Will she ever find a way to overcome the guilt?
Healing seems impossible.
He’s the only one who can save her.
But it comes with a heavy price.
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LIVE @ MIDNIGHT!!
Today, I’m helping Linc finish packing. He didn’t have much left to box up. The movers had done most of the heavy stuff already, but there were some personal stuff he didn’t want them touching. Like his father’s things. Most of which he kept in his office. His father’s medals from the war were displayed in a glass case, along with the folded, framed American flag from his funeral. I remember when he died, how devastated Linc was. It took him months before he would even talk to me about it.
It was music that helped him through that dark time of his life. It’s what kept him going.
Carefully, I wrap up the remaining photos in his office. There are several of him and his father when he was younger. One where they are camping. Linc’s father was a real outdoorsman, loved wildlife and nature. They were always going on camping trips. When we were younger, I even tagged along a few times. There are a few shots of his mom and dad together over the years. It’s so obvious by the look on their faces how much they love each other, and I silently wonder, as I tuck another newspaper-wrapped frame inside the large cardboard box, if people say the same thing about us.
Do they see it written all over our faces? How much we love each other, how deep that love runs?
When I turn around to grab the next picture from the shelf, my breath catches in my throat. I blink, not really sure of what I’m seeing. It’s a picture of me, taken when I was about sixteen. I’m sitting on the bed of his truck, my bare feet dangling while my hands cup the edge of the tailgate. I’m leaning forward, a half smile on my face and my hair blowing on a slight breeze. The edges look to be crinkled and worn, as if someone has spent a lot of time looking at it. Tears prick my eyes.
If I only knew then what I know now.
“Beautiful, isn’t she?” His deep baritone voice sends a shiver down my spine.
I gasp and look over my shoulder at Linc. “Jesus, you scared me.”
Linc softly kisses my cheek before slipping the picture from my grasp. He looks at it thoughtfully, a wistful smile playing on his lips as he rounds the desk to sit in the big leather chair behind it.
He holds the photo close, as if seeing it for the first time. “There are certain days that stand out the most in my mind. Like the day we met. The day I sang to you the first song I ever wrote. The day we went swimming at the lake and you lost your top. Prom.”
Exhaling a long sigh, he continues. “We didn’t do anything special this particular day. We’d been to the lake, then shared a pizza at Emilio’s, then we hung out at my house for a while my mom was at work. We sat on the tailgate and I played around on my guitar. It was a day like so many before, yet so different. You kept telling me how proud you were of me and how someday I would shine brighter than any of the stars in the sky. But all I could think about was how the setting sun would catch your eyes just the right way and how they would sparkle every time you smiled. How the summer wind whipped your hair across your face, the delicate strands kissing your porcelain skin. I knew I had to capture the moment or it would be lost forever. So I ran inside and grabbed my mom’s digital camera. You called me a dork, among other things, and refused to smile for me. But I did manage to get this one. Then the very next day I had it developed.” I stand in front of him, my eyes filled with unshed tears. “I’ve carried this around in my guitar case ever since. Every time I opened it you were right there, smiling at me, encouraging me. I can’t tell you how many times I wanted to give up, but every time a door would slam in my face I would look at this picture and remember this day. You’re the reason I kept going. You’re the reason I never gave up.”
I climb onto his lap, draping my legs over the arm of the chair while tucking myself into his arms. “You’re not the kind of man who gives up on anything.”
“I came pretty damn close a few times, with my music and trying to make it in this crazy fucking business, but I could never give up on us. There were times I wanted to, fuck I prayed for my heart to let you go and move on. But it just wouldn’t. It’s like it always knew that someday we’d end up here, that there would be an us.”