Rick felt like himself for the first time in years when he pulled Tara against his chest. Something clicked back into place even as his heart ached for her. Aaron was right. He’d said Tara wasn’t really living. Rick knew he wasn’t good enough for her, but he could help her heal. Help her move on.
“I’m sorry, Tara,” he whispered into her hair, breathing in the scent of her. She’d changed since he’d last held her. There were more curves than he remembered, a slightly different scent to her as well, but she was still his Tara.
No, not mine. I gave up that right.
Rick wanted to claim her as his again. To tell her how stupid he’d been to tell her it’d only been sex between them. He wanted to tell her it started that way but was so much more by the time he walked away from her.
He couldn’t choke out the words.
“It’s fine,” Tara said, pulling out of his arms. He immediately missed having her pressed against him, feeling her warmth, still in her pajamas and rumpled from sleep. “You’re just as bad off as I am. We’re quite a pair, you know?”
Rick couldn’t answer. He wanted them to be a pair together, not apart. He wanted them to have what they could have had if he hadn’t messed it up.
Rick watched as Tara walked back to her kitchen and fixed herself a cup of coffee. She added a splash of cream and two spoonfuls of sugar then stirred before taking a sip. Her eyes slipped closed and she hummed her approval. Unconsciously Rick stepped closer until he could smell the bite of the coffee and the underlying sweetness of the sugar.
“Smells good,” he said, his voice huskier than he’d ever heard it. “Can I have some?”
Tara nodded and stepped to the side, but Rick grabbed her hand. He took the cup from her fingers and held her eyes as he lifted her mug to his lips. He tasted her mouth on the rim of the mug and grew hard. He knew he couldn’t resist her any longer. It was why he stayed away as long as he did. He was weak. He’d only been in her place for a few minutes and he was already about to lose it.
Probably lose her too.
But he had to. He had to just one more time. Then he could walk away with new memories and let her go forever.