He sighed and ran a hand through his long blonde locks. He was fine. He
had to believe that he was fine. As long as he could believe that everything was okay, it would be. It had to be. He didn't
have any other options.
The busiest man in the world, and he still had too much time to think about her. Even in the
seconds that he'd spend waiting for an elevator, his mind would drift back to the times when they were together. He'd see
her hair fanned out on the pillow as she slept or the smile she always got when he did something utterly stupid. No matter
what he was doing, there was always something there to remind him of her. He was in a different city every night, and he still
couldn't escape her memory.
He almost laughed at the irony of it.
The truth was that laughing
had become much more difficult since she walked out of his life. Her last words still rang in his ears as he fumbled inside
his suitcase for her picture. It was ridiculously pathetic and he knew it, but he wanted something left of her. He needed
something to prove that she wasn't just a dream. As if her words--especially her last words--weren't enough to remind him
of everything they almost had.
"I've been trying, Nick. I just can't do this anymore. I feel like I'm beating my
head against a wall every time I say I love you, because I know you won't say it back. I trust that you feel it, but I need
the reassurance now. I can't stay here anymore knowing that you can't admit to what you feel for me. So I'm going to say it
one more time. If you can't say it back, then I'll walk out of that door and out of your life. And, when you can finally admit
to your feelings, provided that they exist, you can come find me."
The verdict was obvious. She hadn't been lying.
She'd walked out the door, and she hadn't come back.
God, he wished she had.
Lately I've been
To fill up my days since you're gone
The speed of love is blinding
And I didn't know how to hold on
wanted to take back every moment that he'd spent away from her in hopes that it might satisfy the longing for her touch. He
wanted to erase everything since that day and pretend that it never existed. She could've asked for anything, and he would've
given it to her. Anything but the one thing she needed.
His heart began to slow its beating once his hand emerged with
the picture. It was tattered and worn; a sign that it had been on the road for way too long. But, regardless of the damage
he had done, it was still beautiful in his eyes. She was still beautiful. She wasn't gorgeous in a flashy supermodel way,
in a subtle, feminine sense. For him, she was the epitome of everything that he'd ever dreamed a woman could be.
rubbed his hand over his face in shame. God, he'd been a fool to let her go.
He stared out across the city's horizon.
He didn't even know what city it was. Usually, someone would stop by and tell them before they had to go onstage so that they
didn't end up looking like idiots.
There wasn't a show until tomorrow night, so he wouldn't know until then. Not that
it mattered anyway. He wouldn't know if he was any closer to her; he didn't have the slightest idea where she was. He knew
better than anyone that a lot could happen in six months.
He let his mind wander to their last real day together. They'd been on the beach. He remembered his surprise when
he saw her walk out in a bikini top and denim shorts with his old, wrinkled white chiffon shirt over it all. She had looked
prettier than he had ever seen her. Every day she had looked prettier than before. He had stared at her for a while before
her cheeks had colored with a blush and she'd looked away. "You should take a picture," she had joked. "It'd last longer."
back, he wished that he had.
He let the day play in his mind, up until the kiss they had shared at sunset. There had
been something about being there with her, right then, that had made him want to live in the moment forever. He'd had a premonition
that something dreadful was going to happen, and he remembered very distinctly wishing that he could stay with her, just like
that, with the sky behind them colored a bright orange, forever and ever. It was like something out of a fairy tale.
Suddenly, he heard a tiny thud and looked down to see a teardrop sliding down the picture. It left a sleek trail,
then slid off and onto the ground below.
He hadn't even known that he had been crying. He had been so sure that he
couldn't cry anymore over her.
My mind won't clear
I'm out of tears
My heart's got no room left
He shook his head and looked out again over the city. A slight breeze had picked up, and his
hair was skirting his forehead with the force of it. It made him think of the way her long, brown hair had billowed in the
wind as she had chased him around in the surf.
He heard her words over again. The last sentence had stayed with him,
and he caught himself wondering if it was time. He didn't really have to ask the question. He knew how he felt about her.
It had been obvious when he felt physical pain the moment that the door slammed behind her.
He wanted to find her again,
to tell her what he had known all along, but he didn't even know where to start. He wanted to deny that he cared enough to
search for her, but his heart had its own agenda.
How many dreams will end?
How long can I pretend?
many time will love pass me by
Until I find you again?
He knew that he couldn't go on the way
he was. He wasn't ready to find out if loneliness could kill a person. He already knew that it could consume them. Sometimes,
the loneliness was so prevalent that he thought he would suffocate from the weight of it. Then he just felt empty inside.
was the kind of emptiness that could tear a person's soul to pieces, simply because it was so much of nothing at all.
He almost laughed when he realized that he hadn't learned to hate silence until she was gone. But he did. He absolutely
loathed it. Especially in the rare moments like these when he had enough time to really think about her. The silence gave
him an excuse to remember the way she laughed and the things she said. The silence gave him an excuse to fill it with thoughts
of her, but thinking about her always proved to be too painful for words.
Ironically, he couldn't get enough of her.
Regardless of how much it hurt, he couldn't stop thinking about her. She was everywhere.
The guys had been yelling
at him to get over her. For a while, they had tolerated his moping because they understood. Now, it struck them as pathetic.
Even Brian was telling him that it was time to move on and put her behind him.
He didn't have the heart to tell Brian
that, not only did he not know how to begin to move on, he didn't want to.
Will the arms of hope surround
Will time be a fair-weather friend?
Should I call out to angels
Or drink myself sober again?
spent the past few days pretending that she didn't exist. It hadn't worked before; he wasn't sure why he figured that it could
work now. He hadn't even looked at her picture until today. But, just as he had always known he would, he had caved and pulled
it out. He didn't want to admit it. He didn't want to tell her what she wanted to hear. He wanted her back, but he didn't
want to admit why. He hated that she had so much control over him, but he needed her. Even if it was only something he could
admit in the depths of his thoughts, safe from reality and judgment, he needed her. She had been his best friend, and he missed
her company more than ever.
He sighed at the thought and cursed himself for being so cold. He knew all too well that
her company wasn't the only thing that he missed. He missed all the little things as well. He still needed to see her smile
first thing in the morning, and he still needed to hear her say "I love you" right before he went to bed. Whether or not he
ever told her, that one phrase was enough to turn his whole day around.
I can't hide; it's true
still burn for you
Your memory just won't let me go
He sighed again and stepped inside the room,
then closed the door to his balcony. It was getting colder outside, and he wasn't ever one for cold weather. He pulled the
curtains closed and shrugged out of his jacket. He had never been one for suits either, and the photo shoot had been grueling.
He frowned when he set it on the chair, remembering so many nights before when she would remove his jacket for him. It was
like a ritual for them. When he had come home, he had always felt like he belonged somewhere. They might as well have been
married for the way they had acted sometimes, and he had reveled in it. He just hadn't been able to tell her how much it meant
to him. Even now, he wasn't sure why.
He shook his head. Yes, he was. He had been afraid of scaring her off. He had
been afraid of caring too much.
He hadn't ever wanted her to think that he didn't care enough.
gaze wandered to the phone on the bedside table. He still had her cell phone number memorized. It wouldn't be difficult to
call her. All he had to do was pick up the phone.
He shook his head again. There wasn't a single chance that he'd have enough guts to tell her what he needed to tell
her. Especially not over the phone.
Even so, it couldn't hurt to try.
How many dreams will end?
long can I pretend?
How many times will love pass me by
Until I find you again?
He sighed and
removed his shirt and pants. He had pulled the tie off the moment he'd stepped inside. After kicking off his shoes, he went
in search of his pajamas. He was a comfortable person. If he was going to call her, he wanted to do it as himself.
dressed, he moved to the side of the bed and sat down cautiously. He had no idea what he was going to say to her. It had been
six months since the day she walked out. He sighed and raked his hand nervously through his hair, which was slightly tangled
from its bout with the wind. His eyes wandered to the digital clock on the dresser.
Six months, ten days, four
hours, and fifty-two minutes...
He almost laughed. For years he'd seen people do things like that in the movies
that she'd drag him to see, and he'd always told her that such a thing was ridiculously overrated. People couldn't be so desperate
that they'd actually count the minutes since they'd seen their long-lost love.
He shrugged slightly. No matter, really.
He'd been wrong before.
His gaze drifted back to the telephone, and he reached for it gently, then drew his hand back
as though he'd been burned. He wasn't sure he could do it. Surely she'd be furious with him.
He took another look at her picture and realized that it didn't really matter anymore. He couldn't go on wondering
what they could've had. In a way, he already knew, and he hated the fact that he'd kept them both from paradise for so long.
With a shaky hand, he picked up the receiver and began to hesitantly dial the digits that made up her cell phone number. He
wasn't even sure if she still had
it, but he knew it was worth a try. After this much heartache and worry over her and
what might've been, he had to try. He owed himself that much.
He owed them both that much.
He nearly fell off
the bed when the phone began to ring. He hadn't expected that. As it rang, however, he let his mind wander over the things
he'd do if he could see her again. There wasn't any doubt in his mind that he'd give anything to hold her again.
hold you tighter
Closer than ever before
No flame would burn brighter
If I could touch you once more
He gulped. For a moment in time, he considered hanging up. Finally,
his courage returned, and he cleared his throat softly. It had been way too long since he'd heard her voice. But, as musical
as it sounded, it only served to remind him of how much he missed her. It was the only motivation he needed to actually speak
There was a drawn-out silence before she answered again. He began to wonder if he'd done
the wrong thing. Certainly she had moved on. He had been too busy to find someone else, but she was a beautiful woman. There
were too many opportunities for her to replace him with someone else.
Still, even though the doubt clouded his thoughts,
he knew that she hadn't. She loved him. He only hoped that that would be enough for her to forgive him. He had, after all,
found her. He knew that she was okay, wherever she was. All he had to do was find the woman that he'd hurt, the woman that
had walked out so many months ago. He hoped that she'd let him in again. He wasn't sure he could deal with rejection after
so long away from her.
He needed her.
How many dreams will end?
How long can I pretend?
many times will love pass me by
Until I find you again?
His thoughts were interrupted by a soft
response on the other end.
He breathed what he knew to be an audible sigh of relief. She recognized
his voice, and she hadn't started to scream at him yet. There was still hope for him, and he intended to take full advantage
of the moment.
He thought of all the times that she had told him when he failed to respond. All the times that she
had lovingly brushed his hair from his eyes and told him just how special he was to her. Most importantly, all the times that
she had fallen into him and let him hold her. Those--the times when the whole world seemed miles away--were the moments that
meant the most to him. He just had to say the words.
They were long overdue anyway.
With a deep breath, he summoned
all the courage he could muster and held the phone close to his mouth, praying that she would understand what he was about
to say to her and why it had taken him so long.
"I love you."
He felt an odd sense of relief at finally admitting
it. The words tasted sweeter than anything, and he loved the way it sounded when he said it out loud. It was as though he
had wings. As though all of his feelings for her had finally taken flight.
The whole world seemed to stop, however,
as he waited for her response. Every little sound infuriated him, from the clock on the wall to the soft whisper of the wind
outside his window. He wanted to be able to hear her. He wanted to know if she needed him the way that he needed her. He was
hoping against hope that the past six months could erase themselves with her next words. He had never felt more vulnerable
than he did in those slow moments that passed like days. The silence had never been quite so loud as it was while he waited
for her to answer him. He almost began to wonder if she had heard him.
And then the words came rushing back to meet
him in a sweet symphony of resolution.
"I love you too."