The Good Luck Charm Page 60

“You mean us?” My throat constricts as I take in her guarded posture, knees tucked under her.

“In my head I connected those two events. My dad leaving our family and you breaking up with me felt a lot like the same kind of loss. But it was so much more painful with you because the way I loved you was so … consuming. It echoed a pain I hadn’t recovered from. Does that make sense?”

“Yes.” It does, in so many ways I hadn’t considered. My knowledge of Lilah’s father had been limited to her six-year-old perception of events. One day he was there, the next he was gone. And before that, he was rarely ever home since he worked so much, so his leaving hadn’t changed much in her day-to-day life. But I can see now how that absence over time would have an impact, and how my leaving echoed that abandonment.

But it was also so much worse because I’d been her everyday, and she’d been mine. And I’d taken that from us both.

I don’t want to ask the next question, but I have to, because this state of uncertainty is unbearable. “If you can’t forgive him, does that mean you can’t forgive me, either?”

“There’s no simple answer to that question, Ethan.”

I fold my hands in my lap and prepare for the worst. I don’t know how I’ll manage if this is her ending things between us for good. She carries half my soul, and without her, I don’t know how to exist. All those years without her had been like living a half-life.

“In my head I’d forgiven you. It’s my heart that’s had a hard time forgetting. I let fear dictate my actions with you this time around.”


“I put you ahead of myself because I was afraid. So every time you said you needed me, I caved. I didn’t want to disappoint you, or give you a reason to leave again. And honestly, I like being needed … I felt necessary, essential even.”

The conversation I had with my father a few weeks ago makes so much more sense. “You are necessary, Lilah. I won’t ever do to you again what I did before. I promise I won’t hurt either of us like that again.”

Her smile is soft. “I need to find a way to balance my love for you with the rest of my life.”

“I’ll give you whatever you need. If it’s still time, you can have it. Or space. Just know that I won’t be selfish with you, even if I want to be. I won’t ever take your love for granted, and I won’t put my success on you.”

She laces her fingers with mine on a deep exhale. “I’m sorry I made you wait.”

“For you to forgive me?”

“For me to be brave enough to love you the way I want to.”

“I didn’t get my head out of my ass for eight years. This past month might not have been easy, but it was necessary. You were right. I can see the pressure I was putting on you, maybe not intentionally, but it was there. I don’t want you to ever feel like my love for you has limitations, especially not based on how my hockey season is going.”

Her smile is soft understanding. “I wanted to be more than that, for both of us. I had this plan for my future, and then you came back into my life and I lost sight of everything except for you. I became dependent on your dependency.”

“You’re not just part of some pregame ritual based on superstitions. You know that, right?”

She laughs a little. “I do, although I’m not opposed to all of your pregame rituals. Your boxers are pretty comfy to sleep in, and the taking-them-off part is always fun.” She runs her fingers through my playoff beard. “I’m also a big fan of this, but your naked rituals are probably my favorite.”

“That’s stress relief, not a ritual.”

“Call it whatever you want, but I’m more than happy to be the recipient of orgasms in the name of stress relief.”

“I’m always up for providing stress-relief orgasms. Actually, I probably have a lot of those to make up for. We could do some of that now, you know, like pre-pre-game stress relief.”

She nods somberly. “You really can’t overdo it on the stress relief, can you?”

I cup her cheek in my palm and tilt my head to the side. When I’m within an inch of her mouth, I pause. “Does this mean we’re not on a break anymore?”

“Do you actually need to ask that question?”

“I want to be clear about what kind of kiss this is going to be.”


“Is this our back-together kiss?”

“As opposed to what?”

“I don’t know. Maybe it’s a test kiss for you.”

“A test kiss?”

“Uh-huh, to see if you’re as interested in pre-pre-game stress relief as you think you are.”

“I’ve already expressed my interest.”

“But is that all you’re interested in? I need to know exactly what’s at stake with this kiss so I can strategize my approach.”

“This isn’t a hockey game, Ethan. It’s a kiss, which will hopefully also lead to some scoring.” Her luscious lips turn up at her bad pun.

I breathe a laugh as she grabs my shirt and attempts to connect our mouths. I cup her face between my hands and sit up on my knees, tilting her head back. She rises with me, fingers circling my wrists. With my thumb I skim the curve of her bottom lip and watch them part. Her eyes stay on mine as I bend to kiss her chin. She whimpers, annoyed.

“Tell me I’m yours,” I whisper.

“You’re mine.” Her eyes search mine, soft and wanting. “And I’m yours.”

“Yes. Mine.” I drop my head, lips brushing over hers before I pull back again. “Always.”

The sound that falls from her lips is half need, half frustration. I understand it, share it even. I want to wrap my arms around her; I want to feel her body against mine, the softness of her lips, the warmth of her touch. These weeks without her have been a painful eternity. I’m not sure how I survived eight years. But I also want to savor this moment because this is a new first kiss. This is the one that marks the beginning of our forever. Because I’m never letting her go again.

When I close the space between us, Lilah’s lips are already parted, so I stroke inside her mouth in a slow, shallow sweep before pulling back. She tries to follow, but I hold her still. “Do you remember when all we used to do was kiss?”

“Why’re we still talking?”

“Do you?”

“Of course I remember. I’d be so worked up, dying for something else to happen, but I had no idea what.”

I would’ve humped a tree back then. I’d wanted to put my hands all over her, touch every part of her body that she’d let me, but I hadn’t ever wanted to push. Now I do. I want to claim back what’s always been mine, and I’m fighting with myself to take it slow. “Is that how you feel right now?”

“Yes, but I know what’s going to happen next.”

I suck her bottom lip, nipping gently. “You think so?”

She drops a hand, stroking me through my pants. “Definitely.”

I bite back a groan, hoping to stay in control a little longer. It’s been weeks since I’ve been inside her, surrounded in the feel, the smell, the taste of her. “Want to tell me?”

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