Embrace: Evolve Series, Book Two(4)

By: S.E. Hall



“Watch her,” I mouth to Sawyer, waiting for him to acknowledge me with a nod before sneaking away.





***

I pull the guitar strap over my head and watch her looking around, eyes darting, neck craning; poor Sawyer is about to get slapped if he doesn’t tell her where I went. Two chords in, her shoulders relax and she turns, her face now serene as she locks eyes with me. I sing for her, to her; it’s the one way I can reach her soul immediately. Music is one of our deepest connections and tonight I’ve chosen “Endlessly” by Green River Ordinance, with some of my own styling strummed on my guitar. The words couldn’t be more fitting for us.

Oh, my tough girl. I watch as her little pink lip quivers, so she bites it, refusing to let the pools I can see shimmering in her eyes from here, escape. She smiles and mouths an “I love you,” sending my heart to new spheres. I’m so tempted to stop the song right now, but I manage to power through and finish to surprisingly raucous applause.

I weave frantically through people clapping me on the back to get to her. She throws her arms around my neck, a glowing smile making her face even more beautiful, and I know it was the perfect way to get both of our minds off of everything wrong and shift our focus to everything right.

“That was unbelievable, Dane. I love it when you sing to me.”

“I love you.” I blow in her ear, caressing it with my mouth.

“Take me home,” she coos.

I thought you’d never ask. Linking our fingers, I pull her towards the exit, giving quick goodbyes to our group.

He’s already glaring at us when I notice him standing directly between us and the door. I know the second Laney spots him because her hand tenses in mine and a shiver runs through her. I pull her tighter to me; no matter what happens, she’s not leaving my side. I’m not gonna be a dick; I promised her I wouldn’t do that ever again, but I’m also not going to roll over. He stands his ground as we come closer, his eyes hard, moving to Laney. She trembles, but quickly gathers herself, pushing her shoulders back and standing tall.

“Hey, Evan,” she says stoically.

He gives her only an obligatory brow raise.

“I called and texted,” she offers weakly. “I thought we could talk.”

“I got them,” he sneers.

I remain silent, letting her get out what she needs to, biting my tongue to refrain from telling him to watch his tone.

“Oh, okay then. I just thought—”

He holds up a hand to cut her off. “Let’s not do this,” his eyes cut to me and back, “here.”

She nods curtly and tugs on my hand, ready to leave.

Well, this night just went to hell in a hurry. The car ride home is hauntingly silent, her anguish palpable. I almost let her stew…

“Talk to me baby,” I finally say, rubbing her thigh. “Tell me what you’re thinking.”

Her exhale is shaky. “I hurt him, worse than I even thought. Evan is never unkind, and the way he acted tonight… Well, now I know it’s really bad.”

I reach for her hand, rubbing my thumb over hers.

“I think you’re wrong, Dane,” she says with a sad sigh. “I don’t think he’ll ever forgive me.”

What do I say to that? I can’t express my real thoughts—how long is this going to go on? When can we quit talking about this? I remain silent and stare out at the road in front of me.

She turns her sweet face, resting a cheek against the seat. “Don’t do that, Dane.”

“Do what?” I wish I wasn’t driving right now so I could stay focused on her expression. That would answer all my questions for me, without a doubt.

“You’re not the only one with ESP. I know what you’re doing.”

I can’t help my grin, pleased that she does, in fact, know me as well I do her. “What am I doing, baby?”

“You’re doubting us. Again. We can’t do this every time we see him, Dane. It’s going to bug me, every single time, to see the pain in his eyes. But it doesn’t mean anything changes for us. I won’t change my mind.” She lifts our joined hands, kissing mine tenderly then resting them against her chest. “He was my first love, and I’d like to keep him in my life, but you are my forever. You’re the key to unlocking parts of me I didn’t even know existed.”

Thankfully, I pull into my garage as she finishes speaking, because I can’t wait another second to hold her. “Laney…” I grab her face in both my hands, sealing my lips with hers in hunger. Her mouth molds with mine, tasting like her fruity drink and Laney, and her moan tells me to take more, roughly, so I gladly do. Both our chests are heaving when we break apart but I manage out breathily, “You are my all day, every day. I will love you, hard, every day for the rest of my life. I swear it.”

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