Dumbstruck and angry, I got up from the couch and headed to her bedroom. I tapped on the door a few times and all I could hear on the other side was sobbing. This wasn't the Lillianah I know, the Lillianah I know is a strong woman. This was going to be harder than I thought. I tried the door handle, but it was locked. "Lil, please, let me explain." I waited, and waited and tapped once more. "Lil, please?" I tried the handle again and this time it was unlocked. I swung the door open slowly and saw her sitting on the edge of the bed looking defeated. "Why the sudden change of heart?" She whispered as I sat down next to her and took her hand in mine. "I didn't send those text messages Lil. You have to believe me. I fell asleep after my parents left and when I woke up the boys were there, including Tanger. It had to of been him. You mean too much to me to just let you go." Her hand wrapped around mine and she gently squeezed before taking a deep breath. "I am so . . . sorry Max. I just, I . . . I don't . . .-" "It's okay Lil, I understand. Just listen to me for a second okay? I love you so much. We all make mistakes. I know I do all the time. So I forgive you for what happened. Tanger I will take care of later, just promise me it will never happen again, with anyone." She nodded her head before tucking her leg up underneath her so she was facing me. She wrapped her arms around my neck and whispered in my ear, "I promise you. I love you too." I wrapped my arms around her waist and fell back on to the bed, pulling her on top of me. She was more comfortable than King hands down.
I woke up some time later and crawled out of bed, leaving Lillianah to rest. I looked around her room and brought it upon myself to finish packing the rest of her clothes. I pulled out all the bags and suitcases she had and went to town. She belonged with me, in my apart- OUR apartment. As I riffled through her stuff I came across a stack of photo albums. Intrigued I picked them up and slid my way back in to the bed, leaning back against the wall with the books laid out over my legs. I opened the first and my heart immediately fluttered. Was that really her? I have never, ever been attracted to blonds before, yet in this photo a very blond Lillianah was smiling looking absolutely gorgeous. I looked down at her sleeping next to me and could see her blond roots poking through her black hair. I smiled down on her and brought my attention back to the photo albums. Page after page was filled with pure joy of her with her family. Where did things turn so sour? The last page of the first book showcased a black and white photo of Lillianah when she was probably a year or two old in just a diaper and a watering can in her hand. She was watering the concrete and her white blond hair stuck out all over the place. I could only imagine if our kids would have blond hair? I inhaled sharply at my thoughts and quickly closed the book. "What are you doing?" she mumbled as she leaned up on her elbow. "I found some photo albums. You were pretty blond." She sat all the up next to me and grabbed the bottom album off my lap. She flipped through the pages and landed on one before setting it on my lap. "I wasn't always blond," she laughed as I looked down at the photos and saw a teenager with bright, vibrant pink hair. "It only lasted a week or two though," she smiled before crawling out of the bed completely. I watched her as she looked at the bags on the ground filled with her clothes. "You're really not mad at me?" She asked just above a whisper. I got up from the bed and walked up to her, wrapping my arms around her waist. "Letting you go would have been the biggest mistake I could ever make. I'm mad at Tanger, not you."
When I reached the bottom of the steps in her building I had to drop all the bags and brace myself against the wall. "You okay?" she asked but I didn't bring my eyes up from the ground. "Dizzy, it's okay, it will pass. Just another symptom of having a concussion." Once the room stopped spinning I looked up and smiled at Lillianah. I bent back over and grabbed her bags and we headed out to the car. I could tell she was uneasy in the car ride so I grabbed her hand and gave it a squeeze. "Are you sure we're going to be okay?" she asked after I pulled up to my building. "We'll be more than okay, we'll be great. Now let's get inside, it's getting late. I'll cook you dinner." We made our way in to the apartment and she immediately crashed on the couch as I rummaged through the kitchen to find something to cook. Pasta. Simple and easy. "I'm going to unpack a little bit," I hear Lillianah say to me over my shoulder. I nod my head as I continue to fill the pot with water. Once dinner was done I headed for the bedroom to grab Lillianah. I walk in to see her pacing the room with a stack of folded clothes in her hands. "Hey, you okay?" I asked and she stops with her back to me and slowly turns around. "Um, yeah. I just, uh, I kind of feel out of place. I don't know why, this is the only place I want to be, yet I feel like I don't belong here." I walk up to her and grab the clothes out of her hands, setting them down on the bed. I grab her hand and drag her out of the room. I pull her in to the formal dining room that has remained untouched since I moved in, but the huge bay windows framing downtown Pittsburgh is the reason I bought the place. I placed her in front of the windows and wrapped my arms around her waist from behind, resting my chin on her shoulder. "Out there, the city, hundreds upon thousands of people are walking around, working, eating, playing, yet here we are. You and I. Tucked in a tiny corner of a huge city I stand here with you in my arms and there's no place else I would rather be. When you're not here, I like to look out this window and think about where you could be at that very moment, and how much I wish you were here, in my arms. I want you to feel like this is where you belong, but I can't force anything on you. I want this to be your place as much as it is mine." She turned in my arms and wrapped her arms around my neck, placing a sweet, gentle kiss on my neck. "You're the perfect man to fall in love with, you know that?" I smiled and kissed her before dragging her in to the kitchen for dinner.
Millions of things were running through my mind. What in the world was going on? Was Kris that ballsy to send me those text messages from Max's phone? With a few deep breaths I cleared my mind of all thoughts. If he said things between us were going to be okay, they were going to be okay. I grabbed my bags from the entry way and headed in to the bedroom to start unpacking. If this was going to be a permanent thing, which I could only hope it would be, I wanted to unpack rather than leave my things in bags. I set my bags down on the bed and pulled out a hand full of hangers from the closet. It was obvious Max had already made plenty of room for me in his room as half of his closet was empty, as well as half of his dresser. I hung up my clothes and then grabbed out the handfuls of underwear Max had stuffed in to the side pockets of my duffel bag. I pulled out his top drawer, which also happened to be his underwear drawer and threw my underwear in. I stuffed my hands down on the soft clothes to make as much room as possible but I felt a sharp edge hit the palm of my left hand. I picked up his black boxer briefs and found a small black box. What's that old saying? Curiosity kills the cat? I picked the box up and pulled the top off, to reveal a velvet box. A velvet ring box. I quickly looked up at the door and outside I could hear Max whistling in the kitchen. I dumped the velvet box in my hand and flipped open the top. If I were a cat, I'd choke on my own hair ball and die. Before I could even comprehend what it was, I closed the top and shoved it back in the box, back under his underwear. Temporarily blinded by the shiny stone I shoved the drawer shut and turned around and grabbed a stack of folded shirts. I headed for the closet, then back to the dresser, back to the closet, and once again back to the dresser. I didn't know where to go, scared of what I would find next. "Hey, you okay?" Startled I stop in my tracks and slowly turn around to see Max standing in the door way wiping his hands with a kitchen towel. "Um, yeah. I just, uh, I kind of feel out of place. I don't know why, this is the only place I want to be, yet I feel like I don't belong here." It wasn't true, none of what I said was true, expect for the part where I told him this was the only place I wanted to be. I just panicked. It wasn't everyday you find a huge diamond ring in the underwear drawer.
"What's your view on children?" I asked and heard the clanking of silver to china. I looked up from my empty wine glass to see Max choking on his pasta. Well that answered that question. I held his water up for him and he drank half of it. "They're cute . . . ?" I quickly filled my glass up with the rest of the wine, polishing off a vintage bottle of Merlot. "Do you want kids of your own?" I finally asked to make my original question more clear. "Right now? No. In ten years? Probably. Do you?" I poked at the pasta and lifted my glass wine to my mouth once again. "You know about my view on families, I'd like to change that though, but I don't know. Someday before I'm 40." And the conversation died there. After I finished my wine and and poked some more at my pasta I picked my plates up and headed in to the kitchen. I stood at the sink, hands griping the counter, my eyes looking down at my feet. When I felt his hands on my waist I didn't flinch, I almost expected him to do that. I felt him brush my hair away from my shoulder and his hot mouth found my neck. A small bite brought a moan out of my mouth from deep in my chest. "I want to give you whatever you want, and if that's children before you're 40, then you'll have children before you're 40." I sank in to his body as his teeth once again clenched down on the crook of my neck. I brought my hand up and ran my fingers through his hair as he bit down my shoulder and back up my neck. The moment was broken as my cell phone rang from the counter. "You should probably answer that," he mumbled in to my neck, the bites now turning in to sweet kisses. I leaned to my right and picked up my phone and answered it. "Lilly, Kevin here, I haven't heard back from you." Max's attack on my neck almost had me hang up the phone right then. "Oh hi Kevin, yeah, I don't think I want to work with you. It's not you personally, it's just something I don't want to get in to. It's a bad scene for me." Max's grip on my waist tighten and he sucked hard beneath my ear, more than likely leaving a mark. "What scene?" "The drugs Kevin, I've been sober for a year, I can't be tempted like that again. I'm sorry. Good luck to you." I quickly hung up the phone and spun around in Max's arms, attacking his mouth with mine. "As much as I want to make crazy mad love to you right now, I'm falling asleep," he mumbled against my lips and I could only smile.I pushed his toward the bedroom and I finished the dishes before joining him in bed.
I lie on my side, watching Max sleep. His lips slightly parted and his right eye lid twitching every few seconds. As tired as I am, I can't seem to fall asleep as the image of the huge diamond ring I found in the drawer is stuck in my mind. Who's ring was that? Did he have a past girlfriend that he didn't tell me about? It sure as hell looked like an engagement ring to me. Maybe it was his grandmother's or something? It didn't look that old though. A birthday present for his mom? No, that just seems weird. I guess all I wanted to know was where it came from and who's was it? Max rolled over on to his side so we were face to face. I smiled as his arm, fell across my waist, his hand rested on my back. I brought my left hand up and gentle brushed across his beard on his jaw. I looked at my hand and imagined the ring on my ring finger. My eyes grew wide and I pulled my hand away from his face. Was that ring for me?