Becca knew the last time she’d seen Charles. Almost to the second. She’d never been so gutted in her life as the day he walked out of it. The day she realized he was responsible for her brother losing his life.
She’d hated him when he confessed what had actually happened that night. He’d taken her brother, the one person who had always been there for her. She was alone. No longer a sibling, but an only child.
And it was all because of the man she’d fallen in love with as a child.
“I’m sorry,” Charles said softly. “For so many things, Bex.”
Becca looked at him closely. No one called her Bex. No one ever had except Charles. It was like his private pet name for her. A name that made her skin tingle when she was young. And after all the years it still made her tingle.
She hated how much she still wanted him. Of course she’d never had him, she was too young before, but she couldn’t deny the ache that she felt imagining his hands on her.
“I know. I’m sorry, too.”
Charles blanched. “What would you have to be sorry for?”
Becca glanced at her friend, sitting silently beside her, offering support Becca knew she needed. “You lost your best friend. I treated you like you’d done something wrong. It was an accident.”
“I don’t deserve to be let off the hook that easily, Bex. I wish it’d been me,” Charles admitted.
Pain and fear swamped Becca. She never wanted to lose her brother, but imagining losing Charles hit her just as hard as losing Jeff had. There was no either/or option for her. She wanted them both alive. “Don’t say that,” she told him softly. “Don’t ever say that.”
“Why not, Bex? I do. If I’d died that night instead of Jeff your life wouldn’t have been destroyed. Your family. Everything you loved.”
“That’s where you’re wrong. I loved you too. Still do. So don’t sit there and tell me you wish you’d died. I hate that Jeff isn’t here, but don’t let his death become an excuse for you to sit in diners all day and not live your life.”
“I am living. I was desperate for any connection to you when I saw you walk in. I couldn’t leave if I’d wanted to.”
“I don’t want you to,” Becca admitted carefully, knowing how her confession would change things, and not caring if it did.