I let out a short laugh. “I hate to be the one to break it to you, but the Maya you used to know is gone. If you’re holding out for that person to resurface from all of this, let me spare you the expense of waiting.”
“I don’t believe you. I think you’re hiding, and whatever you’re hiding isn’t gone forever.”
I crossed my arms against my chest. I hated his words. Every f*****g one of them.
“When did you get so g*****n stubborn, Maya?”
I locked my jaw and glared at him, unwilling to give him anything. Except he was right. We’d never fought like this before. We disagreed and bickered sometimes. But we’d never been on different sides. Now, when we weren’t lusting after our memories together, we were fighting over them. Our relationship had become a battle, one that I was petrified of losing. He was digging too deep, trying to uncover a side of me I had no wish to unbury and willfully give to him.
“This isn’t what I want.”
He paused a moment, staring, as I dug in for the next round.
“No offense, but you have no f*****g idea what you want until I start kissing you, and then I can guarantee that we both want the same thing.”
“This isn’t about sex. Trust me, I wish that’s all it was.”
He stilled. “Really?” His voice was too quiet.
“We can’t possibly keep this simple.”
“Why do you keep trying to when you know it’s impossible? I’m never going to fit into one of these frankly impossible categories that you place men into.”
Anger surged and I leaned forward. “This is me. This is my life. You can’t march in here and tell me who to be and when to love. If this is how it’s going to be between us, we should move on and save ourselves the heartbreak.”
“Wouldn’t a heart be required for heartbreak?”
Heat flooded me, dampening my hands, and suddenly the room seemed too warm.
“You’re right. I’m honestly not sure I have any left to break. You did a pretty thorough job of it the first time around.”
I tossed down my napkin. Sickness twisted in my stomach, annihilating any remnants of my appetite. I grabbed my things and made my way out the door quickly. I took brisk steps toward the office, anxious to return. Cameron caught up with me a few seconds later.
He caught my elbow, spun me to him, and pulled us out of the sidewalk traffic. I didn’t pull away. Deep down I didn’t want the physical distance between us as much as I needed the emotional space from him.
When my eyes met his, concern and frustration were written all over his face. “Why do you keep running away from me?”
“Why did you come here?”
My voice wavered unsteadily. I brushed away his touches, but he tugged me closer until we were chest to chest. He circled an arm around my waist, keeping me close.
“I came here because I missed you. I needed a minute to think, but I could feel you slipping away again. I didn’t want to wait around for days to talk to you, to know where things stood between us.” He sifted his fingers through my hair, thumbing my cheek.
“Is this really worth it? I mean, really? Haven’t we been through enough?”
He tipped my face to his. I opened my eyes, finding his burning intensely into me—steely and unmoved. “Stop with that bullshit, Maya. We are worth it. You are worth it. What we had, saving any of it is worth it. I can see that now.”
I shook my head. “I don’t know.”
“Enough with the doubts.” The sharpness in his voice surprised me. “Enough with all of that. Figure it out in your head right now, because I’m not going anywhere. If you want to run, you need to know I’ll be right behind you.”
“No buts. We’re doing this. I can’t promise it’ll be easy, being without you has been hell, so really it can only get better from here. I’m not letting you go this time.”
I struggled for breath and for the right words. He wasn’t giving me an inch. Physically and emotionally, I was in his clutches. I steadied myself against the tornado of emotion ripping through me, doubt among them. My lip trembled and I shivered, neither from the cold.
His voice softened when he spoke again. “I can’t undo what I did. But you need to know that I love you.” Sadness flickered behind the blue depths of his eyes. “You’ll never know how sorry I am for what happened between us. For what it did to both of us. And if I have to spend the rest of my life making it up to you, I will.”
I opened my mouth to speak. Resentment, regret, and a deep soul-piercing love—a soundless rush of emotion pulsed through me at his words. The damn broke, and the tears fell faster than I could stop them. I was breaking open. Everything was coming to the surface now, and I was bubbling over.