."

The ivory plane of his forehead furrowed almost guiltily, a telltale crease that teased the tiny space between his eyebrows. A hair-thin crack in his porcelain perfection. She longed to kiss it away.

His voice floated faintly to her ears - apologetic, cottony. "I didn't."

"I could have sworn you did..." She murmured encouragingly, privately replaying her catalogued memories of that morning. Or he had said something close to it.

"No…" He stepped into the room, so soundlessly that the theory of hallucination briefly resurrected in her mind.

"Hm." Her naturally lopsided smile was uncontainable.

With each silent step forward he destroyed the distance between them. Tenderly slaughtered the frustrating inches, one by one. And she swore she heard the particles of air sigh pleasantly as he scattered them about with each graceful movement.

"I want to say it now." He spoke and she savored the velvet waves of his words.

Her knees strained at his alluringly delicate smile. Pearl teeth, flashing dimples, gentle lips.

"All right."

And his eyes smothered her heart. Flickered like candlelight with sultry flames that could have scorched Satan to cinders — a loving, smoldering heat that would have made hell feel like the Arctic Circle.

"I love you."

She felt everything in one tiny, trembling moment. Rainy mornings and volcanic fire and honey-hued clouds at sunset.

She whispered as he slowly crashed through the last inches of void between their bodies.

"I like the way you say it."

His hands flanked her face like he wouldn't ever let go, and an eternal thrill blossomed inside her vacant heart.

"I promise I won't forget ever again."

His intolerably intimate gaze glittered a rare rose-like gold. Strawberry blond topaz. Playful and steadfast — recklessly honest, wise and wonderful.

"I'll hold you to that."

Everything touches. No more space.

And no sense made perfect sense. And everything wrong, for just one moment, was made right.

She kisses him back, locking to memory every detail of the fleeting feverish sensation — like the wings of doves fluttering through her throat; a thousand tiny ballerinas twirling and leaping through her stomach.

Warm, gentle hurricanes of gravity and passion. Delicate microbursts and soothing electricity.

Just knowing he came back to her makes her feel this way.

Only her husband would run all sixteen miles home from work for just one minute because he forgot to tell her he loved her. Even though she already knew it. Even though he knew that she already knew it.

Only Carlisle, in all his gloriously irrational compassion, would do that all for her.

And that was why she loved him back.