Chapter 33

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"It's a fire only she can start, a fire that's so potent and dangerous, I feel like I'd cease to exist without it."


For the first time in years, it feels like things are going my way, finally.

I have a job that fulfils me, I have enough money to take care of my problems, I have a therapist who helps me deal with my raging emotions...

But most important of all: I have the girl.

Well, technically. Because I know we said we'd take things slow. That we'd do it differently this time. And we have to, everything else would only hurt us in the long run.

But I'm confident we're good for each other. And I meant what I said: I'll prove it to her, if she can't believe it herself. I'll show her just how much I have changed, just how much I can take charge of a situation now.

Her eyes are wide when she opens the door to her apartment, and she studies me for a minute, eyebrows arched when she speaks, "Are both of those for me?"

She points to the two bouquets of flowers in my hands, and I just shake my head with a laugh, "No. This one is," I hand her the larger one with sunflowers in it, a reminder that she is warm like the sun.

"This one," I wiggle the other bouquet when she studies her own, "This one's for your mother."

A laugh escapes her throat, and she instantly covers her lips with her hand, shaking her head while I just look at her, wondering what the hell I've done wrong now. "Sorry," she says with a giggle, "Thank you. They're beautiful. It's just... Man, I can't wait to see my dad's reaction to that."

Something about that statement makes me nervous. Because I've seen her dad; I've seen the bull of a man he is, even more than his eldest son. I can't deny that the man is scary as hell, and knowing that Mia is very close to him really doesn't help matters, either.

"Well, come in. Might as well enjoy the time before you're served your last supper," she laughs, stepping aside to let me move.

We're supposed to have dinner with her parents in a couple of hours, and I'm nervous as hell. It's not just her father, it's her entire family, really. Her mom seemed to be kind, although it was obvious that she can kick your ass if she wants to, just from the way she handled Max. Hell, even her grandmother seemed badass, though that might have just been the tattoos on her arms.

"Come on, stop thinking," Mia laughs again, and I narrow my eyes at her while walking inside, where she takes the second bouquet from my hands before she rushes to the open kitchen.

"You want a coffee?" she asks, filling two vases with water and placing the flowers in them before turning back to me, leaning against the kitchen counter with a smile.

"Yeah, I'd love to," I answer with a smirk, somehow not knowing where to go. When Mia doesn't say anything I steer for the armchair in the adjacent living room, taking a seat as I watch her work.

When I look around the room, I can't help but notice that this apartment is much brighter than the other one. The furniture is still pretty subtle, grey and white are the dominant colors here, but she has paintings and pictures on the walls now, too. Most of them look somewhat absurd, a lot of colors sprayed or brushed across the canvas. Some of them look chaotic with wild and bright colors, while others give off a calm vibe.

"I painted those in therapy," Mia interrupts my observation with a smile, placing two coffees on the table. I raise my eyebrow at her mug, wondering when she started drinking coffee, but quickly shake off the thought before I look up at her.

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