Chapter Twenty-Eight – Forgiveness
by Jerri Hines
Doubts flooded Candy. Could she forgive him? Survivor’s guilt. In one short phrase, Mitch had explained everything. Not in words, but his eyes spoke of the world of pain he concealed for not dying in the Tower. With his confession came an understanding of the demons he’d fought all these years. The fact that he sat next to her now meant he’d come to confront those demons. To face her. To grovel.
She stared at him, didn’t dare blink for fear he’d disappear. For a brief moment she considered flinging herself into his arms and accepting his apology. Then the hurt flared to life once more along with the wall she’d let slip. He would leave. If there was one thing she’d learned from her past, it was that men left when the next obstacle emerged. And this time it just might kill her.
“Mitch, I can’t.” The knot in her stomach tightened. “I hate that you came all this way, but it just won’t work.”
“Why not?” he asked, edging closer.
“Because...it just won’t. Okay. This love thing...I suck at it.”
A smile flickered over his lips. “That makes two of us. Maybe it didn’t work in the past because it wasn’t right. It’s right now. I couldn’t stand it in Georgia without you. You shouldn’t mess with something that feels this good.”
She’d always taken pride in knowing the right thing to say, the right move to make. Sitting so close to Mitch, she hadn’t a clue how to defend her emotions against him—and realized she didn’t want to. The memory of their time together burned within her. Maybe it was time to take a risk.
“What are you saying?”
“I want you, Candy. I have since the moment you stopped for gas in the middle of a freak snow storm. Fate threw us together. We don’t need to rationalize our relationship. Maybe we should just let ourselves feel.”
He kissed her sweetly, drawing her tight against his chest. “I’m not going to let you go.”
She ached to believe him. Her heart pounded painfully as fear gripped her.
“You say that now.” Her voice broke. “But if I do this…and it doesn’t work…”
“Trust me, Candy,” he said simply. “I can’t promise you the road before us won’t have bumps. That’s life. But I can promise we’ll face them together. Honey, I didn’t run from you. I came back to New York because I can’t live without you.”
He hadn’t left. She had. Speechless, she stared at him. He wasn’t fighting fair. She’d never expected him to break down her defensives so easily.
He didn’t give her time to answer. Cupping her face between his hands, he touched his mouth to hers, wiping out any lingering doubts. His strong embrace and the press of his lips against hers mesmerized her.
He pulled back and caressed her face with his thumbs. “I’ve never felt this way about anyone. I’ve never wanted something so badly. I want you, Candy. I need you. You gave me the courage to come back to New York. I never thought I would. Never realized I needed to return to start living again instead of just existing. But I can’t live without you.”
When he kissed her, love filled her to bursting. She’d spent years protecting herself, but the wall around her heart was only an illusion. She wanted desperately to be loved...to be loved by this man.
Candy gazed up at him. She pressed the palms of her hands against his solid chest but couldn’t say the words.
“Tell me there’s something special between us. Tell me I’m not imagining it. Tell me you love me as much as I love you.”
Her fears melted away and elation rose inside her. He loved her.
“I love you, too, Mitch.”