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Note to readers: This chapter is from Savy’s point of view and covers the same time period and events as Chapter 9.
Mike’s eyes came back up to mine, wide open and questioning me, searching back and forth across my face.
“Mike, I told him no.”
His look turned to complete shock and he brought his hands to his face. The restaurant wasn’t overly loud, but I could still barely hear him.
I had been thinking about what to say for a week now. No words seemed appropriate for what I had to tell him, for all of the pain I had put him through. I could only tell him what I had been through, how I had come to this point.
“I loved Josh. I still do, in a certain way, and he’ll always be special to me. I didn’t fully realize it until he set the ring in front of me, but I wasn’t meant to be with him.”
It had been just a week ago. I could still see the look on his face, hope, when he opened the box holding his grandmother’s ring, and then how quickly that hope had disappeared, turned to pain and anger, when I answered him. He didn’t deserve to have that happen to him.
But I had to do it. I couldn’t tell him yes. I couldn’t agree to marry him when I knew that Mike was the only person I could ever spend my life with. I just didn’t know if he could ever feel the same way about me again. It was a chance I had to take.
But before I could even think about that, about whether he could ever love me again, I was so ashamed of what I had done to him.
“Mike, I’m so sorry for how I’ve treated you.”
All I could do now was be honest, to Mike and to myself.
“You gave me so much happiness and then, after we learned the truth, I did nothing but hurt you. I understand why you left that night. I was in shock when I left my ring on your bed, but that’s no excuse.”
My ring… you asked me to marry you and I said yes. There was no doubt in my mind when you slid your ring, my ring, onto my finger. I can still see it…
“You had every right to leave.”
How could I have done that to you? Even if I was in shock, how could that have been my response? You had made a lifelong promise to me and… I failed you.
“And when you came back to me, I wanted so desperately to tell you to stay, but I couldn’t get the words out. You told me you loved me and still wanted to spend your life with me and I couldn’t say a single word. ‘Stay.’ I’m so sorry.”
All of the pain that I caused you, for two years, the pain I had now caused Josh, all of it could have been avoided if I had taken your hand or said a single word. You didn’t ask me to do the impossible, to ignore everything we had learned. You just asked me to try.
“You gave me months and months. I could have said one word and I know you would have come back to me.”
I hid from you and I am ashamed.
“It’s my fault, Mike. I don’t blame you at all for leaving and going to Spain.”
I didn’t tell you to leave, but all of my actions did. I can’t believe you ever came back.
“And when you came back, I was callous and vicious towards you. We hadn’t seen each other for a year and a half and that was how I treated you.”
I touched his cheek softly. The memory of feeling my hand slapping his face, the sting of the contact, was too much.
Please forgive me.
“Despite all of that, you’ve been there for me. You’ve always been there for me, even when I stupidly thought you weren’t.”
You had been there for my entire life, why would I have thought for a moment that you weren’t?
“You came to see my performance.”
I should have invited you. You opened the door for us. After all that I had done, you opened the door.
“You were there even when I was with Josh and I know that couldn’t have been easy for you. You didn’t say anything, you were just there for me.”
Maybe you had already let me go. I wouldn’t blame you. I did nothing to warrant your love. But even then, you were there for me, as my brother.
I could see the hurt on his face. Everything I had done to cause him pain for two years was written there.
From behind his hands, he asked, “Savy… what are you saying?”
I breathed deeply. Telling Mike that I was sorry for how I had treated him was only half of what I had to say. Now came the hard part. Would he hate me? Would he push me away the way I had pushed him away? I deserved it. Could he even possibly still feel something for me?
No matter what, I wouldn’t hide from him or myself anymore.
“Mike, I love you. I never stopped loving you. I hid it from myself and pushed it so far down that I could pretend I had moved on, but I can’t be with anybody else. I’m sorry that it took me so long to see it.”
I studied him, watching every movement. I could see his knuckles turn white as his fingers clasped each other tightly before relaxing and squeezing again. His eyes blinked rapidly and I could see the muscles of his jaw clench, too.
“I’ve done so much to hurt you. I’m damaged goods. You don’t have to say anything to me. I don’t expect anything from you. I just need for you to be happy. I’ve been izmir escort bayan hurting you for so long and I don’t want to ever hurt you again.”
I stood up and moved next to him. I was on the verge of breaking down after pouring my heart out to him.
“You told me you’d always be there for me and you have been, even when I didn’t see it. I love you and I will always be there for you from now on. I’m so sorry that I haven’t been.”
I expected him to interrupt me at any moment, to cut me off and say, “No. I don’t love you anymore, not after what you did to me.” He just sat in silence and it was killing me. I couldn’t expect him to have any response to what I was saying. I must sound insane to him.
“I know that all of this is too much right now. I’ll wait for you, whether it’s tomorrow, next week, or next year. As soon as you’re ready and know what you want, what will make you happy, I’ll do everything I can to make it happen.”
I love you, Mike. If I can’t make you happy, I hope you find someone who can. I need you to be happy again. I miss your smile.
He was looking up at me with those beautiful blue and green eyes. I leaned down and kissed his forehead, holding my lips against him and hoping it wouldn’t be the last time.
I had to go. I wanted to think, if just for a day, that he could possibly love me again. I didn’t deserve even that much, but rejection today, now, would destroy me.
I set my sights on the door.
I stepped outside and felt the cold January air on my face. I reached into my pocket and pulled out my red Maryland knit hat and pulled it on, then down over my ears. My eyes locked onto the ground, ready to walk home and wait, an unbearable wait…
I heard a loud crash behind me and turned just in time to see Mike come barreling through the door. No, no, no… just a few more minutes of hope, please.
He didn’t slow down as he approached me, with a look that I can only describe as determination. I watched as his hands moved up in front of his body.
And then his arms were around my back and he was lifting me off my feet, holding me, squeezing me to him.
“Savy, I love you.”
He… he loves me.
“I love you, too, Mike.”
I squeezed my eyes tight as tears started to flow. After all that I had done to him, he loves me. I could feel it in his embrace, in his cheek pressed against mine.
I had been nearly paralyzed with fear, thinking of what he might say to me, but I had to tell him. Running away, hiding… all it had done was cause pain. I had to tell him.
He had been such a good brother to me since he’d come back and I had hoped that telling him I still loved him wouldn’t ruin that. Maybe he’d tell me that we couldn’t be together, but he’d still support me as my brother. I hoped against hope that he might have some small love for me that, with time, could possibly grow again.
Here I am, in his arms.
Please don’t ever let me go.
He set me down, but kept his hands on my hips. I couldn’t stop crying from how happy I was. My Mike. My handsome, wonderful, loving Mike.
I wanted to feel his skin again. I reached up and touched his cheek, my fingers tracing the contours of his face.
“Where do you want to go now?” I wasn’t just asking for the next five minutes, I was asking for a lifetime.
Thank you. I love you. I will always be with you.
I slid my hand into his and pulled him gently with me. We walked together and I pressed myself against his arm, where I belonged. Within minutes, we were inside my apartment building and heading upstairs. I lead Mike into my apartment, or more accurately, something I had never called it before he had been there: home.
As soon as the door closed, he wrapped his arms around me again. His body was warm and as he pulled me tightly to him, I could feel his heartbeat.
“Savy, I love you. I’m so sorry I left.”
No, Mike… it’s not your fault. I need you to see that.
I took Mike’s hand and lead him into the living room, sitting down on the couch. I pulled my legs up to me and faced him directly, never letting go of his hand.
“Mike, I need you to listen to me. I meant what I said. It wasn’t your fault and I don’t blame you. I pushed you away and I hurt you so badly. I don’t know how you could ever forgive me…”
I could never forgive myself for what I had done.
“… how you could ever love me again.”
I dropped my eyes to see his hand in mine. The two of my hands together barely wrapped around his. I loved him, more than I thought was humanly possible. I couldn’t bear the thought that he blamed himself for my mistakes.
I felt him move closer to me and press his forehead to mine.
Oh, Mike… I missed you.
He spoke quietly and gently, but with incredible impact, “I never stopped loving you.”
I didn’t know how he could love me that much, but it was everything I needed to hear.
My lips found his and I was kissing my Mike again, for the first time in over two years. The same electricity that I had felt every time I had kissed escort izmir him since the first, the same feeling of my body melting to his, it was all still there.
I felt his arms move around me and pull me to him. We sat together I pressed myself to his chest, burying my face in his neck, listening to him breathing. I had almost lost him forever.
I loved that he was the only one who called me Savy.
“You’re okay… that I’m your brother and you’re my sister?”
Yes. I should have been from the beginning. I’m sorry I let myself be overcome.
“You were right when you said that you were always my brother, whether we shared DNA or not. You’re my brother and the love of my life. You’re everything to me and I love you more because of it.”
“This isn’t going to be easy.”
Mom. Josh. Our time apart. Our friends? I couldn’t begin to list the number of issues we’d have to deal with. It wouldn’t matter, as long as Mike was by my side.
I looked up to him and brushed hair behind his ear. I loved how he tilted his head and pushed against my hand as I did it, like he needed to feel my touch.
“… but we’ll get through everything together now.”
And he said what I needed more than anything in the world.
As I looked up at him, he leaned down and kissed me.
I pressed my head against his chest. At first, his heart was racing, but I could feel it slowing until his body was calm, matched by his breathing. I discreetly looked up and his eyes were closed.
I waited quite awhile until I was sure that he was asleep. I watched him while I waited, the peaceful look on his face that completely soothed every fear and worry that had been running wild through me. I hoped that I would never hurt him again and only make him happy. I’d do everything that I could for him.
When I was satisfied that he was completely asleep, I carefully moved away from him for a moment. I took off his shoes and slowly pulled his legs up, causing his body to slide down until he was laying on the sofa. I slid next to him and pulled his arm around me. I pressed myself to him and lay my ear against his chest, listening to him again. My own breathing and heartbeat slowed to match his and I fell asleep in my Mike’s arms.
I heard keys jingling and I woke up. Maria must be getting back. When I tipped my head just far enough up that I could see Mike’s face, his eyes were on me.
I heard Maria, “Savannah, are you back?”
I lifted my head up until I could feel my lips on Mike’s again, then pulled myself up completely until I could see over the back of the couch.
Maria looked at me and said, “Oh, hey there… how did it go? Are you okay?”
I smiled at her. I wanted her to see just how well it went. I wrapped my fingers around Mike’s hand and pulled. He sat up and turned to see Maria.
She looked completely confused and her arms hung limply against her sides.
“Uh… hey,” Mike answered her.
“Things went… okay,” I told her. I looked at Mike and into his gorgeous eyes, which were on me. I could feel my face warming at the thought of all that had happened since this morning, much less the past weeks or months.
I climbed off the couch and looked down at Mike. I loved him so much that it felt like it would literally explode out of me and it was hard for me to believe that he still loved me. I couldn’t help myself and pressed my lips to his forehead. I wanted to show him every minute that we were together that I would never take him for granted, never make the same mistakes again, even with just the smallest gestures that I could.
I went to Maria and took her hand, leading her into the kitchen.
Inside, her voice was filled with bewilderment, “What happened?”
I spoke in a low voice, “I told him… about Josh proposing and that I couldn’t marry him. And then, my heart just took over and I had to tell him everything. I told him how sorry I was for everything I had done to hurt him, pushing him away, staying silent when he tried to come back, and then being just cruel to him when he came home from Spain. And then I told him how I feel, that I still love him.”
“I was going to give him time. I was scared he’d say that it was too late, so I tried to leave… just to give myself any time at all to believe there was still hope. When I got outside, he came running after me and then…”
I had to smile at the memory, the feeling of his arms around me again. Not the light, polite hugs that we had shared since he’d moved back, but the feeling of him holding me, legitimately holding me.
“… he picked me up and hugged me. He told me that he loves me.”
Maria was grinning and the excitement in her voice was palpable.
I was almost embarrassed that he still loved me, after everything. I could feel myself lowering my head, hiding behind my hair, and then I stopped. I looked up, straight at her.
“And you two are…?”
She hugged me.
“I know this izmir escort has been such a hard time for you. I want you to be happy.”
“I am. I really am.”
She let go of me and we went back into the living room. Maria looked at Mike and said, “I’m happy for you… for both of you.”
I asked, “Maria, do you want to have pizza with us?”
“No, no… you two… be together.”
I took her hand. She was like a sister to me and I wanted her to be comfortable spending time with us. This was her home, too.
Mike didn’t even hesitate. “What kind of pizza do you like?”
Mike called and ordered the pizza for us and not long after, the three of us were sitting and eating together, chatting and laughing, just like we’d used to so long ago. I was in awe about this turn of events and watched them both as they were completely relaxed with everything.
When we finished eating, Maria said goodnight and went to bed. I wouldn’t have minded if she sat with us, but I was eager to spend some time alone with Mike. Mike held my hand in his as we went to the couch and sat down. I wrapped myself around his arm and felt his fingers mesh with mine.
We simply sat together. I could feel his bicep lightly flexing against my cheek as he subtly massaged my hand and my body nearly melted next to him. I was completely relaxed for the first time in… months? I hadn’t fully realized just how much stress I’d been under. It was of my own making, of course, but regardless, it felt good to be there with Mike, relaxed.
There would still be troubles to come, but for tonight, I could forget about them.
I felt Mike shift and I peered up at him.
“Savy, you’ve made me…” He paused for a moment before continuing, “… unbelievably happy today.”
I could feel the corners of my mouth curling up. I wanted to make him happy.
“You’re everything to me, but I think we need to go slow…”
“… learn who we are together again. I should probably get going.”
No, no, no… you can’t go. I know it’s completely irrational, but I can’t stand to be apart from you, not even for a few hours. Not yet. Please.
“No, please stay. Don’t go.”
I could feel myself being overcome, starting to feel that uncontrollable urge to weep. I released his arm and slid my arms around his body, pinning myself to his chest.
“I want to stay, but I don’t want you to be uncom…”
“No, stay. Please.”
I need you here. I don’t have any right to ask anything of you, but please… you don’t have to come to bed with me, just be here when I wake up.
“Even if you stay here on the couch, just don’t go. I want to know you’ll be here in the morning.”
I must have sounded insane to him. It wasn’t even twelve hours ago that he’d picked me up and hugged me to him, now I was begging him to stay. I just… I was scared.
When he answered me, his voice was gentle and reassuring.
“Okay, I won’t go. Savy…”
He brushed his fingers under my chin and delicately lifted my face to his.
“… I’ll never leave you. Never again.”
I could feel tears welling up in my eyes. He hadn’t left me, I had pushed him away. Now that he was back, I was being completely absurd, in the other direction. He didn’t say anything though, he simply surrounded me with his embrace and made me feel safe and protected, loved.
I calmed down and he stood up, kissed me, and went down the hallway to the bathroom. I wanted to fall asleep in his arms, the memory of the last time was so powerful, but I didn’t want to freak him out by being overbearing and smothering.
I went into my bedroom and pulled out an extra pair of sheets, a blanket, and the second pillow from my bed. When I made it back to the living room, Mike was sitting on the sofa and watching me as I walked to him.
I set the bedding down on the couch and he stood next to me, then enveloped me in his embrace and rested his chin on my head.
“I’m here for you, always.”
Dammit, Savy… you can’t be like this with him. I know you’re overwhelmed with everything today, but you have to calm down.
“I’m sorry. I just… I just…”
Before I could try to explain myself, he spoke.
“It’s okay. You have nothing to be sorry for. I love you so much.”
Thank you. Thank you for being so good to me.
“I love you too, Mike.”
The room was dark, lit by just the ambient electronics, and I could barely make out any details of his face. His eyes were dark orbs, but I could see them reflect the limited light and he was looking straight at me. He kissed me and I relaxed again.
I sighed to myself and turned away from him, padding quietly to my room. I sat down on my bed and held my head in my hands.
I was completely torn. The intensity of my love for Mike was even greater than I remembered, as if it had been amplified by the missing out on two years with him. On the other hand, I didn’t want to scare him off and I certainly needed to have a better hold on myself, know who I am as an independent person.
I laid down and climbed under my warm blanket. I would do my best to hold myself back and let Mike dictate how things progressed between us. I hoped I could keep that promise to myself. We’d been apart for two years, I could wait for him for as long as he needed, for my entire life if need be.
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