Make it a double, p.36
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       Make It a Double, p.36

         Part #2 of Last Call series by Sawyer Bennett
 
Page 36

  “Whatever it is,” my dad says with quiet conviction, “we have your back. ”

  My mom nods and reaches out to touch my face. I close my eyes briefly, and a smile of relief comes to my face. Even though I’m going to hurt them, I know they will still have my back. Turning from my parents, I let my gaze move around the room. I make solid eye contact with everyone, because I want them to know I’m getting ready to share something with each and every one of them.

  When my gaze reaches Alyssa, it moves no further, and she smiles at me encouragingly. I return it and while looking only at her, my Alyssa, I talk to everyone else in the room. “I went to prison for a crime I didn’t commit. ”

  My mom actually cries out in disbelief and pain, which causes me to jerk in shame, but I don’t break my stare with Alyssa. She gives me strength, so I continue. “Stacy was behind the wheel that night, and she asked me to say I was driving. I was confused, terrified that the guy we hit was dying, and I was blinded by what I thought was love. I was messed up in the head, but deep down… I knew what I was doing. ”

  A loud bang causes everyone to jump, and I turn to see Hunter has punched the wall in anger. It knocks a dent in the drywall. Gabby places her hands on his shoulders while he bows his head down, his jaw muscle ticking furiously. I look over at Casey and tears are pouring down her face, but she weeps silently while looking back at me with sorrow.

  I look back at Alyssa briefly, but then turn away, because it’s time for me to do some of this on my own. Bringing my gaze to my parents, I say, “I’m sorry I did that to you. I’m sorry I did that to myself. I was young, stupid, and I ruined not only my life that night, but I hurt most everyone in this room. ”

  No one says a word. I look around and I see anger, pain, and sympathy.

  I look over at Jimbo. “I asked you here not because I want anything from you. What’s done is done, and I’ve accepted the punishment. I just wanted you to know. You said you sensed something about me, and I wanted you to know you sensed right. ”

  Jimbo, whose gaze is swimming in compassion, smiles at me and nods his understanding.

  “I wasn’t ever going to tell this secret I’ve been carrying,” I venture on. I see Hunter jerk slightly, but he doesn’t raise his head. “But then Alyssa found out about it… by mistake. She overheard an argument between Stacy and me… overheard Stacy trying to apologize for it. ”

  Gabby and Casey both swing their heads toward Alyssa, disbelief that she kept such a secret from them. She stares back at them hard, so they understand that she has no regrets about it and would have taken it to her grave. It’s why I trust her unconditionally.

  I walk to Alyssa and grasp onto her shoulders. Leaning forward, I kiss her forehead and she sighs in happiness from my touch.

  “Alyssa kept my secret, and it created a bond between us. All of you saw it, and maybe you just thought it was two people connecting romantically, but when I gave part of my burden to Alyssa… I started changing. ”

  Tears well up in Alyssa’s eyes, and I tilt my head at her in commiseration.

  “I started changing because just having one person who knew the truth… one person that wouldn’t label me a monster… it made all the difference in my world. I felt lighter, freer… and I found that I wanted to have a life again. ”

  I can hear Casey and my mom now crying quietly, but otherwise, you could hear a pin drop. Regardless, I couldn’t tear my gaze away from Alyssa now if I tried.

  Leaning in again, I brush my lips against hers. When I pull back, I look deep into her eyes so she understands my commitment to my next words. “I love you, Alyssa. I want to spend the rest of my life with the woman that taught me how to love again. Taught me how to be free. Taught me how to live. ”

  “I love you so much,” she whispers, followed by a small sob that pops out of her mouth.

  “I know, baby,” I tell her, pulling her into me tight for a hug. I sway back and forth with her in my arms, comforting her, comforting me. But I need to say one more thing.

  Releasing Alyssa, I turn back to the group… looking around, making eye contact again. Hunter keeps his back turned though, and so I walk up to him and place my hand on his shoulder. “I’m sorry. My actions hurt all of you… took me away from all of you. That’s on me. I just hope you can forgive my foolishness… my selfishness… and let me try to make it up to you. ”

  For a moment, Hunter does nothing but stand there. Then he raises his head and gives me a look of such painful sorrow that tears brim and leak from my eyes. He opens his arms and pulls me in for a bone-crushing hug, muttering, “It’s okay, Brody. It’s okay. ”

  Everyone starts talking, softly at first. They approach me, one by one, to give me a hug… or words of understanding… or what I need most… atonement. Casey starts crying loudly when I pull her into my arms. I murmur to her how sorry I am, and that it will all be okay.

  One person doesn’t approach me though. I watch my mom walk into the kitchen and out onto the back deck that looks out over the Pamlico Sound. I follow her because I can’t imagine what she’s feeling right now, and she shouldn’t be alone with this knowledge.

  When I step out onto the deck and close the door behind me, she turns, giving me a sad smile. I walk up and stand beside her as we silently watch the water lapping gently on the shore.

  “I’m angry at you,” she tells me quietly.

  “I know. ”

  “But I also hurt for you. ”

  “I know that, too. ”

  “Mostly though… I’m happy. Happy my son didn’t take a human life, because even though it was an accident, well, that has weighed on all of us. But the thing I’m happiest about? I’m happy that you have found love. It’s what I desire most for my children. ”

  “I love her like I’ve never loved anything before,” I tell her truthfully. “There has been nothing in my life that I’ve loved more. ”

  Mom reaches out for my hand and gives it a squeeze. “I know, sweet boy. That’s how it should be. ”

  The back door opens, and Alyssa steps out. She looks at my mom with worry and asks, “Do you two need some more privacy?”

  “No,” my mom says with a smile and a welcoming hand gesture. “You belong by his side. ”

  “Mom,” I say, to get her attention, because she hasn’t let me apologize to her yet.

  She just holds a hand up to stop me. “You don’t need to say a word, baby,” she says as she walks into my arms. I hold her close and rest my cheek on the top of her head. Alyssa’s eyes float to mine, and I wonder if she can see the true peace reflected within my own.

  “I love you,” I mouth the words to her, so as not to intrude on Mom’s moment.

  “I love you, too,” she mouths back to me.

  I close my eyes and hug my mom tighter.

  ***

  “When did you know you loved me?” she asks breathlessly, just as I’m poised to push inside of her.

  I had just surfaced from between her legs, definitely proving that a smooth face is just as pleasurable against the inside of her thighs as my beard. At least, according to her cries it was just as pleasurable.

  I kiss her deep, and it’s so good that I don’t feel compelled to answer her question.

  Not just yet anyway.

  When I finally pull back so we can both take a breath, I tilt my h*ps and sink into her with a groan. “I think you grabbed my heart when I watched you bury Jethro. You enslaved my body when you kissed me for the first time in my car. But I think I loved you first when you hugged me for the first time… after you found out the truth about the accident, and I went to your house. You just stepped forward and hugged me. When I asked you why, you said ‘it just called for it’. I think I knew then. ”

  I lean down and kiss her again, slowly pumping in and out of her.

  Feels good… so f**king good.

  Even better that I know she loves me.

 
“Want to know when I first loved you?” she asks, punctuating the question with a moan because I thrust just a little deeper.

  I grin at her, and then pull back halfway only before I slam back in.

  “Nope,” I tell her, never missing a stroke.

  “No?” she gasps, not because she’s shocked, but because I just hit against something inside of her that causes her to buck wildly. Holy shit, that’s sexy.

  I pause my movements for a second so I can tell her, “All that matters is that you’ll love me every day going forward. ”

  “I will. ”

  “Good girl,” I tell her, and then it’s on.

  I move inside of her faster, grasping at her hands and linking our fingers together. She raises her legs, wrapping them tight around my waist, and then she hangs on for the ride.

  We crest fast, and we peak together… always together.

  Her lips touch mine… sweetly, and we fall back down.

  Together.

  Always together.

  Epilogue

  Alyssa

  “Geez, Brody… you can wake me up at two AM anytime if you do that to me,” I giggle as I lay across his body. Half an hour ago, he brought me out of a dead sleep with his hand between my legs and his lips on my shoulder. Ten seconds ago, he gave me a major orgasm, got one of his own, and now we are sweaty and limp and oh so happy.

  Glancing out the window, I can see snow still falling. Even though I’m blissfully warm, I cuddle up closer to him and listen to his heartbeat. It’s come down off its high and is now slow and steady under my cheek.

  We’re in Asheville, North Carolina, taking a break from the beach and enjoying a late January snowfall. It was Hunter and Brody’s idea to come here. They wanted a winter getaway where they could ski, and I wanted a winter getaway where I could sit in a hot tub and drink a hot toddy while snow fell around me. We all got what we wanted by renting a cabin at the top of a mountain. We skied all day, would go out to a fabulous dinner, then come back and hang out in front of the fire.

  Brody and I have been spending a lot of time with Gabby and Hunter over the last several months. We get together a few times a week for dinner, or meet over at Lillian and Butch’s house for a family game night. Lame, I know… but I love it!

  Tonight is our last night in Asheville, and then we’ll be headed back to the Outer Banks. I miss The Haven. Even though I know it’s in good hands between Casey, Savannah, and Bobby, about four days away is the max I can handle. Brody’s getting antsy too. He calls to check in on the animals more than I do.

  The Haven has been flourishing with Brody’s attention. The aviary is built, and we’re learning how to care for some of the local species of coastal birds that get brought to us. I say “we’re” learning to care, but it’s actually just me that’s doing the work. Birds wig Brody out for some reason, so he steers clear of them.

  But what he doesn’t do for the birds, he more than makes up for in the care of the rest of the facility. Hiring him full time was the best business decision I’ve ever made, because not only has it enabled me to expand and help more animals, but I have the love of my life beside me almost twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week. I know some people would say that’s too much, but they don’t know Brody Markham.

  I say even that is nowhere near enough.

  “Would you mind getting me some water, baby?” Brody asks, his voice rumbly and sated.

  “Sure,” I say, lifting my head up and kissing him on the chest. Rolling off the bed, I slip on my robe. As I belt it, I glance back and see that he’s rolled to his side, his head resting on his arm, staring at me. He curves his lips up in a silent smile, and I give it back to him. “Be back in a second. ”

  When I walk out into the living room, I see a fire is roaring in the hearth. That’s weird… because we didn’t have one going when we went to bed. Maybe Gabby and Hunter have been up for some reason. I pad past it and head into the kitchen.

 
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