Light in the Shadows (Page 78)

Light in the Shadows (Find You in the Dark #2)(78)
Author: A. Meredith Walters

The next moments moved both too fast and achingly slow. The sound of the foil packet punctuated the air. Our heavy breathing as Clay rolled me over and positioned himself between my legs.

Then the smooth, perfect union as he slid into my body. It was like coming home. I thought my heart would burst with the amazing sensations that overtook me. And as we started to move together, flesh on flesh, our hands touching, lips tasting, the only sounds were the beating of our hearts and our soft whispered I love yous.

When we were finished and Clay held me securely in his arms, I felt a sudden shift, as though I had better enjoy this moment because it just might be the last. I didn’t understand my sudden bout of doom and gloom but I couldn’t shake it.

The afternoon disappeared as twilight took over and with it the cooling of the air but we were still in no hurry to get dressed. Clay rolled over and pulled a small package out of his bag and handed it to me.

“Happy Birthday, Maggie,” he said, smiling. I picked up the small box and quirked my eyebrow.

“Why do you always feel the need to give me presents after we’ve had sex? I’m sensing a pattern here,” I joked, referring to the butterfly necklace that still hung around my neck. Clay chuckled and traced a finger along the delicate curves of silver that made up the jewelry he had given me.

“Less smart ass and more opening,” he prompted, picking up the box and wiggling it in front of me. I snatched it from his hand and ripped open the paper. My heart sputtered and nearly stopped when I saw the small, black velvet box hidden beneath the birthday wrapping.

He wouldn’t would he?

“Stop freaking out and just open it,” Clay teased, seeing the way my eyes had widened and my hands had stilled. I did as he said and slowly opened the hinged top.

Nestled inside was a ring. Not that kind of ring but a beautiful one nonetheless. It was a thin band of white gold meeting in the middle in a loop. On the sides were tiny, diamond inlaid butterflies. They were so small you had to look closely to make them out. Dear lord, my boyfriend’s taste in jewelry was incredible.

I removed the ring from the box and held it in my palm, too awestruck by its beauty to put it on. Clay took the piece of jewelry and grabbed my right hand, slipping it onto the ring finger. It fit perfectly. Of course it did. Had I expected anything less?

“It’s gorgeous, Clay. Thank you,” I said, feeling another crying jag come on. Clay threaded his fingers through mine and held the hand adorned with the ring up for us both to see.

“It’s a promise ring. A long time ago, they would be engraved with the words Pour route ma vie, de tout mon coeur, For my whole life, all of my love. I wanted to give you something that showed my complete and total devotion to you, to us. I have turned your world upside down. First when I tried to kill myself and left you to deal with the aftermath. Then again when I came back and you’ve been trying to handle my constantly changing life. I know I haven’t been easy. I wish I could say that one day things might be simpler. But the truth is I can’t say that. I wish I could. I can only say, with one hundred percent certainty that I love you. That I live and breathe for you. That I would lay down my life a million times over for you. And no matter what happens tomorrow, next week, next year, my heart will always be yours.” Oh yeah, I was definitely crying now. How could a girl hear that stuff and not start sobbing her eyes out? I wasn’t made of stone, for Pete’s sake!

Clay touched his finger to the ring that symbolized his commitment to me. “And as long as we’re together, I think we can get through anything. I promise to never shut you out of my life again. I was miserable the three months we were apart. I thought I was doing it for you, but call me selfish, but I can’t do that again. No matter where I go, or what I do, I want you in my life,” he concluded, his face soft, his eyes full of love.

Shit, I was done. I gave a strangled sort of sob and threw myself at him, kissing every inch of his beloved face. “I love you, Clay! My god, I love you so much!” I said over and over again. We probably would have gotten lost in each other again, if his phone didn’t start beeping.

He gave me an apologetic smile and grabbed it and let out an “oh f**k.”

“What is it?” I asked as he got hurriedly to his feet and started pulling on his clothes.

“Baby, you need to get dressed. We’re going to be late if we don’t get a move on. And your parents have only recently stopped looking at me as though I’m going to abscond with you in the middle of the night again. So come on,” he ordered, grabbing my hand.

“Alright, alright,” I grumbled, not really feeling the need to have a family dinner after what I had just experienced with Clay. That had made my birthday and I wasn’t sure anything else could top it.

We touched and laughed and kissed while we got dressed, reveling in a renewed closeness. A closeness that was beyond what we had ever had before.

“Thank you so much for making this the best birthday I’ve ever had,” I said, turning to Clay as he parked in front of my house. We met in a beautiful, soul melting kiss before Clay broke away.

“We’d better get in there before your dad skins me alive.” I huffed and puffed but finally got out of the car. I was so blissed out from the perfect afternoon with Clay that I didn’t notice the excess number of cars on the street.

I walked into the house and dozens of voices called out, “Happy Birthday!” I blinked in surprise, looking around at my house now full of friends and acquaintances and every single one of them was looking at me.

I turned to Clay who was grinning a Cheshire Cat smile and wagged my finger at him, “You are so going to get it for not warning me!” He gave me a gentle shove forward and I was enveloped by the people who loved me.

Chapter Twenty-Four

-Clay-

I was being a complete and total coward. Why hadn’t I just told Maggie my plans for after graduation? I watched her interact with her party guests; laughing and hugging her friends and family. The smile on her face, the look of complete happiness was exactly the reason I had chickened out. I didn’t want to be the reason she lost that look.

“So what did you guys get into all afternoon?” Daniel asked and I almost choked on my drink.

“Oh, you know, we went swimming and just hung out, “ I told him vaguely. Daniel raised his eyebrows and gave me a knowing stare.

“I’m sure that was fun, hanging out. Probably the less I know about you guys hanging out, the better. Otherwise I’ll have to take out your kneecaps and all. And I was just starting to kind of like you,” Daniel smirked and I smirked back.