I never imagined I'd see him again

I never imagined I'd see him again. Hazel eyes with more weathered creases around the outer corners than when I last saw them. Why it didn't occur to me right then that it was him, I don't know. Maybe I was hypnotized by the precise cut of the muscles in his arms or the way his lips curved as he said my name. Maybe it was the sunset or the excitement over the Fourth of July fireworks that were coming. And maybe it's because I'm naive as hell.

Once that laugh bellowed from his belly, I knew. I didn't need the confirmation of his silence or the guilt written on his tanned face. I knew. I was stunned. I was pissed. I was hurt. I was embarrassed. But more than anything, I wanted to get the hell out of there. I pretty much forgot that Mila was with me until I was a few blocks away from my car. She was the one who shouted my name. Not Liam, the liar, the coward, the asshole. No, it was Mila chasing after me. The lump in my stomach grew even larger with disgust as I realized how much I wanted it to be Liam's footsteps following mine.

You don't want him running after you, I told myself and I stuck to my guns. It became an unspoken rule between Mila and me. Liam wasn't welcome within thirty feet of me at any given time. Hell, if I had it my way, he'd leave the island completely. But Oahu is small and home to both of us, so I'd settle for avoiding him at all costs. A seemingly easy request became a rather difficult feat when Mila decided to transfer to the University of Hawaii to be closer to Gage. Family dinners, daily rendezvous, and weekend beach days were all clouded by my worry that Gage's brother would show up. But he never did and the disgust would return as I realized how much I did want Liam to appear.

Fourth of July. The last time I saw Liam. The last time I wanted to kiss him and to punch him within a sixty-second span. The last time I vowed I'd ever uttered his name. That forever vow lasted about ten months. Now I find myself standing on a dock at Haleiwa Harbor that seems way too small in front of a man that is standing way too close.

Liam. His name sits on my lips, tasting like venom & fruit. A deadly combination. My gaze is reluctantly locked in on his face, taking in the stubble speckled along his jaw and the shock registering in his eyes. At least he's as caught off-guard as I am. I refuse to look at any other part of him because I could do without that lump of disgust with myself growing any bigger in my stomach than it already is.

"Baylee, are you okay?" Professor Grant places his hand on my shoulder. "You look a bit seasick and we haven't even gotten on the boat yet."

He's right. I am feeling a bit sick, but it's not from the waves. The reality of what I've done to myself is starting to dawn on me. I delayed college graduation until winter so I could participate in this summer internship and because of that, I'll be spending most of the next four months alongside the person I've been avoiding for almost the last year.

Craving Paradise (A Finding Paradise Novella)Read this story for FREE!