“Sure, that’d be great actually.”
I tossed my coat down on a chair while Eli tinkered in the kitchen.
My gaze caught on the black notebook resting on the bookshelf. I remembered the way Maya had grabbed it from the table, holding it close to her chest like something precious. Eli appeared beside me then with a large steaming mug.
“Sure. I figure we all need a little boost this morning.”
I rubbed my forehead. “Uh, yeah, sorry.” The apartment was small, and I had little doubt we’d kept Eli up too. I’d gotten all manner of dirty words pouring from Maya’s lips last night and into the morning except the one admission I’d really wanted from her. God, was she obstinate.
“Whatever.” He shrugged and settled back onto the couch. “Things getting serious with Maya, I take it?”
I moved my coat and sat down in the chair. The steam rose in tiny billows from my cup, disappearing into the air. How could I answer that?
“Getting there. She sure as hell doesn’t make it easy.”
Eli smirked. “She’s a pain in the a*s.”
“You’re not kidding.”
“You love her though.”
“I’d like to think that was enough. She’s…” I blew out a breath. “I have no idea what the hell goes on in that mind of hers, Eli. I thought I knew her. I did. I mean, I knew her. Inside and out. The looks, the gestures, I could read her like a book. That’s not all gone, but this f*****g warped philosophy she has on relationships is all new.”
Eli took a sip of his coffee and regarded me silently.
“She’s been through a lot.”
I nodded. Eli would have known the whole story. Hell, he probably knew more than I did. Who was I to complain? I’d created this whole damn mess.
“No need to remind me. I put her through hell and I probably deserve all of this.”
“Maybe you do, but maybe you both deserve a chance to make this work again. If you can figure out how to make that happen without hurting her again, you have my blessing. She’s my best friend, and I can see that despite everything, she’s happy with you. That’s all I want. To see her happy.”
“I’m trying. She doesn’t make it easy.”
Eli stood up and came closer. My grip tightened around the mug. I hoped he wasn’t going to try to hug me or something. He leaned over and grabbed the notebook off the shelf. He handed it to me, his lips in a tight line.
“Tell her I gave it to you, I’ll hunt you down, and they’ll never find the body.”
We shared a wordless stare before he disappeared into his bedroom. I set down the coffee cup and contemplated what I might find between the covers of the book. The notebook was light in my hands. Curiosity and pure desperation to find some clue to Maya’s carefully guarded thoughts spurred me. Carefully I opened the book, flipping through the nearly filled pages. Page after page of words, poems, doodling. I closed it again.
I stood up and paced the room. If this were anything like a diary for Maya, what I was about to do was unconscionable. Could I do this? Maybe just one page… could one page tell me something? Anything about this woman I was falling hopelessly in love with again.
I sat back down. I finished my coffee and let the minutes pass. Finally I opened the book and began to read.
Every day, no stone unturned
A promise of more
Happy days and long nights,
Of love and living,
If I’d said yes.
Picket fences, cherub faces,
every dream realized
if I’d said
Second chances play out in a dream,
because I couldn’t
With shaking hands I turned the page. There were dozens more. I could barely make out the words because the meaning behind the poem I’d read was swimming through my mind. Jesus Christ. I brought my hands to my face.
I’d spent days trying to dig deeper, to find out who Maya had become. A surge of hope spurred me on every time I got a hit, and now this. A f*****g avalanche of feelings. And I wasn’t reading into this. I’d spent the past several hours trying to f**k the feelings out of her, and this notebook held the truth. Some of it, most of it maybe.
I stood quickly, unable to speak or formulate a single coherent thought. How could I possibly after reading that? I paced the room, wishing Maya were here so I could hear the truth straight from her lips. Would she ever give me that much? I wanted to search those fathomless brown eyes for some acknowledgement of what this meant, of everything we ever felt that had gone unsaid. The dreams I’d only shared with her, the plans we’d made for our future that could only be realized with her, no one else.