You're all awesome. All. Of. You.
I wait for Edward in the same spot I met him.
Of course I called him.
I waited two days, but I called him.
The night in the bar was, so far, my lowest point. I made my way home, crawled into bed with Sam acting as my little spoon, and cried myself to sleep. I stayed there for the next twelve hours, eating only chips and raisins until I pulled myself together, had a shower, and sent a text to Edward. As I have come to expect, he was charming and patient in his response, making sure that I was sure.
I am, I replied. Definitely.
I hear a deep bark and look down the beach to see Ozzy bounding towards me. Sam lifts his head from the sand, and his tail begins to wag. He looks at me as if he's waiting for me to break down again. I smile and rub his big head.
"It's all right, buddy. Go play."
As the two dogs reacquaint, Edward approaches with a lazy smile. His eyes are hidden behind a pair of Wayfarers and the shorts he's wearing show off pale, muscular legs. One of which has an epic tattoo that stretches up his shin and around his calf.
"Morning," I say as I offer him the cup of black coffee I've been holding for five minutes. It's not quite an olive branch, but it's the next best thing.
"Thanks," he replies, taking it from me. He takes a small sip. "Perfect."
We begin to walk slowly down the beach. "I hope you'll take that as my apology for the other night," I say with a laugh of embarrassment.
He shakes his head. "Nothing to apologize for."
I look at him askance to see if he's lying, but I see nothing that gives him away.
"I was ridiculous," I confess. "I made a fool of myself."
"No," he says firmly. "You didn't. Believe me, I've been there. I know what having your heart broken is like."
For a brief moment, I want to laugh. Looking at him, seeing him in all his sexy, devil-may-care glory, I find it very hard to believe that anyone could break him. Why would anyone want to? How could anyone treat him with anything but love and affection?
I stare out across the water, watching the dogs run and jump through the waves. "His name's James." The words are out of my mouth before I can stop them. My throat scratches as his name leaves it. "I was in love with him for sixteen years. He didn't love me back."
Saying it in three sentences makes my hermit-like behavior of the last twenty-four hours seem impossibly trite and altogether dramatic. I realize Edward has stopped walking, and I turn back to see him staring at me with incredulity.
"He didn't love you back," he repeats quietly.
I shake my head. "He's marrying a girl who . . . His wealthy father will approve." The bitterness that laces my words is blatant.
A humorless laugh breaks from Edward's mouth. It sounds like familiarity. It sounds like he knows what I'm talking about. "Bastard."
I toe the sand with my flip-flopped foot. "Yeah."
Edward's shadow appears over my toes. "Do you still love him?"
I keep my eyes on the sand and shrug. Do I still love him? Yes. Part of me still adores him. Do I miss him? Yes. Do I want him to choose me and leave the girl at the altar?
I look up at Edward, taking in the curve of his mouth and the small scar on his left cheek. "He's my best friend," I say. "But he used me. He broke me. I can't forgive that."
"That's not a no," Edward says quickly. Slowly, he removes his shades and pins me with a look that makes my knees weak. "I find myself in a predicament here." His voice is low and is almost lost under the sound of the ocean waves.
"What?" I fumble with the hem of my t-shirt, before crossing my arms over my chest.
"I like you," he says. "A lot."
I hold my breath and wait.
"It's that simple," he continues. "I barely know you really, but I like you, and I'd like to ask you out."
I go to open my mouth, but he moves a step closer to me. With him so near, I have to move my head back to look at him. His coffee-sweet breath washes across my face.
"But I don't want you to freak out like you did at the bar." I flush in humiliation, but he presses on. "I want this to be what you want too. I don't want to be second best to some prick who doesn't know a good thing when he has it."
He presses his lips together and lifts his hand to my face. The backs of his fingers dance across my cheek, making my eyes roll closed, before he pushes some wayward hair behind my ear.
"It's been a long time since I've done this, so forgive my bluntness. Do you like me?" he asks. The vulnerability that clings to those four words makes me want to kiss him.
"Yes," I admit. "I like you."
The left side of his mouth twitches with a smile. "Then go out with me. Forget James. For one night, let's both stop running and take a chance."
My heart pulses with relief and hopefulness for the first time in weeks. I shiver when Edward's hand trails down behind my ear, my neck and down my arm.
"Will you? Will you be mine for one night, beautiful?"
"Yes," I whisper. "Okay."
Smooches to lellabeth and GeekChic.
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