“Whatever you think.”
“All things bright and beautiful, all creatures great and small...” She began singing sweetly and I stood up and watched her as she sang. I joined her in the chorus and we held hands as we sang.
“He’s got the whole world in his hands, he’s got the whole wide world in his hands...” I continued with the next song and Lexi sang along with me.
We stood there for a few moments after the song and I cleared my throat. I realized that I was no longer anxious. Lexi had distracted me from my panic and I felt my heart swell with love for her. It seemed that there was nothing Lexi couldn’t make right in my life.
“God, I want to know that Eddie is okay.” I started slowly and I looked up at the sky. It was a clear day and the open expanse of blue made me feel like he was right up there, looking down on me and listening. “I want Eddie to get this message, please. I want him to know that I miss him. More than he ever would have guessed. Tell him that he got me good. I told him to never contact me again, but now all I hope for is to see him turn up at my door or to call me with some new kooky idea. I never had a friend like Eddie before, God. I never had someone who had my back no matter what, who knew all of me and loved me. I never had anyone love me like Eddie, God. I want you to tell him that I loved him, too. Not in the way that he wanted, but I loved him too. God, please forgive me. There’s a saying I heard, I don’t know if it’s from the bible or a book, but it says forgive them for they don’t know what they do.”
“Jesus said that.” Lexi smiled at me, gently, and I tried to smile back at her, but I was too overcome with emotion.
“God, I didn’t know what I was doing, what I was saying. Please tell Eddie that. I regret the words I used. I would never say that to anyone again. I should have been there for him. God, I’m sorry.” I fell to my knees again, with tears streaming down my face. “I f**ked up. I f**ked up!” I shouted into the air and I felt Lexi jump as my voice grew louder. “I’m so sorry. Please forgive me, Eddie. Please forgive me, man. I love you. And you are my brother. I was in a bad place, man. I miss you.” I fell forward and cried into the dirt.
Lexi stepped towards me and rubbed my shoulder. “Eddie, if you’re out there I want you to know that I forgive you. Bryce told me about the plan you guys had. I can’t say that I fully understand, but I forgive you. I always thought you were a nice guy. And I know what it’s like to have dark days.”
My breath caught as Lexi spoke. How could one person be soo wonderful? It wasn’t possible for someone to be so angelic. I didn’t really believe in God and in heaven and in Jesus. I mean, who could live in the world and see so much lying and treachery and heartache and believe? But I wanted to. And when I met people like Lexi I believed. I truly believed.
“Eddie. I’m soo sorry that you were hurting so much that you thought this was the only way. I hope you are watching over Bryce. I know you are watching over him. Thank you for keeping him safe.”
I stood up and grabbed her hand and kissed her on the cheek. “Thanks, Lexi. Thanks.” We stood there in silence for a few moments and a Goldfinch landed on the top of his grave and whistled. I stared at the bird and felt an overwhelming calmness center in me.
“Let’s go.” I felt light as we walked through the cemetery and I picked Lexi up and swung her around in the parking lot. “I love you, Lexi Lord. I love you soo much.”
She laughed as I put her down and she clung to me. “I’m dizzy,” she hiccupped, and I laughed as I kissed her.
“You are the cutest, most precious girl I’ve ever had the fortune to meet.”
“I’m a woman, Mr. Evans,” she pouted.
“You’ll always be my special girl,” I laughed as she hit me on the shoulder. I took a deep breath and realized that, for the first time in a long time, I felt happy and alive and like nothing could ever ruin my mood.
“Well I guess I kinda like that.”
“What do you want to do now?”
“I thought we were going to Harpers Creek?”
“Let’s do something crazy.”
“Crazy?” She raised an eyebrow at me.
“Lexi, we made it through the drama of high school, we made it through our parents cheating, we made it through Eddie’s death, I made it through a war and here we are together. We need to live life. We need to enjoy it to the max.”
“We could see if Luke is still going to Chicago and maybe join him?”
“Let’s go to Vegas.”
“Drive to Vegas?”
“Or fly. Or take a hot air balloon. We can do whatever we want. We can go rent a penthouse in a hotel and pretend we’re on our honeymoon. We can drink champagne in the bathtub; make love on the lion hair rug. We can do whatever we want.”
“Well, making love on a lion’s hair rug does sound fun,” she laughed. “But I have work on Monday.”
“Skip. Or call in sick.”
“I can’t, Bryce,” she sighed.
“No pressure, Lexi.”
“Thanks.” I saw her check her phone and I felt my heart racing. Had Anna text her?
“Waiting for someone to call?”
“No.” She looked up with a quick smile. “So what are we going to do?”
“Well, you said no to Vegas and I’m guessing no to Utah?”
“Yeah, that’s a no.”
“Let’s go skinny dipping.” I grinned at her shocked expression.
“What? I didn’t bring my swimsuit.”
“That’s why we’re going skinny dipping.”
“I can’t believe I’m going to say yes.” She laughed and I picked her up again and swung her around.
“No.” I opened the door for her and then walked around to the driver’s side. “It’s a surprise.”
“So, Lexi, where do you see yourself in five years?”
“I’m changing the topic. Keep up.”
“Don’t forget the attention, soldier.”
“I’m not sure.” She looked out of the window. “I’ve never thought that far ahead before. I guess I always assumed that Luke and I would rent a house or apartment. Maybe in LA. I’d be acting. Luke would have his business. Anna would visit with her dad.”
“Why would you and Luke be living together?” I frowned.
“Well, he’s my best friend and I just kinda didn’t see any romantic interests coming along for either of us.” She grinned, sheepishly.
“Has he never had a girlfriend?”
“He dated Briget for a while.” She rolled her eyes. “But she was a bitch.”
“Don’t you think his new girlfriend would be upset to hear he is living with a girl?”
“No.” It was her turn to frown. “He wouldn’t date a girl who was jealous like that.”
“I wouldn’t want you living with him.”
“Well he’s moving, so that’s not a problem.”
“Luke is moving?” I looked at her in surprise. “Where to?”
“Boston. He’s going to Boston.”
“Oh.” I tried to keep the smile out of my voice, but I was elated. This was all turning out perfectly. I reached over and stroked her leg, running my fingers up her inner thigh. “I’m so happy we are together, Lexi.”
“So am I.”
“I could stay like this forever.” I thought to myself as I floated in the lake. My body felt warm, even though the water was cold. I watched as Lexi floated close by with her eyes closed. I had tried not to look as she had taken off her clothes, but it had been hard. I was so attracted to her. I felt like I needed her. But I was going to wait. I knew I had to wait.
“What are you thinking about, Bryce?” she called out to me and I swam towards her.
“Let’s tread water.” I pulled her towards me. “Hold onto me.”
She looked at me, wearily, before wrapping her legs around me. I held her close and I felt my throat catch as she pressed her na**d body against mine.
“I’m thinking that it would be impossible for the sky to exist without the sun, for the lake to exist without the water, for the trees to live without the soil and for me to live without you.”
“Oh, Bryce.” She had tears in her eyes as she stared at me. “I don’t know what to say.”
“Tell me you love me.” I drew her in closer and I could feel her heart beating fast.
“I’ve loved you for years, Bryce.” She ran her hands through my hair. “I’ve thought about being with you in this moment a million times. You’ve consumed my dreams, my thoughts, my mind on countless occasions.”
“Love me, Lexi.” I pushed her closer to me, crushing her br**sts into my chest. I moved my hands all over her body and she looked at me with a question in her eyes. “Let me love you, Lexi.”
“I just want to show you how much I love you. I can’t stop myself. Tell me if you want me to stop.” She ran her hands down my chest until she touched my manhood. She felt just how much I wanted to love her and her eyes widened as I grew in her hands.
“Love me, Bryce,” she whispered into my ears and I felt my nerve endings explode at her words.
“Are you sure?” I stared into her eyes to make sure.
“Yes,” she nodded. “I’ve wanted this for a long time.”
“I don’t have any protection,” I sighed.
“I’m on the pill,” she smiled, shyly. “Because of my period.”
“Are you sure it’s okay?”
“Yes.” She grabbed me harder and I pushed her away quickly.
“Stop that before there is no decision to be made.”
“Oops,” she giggled and I grabbed her close again. “Let’s swim to the shore.”
We both swam back, eagerly and excitedly. I knew that I was rushing something I shouldn’t be rushing, but I couldn’t stop myself. I needed Lexi. She made me feel whole. She completed me. I don’t know why those words kept floating through my mind. But I knew with everything inside of me that I needed to make love to her. She would make everything right in me again.
Bryce’s blond hair glittered like gold, and his skin shone like he was a bronze God.I stared at him as he grinned down at me and my body shivered. I’d never expected my first time to be at the lake.
“Is it okay?” He whispered down at me, as he touched me in places that no one had ever explored before.
“Yes.” I could barely talk. The feelings he was eliciting in my body were foreign and unknown to me. I pulled him down towards me so I could feel his wet body on mine. We rolled around, kissing and touching and I closed my eyes to fully feel and appreciate all the strange sensations that were running through me.
“Open your eyes, Lexi. I want to see your beautiful, brown eyes as I enter you.” I opened my eyes and gasped as I felt him inside of me, moving slowly. There was a sharp pain and I grabbed his shoulders. “Are you okay, Lexi?”
I nodded my head, unable to talk, and he continued his movements. All of a sudden, it started to feel good and I wriggled beneath him.
“Oh, my Lexi,” he groaned and then collapsed on top of me. “That was amazing.”
“Yes, yes it was.” I smiled at him, gently, still feeling weird inside.
“Did you?” He asked me and I nodded my head, not really sure what he was asking. “I’m sorry. I was quick. I’m not normally this quick.”
“I guess it has been a while,” I laughed and pulled him towards him. “I’m so glad you were my first, Bryce.”
“Your first, last and only.” He nuzzled my neck and I rubbed the top of his head. “I’m sleepy.” He grinned up at me and I watched as he drifted off to sleep. I studied his body as he slept. It was perfect: he had a six-pack, toned arms, legs. I couldn’t quite believe that he wanted to be with me. That he saw me as his everything. I didn’t really know what it was about me that he loved. Other than me completing him.
I thought back to how I called him my Prince Charming and talked about how he had saved my life. Luke had asked me if I really thought that, he had tried to question me and the substance that my love was built on. And, as Bryce lay there in my arms, I started to wonder what substance we really had. Were we really soul mates? Did we really know each other? He hadn’t even asked me about my acting. He hadn’t delved deeper. I didn’t really know where we went from here.
I thought about Luke again and about his moving to Boston. I didn’t want him to go. I hadn’t realized quite how much I didn’t want him to go until this moment. I didn’t want him to leave me. I realized that I didn’t want to be in Jonesville without him. I bit my lip and held my breath so that I wouldn’t cry. I didn’t want Luke to leave me. I wanted him to be the boy in the bedroom window across from mine forever. I tried to stop my thoughts. I felt incredibly guilty. Here I was, lying in the arms of a man I loved, thinking about my best friend. I closed my eyes and pushed myself closer to Bryce. The heat of his body warmed me up and I closed my eyes. I should be happy now, I told myself. I should be happy. I’m here with Bryce Evans, my very own Prince Charming—and he loves me. He really loves me. I repeated those words to myself, until I eventually fell asleep.