The liquor bottle was almost empty. The effects of the alcohol were not as potent as they used to be for Adam. It did not numb his emotions. Instead, it had become a truth serum. Every time he looked into Shea’s alluring brown eyes, he wanted to spill all his secrets and tell her how he really felt about her.
Adam loved Shea, regardless of the scowl on her beautiful face. She looked exquisite, even though she only wore black sweatpants and a plain white T-shirt. Maybe it was the way she styled her natural curls or her angled lips. He was not sure but he realized how much he missed her.
They sat on barstools in his kitchen, separated by the kitchen island. Its cold grey counter top mirrored Adam’s life recently. His failed relationship was over. Two years past due and he was relieved to be done with it. The downside, a crippling feeling of loneliness. Adam made it worse by secluding himself for the past six months, refusing contact, until his friend showed up banging on his door. But she had not uttered a word after barging in with a bottle of liquor and demanding shot glasses.
“Are you ready to talk?” Adam asked. “Or are you gonna give me angry looks all night?”
“Another shot,” Shea demanded.
Adam conceded, pouring them both another shot and downed his. He watched as her face scrunched up from the liquid fire sliding down her throat. It brought back memories of when they met a year ago at a book store. He saw her holding a book and she had the same scrunched up face as she shook her head and placed it back on the shelf. One comment later and they were deep in discussion about favorite authors and books.
“Shea, how drunk are you trying to get?”
She sarcastically brought a finger to her chin as if she was in deep thought over the question.
“Drunk enough to have the courage to say what I need to say. Not drunk enough to forget it all in the morning.”
Adam was intrigued. Shea kept a lot close to her, rarely letting her emotions spill out in front of people. Unless she was mad, and tonight, Shea looked furious.
“What do you need to say?” He asked. “Why do you look so angry?”
“Because, I’m mad at you! No, more than mad. Furious!” She said forcefully, surprising Adam.
“What? What did I do?”
“Everything and nothing!” Her voice rose quickly.
“Well, that doesn’t makes sense,” Adam tried joking, but the look on her face told him it was not the time. “Sorry, can you explain it to me?”
“You haven’t spoken to me in months!”
“Shea, I was going through things. I had a very bad break up!”
“No, you can’t do that, “ she responded, her eyes narrow enough to cut glass. “You can’t use that excuse. We both know you didn’t love each other anymore. And even if you were hurt over it, then I am suppose to help you through that!”
“Okay, you’re right. I’m sorry. I just—“
“I’m not done!”
Thunder cracked outside and rain began to fall. Mother Nature seemed to be warning Adam, advising him to let Shea finish or feel her wrath. He quieted as her tirade began. She let it all out as the liquid courage coursed through her veins.
“Ever since we met, you have been there for me. I can’t even count how many good morning texts you’ve sent me. You constantly checked up on me. Helped me, whenever I needed it. You made me laugh when I wanted to cry and you were a shoulder to lean on.”
Adam nodded, “Sounds like a good friend.”
“Then why are you mad? I understand being upset over me not talking to you, but—“
“Why did you do all those things?”
“Because… You deserved it,” Adam whispered, wanting to say more.
“And I don’t anymore?”
“I didn’t say that.”
“Your actions aren’t showing that!”
He watched as Shea took a breath, collecting herself before she continued.
“You disappeared for weeks, Adam. For weeks you’ve ignored my calls. My texts. Weeks without you. As soon as you were single, you forgot about me.”
“What exactly are you trying to say?” Adam asked, trying to put the pieces together.
She glared at Adam until he gave in. The liquor bottle was empty.
“Shea, I didn’t know all that meant so much to you.”
“How could it not? What kind of person do you think I am?”
“It’s not like you reciprocated. I couldn’t tell—“
“You had a girlfriend!” Shea exploded. “I couldn’t! But I gave you hints! A song with certain lyrics. A book I told you to read. The way I looked at you. What I called you… I don’t say that to everyone!”
“Again, what are you trying to say?”
“I fell in love with you! I couldn’t tell you how I really felt! Then, as soon as you’re single, you ignore me!”
Adam was surprised. He never imagined a woman like Shea could ever fall in love with him. He caught all the signs she mentioned, but their meaning could have been totally different than what she said they were.
The implications of the night hit him. Shea wanted to be with him. The woman he had come to love, loved him too. Emotions hit him hard, most contrasting with each other. Elation and fear, eagerness and hesitation. One stuck out more than the others. Unworthiness. He was unworthy because he was broken.
“No,” Adam said. “You deserve better. Someone that can give you everything you want and need.”
“Why can’t that be you?”
“You know why.”
“Do you love me, Adam?”
He loved her. He loved everything about her. Her taste in books and music. The way she spoke passionately about the things she cared about. Her personality. Her eyes. Her style of clothes. Everything.
“Yes,” he whispered.
He watched as she walked around the kitchen island. He stood as she reached him. The smell of honey and mango, mixed with alcohol wafted into his nose. He looked into her eyes as thunder cracked outside. A storm of her own was brewing in them. A storm of passion. Of love. Longing. He would disappoint her. It couldn’t work
“Shea, I can’t be the one to make you unhappy. I can’t…”
Adam’s words trailed off as she cupped his face.
“I don’t want anyone else,” she whispered. “Only you.”
Her words, they pulled him in as lighting flashed, a different kind of electricity sparked between them. He gently grabbed her waist and pulled her close to him. All his fears and insecurities melting away.
Adam kissed Shea, a deep, passionate kiss. All the months of wanting, of yearning, he gave it all to her. The room disappeared. The storm outside faded. All that remained, all that mattered was Shea. She was all that ever mattered.