LENGTH: 53,000 words
William stopped short and leaned against one of the buildings lining the street. “Beth, can I ask you an honest question?”
I didn’t even think twice before answering, “Sure, ask away.”
“Are you here with me out of pity, or are you okay being with a fucked-up guy like me?” he asked quietly.
To say I was stunned would’ve been an understatement. I moved towards him and laid my hands against his folded arms. The current which seemed to connect us sizzled in the cool air. He needed the truth. “I’m not here out of pity, nor are you a fucked-up anything. You’re hurting, lost and in need of a friend. Despite how angry I was at Jude and Anne’s interference, I think they might have been right about one thing. It seems I’m the perfect person.”
He closed his eyes and laid his head back against the wall. “I am fucked-up, Beth. I can’t seem to stay on a straight path anymore. One day I can see some daylight at the end of the tunnel, and then the next day, the world seems so dark and gray again.”
“William, it’s completely understandable. When my parents divorced, I was all over the place for months, hell, years actually. For a child, being unable to understand what was happening or why everything had to change, God, I thought I was going crazy. I wish I’d had someone to help me through those times. Maybe I wouldn’t be the fucked-up woman I am now.” Honesty in this case, seemed as though it would be the best policy.
“But I’m not a child, Beth. I’m a grown man who should be able to handle this better,” William said, looking down at me and I could see the torment in his eyes. “I’m so screwed up.”
“You’re not screwed up. You’re suffering through one of the most terrible things which could happen to anyone. You lost your wife so suddenly, and you were left with a tiny baby who needs you to be strong all time for her. My God, I’m sure if I was in a similar situation, I would be a blubbering mess of goo. I’m so impressed by your strength,” I argued. “You’re a strong man, you have a lot going on, but you’re working through it, you work hard every day to provide for your baby girl.”
“I don’t know how to do this. How do I make sure Angel doesn’t turn into me?” William asked, tears falling freely down his face.
I reached up, laying a hand on his cheek and wiped the tears away with my thumb. “Let me help, I’ll try to help you figure out what I wish someone had taught me.”
William covered my hand with his. “Why, Beth? Why would you commit yourself to doing this for a complete stranger?”
I thought about the answer for a moment. Why was I doing this? Was I truly interested in William, the idea of saving him, or was I doing this out of a need to help someone I saw as a friend? I decided again to be honest.
“I don’t know, William. I’ve seen you light up when you look at that beautiful little girl of yours, and I know you deserve to be happy. I want the sparkle in your eyes to shine for the whole world. I want to see it sparkle every single day.”
William let his arms drop to his sides. “I don’t know if it’s possible. It won’t be fair to you, not if I can’t be helped.”
“Let me decide what I consider fair. For now, let’s just take it one day at a time. Let me be a friend and help bring you back to life,” I suggested.
Before I even had time to consider what I was doing, I pressed my body against his, wrapping my arms tightly around his waist. It felt so right, as if I molded against him perfectly. Once more I berated myself as a fraud. I wanted to help a friend, but my physical attraction for William was hoping for more. The question of whether this was a good idea spun around inside my head once again.
William wrapped his arms around me, holding on as if I was a beacon of light in a storm. “Maybe I can bring you back to life in return,” he whispered against the top of my head.
Traci Hayden is a mother of four beautiful girls and one adorable granddaughter.
She has always had a passion for reading, but recently the obsession for writing has taken over.
As a Nova Scotian native now living in British Columbia, Traci has travelled across Canada, fuelling her imagination from coast to coast.
Along with two dogs and two cats, Traci’s home is shared with her partner of 17 years. He is her rock and constant support.
Traci loves all genres of writing, but currently is exploring the world of romance.