She told him that she loved him, chapped lips gasping the words she’s held in too long. To the air, to the breath she can feel him hold now that he’s watching her instead of the ceiling with his fingers so close to her wrist. His cheek is resting on her shin, and this is will-they-won’t-they, this is something she’s held onto for too long, him never quite close enough but as close as he’d ever be to her, the epicenter of this fucking explosion and this collision and the point it has to change because he’s been such a goner for natural disasters since the first time they got stuck in that thunderstorm.

She’s sixteen.

She’s in love.

She doesn’t expect him to.. to say anything, or to take her seriously, or – anything.

It’s just that one late night after eight hours at the garage, eight more at the bar, two more to tequila, he drunkenly tried to shake her hand but fell forward into her arms instead, laughing as he slurred that he missed, sorry, but his mouth was so close to her mouth.

She’s said she loves him, and the silence starts to feel calm like the storm is over and for once he’s still, not drumming his fingers impatiently or living like they’ve both known this grave loss that stickers them together, pomegranate juice dripping off her fingers or his mouth as pink as a blood orange,

“Ben,” she tries, her voice so weak. So mouthful of forever and kisses she could soften to forgiveness; she doesn’t meet his eyes because if he doesn’t gaze back at her like she’s hope, like this love between her ribs isn’t blossoming out into his sternum, too, then what the hell has this “Ben,” she says.

“Don’t,” he whispers. “Rey,” he’s drowning here, “Rey.”

And it’s a mistake, she realizes, to look at him.

“Don’t say my name that way,” he tells her like a broken man, like a month from now they won’t be riding in his car and it won’t hit him like common sense, like lightning, he doesn’t ever want to have to be without her, a couple more months and he won’t hold her face in his hands like he’s got hold of her heart, no, she watches him lock his jaw. She watches him turn away from her.

“Not like that, Rey,” he begs. “Don’t say my name like I’m breaking your heart.”

Excerpt from Chapter 11 of His Brown Eyes by 13letters