Her emotions flip a switch and settle back into despair. She crosses her arms over the small bump pushing out her stomach, hugging it, her fight dissolving into a fit of sadness.
“I love your brother so much. That’s what makes this so hard, why I hate myself for feeling this way. I shouldn’t feel this way,” she admonishes, shaking her head dismissively. She licks her lips and her expression turns painful, ashamed. “But you were right, Aiden—”
A tightness squeezes my chest and my eyes burn with unshed tears, knowing her confession before it even leaves her lips.
Taking a deep breath, she fills her lungs to their extents and prepares to surrender the truth she’s kept closest to her, shielded next to her heart. A truth that simultaneously changes everything and nothing, yet proves what we’ve both known all along.
She softly exhales.
In a weak, defeated voice, she finally concedes.
“I’ll always love you more.”
Dampness rebuilds behind her lids—shimmering dark pools—before spilling over. Her shoulders begin to heave.
Every sob. Every tear that falls, my heart bleeds. It’s a constant trickle making me weak. The dam I’ve built around my heart fractures and breaks and a flood of everything I’ve ever felt, needed, or wanted with Raine comes barrelling in, creating a tsunami of compulsion, and I’m powerless to stay away.
I stride toward her, wrapping her in the blanket of my arms, needing to hold her one last time. I let the warmth of her body, radiate the truth.
No more denial.
No more illusions.
I love April. I’m willing to give her my forever. Because I’m sure fate brought us together.
But I’ll always love you more.
“More than you could ever know,” I amend, finally admitting to the feelings I’ve been trying to convince myself were no longer there.
She snuggles her face into my chest, gladly accepting the solace. She hugs around my waist, holding on, not wanting to let go. Minutes suspend, ceasing to move forward as we cherish the moment. I grip around her just as tight, fighting against the urgency of stolen time. Lost time.
Her red-rimmed eyes peer up at me sadly, “I don’t know how to live without you.”
I dip my head and press my lips against her forehead, feeling the heat of the anguish radiating through her silky skin. I linger there, holding the connection with my friend, my love, my home, mirroring her thoughts.
“We’ll have to learn together.”