Her thumb comes up to wipe my lips. “I was broken.” She starts to talk. “I was empty; there was nothing left to me.”
“I know, and the sad thing is so was I.” I shake my head. “I had the best kid you could ever hope for, I had a successful business, I had a family who loved and supported me, but I was empty.”
I smile at her. “I was. I’m not anymore.”
“What do you mean?” She looks at me.
“You … you made me whole again. This thing with us, it started with me wanting to be your friend, it started with two broken people on the beach asking for answers we weren’t going to get.” I kiss her. “Or we were each other’s answers. We were the answers to each other’s questions.”
“Jensen.” A tear rolls down her cheek.
“I love you,” I finally tell her, causing her breath to hitch. “I love you.” Another tear falls from her eyes. “More than I thought I could love anyone else besides Mila.” I smile as the heaviness from before vanishes.
“I don’t …” she starts saying.
“You don’t have to say anything.” I lean in to kiss her lips. “I just wanted to tell you. Now, let’s go because we are going to be really, really late,” I joke.
“You’d better call and tell them we will be by later.” She turns to walk away from me as I stare at her. “I love you.” I stand and am about to say something when she holds her hand up. “You had your time; this is mine.”
I cross my arms over my chest, watching her look at me. “Okay.”
“The worst day of my life was when my husband died because I thought I would die with him. It was a pain that seared through me to my soul. I collapsed in the middle of the hospital to my knees. I asked God to take me too. To take me so I could be with him.” She wipes a tear away as anger and fear fills me at the thought of her not being here. “Then the second worst day of my life was finding out that my life was a lie. That everything I thought was real wasn’t but a mirage of what life was supposed to be like.”
“He was a fool.” The words come out.
“For one month, I couldn’t sleep until I passed out drunk.” She wrings her hands together. “That is how weak I was. I got drunk so I could stop the thoughts, so the memories of us were too blurry for me to remember.” Her hand goes to her stomach. “Just thinking back, it makes me sick that I gave him that much more power over me.”
“You did what you needed to do to survive,” I tell her as she blinks. The tears falling now, one after another.
“My grandmother came to visit me, showing me a picture of this house. It was the day my life started again. The swings in the front and the back pulled me here.” She laughs. “The picture was a bit deceiving since the house was falling apart when I got here, but the minute I stepped out of the car, I started to breathe again. The weight that had crushed my chest for so long was lifting, slowly. I would sit on that swing in the back at night when I couldn’t sleep at the beginning, watching the ocean fight its own storm. Seeing the contrast of the calm water out on the horizon and then hearing the waves crash onto the shore. It was my life.”
“You are stronger than you think you are,” I tell her, making sure she knows.
“I am, and I know that now. I know that because I had to have the two worst days of my life to have the best days of my life to come.” Her body goes tall. “I sat on that beach every single day looking for answers, asking questions that no one would be able to answer, because the one person in the world who could answer them wasn’t here.” She looks down and then up. “Then the answer came to me, you.” She sobs. “You, you were the answer all along.”
I rush to her, grabbing her face and crushing her lips with mine to swallow the sobs as I hold her. Her hand grips my shirt, holding me as much as I’m holding her. She starts unbuttoning my shirt, and my hands pull her shirt over her head. “I love you,” I tell her as I kiss the middle of her chest and feel her heart beating under my lips. “With everything that I am, I love you.”
I look up as the tears dry, her eyes sparkling. “I love you more,” she whispers. “You, Jensen Walker, are my perfect love story.”