Rick swore as he walked back to his car. He had his hand on the knob, ready to walk inside, when he heard Michelle laugh. He stopped, a feeling tickling up his spine and telling him not to walk inside. Holding his breath, he peeked through the curtains and his head spun when he saw Tara sitting on the couch with Michelle laughing.
For a moment, he stood there watching her. He wanted to watch her laugh all day, see the smile on her face and the happiness in her eyes. It tore at his heart that he’d been away as long as he did.
A huge part of him wanted to push through the door and claim her as his, but he knew his friend would be pissed. Aaron had gone to a lot of trouble to pull off his plan, and Rick ruining it would not go over well.
So he walked back to his car, climbed in, and left. Driving away from her was the second hardest thing he’d ever done. The only way he’d convinced himself to do it was the knowledge that he’d be with her again soon.
As long as Aaron was right.
It killed Rick to follow her all day long and not get close to her. He’d left once Aaron assured him Tara would be at work, driving to her office. He arrived just as she was getting out of her car. Rick wanted to drag her back to his car and drive off with her, holding her as his hostage until she agreed to never push him away again. When he followed her into work and flirted with the receptionist to get information, he ached to go back to her office. He swore he smelled the fresh lavender scent that had always defined her. He finally left her office, tearing himself away from her.
Rick drove around the town as familiar to him as the woman he’d returned for. He could drive the streets and not get lost, but he didn’t know every house, every restaurant, every stoplight anymore, just like he knew Tara had grown and changed.
His mind wandered as he drove, remembering the feel of her soft skin beneath his calloused fingers, the taste of her lips against his, the way she hummed with pleasure at a kiss.
Before he could think about where he was going, he was parked in front of the lake. A ghost of a smile crossed his lips. He’d relived the last night he was there every day since he left. The best and worst night of his life all rolled into one. The night she kissed him, touched him, made love to him.
And then told him to leave and never come back.