Kiss A Stranger Page 28
Once I made it passed immigration, I stood in the airport as a line-up of family members crowded around, waiting for their loved ones to show. I looked all around me, feeling small and unimportant as I stood alone. I searched for his face, at times standing on my tippy-toes to glance over people\s shoulders.
But no grey eyes met mine.
After fifteen minutes of this, I was growing increasingly worried. Had I done something wrong? What if he had never intended on showing up to begin with? A feeling of melancholy passed through me. My hopes started to dwindle. I spun around frantically, searching and searching until...
My body froze. My mind froze. Everything froze.
Except my heart.
That little organ sped up, hammering away in my chest, as I stared on in front of me.
He stood ten feet away from me in grey cargo shorts and a casual, white button up. Still the most delectable man I remembered him to be, his black hair had grown some, curling at the nape of his neck. He was bigger than I remembered, and, like always, he stood out like a sore thumb in the sea of people around him.
Those intense grey eyes were locked to me. I could feel them sweeping up and down my body, taking all of me in. The look on his face was hard to read, but he seemed to be as affected as me judging by the way his chest rose and fell more rapidly.
There was no way I was going to allow him to make the first move. I was aware that even though he\d brought me here, that didn\ necessarily mean everything was okay. I had a lot of work on my hands, but I wanted to do it. I\d do anything to have another chance with him again.
I shook out of shock and began moving to him. My eyes stayed locked to his as I brushed past people. My body grew warmer the closer I got, as though I\d been a planet that\d spiralled out of orbit only to be thrust back around the sun again. And when I was finally standing a foot away from him, staring up at that beautiful face, all the anguish and pain I\d endured without him the last four months caught up to me, and I crumbled.
The tears fell and I tsked at them angrily, cursing, ’’I didn\ want to cry, dammit.’’
His lips twitched, signalling a bit of life under that stoic expression.
I wiped the tears away quickly, unsure of what to say or how to react. So we just stood there for a few minutes in silence, in the noisy public airport, as I tried to overcome this heavy wave of emotion.
’’I\m sorry,’’ I choked out, staring up at him. ’’I know you don\ want me to say it, but f*k, Ben, I\m so sorry. I\ll do anything to have you back. I\ll prove it any way that\s good enough for you to believe me. I will never mess it up with you because I\d rather die than face losing you again. I just... I really love you and I don\ know what else to say. I don\ know where you stand. I don\ know anything. I haven\ heard your voice in four months, and I\m desperate to. I want to touch you too, but you\ e staring at me like I\ve gone mad and I\m pretty sure I should shut up right now.’’
Rambling like a madwoman in front of the love of my life was unbecoming of me. I couldn\ help it, though.
I needed him.
He moved a little closer to me, and when his hand pressed against the left side of my face, my heart swelled. He was touching me. God, I dreamed this every night.
He licked his lips slowly and whispered, ’’You said in your letter that you wondered if any part of my heart still belonged to you.’’
I held my breath, waiting for him to continue.
’’My whole heart never stopped belonging to you, beauty.’’
I settled my hand over his and cried into it as he moved in even closer.
’’I was hard on you,’’ he continued. ’’I was so angry at you that it blinded me from understanding what you\d done. I\m sorry for that.’’
’’Don\ you dare apologize to me,’’ I shot back. ’’You did nothing wrong.’’
’’But I did. I spent those few months trying to end the dirty side of business I\d been wrapped up in, and I never opened up to you about it. I never explained to you what was happening, never prepared you for what might have come. I didn\ want you to know because I was ashamed of it. If I\d communicated with you a bit more, then maybe none of this would have happened.’’
He dipped his face and pressed his forehead against mine.
’’It took me a very long time to look past that anger,’’ he said. ’’But when I did, I saw it from your point of view. The night you gave me the watch, it hit me. The reason you\d brought up my relationship history the night before, it occurred to me that\s what Hardman had used to turn you against me. They\d been on my case heatedly when I was seeing her, and when I broke it off with her, I\d also broken it off with Jamie. I could see they\d depended on that to make their lie work, thinking she wouldn\ re-enter my life. And I was so angry at it all, I wanted you to see Melinda with Jamie first hand.’’
’’And that\s why you told him the apartment was his for a few hours.’’
’’Yes, I knew he was with her, and I wanted you to see it for yourself. That whatever they told you I\d done to her, you\d come to realize it was the complete opposite. I wanted you to feel the shock, wanted you to feel the pain - anything to get you to feel what I did in that moment. And it was wrong of me.’’
I shook my head. ’’I deserved it.’’
His hold against my face tightened as he solemnly let out, ’’We had this discussion before, Claire, about what you do and do not deserve. You did not deserve that kind of emotional pain.’’
’’But I needed to feel it. I needed to know your pain, and I\m sorry for it.’’
Pulling away from me, he dropped his hand and wrapped it around mine. ’’You\ e mine,’’ he told me with conviction. ’’And I\m yours. We\ e going to spend every moment together while we\ e here, and we\ e going to make this right.’’
I smiled at him, and it felt like the first real smile in months, coming from deep within my soul.
’’Let me take your bag.’’ His other hand grabbed hold of the strap around my shoulder. He took it off and settled it around his own before pulling me to him. ’’You\ e going to enjoy it here. Weather\s beautiful, food\s even better, and the people are wonderful.’’
’’And how long are we going to be here?’’ I asked happily.
He shrugged, smiling down at me. ’’As long as we want. We can go wherever we want. Travel the world, work a few jobs here and there in-between, and then who knows? Maybe we\ll find somewhere we want to settle down, a place where I can marry you and start a completely different journey.’’
My heart clenched as I stared at him, stunned stupid. ’’You see yourself marrying me?’’
He chuckled at my disbelief. ’’You will marry me one day. I don\ have to ask it. It\s going to happen whether you like it or not. Hell, I\ll write it on a damn card since you clearly do whatever they demand of you.’’
’’You know, it\s still romantic if you asked, Ben.’’
He looked mischievously at me. ’’One day, little lady. I\ll ask you to be mine on paper one day very soon.’’
I smiled, swallowing back my tears. ’’I\ll be waiting.’’
We fit together so perfectly. Our bodies entwined like we were made for each other. Four months of separation had done nothing to our relationship. We simply picked up where we left off.
We had a lot of catching up to do in that way.
The second we stepped foot into his enormous rental apartment, Ben dropped my bag and picked me up. He hurried me into the bedroom, ignoring my protests, uncaring that I\d been on a thirty two hour journey and felt grimy as hell.
’’None of that matters,’’ he muttered against my lips. ’’I haven\ been inside of you in four bloody months, Claire. That\s what f*king matters.’’
He didn\ slow down to warm me up - not that I needed it. He simply stripped me down and brought me against his naked body. He kissed me like his life depended on it, feeling every part of my body hastily and hungrily.
Then he took me. Hard and fast, reminding me that Ben was not always a gentle man.
I wrapped my arms around him and dragged my nails down his back as he thrust into me, ravaging my body, but also staring into my eyes to give me that connection I\d been longing for.
Tears slid down my face when I came. I clutched onto him desperately, never wanting to let go. I would never ruin this. I would never dishonour his trust. I would never see the ugly in me ever again. What we had between us was beautiful enough to outshine all the bad in the world.
I loved him.
God, I loved him.
’’I love you too, little lady,’’ he breathed against me.
And that\s all that mattered.