I’m not just doing it for myself . . . it’s my gift to Asher; a way to honor the man who gave so much back to me.
I’ve stumbled over and over again, but I’m still on my feet.
I also realize that there’s a difference between soul mates and true love. Looking at the surface, they are similar, but when I dug deep down inside, I found they were different.
I found my soul mate. Asher understood all the complexities that made me who I was. We had an instant connection, and over time it grew into something so deep, strong and meaningful that it will stick with me forever. He brought me a sense of peace and happiness. He made me aware of the beauty in life, and for that I will forever be thankful.
I found my true love. Beau has been there for me over and over again, through good times and bad. He would give up his world for me, and I would do the same for him. He would give up everything just to know I was okay as he has proven time and time again. When I am with him, there is no possibility of an end for us.
Is one type of love better than the other? I don’t know, but I’m lucky enough to have found them both. I’m lucky that Asher opened my eyes again because if I had never met him, I probably never would have realized how much I really do love Beau.
It’s easy to look at it now and see I’ve always belonged to Beau in some way or another. I spent hours watching him out my window this summer, doing everything from mowing his yard to washing his truck. There was even one day where I watched him help the older lady who lives across the street plant her flowers. He’s perfect.
Everything he does amazes me. I fall in love with him every day, and he doesn’t even have to say a word. We have a bond that’s unbreakable, and that is why I’m taking this chance now.
Apart, we’re only half of what we are when we’re together. He completes me, and I’m ready to feel whole again.
The drive is long and boring. I pass miles and miles of cornfields before finally pulling into Iowa City. I should go check in with my new roommate, but I can’t wait any longer to see him. We’ve spoken a few times on the phone, but he’s been giving me time to think and decide what it is I want out of life.
Now, I feel like I have it figured out. Excitement washes over me when I think of what he’s going to say when I tell him. We’ve both been waiting for so long, but I hold the key and I’m about to unlock our future.
I park in front of his apartment and take a few deep breaths, trying to calm my nerves. This is the beginning of yet another journey for me.
The sun heats my face as I walk up the sidewalk to the old brick building and take the steps to his floor. When I asked his mom for his address, she grinned. I think she knows. I think she’s always known.
Butterflies go crazy in my stomach as I find his door and raise my hand to knock. I’ve never been so nervous in my whole life. I’m about to knock again when the door swings open. A tall blonde with big blue eyes stares back at me.
“Is Beau here?” I ask, trying to see into the apartment.
Her eyes roam up and down my body before landing back on mine. The grin on her face sounds alarm bells in my head. “He just got out of the shower. Would you like me to go get him?” she asks, running her tongue over her teeth.
I feel sick to my stomach. Maybe I waited too long?
“Umm, no, I’ll just call him later,” I say softly, taking a few steps back.
“Are you sure you don’t want me to go get him?” she asks, leaning against the doorframe.
“Yeah, thanks though,” I say, walking steadily down the hall to the stairs.
Disbelief washes over me. Before he left, I was under the impression that he would wait for me a little while longer. I knew it wasn’t fair to make him wait forever, but five weeks . . . why did he give up so quickly?
I can’t stop the tears from running down my cheeks. I’ve wanted him for so long that he’s become my living dream, and now it’s obvious that he’s going to stay that way. I have many regrets, but if I never get a second chance, this will be my ultimate regret.
I love him.
I make my way out the door and down the sidewalk to the street. I left him behind, and now he’s over me.
“Kate! Wait!” a familiar voice yells from behind me, stopping me in my tracks.
I don’t want to turn around and let him see the tears. He shouldn’t feel sorry for moving on when I’m the one who waited so long to realize what he means to me.
“Look at me,” he whispers, so close that I feel the heat of his chest against my back.
“I can’t. I need to go.”
He stands behind me and presses his hand to my stomach. It feels so right. “Why did you come if you weren’t going to stay?”
“Beau, please,” I cry, leaning my head back against his shoulder, allowing the water droplets from his bare chest to soak into my shirt.
“Talk to me,” he demands.
I could tell him the truth, but I decide to go with a half-truth. “I’m here for school. I signed up for some classes.”
“Why are you crying?” he asks, moving around me to get a better look at my face. He has nothing on but a pair of black athletic shorts and droplets of water are rolling out of his hair.
He’s everything I’ve always wanted, and I’m too late. I don’t want to hear it, but he asked me to always be honest.
“I came for you.”
His eyes move back and forth between mine. “Then why didn’t you stay?”
Pinching my eyes shut, I use the back of my hand to wipe my cheeks. “When your girlfriend answered the door . . . I realized I was too late. I didn’t need to hear you say it.”
He places his finger under my chin. “Open your eyes.”
I hesitate, not wanting to see him when he tells me I’m right. “Kate, I’m only going to ask you one more time. Open. Your. Eyes. Please.”
This time I do, and when I look at him I see the old playfulness I’m used to. I want to run and pretend that this never happened. I want to run back to a time when he was there, telling me how much he loves me and never let him go.
His face comes closer to mine until his lips are a whisper above mine. “You got it all wrong, beautiful.”
“What?” I ask.
“Rachel is my roommate’s girlfriend,” he says, a hint of a smile playing on his lips.
I stop, rolling his words around in my head. “ I don’t get it. She was looking at me like—”
“She was looking at you like that because she knows you’re my Kate. Everyone in that apartment, or who has ever been in that apartment, knows who you are.” He smiles.
“No,” he says, shaking his head slowly and cupping my face in his hands. “I’ve been waiting for you.”
His lips brush against mine, causing my heart to pound against my chest. When he breaks contact, his thumb runs against my lower lip.
“I’m here,” I whisper, leaning into his touch.
“That’s good because I can’t wait any longer,” he says, lifting me up in his arms. His lips press against mine, this time lingering a little longer.
It’s exactly the moment my dream became a reality.
Beau is my light, my stars, my sun . . . he gives me hope.
He’s where my new life begins.
One Year Later
I’VE LEARNED THREE THINGS IN MY LIFE.
First, I can’t keep things locked inside. They will eventually eat me up until there is nothing left, and life is too short to live in solitude. One of the things Asher taught me is that every day should be worth at least one smile.
Second, I should never take anyone or anything for granted. It’s easy to assume that when someone walks into our life they will always be there. But I know that one day, one moment, one ounce of bad luck can change everything. I lost Asher way too soon. He had the most beautiful soul, and without him I don’t know how long it would have taken me to find myself again. I’m never going to be the girl I was, but right now, I’m the person I want to be. I’m content with who I am and where my life is going.
Third, love is a powerful emotion. It has the ability to get you through anything. But you have to let it.
For the past year, Beau and I have learned that over and over again. We’re also learning that you fight with the ones you love more than the ones you don’t . . . but I wouldn’t have it any other way.
“Hey, are you ready to go?” he whispers in my ear, wrapping his arms around me from behind.
“Yep, let me grab the cooler, and I’ll meet you outside.”
He kisses my cheek when I look over my shoulder and loosens his grip, resting his hands on my hips. “Don’t take too long, beautiful. I can’t wait to see you in that new blue bikini.”
“The quicker you let go of me, the quicker we can make that happen,” I smile, attempting to take a step forward, but he pulls me back into him.
“One more kiss,” he says, spinning me around to face him. He wastes no time pressing his lips to mine. He starts slowly, gently pulling my lower lip between his teeth. I moan with the tingle it sends shooting down my spine. Every kiss is a first kiss with Beau Bennett. Yet this time, when I’m expecting more, he pulls back. “Hurry up. We’ll finish that when we get to the lake.”
I bite my lower lip, knowing it will make him crazy. He deserves it for leaving me hanging like that. When he tries to grab for me again, I step back. “Go wait in the truck.”
He winks at me, melting my heart like butter. “You better hurry,” he growls, playfully smacking my ass before walking backwards toward the door.
This is our last time at the lake for the summer before we have to return to school. It’s our place, and it always will be. We’ve talked about moving back here after school and maybe buying a house by the lake, but I think it’s a little too early to plan that far ahead in the future. It’s definitely a place we’ll always come to visit.