Benjamin Chambers found the girl, won the girl, and then lost the girl all in two months. It wouldn’t be so bad if it wasn’t that girl. The one that had already got away once.
Left to his own devices, wallowing in self-pity, drinking whiskey and killing ballads on his guitar Ben is looking forward to the worst Christmas in history. That is until an unexpected offer of help arrives.
Given the best Christmas gift he could ever wish for, the chance to spend one more day with the girl that got away. Ben knows he just has one day to convince Lilah that they are meant to be together, before he has to make some big decisions about his own future. Just one day to set right the mistakes that he has made, but will it be enough?
Ben may end up finding out that The Art of Forgiving isn’t something you can teach, it is something that you have to earn.
“Thanks for saving Christmas dinner, Ben.” Lilah swirls last dregs of wine around her glass and drains it down.
“You’re very welcome.”
She bites her lower lip a little and then pushes back from the table, rising unsteadily to her feet. “Uh, my god I need to go to bed.” She makes some awful groaning noise and reaches one hand for the table to steady herself.
Her eyes catch mine and I shift uncomfortably. Come on Ben. . . This is what you have been waiting for. . . You complete arse.
“Can I grab the couch?” The words are out of my mouth before I can stop them. Smooth Dick of the Year Award goes to me.
“Nah, it’s cool you can share with me,” she says. I stare open mouthed but she avoids all eye contact and zig zags to her bedroom.
“Night guys.” I say to the others and then chase after her.
“Keep it down hey?” Tristan calls after me.
I wave my hand at him, and as I shut Lilah’s door behind me I can hear them both shouting “Aaaah.” Luckily she does not hear. She is just standing in the middle of the room. It’s the first time I have ever been in here and I take a moment to pivot on my heel and look about, whistling as I do. It’s massive with just a bed. Nothing else. Just a giant bed.
My brain is instantly bombarded by about a million dirty thoughts all at once. “Minimalist huh?” I manage to say around a smile which I hope does not look leery.
“Yeah, I am a no fuss kind of girl,” she says turning to face me.
She so is. I take my eyes off the room and focus on her. It might be the unnecessary bottle of wine but the air seems so heavy it feels like I can’t fill my lungs with it. “I know,” I say eventually.
The next moment happens in slow motion because I swear I am not expecting it at all, but Lilah just hikes her T-shirt up over her head and slides her jeans down her legs revealing a mind-blowing hot pink underwear set.
What the fuck? Did I miss something?
She dives under the duvet and for a moment I stand there wondering what it is she wants me to do. She says nothing, so in lieu of instructions I strip off my own jeans and unbutton my shirt, leaving on just my boxers and T-shirt. Then with the stealthy motions of a jungle cat I slide myself onto the bed before she can change her mind and tell me to sod off.
She doesn’t. “You can come under if you want.”
Two seconds later I’m under the duvet and I physically can’t stop myself from sliding my body alongside hers. The warmth of her skin seeps into mine and I wonder just how long it has been since I last felt warm. She stretches herself a little and we fit into all the little grooves that are unique just to us. I take a deep breath and the smell of her skin fills my head, it is far more intoxicating than the wine. “You know that song,” I whisper into the darkness.
My fingers sting with the need to reach out and touch her, but for once I try and use words to talk to her, not actions. “It’s all I can think about, it is all I can play. I just don’t know how to move on from this.” The whole truth would be that I don’t want to move on from this and I definitely don’t want to make a move that does not involve her, but I keep that to myself.
Instead I kiss my favourite spot on the back of her neck.
Her body freezes after my kiss, but before I can apologise she relaxes back against me and says. “Neither do I.”
I close my eyes and wait for her to add something else. Shame I can’t close my ears along with my eyes.
“I don’t know how to be with you now,” she says. I hold my breath for her to finish whatever it is she is battling to say. “But I also don’t know how to not be with you.”
I somehow manage not to grab her and pull her into me, to try and convince her to be with me again. I don’t have to. She turns to face me, her body so close to mine it hurts. I make a resolution, a promise in the dark, which I plan to keep for the rest of my life. “I will do whatever it takes to make you want to be with me.”
I lean forward ever so slightly and kiss her on the lips. I wait for her to tilt her mouth up to mine but she doesn’t. Instead I move my hand around her back and start to trail my fingers up and down her spine.
What the hell am I going to do? Lilah McCannon does not know how to be with me anymore, and I don’t know how to be without her. How will this ever work? What can I do to make her understand that she is literally the only girl that I have ever been interested in? Ever. I thought I’d made her understand. I thought she knew how I felt, but now I’m beginning to realise that I never convinced her of my feelings. Not enough for her to realise that she is the one that I put above all others.