I slide back into my truck just as my phone rings. My brother Jeff's name flashes and I slide the touch screen to answer.
"Hey douchebag," he says in greeting. Jeff is two years older than I am but sometimes he can't help but act closer to my age.
"Hey asshat," I reply. "Isn't it a little early for you to be calling me?"
"Yeah, I hit the gym and decided to head into the office early to get some work done for a new client. The world of digital advertising never sleeps," he chuckles. "Why are you up so early? Coach Morgan call you boys in for an early practice?"
"No," I sigh. "I just left the cemetery."
The line goes quiet and I check to make sure Jeff hasn't hung up.
"Yeah, I'm here," he lets out a long breath. "That's why I'm calling. I'm coming up in a few weeks for a visit. Mom has been bugging me about it and I caved."
"I can't say I'm disappointed. It would be great to see you."
"I know it's always tough on Mom, with the anniversary of Ems death. And I'm dying to meet the girl that has my little brother so damn whipped!"
I groan. "I should've known Mom would tell you. You just have to promise me no funny business."
He laughs into the phone, forcing me to pull it way from my ear before it bursts. "I'm always well behaved brother. I'm sweet as pie."
I snort. "I know you. You're going to try and charm her pants off. And I'm warning you in advance, she's mine."
"Did you just growl at me? Jesus, you really are pussy whipped."
I roll my eyes even though I know he can't see me. "She's important to me."
"I hear ya bro. I'm just happy you were able to move on after what that bitch Hayley did to you."
"She's nothing like Hayley."
"Alright alright, calm the fuck down Gray. No need to get pissed at me. Although mom also mentioned that Hayley will be in town the same weekend…" he trails off.
The impending visit from my ex-girlfriend doesn't excite me in the least. It's just another thing on my 'To Tell Huntley' list.
"As long as I don't have to talk to her everything will be fine. She better stay away from me, and Huntley. The last thing I need is Hayley trying to worm her way back into our lives."
It's my brothers' turn to sigh. "You can't expect her not to come Gray, she was Em's best friend. I understand why you hate her so much, God I hate her too for what she put you through. But you won't be able to avoid her forever. I think it's time for you to let all that shit go and focus on your new relationship."
My brother has never said anything so profound in his life. But I know he's right.
"Ok bro, I just got to the office, but I'm glad I got a chance to talk to you. I can't wait to see you guys in a few weeks. Three months away from home is way too long."
"I can't wait to see you either. It will be good to have you home for a bit. And I'm even looking forward to you meeting Huntley," I reply.
"Alright then, I'll see you soon Gray. Love you bro."
"Love you too bro, see ya."
I end the call just as I stop outside Huntley's apartment. I hope she's still sleeping. I plan on crawling back under the covers with her until we have to go to class.
A light breeze hits my back and I feel the bed dip behind me. Graysons' arm slides around my waist and he pulls me into his chest. I twist so that we're face to face and let out a satisfied sigh when our eyes meet.
"Mornin' beautiful," he whispers. He kisses my nose and then my lips. I will never get tired of waking up like this
"Hey you," I whisper back. "Where did you go off to so early this morning? I missed you."
Grayson traces my jaw and brushes his fingers across my lips. I nip the tip of his index finger and he growls. It's so damn sexy when he does that. It sends tingles down my spine and makes me warm in all the right places. I notice that he's stripped down again and I take pleasure in being close to him, skin-on-skin.
His face is soft but his expression is dark, like something is troubling him. My insecurities surface and I worry that he's starting to pull away after everything I told him last night. Would he still pull away from me after what we shared last night? After we made love for the first time?
"I went to the cemetery," he says, his voice so soft I almost don't hear him.
I try my best not to sound condescending. I don't want him to think I'm going to judge him. "What were you doing there?" My voice matches his and if anyone had to listen in on this conversation from outside, they wouldn't hear anything because we're so quiet.
"Visiting my sisters' grave."
His eyes shoot up to mine and search for what I think is compassion. I get the feeling he's waiting for me to run, but I have no intention of ever leaving his side. Whatever he feels the need to tell me, we'll face together.
"You didn't tell me you had a sister, only an older brother, Jeff."
I touch his face gently, hoping to convey my love for this beautiful, broken man.
"She's my twin," he replies, "Well she was. She died in a car accident two years ago." A tear slips down his cheek and I wipe it away with my thumb. I can tell there's more to it but I believe that when he's ready to tell me everything then he will.
"Why didn't you tell me sooner?" I ask softly. I don't want him to think I'm being accusatory even though I'm somewhat hurt he didn't tell me this before. Do I even have a right to be hurt though? I waited almost two months before I spilled my secrets.
"I didn't know how to open up about it," he sighs, "But then after you trusted me enough to tell about your past, I decided to put the same trust in you."
I kiss his lips, lingering a little longer when I get a taste of his minty breath.
His mouth lifts to the side in a crooked smile. "She would've loved you," he laughs, lightening the atmosphere. My heart constricts with his words but warms knowing that he's sharing this with me. "You two would've become inseparable." – he rubs small circles on my back and the feeling makes it challenging to pay attention – "Emilie had this power to just draw people in with her light and her laughter. It was impossible not to be happy when she was around; her love for life was infectious."
"Will you take me to her grave some time? We can take some of her favorite flowers if you want?"
"I'd like that."
"When you're ready," I add.
He nods once and rolls so that I'm straddling him. He sits up until we're nose to nose. "You're incredible," he breathes. "And I love you so much it scares me. You're my missing puzzle piece, the air in my lungs, the blood in my veins. You're my everything."
My eyes glisten with tears. I've never known this kind of love and until now, I believed I was undeserving of it. Grayson makes me feel cherished, adored and loved, and the strength of what we feel for each other after such a short time is frightening. But I have never been so sure of anything in my life than what I feel for Grayson.