A Place Without You (Page 30)

“I’m so sorry.”

He squeezes my hand. “Nothing lasts forever, right?”

“Yeah …” I release a slow breath as our gazes meet. “Everything is temporary.”

Noah eases to sitting, holding my gaze in his dark eyes. And when he leans toward me, I don’t move. When his lips press to mine. I don’t pull away. With one hand, he steadies his body between us while his other hand slides through my hair, cupping the back of my head. My hat falls off.

I pull back an inch, breaking our kiss. My chin dips in shame. “There’s someone.”

Noah’s hand slides from my head to my arm, feathering his touch to my hand where he traces the beads of my bracelets with his fingers. “At home?”

I nod.

“Can I ask why he’s not here?”

“Timing. We just met at the most impossible time in our lives.” I glance up and share my own heartbreaking smile.

“And now? Are you just passing time waiting for the right moment?”

“I don’t know. Maybe.”

“And he’s waiting for you?”

It’s my turn to look away. “I think he thinks he’s waiting for me, but how long can one wait?”

“Do you want him to wait?”

I just want him. It’s always been that simple for me.

“Well, he owns my heart, so yeah … I want him to wait. But I’m quite good at wanting the impossible.”

“Hmm…” he nudges my bare leg with his “…I don’t need your heart. I’d take absolutely anything you had to give. So, you’ve got my number.”

“You did catch that I’m not exactly hanging out in one spot forever, right?”

He takes the last piece of pineapple and holds it up to my lips, while grinning. “I have a boat. I can purchase a plane ticket. Train? Bike? As I said … you’ve got my number.”

I slowly open my mouth and let him slide the juicy fruit onto my tongue. As I close my mouth around it, he lets his fingertips linger on my lips. When he leans in to let his lips steal the spot where his fingers rest, I let him.

As soon as I get back to my rented bedroom and shared kitchen, I message Bodhi.

Me: Noah kissed me and I let him. Don’t respond right now. I think it would kill me if you did. Missing you has become a full-time job for my heart. The only thing keeping me from coming home is knowing that we will never be us again until I see this journey through. So it’s okay to hate me. But please … love me more. Xo



“Never seen you work so many hours. Not sure I’ve seen you sweat so much either,” Dad says as I bring my bone-tired body through the door just before seven at night.

I’ve channeled all my energy into fixing fences, replacing boards in the barn, and re-siding the house. Summer is my time to get this stuff done. It keeps my mind from going to places like Henna kissing some guy named Noah half a world away.

Ignoring him, I toe off my boots and wipe my brow while taking the steps up to my bathroom—the same damn steps that hold memories of Henna naked on them.

“Is this about the girl? Henna? She still finding herself?”

I shake my head. “It’s just work that needs to be done before school starts this fall.”

“You were showing me pictures of her every day, but two weeks ago you stopped showing me pictures and you’ve been grumpy as hell since then. I’m old, not stupid. It’s about the girl.”

Yeah, it’s about the girl—the way the sun feels on my skin, the whisper of the breeze when I’m on Snare, the reflection of the full moon, the air in my lungs, the rhythm of my heart … it’s all about the girl.

After I shower and eat dinner in silence and under the relentless scrutiny of my dad’s curious glances, I clean up and put him to bed before making my nightly trip outside to lie on the mattress in the back of Alice. I leave the doors open to welcome the breeze, a breeze I want to think kissed Henna’s skin and whispered through her long auburn hair. Basically, I do anything to connect us.

It’s been two weeks since Henna messaged me. Two weeks since she kissed Noah. Two weeks since she told me not to respond right away. I don’t know what the time frame is on responding to that, especially when I don’t know what to say. The world is filled with men who can offer her a life I can’t even begin to give her.

She’ll come back. This I know. Her home will always be Colorado, but I don’t believe she will truly come back to me. Don’t sweat it, everything is temporary. I’m temporary, but Henna could never be temporary.

As if she knows I’m thinking about her, my phone chimes with the first text since the Noah text.

Henna: Hi. Remember me?

I take a deep breath. Maybe I need to let her go. Maybe she’s looking for permission to let go. If only it were that easy.

Bodhi: Hi. I’m pretty sure you’re still my greatest memory.

Henna: How’s your dad?

Bodhi: Nosey.

Henna: I landed in Madagascar. I’m going in search of lemurs tomorrow.

Bodhi: I landed on a pile of hay when I fell off the roof of the barn today. I’m going in search of my lost watch tomorrow.

Henna: Seriously? OMG did you get hurt?

My heart hurts too fucking bad to feel anything but the pain of missing Henna.

Bodhi: I’m fine.

Henna: Listening to The Fray “Never Say Never”

Fuck …

Bodhi: Colony House “This Beautiful Life”

Henna: Someday … I’m coming back to you.

I stare at her words, then I play “This Beautiful Life” on my phone at full volume.

Henna: Bodhi?

After a few blinks, I put this song on repeat and set it on the seat next to me. “What are we doing?” I whisper, closing my eyes.


Henna spends July in South Africa. Juni and Zach meet up with her in Cape Town. She posts pictures on Instagram, including one of everyone on the beach—three other couples I’ve never seen and a guy standing next to Henna with his arm draped over her shoulder.

She looks incredible. She looks … happy.

To end the month on a real high, my dad finds out his cancer is progressing again. We have our usual argument over treatment. He says no. I say yes and threaten to call Bella. I win until I get home and find him writing a suicide note. That makes the fourth time since the accident. At least this time, I catch him before he does anything more than write a note.

We fight.

He cries for me and my “wasted life.”

I cry for him and his “wasted life.”

We fight some more, and he gets high and passes out. I contemplate getting drunk for the first time since the night he tried to carry my wasted ass down those marble stairs. Instead, I give in to a very weak moment, and I call Henna. I have no clue how much it will cost to call her, but I don’t care at the moment. I can’t FaceTime her and let her see me like this, but I’m certain if I don’t hear her voice, I could take my own life.

“Bodhi?” she answers in a groggy voice.

I always forget there’s a huge time difference.

Choking on emotions that feel like razor blades in my throat, I let her voice cover my skin, sinking into my desperate soul.

“Bodhi?” Her voice gets a little stronger as she clears her throat.

Falling back on my bed, I press the phone to my ear with one hand and cover my heart with my other hand. “Hi.”

I should probably start with Sorry I’ve been a selfish, jealous dick ignoring your texts and attempts to FaceTime me for a whole month, but all I can manage to get out is “hi.”

Long moments pass with painful silence. This isn’t Bodhi and Henna. This is just fucking torture.

“Tell me to come home,” she whispers as if she knows I’m ready to break.

Come home. I have nothing to give you except me. Just please … come home.

Closing my eyes to suppress a new round of tears, I pinch the bridge of my nose. Today … hell, this whole month has kicked my ass physically and emotionally. I’m so fucking tired.

“It was a kiss. That’s all. And I didn’t tell you to hurt you. I told you because I don’t want anything between us.”

Except miles of ocean, hours of time, months of separation, and so much pain. Henna can be anything, do anything, live an extraordinary life. If I love her, I’ll let her go. I know what I have to do, I just don’t know what happens after it’s done, after we’re done. The love doesn’t just vanish.

What do I do with these emotions I have for her?

“You knew … you knew we were temporary even when I didn’t want to believe it.”

“Bodhi,” she says my name with caution and uncertainty. “Jesus … there’s someone else.”

I shake my head. How could she think that? It takes everything I have to not correct her assumption. If I say no, she’ll know something else is wrong, and she’ll come home to me.

Me—the man who has nothing to offer her.

If I say yes, I’ll break her heart. But hearts mend. Maybe not my mom’s heart, but Henna is stronger than my mom was. Hers will mend, probably without a single scar.

“I should go.”

“Go? Are you kidding me?” Anger builds with each one of her words, slashing my chest, cutting me open. “You woke me up after not responding to me for over a month, just to tell me that you’ve found someone else? No. That’s not okay. You owe me more than a fucking phone call. You—”