“Because I can’t live without you.” His tone is so matter-of-fact that I just stare at him. My heartbeat picks up at his words. I can’t live without you. God, I want to run and jump into his lap. Those words seem so much deeper than an ‘I love you.’
I can’t live without you
“You’re a liar. I can’t trust anything you say,” I tell him, wanting the words to be true. I want him to make me believe him.
“I’ve never once lied to you.”
“You said you were looking at my bank to set up an account,” I throw back at him. He never intended to open an account with us; he just used that lie to talk to me.
“No, I said I was looking at your bank for work. You took it as I wanted to set up an account. I never said that.”
I drop my fork down onto the plate. “It was a lie. Spin it how you like.” My appetite is gone once again, but I ate more than half of what he gave me.
He takes a deep breath and leans back in his chair.
The silence starts again.
“Why did you do this?” My words come out in a whisper. Wasn’t there another way to have gone about this if he wanted me? Was the bank robbery more important than me?
“The wheels were in motion before I ever even saw you. I couldn’t stop it by then. It was all too late. I could only do what I did.”
“I don’t know what that means, Sean. If that’s even your real name!” I scream out the last part. I don’t even know if the man I’ve fallen in love with is real.
Leaning forward, he places his elbows on his knees. I can see the dark circles under his eyes. He looks like he hasn’t slept in days. I know he crawls into bed with me each night and leaves before I wake up, leaving only his smell behind.
“I’m still the man you fell in love with, Tessa,” he shoots back, understanding what I was trying to get out. “The person I’ve been when I’m with you is who I am. The things I whispered in your ear when we made love. When I held you tight and told you I wanted a family. When I stroked your belly, dreaming of our baby growing in there. It was all true. Every. Single. Thing.”
“You used me,” I retort. I think I’m trying to remind myself of this more than remind him.
“I had no choice. The people I got mixed up with were already planning to use you, and I couldn’t let that happen. I tried, baby. I swear I did. I went back to call it all off and to wipe my hands clean. I wanted to be able to try to get you myself. Normal boy-meets-girl shit. But like I said, they already had you in their sights, and I wasn’t letting them touch you. No one touches what’s mine, and you are mine. It was too late, and the only thing I could do was make sure you were protected in all of it. Make sure that no matter what, you and I made it.” The look he gives me dares me to challenge that, but I say nothing “You might be fighting it, but you know it’s true. Just like I’m yours. I always have been. You’ve been mine before you ever knew I existed.”
A lump forms in my throat. I don’t want to cry anymore. I’ve already cried so much. He must see it in my eyes, the tears trying to break free.
The way he says my name is pained as need coats the word. I pull my eyes to his, feeling his stare all the way to my toes.
“You took me from the only home I’ve ever known.”
“No, I brought you to your home. Your place is with me, and this is our home. It’s made just for us. You belong here, not there. I’ve never really had a real home, Tessa, but when I saw you that first time I knew you were it. From that very first moment. You are my only home, and I want to be yours.”
“Don’t you dare say you don’t belong here with me. I don’t think I can bear it. I’ll show you. Please just let me prove it to you. If I didn’t love you and want to be with you, would I have brought you here? No, I would’ve left you behind and been long gone. But there was no leaving without you. Because without you I might as well be dead.”
Tessa looks at me with big eyes. There’s hope in them, and she’s close to the edge, I just need to help her get there.
“I never wanted my world to touch you. I never wanted anything dark around me to dim your light. My biggest fear is that something would take away your innocence and the purity of your trust in me. I never meant to deceive you, baby. Never.”
She hasn’t told me to stop talking yet, so I keep going, needing to make her understand.
“When Nick pulled you off the ground and I saw him put that gun to your head, my whole world fell apart in a split second. I knew the bullets were blanks, and I knew no harm would come to you, but knowing that in that split second you knew everything, I was crushed. I’m so sorry that it happened the way it did. That wasn’t the plan, and when everything went to shit, I had to improvise. That included getting you out of there and onto the island a lot sooner than I had anticipated.”
“I don’t understand what you mean.” Her fingers twist in the blankets as she struggles to believe me.
“The job was supposed to be simple, Tessa. In and out and no one the wiser. I had to go through with it to make sure you were safe and that no one touched you. I had to finish this one last job to give us the life I’ve been telling you about. The life where it’s just you and me and our babies.”
I take a chance, getting up from the chair again and making my way over to the bed. She doesn’t stop me as I slowly walk over, letting her know my intentions.