I look over at Chloe. She stares at the city, a deep longing on her face. I wonder if she’s making a wish. We’re only three hours from the last Matt. If I were a betting man, I’d say she’s about to find her soul mate. And I promised I’d get her to him, didn’t I?
Suddenly, I hate to leave Vegas. I hate to leave it and I hate to see it fade in the distance. What a turnaround from earlier today. But these next few hours are probably the last Chloe and I will have together. Ever.
Here we are, speeding down a highway in the back of a truck. The wind is so loud that conversation’s impossible. But what would I say? What could I say? Choose me?
The dust and the sand in the air stings my eyes and I rub them. Chloe turns to me. I wipe at my eyes and quirk a smile.
Thank you, she mouths.
You’re welcome, I say to the wind.
Then I hold out my hand. She looks down then back up and shakes her head no. The wish that I made, to spend the last of our time together holding her hand, vanishes. I let my hand fall. I lean my head against the truck window and stare at the darkening sky. It’s that time, when the darkness is here, but there still aren’t any stars in sight. The darkest, loneliest time of night. Then I lose a breath as Chloe moves closer, and closer still. Until her thigh presses against my thigh, and her arm presses against my arm, and her shoulder to mine. Everywhere she touches sparks and comes alive. I don’t move. I don’t even want to breathe. Because I don’t want to interrupt the feel of her body on mine. And then, she rests her head against my chest. I draw in a harsh breath. I breathe in the dry sand air that smells like thirst mixed with the perfume of her hair and her skin. My hand shakes as I move my arm and slowly wrap it around her shoulders. Then I pull her in to rest against me. It takes an eternity, but finally, she sinks into me and I hold her.
I hold her like this is both the first time and the last time.
Both heaven and hell.
She watches the city disappear and the stars appear. I watch her. The headlights stroking her skin. The wind brushing through her hair. The expressions drifting across her face as we move farther north.
All this trip, I’ve been thinking that soul mates aren’t real, and that they can’t possibly exist. In fact, I set out to prove it. But what if a soul mate is the one person who, when you’re with them, there’s no place you’d rather be? Because right now, it doesn’t matter that I don’t have a car, or money, or a phone, or that I’m in the back of a truck. None of that matters, because I’m with her. And I can’t see that ever changing. Fifty years down the road, there still will be no place I’d rather be.
I pull her closer and lean my head down on top of hers. This is it. The last of it. The end. With every mile we drive, I’m one step closer to losing her.
If there’s any wetness in my eyes, no one knows it but me and the wind.
And if there were a thousand miles more to go, not just one hundred, the ending would still be the same. I’d be here, ready to let her go, because I understand now. She needs her soul mate. And like she said…that’s not me.
I close my eyes and whisper into her hair, I love you.
The wind carries my words away.
- Chasing Romeo by Sarah Ready
Available May 25th!
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