Another streak of lightning flashed across the sky. The storm was getting worse. There was no way I’d be able to fly home tonight. Air traffic control would never clear us with the stalled front coming in.
Now or never.
I opened the car door and walked up the pathway that led straight to the front door. The heavy rain quickly soaked through my jeans. I’d found a raincoat on the plane, but it did little to keep me dry. The wind was whipping the water around every which way. Once I got to the door, the covered porch helped shelter me some.
I took a deep breath and then knocked three times.
Stay calm. Whatever happens, at least you’ll know.
The door opened, and warm light spilled out into the darkness. My word, she’s beautiful. There she stood in her jeans and light pink T-shirt with her blonde hair pulled up into a bun on the top of her head. It was hard not to pull her to me and kiss the life out of her.
Her startled eyes met mine. She’d been crying. Seeing her red, blotchy eyes and tear-streaked cheeks slayed me. My fists clenched, and I reminded myself not to rush this. Kory’s lip quivered. Only a couple of feet separated us, but they felt like the width of a canyon.
I began to speak, but she beat me to it, her voice sounding sadder than I remembered. “Hayden, what are you doing here?”
Shit. Thunder roared through the skies and my heart plummeted. That wasn’t the reaction I was hoping for.
Unsure how to respond, I blurted out the first thing that came to mind. “Why did you leave?”
There were a million other things I wanted to ask, like why she was upset, but her question threw me. If things were over, I wasn’t going to put myself out there even more.
She looked around outside before pulling me in the house. I stumbled at the sudden movement but caught myself. The door slammed shut, and in the next moment, Kory threw her arms around me, holding me as if her life depended on it. Without another thought, I wound my arms around her, inhaling her sweet vanilla scent. This was the greeting I had hoped for.
This felt right.
Kory let out a sniffle before saying, “You came for me. You actually came. When I needed you the most, you came.”
I held her tighter. “I’m sorry it took so long. The way things happened with us and how you left did a number on my head.”
She pulled back, and fresh tears filled her eyes. “You have to go back to Alaska and forget you ever met me. You can’t be here.”