I had the bad habit of not looking at my client list until right before their appointment. And today was worse. I hadn't been feeling well and didn't get enough sleep the night before, so I dozed off in my office when I heard a ping from Rose that my noon appointment had arrived. As usual, I walked toward my station when I spotted the client.
Like a ghost out of my past, August Day walked casually in my waiting room, picking up a magazine. Panic gripped, almost choking me. Visions of that threatening note given to me almost eight years ago flooded my mind.
What the fuck was I going to do?
I warred with myself for over ten minutes until the prospect of giving him to another stylist was too much. I had to see him. Had to be near him. Even if he couldn't know who I was, I wanted to sift my hands through his hair. Feel the warmth of his body even if I couldn't get as close as I'd wanted.
My August hadn't changed much over the years. Maybe a bit taller, with more whiskers, but he was still the same gorgeous August whom I'd fallen in love with when I was 11. But I had no business allowing myself this luxury of gazing into his beautiful face.
It was dangerous.
Methodically, I went to work, cutting off his sweeping golden locks. God, August looked great with long hair. And as I cut, my feelings overwhelmed me just thinking about being this close and not being able to tell him who I was.
I couldn't help it.
After I'd finished with his style, something came over me and I'd dropped the false voice I'd been using. I wanted so desperately to talk to him. I figured if I used my real voice, I'd still be safe. It'd been years.
But I was wrong.
He instantly figured it out.
"B-Beau?" he stammered.
Taking off my glasses, I just went with it. Murderer be damned. They were in Brindleton Bay. Not San Myshuno.
It'd be okay. I'd explain everything.
He slapped his hands over his face and shook.
My heart squeezed and I said, "I know, baby. I'm so..." God, what could I tell him to help him understand what had happened, and why I couldn't contact him. There was so much that I'd gone through.
"Why?" he finally asked, hoarse through tears.
I moved toward him, wanting to hold him in my arms, but he pushed me away.
"Why?" he thundered, voice shaking through my body.
I stuttered, not sure how to go about the whole story. Where to start. I just stood there paralyzed, gazing at the anger and hurt in his face.
"Do you fucking realize I thought you were dead? You left me. Took off like a coward and let me go to trial for Daniel's murder. How could you do that to me? How?"
Dropping onto his lap, I clung to him, crying. I couldn't take him thinking about me like that. "I didn't know, August. Honest. I was fighting for my life during that time. I was in and out of consciousness for a while. I almost didn't survive."
All the pain I'd endured and the fear tumbled over me as I wept into his shoulder. "I'm sorry," I cried. "I would have taken a bullet for you to keep you from having to suffer like that. I would have, August. Don't you know it's crushed me not to find you and be with you all this time? I love you."
Gripping his face, I said, "I would have done anything to be there. Don't you believe me?"
When he didn't say anything, I wiped his tears with my thumb. "Baby, you've got to believe me. It's been torture on me not to find you. There's not a day goes by that I haven't thought about you."
Beau. My beautiful Beau was sitting here in front of me, crying and telling me these fucking excuses. Love, joy, confusion, pain, anger, rage flooded me all at once until I was about to blow. There was no excuse for not finding me. Hell, my parents lived in the fashion district for years. All he'd have to do is go to one of my mother's Hot Bod gyms and reach out to them. He had no justification.
I latched onto his wrist, tightening my grip angrily. "Why the fuck didn't you talk to my mom? My dad? You know where they work. It's not hard to figure out. But you didn't. You let me believe a lie all these years. How could you be so cruel, Beau? How?"
Stroking my cheek, he said, "Baby, I was freaking scared. Daniel shot me, and I couldn't remember anything until I woke up in some lady's shithole. Then I got a note from that madperson, threatening your life and your family's if I didn't get out of town and never see you again. They said they'd keep tabs on us, and if they found out I was anywhere near you, they'd kill you. This person is insane, August. I couldn't chance it. I'm sorry."
That information was too much to take in. I didn't know what to think. I just got up, raking my fingers over my face. "God, Beau!" I was so upset and confused. "You expect me to believe that garbage? It sounds crazy."
Cleaving to me like a barnacle, Beau wouldn't let me go. "It is crazy. All of it is fucking insane, but it's true. Please believe me. They left this woman who helped nurse me back to health with a one way ticket to San Myshuno to give to me. I took it and never looked back. I wanted to protect you. Honest, August. And if you hadn't walked into my life here, I'd still be protecting you, but now I'm so frightened. What if they find out?"
The sincerity in his voice sunk in even though all of it was hard to believe. But he was right. What would his motivation be to leave me hanging like that? Beau loved me. I knew this. He wouldn't ditch me and leave me to face prison for a murder I didn't commit.
Pulling him to his feet, I held him, stroking his back. I allowed myself to feel the relief at having him in my arms again. "Aw...Beau," I whispered.
He shuddered and said, "I'm sorry."
When I saw August smile, waves of relief washed over me like a soothing bubble bath. And then he swept me up and kissed me with a ferocity that lifted me off my feet.
In his arms, I was flying. Away from that horror we'd left in Brindleton Bay. All that mattered was me and him and what I'd hoped...forever.
He carded his fingers through my hair as our passionate kiss deepened. I didn't want to be anywhere else.
I was finally back.
With my August.
Next chapter on Wednesday, March 21st!
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