After this, I knew one thing for sure…
It’d be mine too.
Watching the way Mila’s eyes widened as she took in the beauty of this place was a sight I’d never forget. I was doing this for her, but I was also doing it for myself. The look on Mila’s face was worth making her wait all these years to finally come with me.
I watched as she walked over the wooden bridge in the center of the river to get a better view of the waterfall cascading down the rocks into a lagoon. Her enticing dark brown eyes glanced back at me over her shoulder, and I couldn’t gather a fucking thought. I’d never seen her look more beautiful than I did in that moment. The light of the shining sun heightened her features, emphasizing the freckles across her button nose and sculpted cheeks.
She was stunning.
All these emotions I wasn’t expecting crept into the forefront of my mind and I couldn’t control any of them. After all these years, all this time, Mila didn’t just look like my best friend, but like a woman who I was seeing for the first time.
In that second, I wanted more.
What the fuck?
She was stunning, with her hair flowing loosely around her face. Although her beauty captured my attention, it was the expression on her face that enthralled me the most. I’d seen Mila in all forms.
There wasn’t an emotion, a time, a memory that didn’t involve her in it in one way or another. However, I’d never seen her quite like this…
She stood against the railing with her lips slightly parted, and I wanted to know what she was thinking.
“This is simply incredible, Leo. The rocks, the waterfall, the stream, wow. I have no words for this.”
“That’s a first.”
We locked eyes.
“Will you tell me why this is your favorite spot now?”
My feet moved on their own accord until I was suddenly standing behind her. Her breathing hitched as soon as she felt my chest against her back.
She didn’t turn around.
She didn’t move.
I wasn’t sure if she was even breathing.
For a minute, I breathed her in. Feeling the heat of her body burning into me more and more with each second that passed between us. Leaning in, just inches away from the back of her neck, I let my breath brush against her ear.
My head spun in a whirlwind of feelings and I allowed myself to get lost in them.
I could sense that her eyes followed the movement of my strong arms as they came around her body. Skimming the sides of her ribs, I placed my hands on the railing out in front of her, caging her in against my torso.
“This was the first spot I ever found after I made the Playboy Pact with the guys. I didn’t even know where I was going, I just wanted to get out of my own head.”
“I thought you wanted the pact?”
She spun around, staring deep into my eyes. “Why?”
“No way. Nope.” She adamantly shook her head. “It’s my birthday and you have to answer my question. Why did you want the pact so bad?”
Ignoring her question, I asked, “What are you doing after graduation, Mila?”
She jerked back, not expecting me to ask her that. “You answer my question first.”
“I will once you answer mine.”
“I’m going to grad school.”
“Leo, that’s not fair.”
“Life’s not fair or you wouldn’t be looking to move away from me for grad school.” With that I pushed off the railing, the moment now ruined between us.
“How do you know that?”
“I didn’t. You just told me.”
She profoundly sighed, bowing her head.
“Lala, it’s your birthday. I don’t want to do this today.”
Her eyes once again connected with mine. “Too late. I’m not looking to move away from you, Leo.”
“Then why are you looking at all?”
She shrugged. “I just need a change of pace.”
“No. Yes. I don’t know. I’m twenty-two years old today and I’ve only ever lived in Monteagle, Tennessee.”
“And why is that so bad?”
“Then you wouldn’t be looking to move, so try again.”
“You’re being unfair.”
“Really? Because I think I’m being pretty damn reasonable, considering I’m your best friend and you didn’t even ask me how I felt about this.”
“When? After you moved?”
“Leo, this isn’t about you. It’s about me. I want to experience something different before I settle down and get married and have my own kids. Unlike you, I want to live my own life, not step into someone else’s.”
“And you think I am?”
“You’re literally taking over your father’s life. You’re stuck in this place like we’re still in high school. You’re an adult who still lives at home, your mom still does your laundry, your parents still pay your bills, and you’re perfectly content living on their property until you die because you made a pact when you were sixteen with your three best friends to stay single and never fall in love. I can’t stay here for you in order for your world to stay the same, when all I want is to move on from here.”