I planned on selfishly spending the week just like that. Drinking Jessie in—all that is Jessie—so that when I’m alone and the darkness threatens to swallow me whole, I can recall her warmth.
It hasn’t worked out that way though.
Last night when I got in, Ana delivered the bad news. Roman has to go back to Miami tomorrow, which means I’m going back.
Miami is not a world away from St. Augustine, but it’s far enough that there’s no way I’ll be on Jessie’s sofa tomorrow night. There’s no way I’ll be able to soak in her presence and feel her goodness wash over me.
“Allen are you okay? You are being really quiet tonight,” Jessie asks, carefully. Her voice is gentle, her face soft and when I look down at her I realize there’s not one thing I don’t like about her.
“I have to leave tomorrow. We’re going home.”
“But, I thought you said you were here for another week,” she questions, distress on her face. I can read it and it makes me feel strange.
No one—besides my sister—has really cared about having me around. Jessie does. She shows it often. I don’t understand it. She deserves better than me. I’m the last man she needs fucking up her life… tainting her.
“Roman got a call about business last night. He has to go back home to deal with it,” I explain. I’ve already told her how I work for my brother-in-law and how much I owe him. I left out why I owe him. I don’t want Jessie to think the worst of me when she finds out about my past.
And she will… How could she not?
“I was hoping for more time with you,” she whispers, and she has no idea what those words do to me—or how much I’ve wished for the same thing. I don’t give her the words I want to. I don’t tell her what I’m feeling. Those feelings would expose how important she is to me, how much I need her, or how it’s killing me to think of leaving her here alone, for another man to claim.
I can never give her those words.
“My life is in Miami, Jessie,” I answer instead, keeping any of the emotion I feel out of my voice. This is not the time for it.
“I’ll miss you, Allen.”
“You’ll find someone else to enjoy dinners with.” I shrug like the knife I just plunged into my own chest doesn’t hurt at all. The thought of Jessie enjoying anything with another man kills me.
“So this is our last night together?” she asks, and those eyes… Fuck, her eyes kill me. It’s as if they can see right through me.
I can’t bring myself to say the truth out loud. This has to be our last night. I don’t think she’d understand that after tonight, I have no choice but to walk away from her. She is too good for me. I am way too dirty for her. There are a million other reasons I should have never gotten to know Jessie. I should have left her shop that day and never looked back. I was too weak. I had to have more of her, and now I’m left causing her pain… causing both of us pain.
“I’ll miss you.”
It’s three simple words, but they are words that hurt. They hurt because they are honest. You can hear the ring of truth in them. Her words hurt, because I feel the same.
I move my hand to the side of her neck and hold her there, locking my gaze with hers and committing everything about her in that moment to my memory.
“I’ll miss you too, Jessie. More than you will ever know.”
That’s my honesty. Those are the words I give her, instead of the others that are clogging in my brain. She leans into me and I should stop her, but I don’t. My lips find hers and when her tongue slides against my mouth I open for her, taking her tongue inside and returning her kiss.
She tastes of sunshine and cool mornings, of innocence untainted by the world and I drink it like a starving man, knowing that when the kiss is over I have to walk away.
That’s the one emotion that is thrumming through me. I thought I had more time with Allen. I don’t have enough information. I don’t know how to reach him. The only thing I do know is that I need to reach him. It seems stupid, maybe even insane but…
I think I love him. If not that, then at least I know I could love him and that’s never happened before. Instinctively I know that it will never happen again, not like this and not with this much emotion and feeling. The minute I saw him I knew…
I take his kiss like a woman clinging to life, because that’s what this feels like. My heart is breaking, and common sense is thrown out the window. I grasp Allen firmly, my fingers tightening on his neck, holding his lips to mine. He plunders my mouth, owning it. This kiss is more intense than any we’ve shared before.