In fact, I could imagine Benjamin saying something like, “I wouldn’t go see God if he was standing in your front yard.”

That’s all right. It’s enough for me to know God loves him anyway.

If I’m not careful, I might end up feeling the same way.

CHAPTER 25

Benjamin

It’s a perfect Fourth of July, and it’s all because of Elena.

Yes, the sun is shining brightly, though sometimes blotted out by fluffy pristine clouds against a crystal blue sky.

Yes, I’ve found the perfect little cove on Lake Mead to toss anchor where we can take a break from skiing and the other revelers on the lake to have some privacy with each other.

Yes, every day I spend with her, I become more enchanted. I don’t regret my decision to let things progress with her.

And yes… my life seems to be taking an upswing because of this woman.

I try to just enjoy the sun. Let myself get lost in the music. I’ve got my earbuds on, my favorite classic rock playlist blaring, and I’m reclined on one of the padded benches just chilling.

Elena is on the bow of the boat, stretched out on a towel and working on a glorious tan. While the cove we’re in is private enough, it’s not completely secure. Otherwise, I’d encourage her to go full nude. As it is, the little string bikini she’s wearing makes me happy to stare at the absolute perfection of her body while knowing it’s all mine to do with whatever I want, whenever I want.

That’s because Elena likes whatever I do to her, whenever I do it.

The perfect relationship has only been getting better.

I figure if there were ever a time when things could have dampened it was when her mom burst in on us moments after we’d just finished some amazing fucking. My heart was still galloping when Irma Costieri opened that bedroom door, and things could have gone south fast.

Not because of the embarrassingly awkward situation, but mainly because it’s a big to deal to meet the parents of the person you’re dating. It wasn’t something I know Elena had ever even considered doing, and I wasn’t in a place to even think about it with my mom.

Hell, she and I are just now back on good terms. We’re communicating regularly. I’d made the first step and reached out to her like I’d promised myself a week ago.

It was emotional as fuck, and I wasn’t prepared to confront those feelings. I knew I had to apologize for my behavior. That was my big goal, and I pulled it off without a hitch. I thought after that, I could keep the convo light but make it clear I wanted to get back to normal. Instead, I wanted to cry like a damn baby when my mother wouldn’t let me apologize. She wouldn’t give me her forgiveness because she had declared none was needed.

She had merely said, “Benjamin… I love you. You have nothing to be sorry for. You merely survived as best you could. As your mother, I fully support the way in which you had to do it. It was your way, and that’s all that matters to me.”

Fuck, she slayed me. Showed me what being a parent truly means.

Exemplified the theory of unconditional love with just a few words.

Since then, things have been easy. Daily communications, usually via text, but that has more to do with me being so damn busy. One by one, I made other connections. My dad reached out. Then my brother. We’re all back talking again.

It’s breezy conversation as if they know I can’t handle much more than that, but one day—hopefully soon—I’ll have the balls to tell them how sorry I am for shutting them out.

I’ll try to explain why I’d done what I had. Hopefully, they’ll be as understanding as my mother.

Elena shifts, arching her back slightly, which thrusts her breasts up. They’re fantastic, by the way. Truly my favorite part of her body. I could spend hours worshiping them.

When her head swivels, I can tell she’s staring at me through her dark sunglasses. Her lips curve up at the corners, and she asks me something.

I can’t hear her because of the music blaring in my ears so I pull my buds out. She repeats what she just said. “Why are you staring?”

“Because you’re the best thing to look at out here?” I reply truthfully. “By a long shot.”

Elena pushes up to her elbows, scanning the scenery. It really is a beautiful day, and the water has been like glass. I was pleased to find out Elena likes to ski. I used to spend a lot of time on this boat with April, but not so much after we had Cassidy. She was a little too young for water sports, but we would come out on occasion and just tool around a bit.

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