Before I unlock the door to the firm, I receive another text from Viola.

V: Can you meet me at Courtney’s?

She attaches the address.

T: I’ll be there as soon as I can.

After an hour of an interview from hell, I lock up. I’m anxious and nervous as fuck to see her again. It’s been so long since I’ve seen her, I just want to wrap her in my arms and kiss the shit out of her. I want to forget everything that happened in our past and beg her to give us a second chance. Not knowing what to expect or what she’ll say makes me the most anxious. There are so many different things she could say. The unknown suffocates me all the way to Courtney’s place.

There’s slow-moving traffic on the bridge, and I wait at least half an hour for them to clean up an accident. At least it gives me time to run through everything I want to say to her. There’s so much I need to say; it’s just finding the right words that make it nerve-wracking. I know I’ve fucked up so many times over the years, and I have to take her being back in California as if I’ve been given another chance. I refuse to fuck this up again. Truth be known, she might have to put a restraining order on me to keep me away.

Once I pull up next to Courtney’s Jeep, my nerves take over. I rub my hand over my face and take in a deep breath before I grab the gift and get out. It will be the first time I’ve seen her since her graduation. As soon as I head down the sidewalk, I see Courtney getting ready to lock the door. Walking a little faster, she sees me and waits.

“She’s asleep,” she whispers.

“Should I come back later?” I ask.

“No, the time change has messed with her. I’m sure she’ll be up soon.” She opens the door, and when I step in, she waves goodbye and closes it behind her.

I stand there for a moment, watching Viola sleep on the couch, snuggled with a blanket around her body. She looks so peaceful and beautiful, and it’s hard for me to not immediately go to her, pull her in my arms, and tell her I’m never letting her go again.

I sit in the chair next to the couch and wait for her. She looks way too comfortable for me to interrupt her sleep. Ten minutes later, she stirs, and her eyes flutter open.

“Travis?” She looks confused.

“Yeah, princess.”

“Why didn’t you wake me up? How long have you been here?”

“Long enough to know you’re exhausted. I can come back later, if you want.”

“No, that’s okay.” She sits up and pulls the blanket over her arms and crosses her legs. After putting on her glasses, she tucks hair behind her ears and nervously smiles. Her cheeks are rosy, and she looks as if she’s glowing. Fuck, I’ve missed her so damn much, and I hope what she has to say to me isn’t bad news.

“So…” she says. And it’s immediately awkward, but I don’t want it to be.

“So,” I echo her words. I hate that there’s a big elephant in the room, and I just want to get it all out so we can get over it and move on.

She tucks her bottom lip into her mouth and takes in a deep breath. “I’m really sorry for leaving without saying goodbye. I’m so sorry. You have no idea how much it hurt me to know that I hurt you. I don’t think I would’ve ever left, even though I was pissed at you if I didn’t leave right then. I know I wouldn’t have been able to go.”

Fuck, her words are like music to my ears, and I feel all the tension from my body begin to melt away. “You were hurt, too, princess. I understand why you did it. You’re here now, so who cares? Okay? We’ve both made mistakes, and I’m sorry for ever hurting you.”

After finding out she left, I was upset with her for days, and the emptiness never subsided. Heartbreak feels like grieving, and knowing I put her through that countless times over the years made me feel like I deserved it. But I forgave her months ago.

Viola gives me a small smile, and I can’t bare the gap between us any longer. I stand and move to the couch, closer to her.

“I’ve missed you so damn much,” I whisper. The closeness of her body causes my heart rate to increase. We’re not even close enough to touch, but it’s the closest we’ve been in half a year.

“I’ve missed you, too. And Gryff. He’s still so cute. He’s growing up too fast.”

“He’s our baby,” I say with a laugh, but she doesn’t smile like I hoped she would.

Tags: Kennedy Fox The Checkmate Duet Erotic