An uncomfortable silence fell between us. It was strange to be with the one man I was the most familiar with in the whole wide world and yet feel so shy. I knew where all his scars were and the stories that went with them, where his secret tattoo was—upper thigh, almost at the bend of the leg—and why he kept it a secret—a tribute to his twin sister who died shortly after birth. I was there when he broke down in tears the day his parents got a divorce, and he held me while I cried over my first broken heart. His scent was as familiar to me as the air I breathed, and yet I felt awkward and uneasy sitting in that small living room across from him.
Our souls had been connected since we were children, and there was no one in the world I’d feel more at ease with. Kyle was home to me.
“I love the name of the bookstore, Liv, but I don’t want it to be our tag line.” I stopped and turned to him, not sure what he was getting at. “I don’t want our friendship to turn into something fictional, something that never happened, do you?”
I was over the moon thinking of a long drive alone with Livie as my captive audience.
“They still make those?” I chuckled as he unfolded and studied the paper map with the intensity of an old scholar pouring over a treasure map. “What are you looking for?”
“Are you just going to sit there and stare?” Kyle’s mouth had gone slack and he looked paralyzed, sitting with his back to the wall. “If you don’t get naked with me, there’s not much point in this, is there?”
Kyle and I slept in each other’s arms, hanging on to each other with all we had, the blanket swaddling us like a cocoon.
How do you tell the love of your life that your ex-wife has your life in her hands? That she’s holding it with an iron fist and won’t let go?
“I want you to feel good, Kyle. To know you deserve better than Mia. To know that I love you, no matter what.”
Oh my God. I so didn’t deserve this angel.
“Don’t. Stay a little longer.” Be mine for a few more minutes.
I sighed, the weight on my chest releasing as I exhaled, in awe of my good fortune—how many guys could boast to have an angel as their lover?
“I’m admiring you, idiot.”
He rose on his forearms. “Why admire the painting from afar, when you can have it for yourself?”
“It’s not fiction, Liv. We’re real. What we have is real.”
My body relaxed, the hot water washing away the kinks in my muscles. No water would ever be able to wash away the weight of my frustration and regret.
“I choose you, Livie.” His voice was so soft I was not sure I’d understood correctly.
In a swift move, I grabbed him by the waist and pushed him down on the bed, rolling over him. “You know what they say; if you want it done right you must do it yourself.”
Livie could bring out the sun on the rainiest day.