I was used to seeing her, calling her, making sure every day she was somehow in my life. Because I needed that like I needed to breathe.
I stood beside my father as he went over the blueprints, half-listening to his specifications. But I couldn’t focus. My mind was on Shiloh, trying to think of how I was going to make this right.
“Kace, are you listening?” My father’s deep voice drew me out of my thoughts. I looked at him, nodding.
“Yeah, I’m listening,” I lied and saw the expression on his face, one that told me he knew I wasn’t telling the truth.
“Listen, it’s late and you’ve been working a lot of hours. How about you head home for the night? I’ll wrap things up here.”
I lifted my hand and ran it over the back of my neck, nodding again. “Yeah, I’m pretty beat.” It wasn’t that I was exhausted physically, but more emotionally drained.
I started heading to my truck, reaching into the front pocket of my jeans and fishing out my keys. My focus was on the ground, listening to the sound of my boots crunching over the gravel, feeling like a little piece of myself was missing because I was on the outs with Shiloh.
The sound of an approaching car had me lifting my head, twin headlights illuminating the darkness for a split second. I moved my hand in front of my eyes to shield the light just as the car pulled up beside my truck.
It was her car.
My heart jumped into my throat and my stomach tightened. The driver’s side door opened and she stepped out, but I didn’t move, despite the fact I wanted to rush toward her and embrace her, tell her I was sorry, and that I had been an idiot. I wanted to whisper in her ear that I loved her, that I’d always loved her, that I wanted her as mine only.
The sound of the car door shutting seemed to echo around us, and as we stared at each other, neither moving nor speaking, the sound of the construction going on behind us drowning out the beating of my heart and my ears, I felt as though I was lost in that moment. But I finally found the courage to step forward, and kept going until I was only a few feet from her.
She looked up at me with these big eyes, an expression on her face that I couldn’t quite read.
“Shiloh? What are you doing here?” Not that I had any problem that she’d shown up. In fact, I was ecstatic about it. “Is everything okay? Is something wrong?” Fear started to take hold as I thought about why she was here. Had something happened? Was she about to tell me that she wanted to take some time apart, that our friendship was now strange because of what had happened?
She licked her lips and inhaled deeply, and I knew whatever she was going to say was profound.
“No, everything isn’t okay, Kace.”
My heart stopped in that moment and I shook my head slowly.
“What? What’s wrong?” The protective side of me rose up instantly, this vicious beast wanting to take down anything or anyone who had hurt her.
She shook her head slowly. “No, I didn’t mean it that way,” she said, and I knew she could read me so easily, knew where my thoughts had jumped to. “It’s just I had to see you to tell you…”
I had my hands curled tightly at my sides, my keys digging into my palm and fingers. I didn’t speak, wanting to give her time, let her tell me whatever it was she had to say in her own way. But my entire body was tight, every single bad thought slamming into my head.
She looked down at the ground for moment, her hair falling on either side of her face, slightly concealing her from me. When she looked up I saw unshed tears in her eyes.
“Shiloh,” I whispered, taking a step toward her but stopping myself, not wanting to make this worse. “You’re scaring the fuck out of me right now.”
“Kace.” She said my name so softly I almost didn’t hear her. “I love you,” she said and I watched as a single tear slowly slipped down her cheek.
“I love you too.”
She shook her head. “No, Kace. You don’t understand. I’ve loved you for so long it’s all I know anymore.” She looked at me right in the eye. “I’m so in love with you that the very thought of you not in my life is so painful it’s as if someone’s reaching in and gripping my heart, pulling it from my chest.”
The air was sucked from my lungs and I couldn’t move, couldn’t even speak. I knew I probably looked shocked. Hell, I felt like a tank had just run me over. Shiloh loved me.