“Now, d a r l i n ’, I just had myself a little thought.”
“Did you?” I murmured, distracted by the way he reached up to run his thumb over my bottom lip.
“I did indeed. It being that you are seventeen and I’m eighteen, and we have every damn right to make out like t e e n a g e r s. Like normal, happy, crazy kids.”
He hooked two fingers over the waistband of my jeans and tugged me closer. I loved his voice when he lowered it like that. His accent broadened, warmed like summer air in the minutes before a thunderstorm. It was the full-on Stewart charm assault, and I was totally h e l p l e s s against it.
Liam gets a camera and he keeps taking photos of Ruby doing random things. Ruby riding a bicycle for the first time. Ruby getting a cake facial on her 18th birthday. Ruby studying… and just about anything. He’s like “wait one moment, darlin’. Don’t move!” *Ruby makes a face* *he takes the photo* “Beautiful.”
’“We want you,” he said, his hand slipping through my hair to cup the back of my neck. “We wanted you yesterday, we want you today, and we’ll want you tomorrow. There’s nothing you can do to change that”’
Ruby, Liam and the whole Black Betty Crew have destroyed me…
“The you that you were then, who you are now, who you’ll be,” he began quietly, as if sensing my thoughts, “I love you. With my whole heart. My whole life, however long I’m lucky enough to get, nothing will change for me.”
His voice sounded raw, flooded with the same searing feeling racing through me. The relief, the certainty, the overwhelming gratitude I felt that fate had given him to me, all burned my eyes, left me unable to speak again. So I kissed him and told him that way, over and over again between breaths, as he moved over me, inside of me, until there was nothing in the world beyond us and the promise of forever.
’Cause, frankly, the way I see it, you and me? Inevitable. Let’s say we didn’t get stuck in those god-awful camps—no, just listen. I’m going to tell you the amazing story of us. So, it’s the summer and you’re in Salem, suffering through another boring, hot July, and working part-time at an ice cream parlor. Naturally, you’re completely oblivious to the fact that all of the boys from your high school who visit daily are more interested in you than the thirty-one flavors. You’re focused on school and all your dozens of clubs, because you want to go to a good college and save the world. And just when you think you’re going to die if you have to take another practice SAT, your dad asks if you want to go visit your grandmother in Virginia Beach.
Yeah? What about you?
Me? I’m in Wilmington, suffering through another boring, hot summer, working one last time in Harry’s repair shop before going off to some fancy university—where, I might add, my roommate will be a stuck-up-know-it-all-with-a-heart-of gold named Charles Carrington Meriwether IV—but he’s not part of this story, not yet. To celebrate, mom decides to take us up to Virginia Beach for a week. We’re only there for a day when I start catching glimpses of this girl with dark hair walking around town, her nose stuck in a book, earbuds in and blasting music. But no matter how hard I try, I never get to talk to her. Then, as our friend Fate would have it, on our very last day at the beach I spot her. You. I’m in the middle of playing a volleyball game with Harry, but it feels like everyone else disappears. You’re walking toward me, big sunglasses on, wearing this light green dress, and I somehow know that it matches your eyes. And then, because, let’s face it, I’m basically an Olympic god when it comes to sports, I manage to volley the ball right into your face.
Ouch, sounds painful.
Well, you can probably guess how I’d react to that situation. I offer to carry you to the lifeguard station, but you look like you want to murder me at just the suggestion. Eventually, thanks to my sparkling charm and wit—and because I’m so pathetic you take pity on me—you let me buy you ice cream. And then you start telling me how you work in an ice cream shop in Salem, and how frustrated you feel that you still have two years before college. And somehow, somehow, I get your e-mail or screen name or maybe, if I’m really lucky, your phone number. Then we talk. I go to college and you go back to Salem, but we talk all the time, about everything, and sometimes we do that stupid thing where we run out of things to say and just stop talking and listen to one another breathing until one of us falls asleep—
—and Chubs makes fun of you for it.
Oh, ruthlessly, and your dad hates me because he thinks I’m corrupting his beautiful, sweet daughter, but still lets me visit from time to time. That’s when you tell me about tutoring a girl named Suzume, who lives a few cities away—
—but who’s the coolest little girl on the planet.
Yup, wanna try for the ending?
Close your eyes, I'm going to finish the story.
What I absolutely love about Ruby and Liam’s relationship is that despite their arguments, they never really say anything that would purposefully hurt the other. Unlike some ya relationships where the other tries to be a jerk just to push the other away to “keep them safe”.
Yes, Ruby did what she had to do in TDM and it hurt Liam a lot when he found out about it, but she wasn’t doing it “on purpose”.
Like, she was genuinely convinced that what she was doing is right…
Even when she wanted to keep him safe the entire half of ITA, she never really said anything hurtful or “below the belt”. She was still very sweet - reserved, but still she did what she could to let him know that she still cares for him A LOT. And Liam, oh my god, that precious man, one minute he’s so furious at Ruby for putting herself in danger then the next he’s like all “oh, darlin’ come here let me take care of you” and I’m.. I can’t.. I can’t fuckin’ breathe!
“Here—” I motioned between us. “This is a place where you don’t need to lie. I meant what I said before, but I can’t help you if you don’t tell me what’s really going on inside your head. If you need to talk or vent or scream, do it with me. Don’t just get up and go like that again—like you always do. I know you think you’re protecting us, but, Lee, what happens if one of these days you go off and don’t come back?”
“Let me get this straight. You
need me to track down a yacht belonging to the mayor of the town you are
Sheriff for?” Emma reclined back in the chair, fingers drumming on the surface
of the desk as she gave her old partner a smug smile.
David sighed. “I know exactly how
this sounds, Emma. But there are reasons why she wants a P.I. handling this and
not the local authorities.”
“You’re going to have to give me
more than that, Nolan. And you know it.”
“Regina Mills is a powerful woman,
but she has a weak spot. Her son Henry has been threatened. And as much as she
trusts her former FBI agent now turned into local sheriff, aka me, she also knows the person we are
dealing with has connections in all the agencies.”
“Who do you suspect took the yacht?”
“Gold.” David paused, giving Emma a moment to digest the
information. They both knew about Gold’s involvement in several underhanded
activities in the NorthEast area and the possibility of bribed personnel in all
the agencies. It was one of the many reasons why taking him down while working
for the FBI had been impossible.
Emma cracked her neck, the tension
of the busy day getting to her. “Why would he take her yacht?”
“He has history with her mother.
And it’s a win-win situation for him. He can use it to conduct his dirty
affairs and if it gets caught, it will splatter her reputation.”
“He’s the same sneaky bastard he
always was, gotta give him credit for that.” Emma cocked an eyebrow. “So,
what’s the plan? Me and Ruby track him down and retrieve the yacht?”
“No. You just track the yacht
down. Someone else is in charge of the retrieve. This is a joint effort.” David shifted in his seat uncomfortably and Emma sat
up straight in her chair.
“I don’t play well with others,
David. You know that.” She raised an eyebrow knowingly at him. He should know
by now that she didn’t trust easily.
“Emma, you can’t retrieve a yacht
of this magnitude and Regina is not taking any chances with the authorities.
She wants this to be fast and she’s willing to cut some corners - within reason
- to get there.”
“Who’s going to do the extraction
“Jones Marine Risk Management and Vessel Extraction.” David cleared
“The kids in the League knew about the camps-vaguely. There were only a few of us who had actually lived in one and experienced the life firsthand, but there was an unspoken rule we didn’t talk about it. Everyone knew the truth, but the truth didn’t live inside them the same way it did for us. They’d heard about the sorting machines, the cabins, the testing, but most of their stories were gossip, completely wrong. These kids had never stood for hours on end in an assembly lime. They didn’t know fear came in the shape of a small black camera lens, an eye that followed you everywhere at all times.”
“God.“ He shook his head, mouth twisting into a shadow of a smile. "Did you know… you make me so happy that sometimes I actually forget to breathe? I’ll be looking at you, and my chest will get so tight… and it’s like, the only thought in my head is how much I want to reach over and kiss you.”