Carve Your Own Destiny

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Teddi's heart hammered. Her eyes stung, and she could not blink. It was Calvin Wynne. She would know him anywhere. But why was he standing in her backyard? It didn't make sense. She slammed her eyes shut as her breathing sped up and a thick and unrelenting pulse throbbed at her right temple.

"Teddi? What's wrong? Teddi?" She barely registered that it was Ben who was speaking to her, pulling on her arm gently and crouching down to look in her eye. He took her chin in his hand and gave her that little indulgent smile he used to placate her emotional reactions. She didn't have time for any of that now. Calvin was there. He was there.

Teddi looked back to where Calvin had been standing. Her heart clutched when she realized he'd disappeared.

"I have to, um, I'll be right back," she said hastily. He couldn't have gone far. Ignoring the eyes she felt on her back and the small insignificant business of the music stopping so everyone could stare at her, Teddi picked up her heels and beat across the lawn.

She heard someone who sounded like Harper saying, "I think it's just Grandpa back from the city or something. Give them a minute and dance with me, Ben."

***

Once Teddi reached the front yard, she spotted Calvin's retreating back heading around the corner of the block a few houses down. It was him. He'd been there, right there. She had to stop him.

Forgetting her shoes were even less practical for running than they were for dancing, Teddi raced down the block and around the corner. Her eyes scanned the street for any sign of him, but it was empty. "Damn it!"

"You shouldn't swear like that. It's unbecoming," a smooth voice said from behind her.

Teddi turned around, clutching her chest. "Oh my God!" There he was, leaning nonchalantly against a tree, wearing a pale blue sports shirt and light brown slacks with his hands shoved into the pockets. His hair was not as long as it had been, but it was still thick and looked tempting enough for Teddi to want to run her fingers through it.

Teddi chided herself for being so weak, but she couldn't help it. It was Calvin, finally. He'd grown up better than she could have ever imagined, which was an amazing feat in her eyes.

"That's twice, Miss Theodora," Calvin tutted, referring to her last exclamation. "And here, I thought I was saving your gentility by packing up and leaving," he finished softly on the last few words.

Teddi thought perhaps he hadn't meant to say them, but he had, and they hurt. "What are you doing here, Calvin?"

He pushed himself away from the tree and took a step closer to her. "I needed to come back home. I needed to..." He looked at the pavement beneath his feet.

"What did you need?" Teddi pressed, hearing her voice shaking and hating herself for it.

"I needed to see you again," he admitted, bringing his eyes back to hers. There was something so naked and real there, something so powerful Teddi had to look away to keep from faltering. "I wanted to," he went on after a laborious gulp. "I just wanted to see you."

Teddi shook her head. It was all too overwhelming. "You can't do this, Calvin. You can't just come back here and—"

"Brookhurst is my home, too, Teddi."

"That isn't what I meant," she groused.

"Then what did you mean?"

She frowned. She didn't know. She had no idea. So, she released an unstable breath and said the first thing that came into her mind, "I'm with Ben. And I—"

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