“It’s pretty impressive, isn’t it,” I said knowing the shape of her anywhere, “Princess Lacey gets what she wants.”
It seemed like forever before she finally turned around and as I caught a glimpse of her profile I could barely keep the pained noise from escaping. I wanted her more than I’d known. My hands itched to roam her body, my arms ached to encircle her. As I watched her watching me I almost let the smile form on my face, almost. I knew what my plan was and this particular way of seeing her wasn’t it. She looked good despite the exasperated air around her. Thinner than I’d ever seen her and the dark circles under her eyes were new but all it made me want to do was cook her pancakes and spend days in bed, just the two of us. We had plenty of days like that before… before everything changed.
“We are going to have to get out of bed at some point,” she said tracing circles around my chest with her pointer finger.
“Says who?” I asked.
“Generally one must work to accommodate a lifestyle that we are used too, Jack..” she chuckled.
I could feel her smiling on my bicep when she chuckled, the small tremor in her torso pressed to my side. I loved it when she laughed.
“Besides, I’ll get fat if all we eat are pancakes…” she said smugly.
“You know that would never matter to me, Luce, I’d rather eat pancakes with you all day than be starving for something substantial…” I tried.
“I know, and this is part of the problem!” she exclaimed before jumping to her knees.
Peering down at me I could see the thick lashes framing her gorgeous eyes and the hair falling around her face looked so soft.
“Why are you looking at me like that?” she asked.
“Like you won’t ever see me again…” she asked looking worried.
“I just can’t ever get over the fact that you are mine and I don’t want to forget how beautiful you are in this moment, in my t-shirt, hair wild and peeking out at me under your lashes…”
When her eyes caught my nervous habit of rubbing my right thigh I slowly stopped and let my eyes find hers, locking us in the moment.
“Luce…” I nearly whispered, breaking the silence.
Simultaneously I watched her body relax while her eyes flashed with fear or something resembling terror at the sound of my voice. It cut me to the core, right to the thick of my being to see that in those eyes. Eyes that would always haunt me knowing that I did that, I created that.
Still wordless she stood there almost juggling the items in her arms as her face went blank. No, don’t shut down now, Luce, I thought as I watched her walls closing. We stayed locked in that tight calm for I don’t even know how long before one of the boxes began teetering from her arms. I don’t even think before I rush over to her to try and catch it and in the process, my hand brushes her arm. As brief as the contact was my nerves catch fire and every inch of me that I could feel ignited with a warmth I hadn’t felt since before my accident.
She jerks away and the jolt leaves me feeling like I got shot. The kickback of her response guts me. Part of me, the part of me that would never quite recover from everything I’d lost in the accident pushes to lash out, to call her out on that reaction. The rational part of me, however, won out in the end and I back up, giving her space but it doesn’t make it hurt any less. Even with the small distance the need for her is as strong as ever, such a contradicting feeling of want and rejection is overwhelming.
Her eyes are cast down towards the floor when I eventually allow mine to search her out. She’s guarded again now and before I know it I’m popping the brakes on my chair and using all the strength I have to get up. I need her to see this now, something inside of me recognizes that if I wait and nail her with this tomorrow it will end worse than this could right now. Controlling what little I can I come to full height and I hear everything in her arms fall to the floor before I look at her. Her hand is covering her mouth, while her other has circled itself around her waist. Little tremors course through my body as I take her in, just an arm’s length away from me.
“Luce…” I say one more time waiting for her to breathe.
She doesn’t move, except to shake her head no, that hand never leaving her mouth and I watch as she darts from the room, from me, without looking back. That evil asshole in me is laughing, see, told ya so. Even still I know I did the right thing, she wouldn’t have been okay if I did this during the wedding ceremony, or even during the pictures afterward. Without the required equipment I know I’ll be on the floor with what she dropped a few moments ago and defeatedly I reach back and allow myself to land back in my chair. It only takes a few minutes before I hear the footsteps behind me as I’m trying to neatly stack the remnants of what she was carrying into a pile on the floor and I can only imagine what my little stunt has caused.
I leave the last box where it fell and slowly turn, not sure what or who I’m going to find when I do but to my surprise it’s her. Immediately I see the glistening trails of tears from her eyes to her chin and I want nothing more than to hold her and wipe them away with my thumbs.
I can barely stand to watch it anymore, and she doesn’t even realize that I’m watching. Her face is turned away from me but I can still see that trail of tears on the right side of her face. I did this, why did I do this. Why didn’t I just tell JJ no? Why didn’t I just call her and have her come get us? Because I’m a fucking idiot that’s why. I should be wiping those tears, telling her that everything is going to be okay… but I can’t. Even though I can’t take it, I don’t know how to fix it, fix this, fix me.
I flash to so many moments where I had the opportunity to do just that, to wipe those tears that I had caused, to fix things and I didn’t. It’s funny really because now it’s all I wish to do. I’d take it all back, every single agonizing second to go back and make it right. Be the man I should have been and not the scared fool I was. She must notice that I’m lost in memories because when I finally break from them I realize she’s staring right at me. It’s as if she can see straight into my soul because the look on her face says it all. She sees it, she sees my regret and heartache and it’s only mirrored in her eyes.
I don’t move. I can’t move. I’m drowning in the misery of the unknown of what could happen next and when I look away I hear her breath hitch but I won’t look at her again. Not yet, because I realize I may not be ready for what is about to happen next. I didn’t picture this reaction from her, shock, amazement, maybe but not this. Those trails are not good indicators of whether or not they are happy tears or not and she isn’t about to divulge that information either.
With the waiting comes more silence and finally as I feel like all the air has been drained from my lungs and I’m drowning I turn a little further to leave. Slowly I inch across the rotunda floor as silently as I came in wondering how long we’ve been at this and somewhat surprised that no one has come looking for either one of us. I don’t want to look back but I guess that’s not a conscious choice I get to make because my heart betrays me and I glance back over my shoulder. She’s still facing the other way, looking out towards the lake, not having moved an inch. Fighting everything inside me that wants to go to her I near the threshold and give one hard push out into the ballroom when I finally hear her voice.
“Do it again…”