Read Keeping Never Online

Authors: C. M. Stunich

Tags: #Romance

Keeping Never (7 page)

BOOK: Keeping Never

Zella,” I say before she can say a single word. I turn her to face me and stare into her eyes, find the flecks of green that mirror mine and smile. Zella is so pretty, and fortunately for her, she looks more like our late father than she does our evanescent mother. “I wanted to pull you aside and let you know … ”
How to say this, how to give up ownership of a man that was never really mine …
“That I think you and Noah make a cute couple.” Zella blinks at me for a long while and then glances away like she's ashamed, tucking some of her brunette hair behind her ear.

Am I that obvious?” she asks, and I have to bite my lip to keep from laughing. I touch her chin and turn her to face me again. I don't want her to feel bad about this. I have no right to make her feel like that. I have Ty's ring on my finger, his baby in my belly, and most importantly, his heart in my chest.

Nah,” I say even though that's a lie. It's a white one though, one that shines, that lights up Zella's face and makes her smile.

I'm so sorry, Nev. I never intended to take him from you, and I came back thinking that he was off limits, but then I saw you with Ty and then I found out you were pregnant and … ” She pauses and takes a big breath, stopping herself before she can go off on a tangent. She leans forward and takes me in her arms instead and breathes a heavy sigh as she holds me tight. “Be careful,” is all she says. “Don't let him burn you.” When she pulls back, there's this … this
in her face that says that someone has done exactly that to her. My big sister instincts take over, and I want nothing more than to delve into the past few years that I've missed and catch up on Zella's heartbreak. Texas is just a hop, skip and a jump away. There's always time for me to head over there and castrate some bastards.

I won't,” I promise, thinking of how easily Ty could crush me if he wanted. Ty has my bloody, beating heart in the palm of his hand, and it's naked and bare for him. I am slowly taking down all my shields, leaving myself open for attack, but I trust Ty, I do. I trust him to hold my tortured soul in his ringed hand and breathe nothing but love and life and happiness into it. “And I love you.”

I love you, too,” she replies, and we part, not forever, not this time. This time I fully intend on coming back, of keeping touch, and that makes all the difference. Zella is getting teary, but I refuse to do so because there are so many better things to cry about. I save them for later, somehow certain that I'm going to need them in the next few days, the next few days in which Ty's limits will be tested and my newfound strength will be, too. He's supported me through my fears, stabbed that little monster inside of me with his sharp wit, and I think that finally,
the real me is waking back up. I may even have to dance for him, but I'm not going to mention it, not yet, not until this whole baby thing has been discussed.

I better get going,” I say and she nods, but she doesn't follow me back inside. Instead, she turns away and gazes out across the snowy field, obviously lost in thought. I wonder if Noah will write poems for her or if I've killed something inside of him. I hope not because I'd be awfully sad if I never got another piece of Noah Scott poetry. Ty is great, but a poet he is not.

When I go back inside, Noah is waiting with my suitcase in his hand, but Ty is nowhere to be seen.

He's having a smoke,” he tells me as he searches my face for information. There's nobody in this foyer now except for us and the dogs. My family has never been great with goodbyes which is possibly one of the reasons I left and never looked back. If we had been good with that sort of thing, then maybe I'd have told someone, maybe a cheery goodbye would've changed my mind? I shake my head because honestly, it really is time for me to stop going down that path, to stop thinking about what might have been and start loving what's happening now.

Sounds like Ty,” I say, and I'm trying to be lighthearted and silly, but Noah isn't feeling my mood. His pale cheeks are red and his lips are cracked; he can't seem to stop running his tongue across them. I stare at him, and he stares back at me.

About what I said … ” he begins. I cut him off. He has to feel good about what he did because otherwise, he will never move on. If Noah can't let go of me now, he will be stuck the same way we've all been stuck these past few years. I love him and even though it isn't the same love I feel for Ty, I can't stand to see him suffer. I need to push him up and over this hump, so that he can be happy whether it's with Zella or not.

I'm pregnant with Ty's baby, and he knows,” I say and Noah blinks like he's in shock. “He knows, but I haven't told him. I tried to tell him today, but he wouldn't let me. From a guy's point of view, tell me, what does that mean?” Noah takes a big breath and sets my suitcase on the floor, glancing over his shoulder like he thinks Ty might come storming in here at any moment. He won't though. Ty is too caught up in his imagination, dreaming up scenarios of what will happen with his mother, what she might say, what he wants to say. I know that because I went through the very same thing on the way here, sitting on that bus wrapped in doubt and old pain with nothing but Ty to keep me going. Nothing but beautiful, tortured Ty.

Noah takes my shoulders in his hands and makes me look at him. Almost instantaneously, he has shifted from scorned lover to concerned friend. How, I don't know, but why I understand perfectly. Noah is a one of a kind guy – no, human being. Noah is a one of a kind human being who actually puts others before himself. We could all learn a lot from tasting just a little bit of the world's Noah Scotts. Anyhow, I think he has practice. After all, he's been communicating with Zella all these years. Noah has gotten really, really good at advice.

From a lover's point of view,” Noah begins. “And not just a man's, I think that Ty is just scared. He wants you, Never.” Noah closes his eyes and his blonde lashes flutter like butterflies. When he opens them, his gaze is sharp and cutting, drilling a hole right through my doubts and making things seem so clear that I can hardly breathe. “I can see it in his face and it's mirrored perfectly in yours. Love, need, want, whatever. I couldn't have separated you two if I'd tried.” I laugh and shake my head.

You're saying you didn't?” I begin and Noah laughs, too, and there's this sudden release of energy into the world, like the two of us were holding on to a part of the powers that be and twisting them together, praying, begging and hoping for one another even though we didn't really belong together. Now that we've let it go, I feel lighter, brighter, and the world seems like it's spinning just a bit better, less crookedly; I can finally see straight.

Okay,” he admits reluctantly. “I did, but I shouldn't have.”

Why?” I ask as he steps back and rubs at his chin thoughtfully. Noah looks up at me, and his face is totally serious when he replies.

Because I knew the first moment I saw you two together.”

Knew what?” Noah smiles and like Ty's dimpled smile, this one is real, but instead of being reflected in his cheeks, it's reflected in his eyes. They crinkle at the edges and make him seem a bit older than he is, a bit wiser, but in a good way, a way that makes him glow like the sun, ancient and powerful and immovable.

The only thing that can separate the two of you are yourselves.”


Ty and I are both afraid of flying.

This fact does not come up between us until we're already seated on the plane, in first class mind you, with Ty taking the aisle seat and me at the window. Our hands are clutched together even tighter now than they were on the bus when all that plagued me were fears of rejection and the frowning faces of my sisters. Now, now all I can picture is the plane taking a nosedive into the earth and taking Ty and me and our baby with it, snuffing out any chance we have at a happy life, leaving Ty's soul to wander the earth and mine … I blink to clear my head. If I let my imagination run wild, it will go rogue and take me down a path I do not want to travel. Apparently, Ty has the same idea.

What do you think about joining the Mile High Club?” he jokes, but there's a whole lot of sweat on his upper lip and no way in hell he's got a hard on, not right now. In reality, I think sex is the furthest thing from Ty's mind, but I could always be wrong. Guess I'll find out.

I think that sounds like something that sounds great in theory, but is poor in practice.”

Uh huh,” Ty says, and his voice shakes a bit as an announcement comes over the speakers. Neither of us listen. “You're just saying that because you know I'll rock your world, and you won't be able to hold it in. When I'm finished with you, baby, the whole plane will know what's what and who's who on this big ass bird.” Ty says the words with all the cockiness in the world, but his throat tenses and he has to really work at swallowing.

Have you ever been on a plane before?” I ask, trying to remember if Ty has ever said anything about a trip he's taken. But of course, he hasn't. Ty's past is a dark cloud sitting in the beautiful horizon of our future. I need to get through it now before it decides to rain down on our parade. “Because from what I hear, the bathrooms are pretty fucking small.”

No,” Ty replies as he bites at his lip ring with nervous ferocity. “And I've never wanted to set foot on one of these friggin' death traps.”

Cool it,” I whisper to him as the passengers across the aisle from us stare. Well, to be fair, they were staring anyway. Ty and I don't exactly look like the kind of people who sit in first class. Well, I don't anyway. Ty, if you look at him right, kind of looks like a rock star. Maybe that's why I feel like most of the glares are mine? Or maybe I'm just projecting. Let's be honest here: I am fucking out of my mind with fear.

Sorry,” he whispers as his eyes close and he squeezes my hand so hard his rings dig in painfully. “I just have no clue what I'm doing.” I turn my face to look at my lover and I can see that his words have a dual meaning.

Ty McCabe is terrified.

He's not afraid of his mother, not really. I think he's afraid of the person he became because of her, and I think he's absolutely terrified that he'll be that person again. It's my job to remind him that he'll never be, that he's grown too tall to fall into the shadows of the past. Ty and I will be okay. We have to be because I need us to. My soul needs us to; his soul needs us to. This thing between us, this bit of heat that burns like fire, that singes and sears and chars, this is more than just a physical thing, more than just an emotional one, this is a spiritual journey. Neither Ty nor I are religious, and we don't know what happens after death, but we both know that if we die without experiencing the best parts of life, that somehow, we'll be missing out, that the universe in all its infinite glory will be thrown off base somehow.

Talk to me,” I tell him as the plane gets ready to take off, as sounds we've never heard blare from outside, as people strap on their seat belts and plug in their headphones. “Tell me your story.” I don't want Ty to hurt himself, but if he's ready, then I need to know.

Brown eyes open and turn to face me. Ty gazes at me with all his darkness and welcomes me in.


Okay, so, here's what happened to me, right? It isn't fucking pretty, and I'm not fucking telling you to get your goddamn sympathy. I just … I guess I just need to let it out now, before I see her because once I do, things will be different between her and me, between you and me, between myself and me. I can't give it all to you at once because there's too much and it hurts me bad to say it, so I'm going to do what I can because I can tell you so desperately need it and because, Never, I love you so much it friggin' hurts inside. I don't think I was built to love this much, to care so much. You stretched me in ways that I cannot explain, and when I look into your face, I see myself reflected there. In your pain, I see my own, so I'm going to tell you and only you, okay? And God, I love the way that you accepted me before and after, that you saw something in me, that you'll still look at me like that when I'm done.

Well, I guess I should start at the beginning because nobody knows the end and the in between, the in between is just too damn hard to talk about right now. Here goes …

One day, I was born to a woman who didn't love herself and to a man that didn't love her. He was gone before I could even comprehend that he was ever there. I think, at first, she thought he was going to come back, and she was good to me. That didn't last long. Once she realized that I was all she had and that he was never, ever going to love her again, that he wasn't even going to think about her or the son he fucked up without even realizing how or why he was fucking him up, she stopped being a good mom and started being a good fuck, a good date, a good girlfriend, whatever it was that she could be.

You know how some people want to climb the corporate fucking ladder? How they all work their fucking asses off trying to be the CEO? Well, that's what my mom did except she didn't do it at work, and her goal wasn't CEO, it was wife. She just wanted to be a wife. Why? I don't know. Maybe so she could pretend that she valued herself? Maybe so she could say that someone else valued her? Maybe so she never had to work at another strip club again? Whatever the reason, that was her single purpose in life.

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