“Why did you do it?”
“I guess I didn’t really think about it. You were in danger.”
The statement tripped off Scarlet’s tongue. A half truth.
In the moment yes she hadn’t thought, just acted, but after the fact…
After the ambulance, the frantic questions, the doctors and nurses jabbing and poking her. After time in machines and hooked up to IV’s, then, when she’d had a moment of quiet calm. A moment by herself. Then she’d been able to think.
Then she’d had to accept that these feelings inside her had finally manifested into something real, something solid and tangible. Something with consequences. Of course the consequence was not just the broken ribs, collarbone and the concussion. The consequences were questions that she’d been dodging for close to eight years now.
“Adrenaline then.” Teddy asked hands on jean covered hips.
Why did he always have to look so stupidly good. Even dishevelled there was still that air of soft charm about him that made Scarlet feel contradictorily weak and strong, foolish and wise all at the same time.
“Adrenaline.” Scarlet said turning to face the window that looked out onto the beach.
“Isaac has a theory.”
“Oh god this isn’t another aliens in the basement theory is it.”
“No, no actually.” Teddy paused, if he said what he was about to there was no going back. No pretending things were normal. No ignoring this tension anymore. It would be out there. He would be giving it life.
“His theory is that you’re in love with me and that’s why you pushed me out of the way and ended up in the ER.” Teddy watched the back of her head, willing her to turn around but Scarlet remained staring out onto the beach and ocean beyond.
“Would that be the most terrible thing?” Scarlet asked pulling her bottom lip between her teeth as she faced the window. The moment stretched, milliseconds moving at a glacial pace. She knew she had to turn around but she felt frozen, her limbs stiffening, ready for rejection and pain. She knew it was always going to come to a head, that this four letter word that burdened her chest would manifest in some impossible to ignore way. That something would happen to bring it out of her heart and into the world, making it tangible and therefore easier to lose.
She needed to turn around, she knew it. The idea that once she did though everything could change for the worse rooted her to the spot. If she turned around everything she’d spent years building, the family and friends she’d found here could be up in frozen. The thought of being left out in the cold tormented her.
The feeling of Teddy closer to her than he had any right to be made her turn, and when she did, Teddy was there, sliding a calloused hand up her cheek and capturing her lips with his in a soft but searing kiss.
Scarlet’s heart lifted in her chest, enveloped in the warmth of Teddy’s arms.
He’d had a thousand answers to her question, quips ready and waiting to fall off his tongue but none seemed appropriate. The thought of losing her was the shot of epinephrine he needed.
The soft hair at the nape of her neck beneath his fingers only sought to embolden him, the taste of coffee on her lips and tongue only made him surer in his decision. The way she folded into him, felt natural, like she belonged there. Like she should have been there all along. That this is what should have been all along.
The timing before had never seemed quite right. Always something ready and waiting to intervene in what he’d thought were perfect moments. Now he realised they paled in comparison, they all seemed flashy, colours too loud and bright. This was the warm flame of the campfire on an October night. A heat of vivid oranges and reds.
How long had she been waiting to kiss him. Really kiss him, not kiss him to make sure gangsters at a club didn’t see them. Not kiss him to fool a suspect. How long had she been waiting to kiss him properly? How long had she been waiting to have his hands in her hair and around her waist. How long had she been waiting for the racing of the butterflies from stomach to sternum.
Teddy’s hand cupped the back of her head, long fingers tangled in her auburn hair. Scarlet pressed herself closer to him, desire and need beginning to race in her blood.
Too long was the answer to the question. Too long she’d been waiting for this moment. Too long she’d wanted his hands and body pressed against her.