Very Wicked Things Page 81

An off key song reached my ears, and I grinned from my big bed. Someone had gotten up early. And I knew exactly who. Eager to hear more and watch the action, I climbed out and pulled on leggings and a tunic. I detangled my hair with my fingers as I walked down the hall, the laughter from the kitchen tugging at my heart.

I caught a glimpse of myself in the hall mirror and paused. The blue streaks still decorated the ends of my dark hair, hanging on. I smiled, remembering the girl who\d wanted him to see me.

Cuba had played with the strands last night, his eyes heavy with promise. ’’It\s almost gone,’’ he noted from above as we\d lain in bed.

’’You want me to get more?’’

He\d grinned and kissed me long and hard, until we were all over each other, forgetting the question. Then, much later, he\d pistoned behind me, his hands clutching me. With his mouth on my nape, he\d whispered hoarsely, ’’I\ll love you no matter what color your hair is.’’ Those words had sent my body straight over the edge, had me panting into the sheets at the way he loved me. All holds barred, he loved me with everything he had. Two survivors who\d had to grow up way too fast, we\d found each other.

The pain of our break-up faded. He\d proven himself to me in Vegas when he\d gotten rid of Alexander. He\d proven himself by forging a friendship with Spider, even though dude could be an ass sometimes. As for his own guilt, he and his dad were going to grief counseling together. It was something they should have done years ago, but sometimes it takes reaching your low before you realize you have to put effort into learning to live again.

And me? I\ve chosen to not judge myself. I\ve seen how self-hate can rip you apart inside. I\d watched my mama give up, and that was not part of who I was. I\d seen the way Cuba had punished himself.

I refused to dwell on the sacrifices I made. I chose optimism instead.

Speaking of Spider, we were headed down to Austin tonight to see Vital Rejects play. Not to anyone\s surprise, he and Sebastian had become good friends, both of them forgoing college to work on their music. Not sure how it would turn out, but I couldn\ wait to see what they did together.

And Sebastian?

He\d changed from the sweet guy I\d met in Lit class. Emma had broken him and the baby? Well...

I walked in the kitchen and lost my breath.

’’Dovey, Dovey, my lovey,’’ came the deep baritone song from the white stove where Cuba stirred what looked like pancake mix. My tummy rumbled. He liked to feed me. See, we were perfect.

He wore a white wife beater with black track pants and looked se*y as hell. I salivated for him, not just breakfast. Swooping in, I wrapped my arms around his muscled waist and kissed him on the lips. Best way to start the day. His amber eyes smoldered, giving me delicious shivers all over my body. Yeah, we\d be going straight back to bed after this.

Heather-Lynn made a gagging face at me as she set the table. I grinned manically. Love made me happy.

Sarah sat at the table reading the newspaper, caught by something she saw in the Sunday comic section. I kissed the top of her head. A home health nurse came five times a week to be with her while Heather-Lynn and I had the other two days full time. It had been hard giving her care up to a stranger, to someone who didn\ know her, but it was a better choice than the nursing home. I didn\ know what the future held, but with Cuba with me, I wasn\ as scared of the dark.

She glanced up at me, her green eyes open and innocent like a child.

Sometimes she knew exactly who I was;most times she didn\ .

And even though she\s fading, there\ e moments when she\ll grab my hand and say, ’’I know you. You\ e that dancer.’’

I\d want to cry, but I\d smile and say, Yes, that\s me.

Last week, I\d been brushing out her hair after a bath, noticing that she plucked at her gown.

’’What\s up?’’ I\d asked her.

’’I think there\s something wrong with me. Is there?’’

Oh, the pain of that. To know that sometimes she recognized the forgetting. Did she perhaps get glimpses of what she\d lost? Did she catch snippets of her and David? Did she remember the little girl without hope who\d stumbled into her studio, determined to make dance her world? And finally, did she remember I adored her?

’’Your name is Sarah, and you are loved by three wonderful people.’’

It was enough to make her smile.

’’How many pancakes you want?’’ Cuba asked me, pulling me back to the here and now.

Ricky barked in the background, because he wanted pancakes, too. Goofy dog. Heather-Lynn butted in and called out that she wanted three and a side of bacon. Cuba chuckled and told her to make her own damn bacon. He was pancake man and that was it. But, then he reached in the fridge and pulled out the pork.

And something happened. Clicked. Nothing crazy or freakish, but an important shift nonetheless. You see, it\s corny, but I believe only a few moments in your life possess special magic, and I believe each person is allotted only a handful. And, as the love I wanted was happening right in front of me, trust for the future settled its warm feathers around me.

And along with that came the knowledge that I\d never be lonely again.

I\d never be hungry. For anything.

From across the table, Sarah reached over and threaded her fingers through mine. I don\ know why. Maybe she\d known I\d been contemplating life. Perhaps in her illness, she was more tuned in to people and their emotions. But it was as if she sensed my moment.

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