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Because of Lila

By:Abbi Glines

was blotchy and red.

"Everything," I replied honestly.

"Where have you been?"

"Outside your place. In that damn truck," I admitted.

"Why?"

"Because I was terrified of this. That I had no chance to make it right. That I'd lost it all. That I'd lost you."

"So you didn't come ask me? You let me think it was done?"

I shook my head. "I called and texted you and you never replied. I was waiting. Giving you time. And . . . I saw you with him. I saw you smile. I saw you laugh. You were happy, Lila. I want you to be happy. I didn't leave you though. I was right outside the whole time. Except when I am cutting grass and weed eating at four in the morning on the golf course."

"You saw me smiling with who?" she asked confusion on her face.

"Eli."

"Eli? In Sea Breeze?"

"I came looking for you. I found you. With him. He made you smile. He's good. He hasn't hurt you like I did."

She didn't reply at first. She just stood there staring at me letting my confession sink in. She couldn't deny what I had seen. How Eli had made her forget the pain. He'd given her a reason to smile. He would never hurt her like I had but. We both knew he could never love her like I did. No one could.

"When was the last time you were with her?" she asked me.

"Three months ago. I was hammered. She called me. I went to her. It was a habit. One I will regret for the rest of my life."

"At first, did you love her?"

"I was a kid, Lila. I loved any female who would let me stick my dick in her vagina. Then she started telling me how mistreated she was and how her husband wouldn't have sex with her. I felt sorry for her. At one point, I think I thought we were friends but it was always manipulation on her part. I never loved her. I've been in love once. I still am. Even when I didn't realize it, Lila, it was you. Always you. The girl I never felt good enough for. The girl I watched from afar and dreamed about at night. Just you."

She sniffled and wiped away a single tear. "I'm afraid you'll get bored with me. We're so different. I . . . I'm not as experienced or adventurous. I could be, but I don't even know how."

My chest felt lighter than it had in weeks. I took my first deep breath since the moment I found out Lila Kate was missing and why. "Are you serious?" I asked taking a step toward her.

She nodded.

"Do you have any idea how perfect you are for me?"

She shook her head this time.

"There has not been one time in my life I didn't think about my future and see you in it. Your face was always there. Your voice in my head when I was doing the wrong thing. Those eyes would haunt me even when I was passed out drunk. You have been with me every moment of my life. Even if I didn't want you there, my heart held onto you. My soul found its mate when I was a kid. I might have fought against it but the connection was made. It always will be." I took another step toward her. "You can hate me. You can never forgive me. You can tell me to leave and not come back. But I'll love you forever. That won't change."

She sniffled again. "Does that mean you'll sit outside like some stalker watching me?"

I grinned. "Most likely, yes."

Lila Kate closed the small distance between us and put her hands on my chest gently this time. "That doesn't leave me any choice then does it."

"Are you going to get a restraining order?" I teased.

She smiled then. The big beautiful smile that had been making my knees weak for as long as I could remember. "That's an option," she replied. "But I think I'll go with option number two."

"And that is?" I asked.

She stood on her tiptoes and pressed a kiss to my jawline. "To love you the rest of my life."

I held her face in my hands and stared down at the woman who would always be what made me whole. She was my center. Loving her had destroyed me. The old me was gone. The careless, selfish man I'd been was no longer there. I wanted to be good enough for her. And I would be. I would be the kind of man my father was. My life had purpose.

All because of Lila.

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