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Author's Chapter Notes:

“Tengo miedo.”

His eyes turned sad. “Por que?”

“Honestly, I feel like I talk too much about myself.” She said solemnly, dropping her head into her hand, holding her palm against her forehead.

“You don’t. Also, I want to know all of it.”

Her eyes wandered around the room for a second before meeting his again.

“Rebecka. I want to know you better, but I’m happy to do it on your terms.”

She felt his hand run up her arm. Her mind was racing through everything she knew better about. She thought about leaving things unsaid and how there is never a time to feel truly ready for something so important. She thought about Nick and Coll and telling Nick to give her a chance and trust her and how she knew she should do the same. And she desperately wanted to, but couldn’t. Not yet.

“I’m leaving tomorrow.”

“I know.” his hand found hers and he led her back to his bed where they sat on the edge of it together.

“That changes things.”

He shrugged, “For me it doesn’t. You won’t be here but I’m still going to be fascinated by you.”

She looked up at him and he wrapped both of his hands around hers.

Silence fell between them and Becka’s back tingled, enjoying the feel of his hands around hers, like it made sense. “I like you. But you scare me.”

“So that’s a good thing.” he smirked.

“I’m not like everyone else. It’s like backwards and opposite and -“

“I don’t want you to be like everyone else. I just want to know who you are.”

“I’m a mess.”

“I don’t think so.”

She breathed back some tears and looked down at her hand in his. Thirty seconds of insane courage. Just thirty seconds or less of insane courage. “I don’t feel alone when I’m with you.” She said quickly, her heart pounding in her chest. “I didn’t sleep with you because I felt like something real was happening. You’re the thing that it would matter if it broke.”

He nodded. “Something real is happening.”

“It is?” She asked nervously. And that’s why I don’t feel alone. Because i’m not.

“You’re here even though you’re scared.”


“And I like it a lot.”

She couldn’t help it, she smiled softly at him.

“I haven’t stopped thinking about you. Not just you but the things you’ve said…”


“You’re interesting and quirky and deep and beautiful. And I want to know more. I want to know all the real things about you.”

”I think you’d be surprised.” “Why?” She asked quietly. She didn’t know why she asked, she just didn’t know what else to say.


“I’m so-“

“Mysterious? Risky?”

Her senses went into overdrive.

“You’re the kind of risk I want to take, Becka. But at the same time, this mess you think you are … I don’t see it that way.”


“I see pieces of some story that you haven’t told me yet. Not just one story - all of them. All the stories that make you who you are. It’s not a mess, the pieces all work together- they come together in a way that built you. So how could that be a mess? You’re you.” He began, “There’s nothing that I wouldn’t do, that I wouldn’t want to do, to discover every single piece of what makes you, you.”

A tear popped into her eye and she moved quickly to brush it away but he stopped her, reaching for her other hand before it reached her face.

She glanced up at him and away quickly as the tear escaped her eye and traveled down her face.

“I’m not afraid of whatever it is. Because I’m not afraid of you or what it means that I feel the way I do or what it means that when you’re with me you don’t feel alone. And I’m not afraid of what it means - what I know it means- that you feel scared of me.” He smiled. “I want you to decide when you tell me and tell me because you want me to know not because you think I should. I’m willing to wait.”

She inhaled deeply and slowly, making it last as long as possible, using the time to try to think straight. “There’s fight or flight… fight or flight… you know fight or flight.” She began, he nodded… unsure where she was going with this. “But we also have freeze.”


“Yeah. It’s neither fight or flight it’s just … freeze. Pause. Stop.”

He looked at her thoughtfully, “okay.”

Nervously, she licked her lips. The anxiety was bubbling over. “I feel like that’s where I am.” He was looking at her and listening intently. “I don’t feel like I have to fight and I don’t feel like I have to flee… I just feel like I don’t know. I like it right here even though i’m terrified.”

“I don’t know either, but we can figure it out.” He said, “together. If you want.”

“It’s okay to be a little afraid. “I’d like that.”

Coll moved her finger along the line of shark fin tattooed on Nick’s shoulder. The low hum of the AC, the wheels on the road and the occasional jostling of cargo created a muted soundtrack in the background. They had made out, got undressed, fooled around and were now relaxing in his bed, both of them scantily clad and in no rush to change it.

“What’s your next tattoo going to be?”

“Not sure yet.”

She smiled against his chest, “There’s always another…”

He nodded as his fingertips traveled up her bare back. “Coll.”

“Yeah.” She responded but he didn’t speak again right away. She lifted her body off of his to look at him. “What’s up?”

“I’m not a good boyfriend.”

She pursed her lips together and pulled the sheet up and held it to her chest. “You weren’t a good boyfriend to Mandy because you didn’t love her.” She began, “but I know that you love me. I knew it before you even told me.”

“I do love you.”

“I love you, too.” she said quietly as his hand slid behind her neck.

“Will you tell me?”

“Tell you what?”

“When you’re ready.”

She knew what he meant and it sent a wave of heat through her body. “I will. But, you’ll know.”

“You trust me that much?”

She nodded as a small smile played on her lips. “There’s more to tell you before that.”

His face lit up with curiosity, “Like what?”

She smiled and leaned down to kiss him. “There’s no rush.”

Laying next to him, with their bodies rolled in facing each other and her fingers tangled into Howie's again, Becka was enjoying the simple intimacy of being present with him. He had made her laugh, telling her a story about something Brian had done earlier that day, and he had kissed her for a while. It was casual but it felt like anything but.

“Tell me more.”


“You.” She said happily. “We certainly talked enough about me.”

She watched as something in his expression changed ever so slightly and he took a deep breath. He squeezed her hand in his. “Becka. My sister is dead.”

“Excuse me?”

“My sister died. Last year. She had lupus.”

“Oh my god. I’m so sorry to know that.”

He nodded.

“How old was she?”

“Thirty seven.”

“Shit.” Becka whispered. “I am so sorry. What is her name?”

Is? “Caroline.”

“I wish I knew that sooner.”

“I’m telling you now so you’d know you’re not the only one with baggage and there’s more for us to know about each other.”

She felt tears stinging in her eyes. “I’m sorry to know that’s part of it.” She felt her heart beating faster than normal as she pressed her available hand into her chest, “But I’m glad you told me.”

His eyes locked on hers. “I have a feeling you know what it’s like to lose someone important. To lose them too soon.”

She felt her lungs filling up and her nose start to tingle as tears pooled in her eyes. She blinked them away, pushing them down her cheek as his hand moved to her face.