We aren’t given the big things until it’s absolute certain that we are able to be trusted with the smallest of the small.
I tried to yell—I tried to call out to her, but it was as if the trees surrounding us were getting thicker as my voice got louder. Each time I said her name, another tree would grow right in front of me, blocking my view. I started to run, only to realize that I couldn’t. My legs were frozen in place.
“Kiersten!” I rasped, my voice aching from the supreme effort it took to scream her name over and over again into the night sky, “Kiersten, don’t go!”
Finally, just when I was ready to give up—she turned.
A smile curved her lips as she made her way slowly through the thick of the trees, I could have sworn she was skipping as she took her time, while I was slowly dying inside. Couldn’t she see the panic?
“Wes.” The way she said my name was like a caress. I closed my eyes and focused on that and only that. I’d never admitted it to anyone, possibly not even myself until now, but the way she formed her words absolutely destroyed me. Ridiculous, right? That I could be so freaking obsessed with the way her voice sounded. But—honestly, it had been her voice that I’d heard that night of the surgery. Her voice and only her voice, calling out to me, pleading with me, screaming for me and only me. How could I have said no? I mean what man in his right mind, says no to perfection when it’s screaming your name? I fought all the damn demons, dragons, freaking devils and made my way towards her.
But now? It seemed as if everything had shifted. My strength had left me and I was the one left waiting for her to rescue me…
Funny, because in those few seconds where she was closing the distance between us, it finally hit me. I’d never been the rescuer…never in my life had I been the savior. Guys always want to be the prince, but, I think—no, I know, in the end I was rescued by the damsel, not the other way around.
I could feel her heartbeat as if it was my own, and finally, her lips were touching mine, “Wes, it’s okay.”
“Wes.” Her voice was firm, unyielding, “I’m right here, wake up baby.”
“Wake up?” I mumbled, repeating her.
“Wake.” Her lips moved to my neck, “Up.”
I felt like I was falling, and then my eyes fluttered open. Kiersten was hovering over me, concern laced in her eyes, “Another nightmare?”
Awesome. It was like we’d traded places. She no longer had nightmares and a day didn’t go by without me dreaming about not being able to reach her in time, damn, when you’re the person in the position of leaving, you always think about how hard it is for those that are left behind—never in my life did it occur to me that when I was given a second chance, I would be living in constant fear of waking up from that dream only to find it wasn’t true.
“Yeah.” I mumbled, “I couldn’t reach you, there were trees, and…” My voice trailed off as I realized how ridiculous it sounded. We were in my apartment in Bellevue for Spring Break, not running through the forest like some crazy Twilight wannabes in search of Thumper or Bambi.
I pulled her on top of me and kissed her across the mouth, closing my eyes as her tongue tasted my lower lip and then pushed past the boundary of my mouth.
I growled low in my throat and slowly flipped her on her back so I could hover over her.
“Oh no you don’t.” She pushed against my chest.
“Dying wish.” I kissed her mouth again, “What if I die in my sleep? You gonna say no to that?” I winked.
“I swear I fear for our children.” Kiersten mumbled still pushing against my chest. “God help me if they have your blue eyes and ridiculous ability to justify everything and anything.”
“Charm.” I grinned, “it’s call charm.”
“Also known as manipulation.” Her eyes narrowed.
“Sweetheart…” I moved my assault to her neck, knowing that she was absolutely powerless when I kissed just below her ear.
“Don’t sweetheart me.” She pushed again.
“I’m half naked in bed, sexually frustrated, and upset because you were lost in the damn forest and you want me to talk?”
She just grinned.
Damn I loved that smile.
“So what do you wanna talk about?” I sighed heavily and laid on my back. Her hand moved to my chest, rubbing up and down as she snuggled into my body.
“Same thing.” I wrapped my arm around her body and pulled her close, “I never really thought about it.”
“Huh?” She perked up, an absolutely clueless expression on her face. I’d always felt like I was protecting her by not telling her that yes, after all the inspirational talks we’d had together, after everything—I still had mind blowing fears. Funny, because I’d never really been afraid until now.
I licked my lips and focused on the sound of the traffic on the street, “I was devastated to leave you, Kiersten. Aboslutley ripped to shreds on the inside, but I’d come to grips with the reality of my situation. Every moment, every touch, every sigh that escaped your lips, I memorized it, I stored it in my brain, my heart—my body. And eventually, I wasn’t afraid for me, just for you. But now…”
She laid back down and started caressing my chest, “Now?”
“Now I’m absolutely paralyzed with fear.”
“The bad kind?”
“It’s all bad.” I grumbled, “But yeah, the bad kind, the kind that makes you want to scream only you can’t find your voice.”
“Love is scary.”
“Love, marriage, cats—“
“Did you just compare love and marriage to cats?”
“It’s their eyes, it’s like they know things.” I shook and gripped her harder as I felt her face smile against my chest.
“Okay so me and cats, we both terrify you, good to know, ass.”
“I didn’t say donkeys.” I cleared my throat, “Just you and cats, and if we’re gonna get really crazy then you can throw in crabs.”
“Please tell me you mean the actual crab.”
“Holy shit I’ve officially corrupted you!” I jolted away from her and shook my head, “And the innocence officially goes down the drain. So, so sad.” I put my hand across my heart while she threw a pillow at my head, her beautiful face turning a bright shade of pink.
“So cats.” Her face was still covered with her hands.
“They’re eyes are too perceptive and they meow freakishly loud.”
“Fair.” She nodded, slowly pulling her hands away, “And me? What about me?”
“Kiersten….” I scolded, “Don’t you want to know about the crabs?”
“No.” She looked away, “I think I’m good.”
“I love how you offer information even when I don’t ask.”
“Want to know what else?” I said, ignoring her.
“I’m sure I probably don’t’, but yeah, since I can’t stop you, whath else, Wes?”
Every night…when I close my eyes…my greatest fear isn’t dying, it isn’t about getting cancer again or something crazy happening like losing all my teeth or hair.” I swallowed, “My greatest fear, the thing that haunts my every waking and sleeping moment, is opening my eyes and not seeing your face.”
“—I’m serious.” My voice cracked, “I could spout cheesy lines until you laugh your ass off and tell me to go to sleep, but Kiersten, you’re my life, my air, my everything, my soul, my heart, my body, my—“ I trembled and closed my eyes, “I can’t exist without you to complete me and I worry that one day you’re going to realize how ridiculously head over heels in love I am—and bolt.”
“So you’re afraid.” She said quietly.
“All the damn time.”
“So…” Her perfect pout worked into a small smile, “Be afraid.”
“Oh no you don’t!” She pulled me down onto the bed and straddled me. Right okay so fear just ran out the door, but still. “You always say to do things afraid.”
“Right, which Im doing it’s just—“
“—don’t’ interrupt.” She threatened.
I did anyways.
Kiersten rolled her eyes and leaned down so our lips were almost touching, “It’s natural to be afraid of losing those you love—it’s important to have that fear, I would even go as far as to say it’s healthy.”
“Oh yeah?” I whispered.
“Yes.” Her voice was clear, strong, damn I was so proud of her new found strength I wanted to shout. “Healthy fear—it causes you to appreciate what you have. Just don’t take it so far that you let it control your life. See, I could be afraid I was going to lose you every damn day, and don’t think I’m not…but someone really wise once told me that when faced with death, which lets be honest could happen at any moment, you learn to appreciate the small things.”
“Like my abs…” I winked.
She smacked me in the stomach. I pretended it hurt when really it felt like someone was tickling me.
“Yes, and your eyes.” She kissed each cheek, “your lips.” Kierten’s teeth tugged my lower lip as she sighed into my mouth and whispered, “Your money making hands…you know the ones that are going to take you to the NFL.”
I shook as her hands moved down my chest, lower and lower until I was pretty sure I blacked out for a brief minute before remembering to breath, “And that very sexy, very large…” Every muscle in my body tensed, “Heart.”
“Totally had you saying something else.”
“I can tell.” She laughed against my chest.
“I can hear you!” A male voice shouted and then there was pounding on the door. Kiersten scurried off of me and sat up just as it burst open.
“What the hell!” Gabe yelled, “I have ears you know!”
“Should we clap?” I whispered to Kiersten, “As encouragement?”
Gabe sighed and leaned against the door, “I freaking hate this.”
“What?” I asked innocently.
Ignoring me, Gabe waltzed in and pointed at both of us, “No girls. You said there would be plenty of girls and parties and—“ he swore for a good two minutes, “I need the distraction guys, you can’t keep me locked up in here forever! I’m a peacock! You gotta let me fly!”
“Love that movie.” I nodded, “The Good Guys?”
“Is that it?” Kiersten asked, “I think that’s the wrong title?”
“Focus!” Gabe clapped a few times and began pacing back and forth, “The one and only woman I saw in this entire damn apartment building was eighty-two and my desperation hasn’t reached that level yet.”
“Aw come on Gabe,” I laughed, “Beggars can’t be choosers.”
He stopped walking and then he was lunging for me just as Lisa came in and grabbed him, puling him back towards the door.
“I hate my damn cage!” Gabe shouted to no one in particular as the door slammed again leaving us in silence.
“Maybe we shouldn’t have lied.” Kiersten laughed.
I tried to keep my expression neutral—but it was damn difficult keeping anything from Kiersten. She didn’t need to know that the last thing Gabe needed was female companionship. He may play a good game—but that kid had been on the injured list for years. I wasn’t sure how long I could keep that particular secret from everyone, especially considering the media followed us around like the plague. I was keeping Gabe in a cage alright, because I knew the minute someone found out who he was it would be game over. And I wasn’t sure Gabe would come out the winner. No, in his current state—he’d be done and I’d have no one to blame for myself.
He kept my secret.
Now it was my turn to do the same.
“Hey,” Kiersten nudged me, “Do you feel better?”
“Of course.” I grinned pushing thoughts of Gabe’s past away from my present, “How’d you get so smart?”
“Oh you know…she took lessons from this really smart senior…”
“Oh yeah?” I tugged her body closer to mine, “Care to take any more lessons?”
“I’m a good learner….” She dug her fingernails into my back.
I growled and threw the covers off of the bed, “Pretty damn sure I’m aware.”
“Wes.” Her back arched as I kissed her neck.
“Wes’s is busy right now….”
“I mean it… “ She sighed helplessly against me, “I love you.”
“I love you too.”
“No more talking.” I silenced her mouth and found that the fear left…because in the end, she was right, and I had to listen to my own damn advice. I had now, and that was enough. It would always be enough when Kiersten was concerned because she was my past, present, and future.