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Bill cleared his throat, so she looked back over her shoulder again. “What?”
“Have you heard anything I said? I asked about steak sauce.”
She stopped dead in her tracks. “Steak sauce?”
“You know. The stuff you spread on your steak.”
“I know what it is. I just don’t know what you need to know about it.”
Bill laughed. “I just need to know if we bought any last night.”
“You goof. You’re the one who picked A1. I’m the one who couldn’t decide. It’s a little hard to go grocery shopping at three in the morning. We should have planned the shopping thing better. Did we go there with a shopping list? No. Who goes grocery shopping without a list or some sort of menu? Nobody.”
Bill caught up with her in one long stride, and took the bag off her shoulder with a swiftness she had no idea he was capable
of. He pulled her to him. “What are you rambling on about?”
Before she could reply, he kissed her. In the middle of the kiss he dropped everything onto the ground, but neither of them
took notice that once again their belongings were suddenly scattered on the sand. Her world did a quick flip-flop. In that instant she was certain she would never be the same again. Even after their lips separated, they held onto each other. In fact, Bill pulled her closer and held on as if his life depended on it.
He spoke against the side of her face, “Years. I’ve wanted to hold you like this for years. Every place I go, I long for you, and my heart aches the moment you aren’t there.”
She pulled away to peer into his eyes and tried to understand his words. “You’ve been waiting for me for years? I’ve been
in love with you since I was sixteen. I fell for you the day you rushed me to the hospital for my injured foot. Why didn’t you ever say anything?” She used a finger to turn his face so she could look into his eyes.
He finally said, “I didn’t think that I was good enough. You’ve known for most of your life you wanted to be a doctor. I had
nothing to offer you. I was the son of an automobile mechanic and a drug addict. What was I going to give you? I was nothing compared to you.”
His words angered her. After so many wasted years, and that was the best excuse he had? Emily pulled out of his arms to gather the scattered belongings from the sandy path.
She could feel him watching, but he didn’t say anything. After a moment, he finally bent over to help. Both of them took great care to shake the sand out of everything and carefully fold it before putting it back into the beach bag. As soon as they were finished, Emily threw it all back down.
Bill stood frozen in place with a deer in the headlights expression.
Emily leveled an angry stare somewhere in the vicinity of his mouth, since she was too angry to meet his eyes. “You know, that ticks me off.” She slugged him in the stomach to prove a point.
“Ouch! What did you do that for?” He rubbed his stomach. “That hurt.”
“Good. You know how insulted I am? You’ve been a big part of my family since we were just kids, and not once has any member of my family ever treated you like you were inferior to them. I can’t believe you would think you weren’t good enough for me.” In Emily’s frustration she punched him again in the same spot.
“Hey. Quit that. That’s starting to hurt.”
Emily punched him again. “Good. Now you know how I feel. I can’t believe how long I’ve waited for you to notice I even existed
and you were thinking for all these years that you’re not good enough for me. Where did this come from? It was never from me. I’ve been drooling on your feet for years, and if you had just looked down to see why your feet were getting wet, you might have noticed me.”
Bill placed a hand on her arm. He looked as if he was half afraid she was going to punch him again and half afraid she might leave him standing there alone. Emily looked into his beautiful eyes when he tilted her face up. Heat infused her cheeks.
His voice was trembled with emotion. “That wasn’t what I meant. I didn’t think anyone was good enough for you. You deserve only the best.”
When Emily’s anger subsided, she placed a hand on his arm. “If you loved me, you should have trusted me. I’ve loved you for so
long I can’t remember a time when I haven’t.”
He covered her hand with his. “So why didn’t you tell me?”
Emily laughed but then took a step backward when she realized what her answer was. “I guess I didn’t think I was good enough.”
Bill moved closer with one eyebrow lifted a little higher than the other. “Yeah? And that’s different how?”
She took another step backward. “You’re not going to punch me in the stomach are you?” She took a second step backward just in case, and watched, as he rubbed where she had punched him. He appeared to be considering what to do next. When he inched forward, she stepped backward again. She was thinking she might need to make a run for it when Bill grabbed her around the waist and pulled her to him.
His face was now only inches from hers. “Tell me again that you love me.”
Emily savored their closeness, afraid there wouldn’t be another moment like this again. “I love you with all of my heart.”
He devoured her mouth with his.
When their lips parted, she sighed. “Tell me.”
Bill pressed his face against the side of hers. “I love you with all of my heart, soul and mind. I have ached for you for so many years, my heart hurts from the pain of not having you.”
Emily grinned but then pulled back so she could see his eyes. “Don’t ever let me hear you say another word about not being good enough. I don’t want to have to punch you again.”