Her blonde curls bounce as we run across the street. Her cheeks are flushed pink from the chilly November air. She has that gorgeous smile riding on her lips that I remember each night in my dreams, the smile I love. She giggles and lets go of my hand. I don't even remember taking her hand, but now that it isn't there anymore, I miss the heat and warmth of Reina touching me.
"Thank you, Connor. You didn't have to take me out for my birthday though," she says with that gleam of wonder in her light blue eyes. I have to swallow hard to catch my breath.
"You're welcome, Reina. And of course I did! You know I want you to be happy," I'd be even happier if it could be with me though, too. I'm glad that I caught myself before saying this out loud. I don't think Reina would ever look at me the same way. Ever. It's taken too long for this and it's all thanks to my asshole, jerk of a brother Alexander.
If only it would have played out differently. It was five years ago when Alexander told me that he met the "girl of his dreams". I played it off thinking that he was just kidding around. One thing you have to know about Alexander is he's never been one to settle down with just one woman. When Reina walked through the front door everything changed. I was instantly speechless. Reina took my breath away. She also had this power of making me look like a complete idiot. Every time I tried to talk to her no words would come out or everything I said came out wrong.
Over time Reina and I got closer. We became best friends. I took what I could get, even if it meant letting my older brother have my dream girl. As painful as it was to watch Alexander put his hands all over her, I pretended it didn't bother me. I figured Alexander would be done with her within a few weeks. And maybe, just maybe, there was a chance that she would go out with me.
But he continued dating her for over three years. When he asked me to go look at engagement rings I wanted to say no, but I didn't. I smiled and gave him a hug. I was happy for him. I mean, he got a girl like Reina. Not only is she stunningly beautiful, but is seriously intelligent and funny as hell. She's kind and caring. She's everything all in one pretty package.
Then I got the phone call. It was from Reina's good friend Penelope. She cried the whole phone call as she told me what Alexander put Reina through. All of the mental and physical abuse. It left me feeling dead and rotten inside. I want to break him as much as he broke her.
But before I even got the chance I thought about everything. It all made more sense after that phone call. Reina had lost that spark of liveliness and happiness. She smiled, but it didn't quite make it to her eyes. She wore clothing that covered her body and she changed her hair a lot. It made me feel responsible. She even had a black eye once and I stupidly believed her when she told me she ran into a door. I saw her and I didn't even say anything. I wasn't thinking.
I never thought that my brother would be that kind of man. I couldn't even call him a man. It hurt me so much to know that he hurt Reina: one of the nicest people I've ever met. It also killed me to know that he probably hurt more than just one girl. Thoughts of all his previous "girlfriends" played through my mind like it was a film. I suddenly felt sick to my stomach.
After that moment I made a promise to myself. I promised myself that I would do anything and everything to protect Reina; anything to make her eyes shine again and make her smile bigger than ever. Anything.
This included pressing charges against Alexander.
It was hard for her, but I was there with her. I held her hand and made sure that she had a tissue for her tears. I watched as my brother sat in the courtroom with a smirk riding on his lips. I wanted to punch him so hard he couldn't smirk ever again. Hell, I wanted to punch him so hard that he wouldn't be able to move again.
When I heard that he got ten years in prison, half of me was upset that he didn't get more time. The other half was pleased that he got the ten years. I held Reina close. I wanted to be there for her more than anything. I wanted to be the one to protect her.
Even if that meant just being her friend.
"I haven't had this much fun in a really long time," Reina admits while smiling that gorgeous, glowing smile. Damn. I feel a tightness deep within my chest and farther south.
"I know what you mean. Work has been crazy busy. It feels really good to get out, especially with somebody I love," the words come out on their own. I rub the back of my neck, feeling the heat rise in my face. Reina thinks I mean it in a friend kind of way. She doesn't need to hear about my true feelings about her. Not now. Especially after everything she went through with my asshole, jerk of a brother Alexander.
I hold Reina close. My arm is wrapped around her waist, leaving me feeling the jolt between her skin touching mine. She shivers against me. I stop and face Reina. Her cheeks and nose are pink and her teeth are chattering. It got a lot colder than I expected it to tonight.
"I guess I shouldn't have wore such a short skirt!" Reina jokes. I look her up and down, trying not to make it obvious. Looking at her legs in that skirt make me feel a sudden urge to continue walking. She doesn't need to see the start of my erection.
"I think you look beautiful," I tell her honestly. Her slight blush and giggles make me feel good inside. If only I could just press my lips to her's. If only.
She takes my hand again. We make it to our special spot on the bridge. It isn't far from our apartment complex. This bridge is the spot that Reina and I would go during the toughest of times. The amount of memories at this spot go through my mind.
"Connor, you really have no idea how much this night out has meant to me. You have been such a good friend these past few years. It really means more to me than you will ever know."
Her words make me smile, even if it hurts just a little bit. "You're very welcome, Reina. You've become my best friend. Thanks for that," I honestly tell her.
Reina looks at me with that beautiful smile I've missed so much. But this time the light and gleam isn't present. It disappeared as quickly as it returned earlier in the evening. Dammit. What have I done now? Have I messed up completely with her? I continuously walk on eggshells around her, that way I don't spill my soul to her.
I put a fallen curl behind Reina's ear. Her light blue eyes meet my dark green eyes. Fuck. I feel the instant shock going through my whole body. This isn't making my situation any better.
"What's wrong, Reina? Are you all right?" the amount of worry going through me isn't healthy. But this is the way it is. I care way too much for Reina, more than she will ever be aware of.
She shakes her head side to side. "It's nothing. Are you ready to head back?"
It isn't completely out of the ordinary for Reina to run hot and cold, especially after Alexander. But it's been a long while since she's run this cold out of the blue. Each time it hurts more and more, but I let it go. It's better to be in her life how you are now then not at all.
"Reina, please don't shut me out right now. It's your birthday. I don't want you to be upset anymore. You have gone through too much bad. You deserve just good things from here on out," I leave out the part where I want to be a part of that good.
"It's nothing. I'm sorry. Thanks again, Connor. I think I need to get back anyways. It's pretty late."
My heart sinks. This feeling isn't a stranger. It's what I feel every time I say goodnight to Reina. It's slowly breaking my heart more and more as the days pass.
I wrap my arms around Reina. She hugs me back and the warmth of her body against mine is out of this world. If I could freeze this moment I would in a second. I release her from the embrace with an emptiness in my stomach. Before I open my mouth to talk again, her smooth, warm lips are on mine. It takes me a few second to regain my composure. Reina is kissing me!
I wrap my arms around her waist and kiss her back. I hold back a groan when she begins pulling on my blond hair. I lick her bottom lip, only to get even more turned on by hearing Reina moan in pleasure. She lets me in and our tongues fight for dominance. She tastes sweet. I let out a groan, making Reina smile against my lips. I smile as well. I just can't help it when it comes to Reina. Her hands travel farther down. I groan as she makes her way down my chest. She really has no idea how much she turns me on.
Suddenly she stops kissing me. She looks down at the ground, trying not to make eye contact with me. Was this a mistake? Please tell me that it wasn't.
"I'm sorry, Connor."
"Please don't be sorry. I've wanted to kiss you since I met you. I know that you were with my brother and he did unspeakable things to you. It kills me that he did that to you. It kills me every day. Over the past few years we've gotten closer, and, dammit. I love you, Reina. I want to be with you. I always have."
Reina looks up at me with tears running down her face. I wipe the falling tears with my thumb. Seeing Reina cry hurts me.
"I'm sorry. I fucked everything up," I begin to get flustered. What did I just do? I ruined our friendship. I ruined everything. The thought of not having Reina in my life is unimaginable. I can't picture her not in my life.
Reina shakes her head from side to side again. Instead of crying, giving me a cheeky smile. "You didn't fuck anything up, Connor. I'm sorry I made you think that you did. Gosh, I--I didn't know how to tell you this. I never thought that you would even look at me in a romantic way, so I never brought it up. I always thought that you were too good for me. And you are! I just decided that it was better to have you in my life as a friend than not at all, even if it meant hurting a little more each day. You have been so good to me since Alexander. So, so good. I know I should have told you about it sooner. I just--I didn't want you to look at me any differently. I've always wanted to be with you, but I was with Alexander and I didn't think I'd ever get that chance."
I kiss her lightly on the lips once more. I watch as she slowly opens her eyes and smiles up at me. Damn. Here we go again.
"If anything, you're too good for me. Be my girlfriend, Reina? Make me the happiest man in the world."
Reina laughs. "Of course!" she kisses me again. This time I can feel the happiness and joy return to her. She's back to her old self again. She stops kissing me again and looks up into my eyes with a worried look on her face. "Are you sure you want to be with me? You don't look at me like I'm damaged goods?"
I frown at her comment. How could she ever think that? "Where would you get that idea in your mind, Reina? In my eyes you're perfect."
"Sorry. It's something Alexander would tell me. I'm sorry."
"Please don't think that. You're beautiful and smart and funny and caring and kind and warm," I tell her honestly. Reina giggles and her cheeks turn even pinker. "I could go on if you'd like. I have a ton of compliments for you, Reina." I kiss her cheek softly.
"I'm sorry. I'm working on forgetting all of the negative comments and lies Alexander told me. By the way, you're handsome and kind and charming and smart. I could continue if you'd like," she jokes.
"I love you, Reina. So, so much."
"I love you too, Connor. I always have."
Our lips meet once more. For once everything is peachy. Everything is how I have wanted it to be for such a long time. She's in my arms where I plan to protect her and care for her and love her forever. She loves me and we're together. Everything is in place.