Page 64 of Breathe into Me

“Called … police … before I came,” he struggled. “Found Jessi … at bar … said she had a text about Nate.” He coughed again and more blood ran down the side of his face. “Knew he would bring … you here. Called … police,” he finished and his eyes closed.

“No, Kane! Wake up! Stay with me!” I begged him through my sobs.

His eyes fluttered open to look at me. “I love you, Kelsey Rien.” He said as he closed his eyes one last time.

I traced the name that was carved in stone over and over. It had been too long since I had been here—to my mother’s grave. Kane stood a few feet behind me, letting me have a moment with her.

I didn’t like that he was standing back there like that. After the shot he had taken a few weeks ago, the doctors said he should be resting, but he insisted on coming here with me today. I loved him for that. He had almost lost his life trying to rescue me from my dad.

I thought for sure he would bleed out before the paramedics could get him to the hospital. They had rushed him into emergency surgery to repair the damage the bullet had caused to his most vital organs. It was touch-and-go a few times, but he had managed to pull through.

Nate hadn’t been as lucky as Kane. His injuries were far worse than the ones Kane’s had encountered and he had bleed to death before the police had even gotten there. I would carry the guilt of Nate’s death with me forever, just as I had my mom’s. Nate hadn’t been completely crazy. He was just spoiled and used to getting whatever he wanted, and what he wanted was me.

I brought the evil that had taken Nate’s life right to him. My father had been after me and he was willing to end anyone who got in the way of that. Nate taking me just so happened to present the perfect opportunity for my father to strike.

“I miss you, mom,” I whispered and I traced the date, seven years exactly now. When she first died, I felt like I would never be able to truly be happy again. How could I, after the way I had lost her?

I glanced over my shoulder at Kane, the right side of his mouth pulling up into a smile, causing that adorable dimple to sink deep into his cheek when it did. He slowly approached me, then knelt down beside me at my mom’s tombstone.

I laid my head on his shoulder and he took my wrist in his hand. I looked up at him, not sure what he was doing until I felt a coolness being draped across my wrist. When I looked down, I found a charm bracelet—no, not a charm bracelet. My charm bracelet.

Tears immediately pooled in my eyes and I struggled to speak. “I don’t understand. How did you get this?” I choked out. I was sure it had been lost when it was broken that night, but sure enough, here it was … every charm there, plus one.

I picked at the new charm, and Kane leaned in close. “That one is from me. I know this was something from your mom, and I will completely understand if you want to take it off, but the jewelry store I had taken the bracelet to, to have it repaired, had this charm and after everything … I couldn’t help but take it as a sign that you were meant to have that charm.”

I softly caressed the tiny dandelion with my fingertip. It was perfect. All this time the dandelion had represented my mom, and our longing to be set free from my dad, but it now also represented Kane. He had been the one to set me free, like the trapped dandelion seeds, all I needed was one tiny puff of air. Kane was my air.

I looked at him and thanked God that I hadn’t given up when I wanted to. That I chose to keep going even when it hurt too much. I was more certain now, than ever, that everything I had ever been through; I had been through for a reason. Because in the end, it had led me straight to him, to Kane. Straight to the one person who could help me find myself again. The person that would make me breathe again.