Chapter 34

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"Sometimes you need to hit the restart button on life."


Sometimes you need to hit the restart button on life.

Well, we might not be able to restart our entire lives, but we are able to restart ourselves, us, together.

Because I have felt different for a while now, but that feeling is even more prominent when my hand is safely secured in Lincoln's as we give and take in an almost melodic rhythm.

It's my turn to give now when I turn the knob to my parents' house. I can feel how nervous Link is, and I run my thumb over the back of his hand in the hopes of somehow being able to calm him.

The appreciative smile he shoots me lets me think that I succeed, and so I open the door, inviting him into my childhood home. He looks around, taking in the dozens and dozens of pictures of my family, of my mother's students, of me and my brothers...

I take a deep breath when he stops right in front of a picture of Pops and me. It's from my high school years and I'm holding cotton candy which Pops stole right in front of my nose, his large mouth biting off most of the blue sugar.

"That's my grandfather," I explain, and Lincoln just looks at me for a second, nodding his head before he pulls me closer and presses a kiss on my temple.

"He looks like he was a fun guy."

His statement makes me smile, even though I still feel my heart ache at the sole thought of him. Mom and I worked hard on replacing the pain with all those happy memories he gifted us, but sometimes I can't stop the anguish. "He was. I miss him," I admit.

Link nods his head again, releasing my hand to wrap one arm around my waist. We just stand like that for a moment, my head resting on his shoulder while we look at the pictures on the wall.

And as we stand there, as I revel in my family's memories, I suddenly feel extremely guilty. Because here I am, bringing him into my childhood home to meet my parents and show him the big family we are, when he has no one left. Literally.

If there's anyone who understands what loss means, it's him. And his reaction just minutes ago shows he has worked on that, too. He knows how to deal with the pain now, his own warmth and strength now seeping right into me.

"I'm good, Mia," he whispers, and I suddenly look up at him, noticing how he studies me with a smile. "I know what you're thinking. I'm good, really."

It will probably take a while until I understand just how different he is now. It scares me a bit. But I am also excited to find out, to see more of this version of him.

I nod my head before I press a swift kiss on his shoulder, "Okay. You ready?"

"Yeah," he smiles while taking my hand in his again, and I lead him through the hallway into the living room, different voices already echoing through the space.

"Mom, come on, you can't say that when Noah is here," I hear my mother speak.

"Why? He is quite the specimen, even your husband must see that. He's not blind, Hazel," my grandmother says, and I can't help but snort at the statement.

Lincoln shoots me an amused glance and I just shake my head as we turn the corner in the living room, instantly having two pairs of eyes on us.

"Oh, there they are! Aren't they cute," my grandma points at us, and Mom just laughs out loud.

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