“I’ve seriously thought about leaving and going back to Oklahoma.”
The thought of him disappearing altogether and my never seeing him again was even more upsetting than the thought of him marrying Elle. Knowing he’d be part of my family forever was a bittersweet solace. It was really screwed up, but it was true.
“Do you want me, Evangeline? Forget about how you think you should respond to that question. Please. I need to hear you say it.” My face was burning up as he moved in closer. “Please.”
“I want you.”
He closed his eyes and opened them. “I want you more than I’ve ever wanted anything.”
“Not everything we want is good for us.”
“Don’t you dare try to say that you wouldn’t be good for me. If our life circumstances were different, you’d be fucking perfect for me, and you know it.”
“Where is this conversation going? What are you asking of me, Sevin?”
“I don’t know. Right now…nothing. I just needed to know the truth. I’m so sick and tired of pretending…trying to hide this.”
“Well, I told you my truth. It just doesn’t change anything.”
“You want to know my truth?”
His eyes were burning into mine. “You’re my truth. Everything else is a lie.”
The winds intensified, shaking the basement walls. The sounds of metal and debris flying around outside put me on edge. Something hit the basement window hard, and I instinctively jumped into Sevin’s arms. He held me there for a while. Breathing in his smell, the physical need for him felt unbearable.
The warmth of his breath against my ear caused my nipples to harden when he said, “It feels so good to hold you.”
“Then why haven’t you pulled away?”
I couldn’t answer that. In my head, I had somehow justified allowing it because of the storm. But even when the winds eventually calmed down, that didn’t stop me from staying nestled in his arms, telling myself that this was the first and only time I would ever experience it.
That was the first of many lies I would tell myself when it came to justifying my actions with Sevin.
The next morning, my family returned to the house. Daddy apparently packed their car and drove everyone back early as soon as the rain stopped so that he could assess the damage. The tornado never made a direct hit on us, but there were countless downed trees and power lines. Much to his dismay, there was also some damage to the new shed that he and Sevin had only just built.
“Thank the good Lord you’re okay, Evangeline,” Mama said, pulling me into her.
“I really panicked when the lights went out. You know how I am about the dark. Thankfully, Sevin came to check on me and stayed until the storm passed.”
Elle’s eyes held an inquisitive yet upsettingly serious look. “You were with Sevin?” Tilting her head, she said, “He didn’t mention that when I called him from the road.”
My stomach dropped. Why hadn’t he said anything?
Thinking quickly, I said, “Sevin was really helpful. He helped me stay calm when the blackout happened. I don’t know that I would have survived it otherwise.”
I prayed I didn’t look as guilty as I felt. I hoped the expression on my face didn’t say, “Yeah, he held me tightly until the storm passed. I had to beg him to go back to his place before morning because I was afraid I wouldn’t be able to resist kissing him.”
“That’s a good man you have there, Elle,” Mama interjected.
“He is. I’m glad he was here so that you didn’t have to go through that alone.”
“Yeah, me too.”
Sensing that something was still bothering Elle, I asked, “Is everything okay?”
“Everything is fine,” she replied quickly.
Maybe it was just my own paranoia causing me to wonder whether Elle was bothered by the fact that Sevin never mentioned to her that we were together during the storm.
Later that afternoon, there was a knock on my bedroom door. Elle entered before I told her it was okay to come in.
“You got a minute?” she asked.
“Of course. What’s going on?”
“I need to talk to you about Sevin.”
My heart was palpitating. “What about him?”
“Something isn’t right between us, and I need to fix it.”
Inwardly freaking out and patting the bed, I scooted over. “Come sit next to me.”
Elle hopped on my bed and slid closer to me as she leaned her back against my upholstered headboard. “I think that Sevin might be having some doubts about the marriage.”
“What makes you say that?”
“For one, he hasn’t given me a ring.”
“The wedding date has been set. Maybe he’s just waiting to give it to you that day?”
“I don’t know. I remember before he moved to Dodge City when we were doing the long distance thing, he said something about planning to buy me a ring once he got out here, but he hasn’t followed through or even mentioned it.”
“I think you’re overthinking it. I mean, a date has been set. I’m sure he is going to get a ring.”
“I know what his hesitation is.”
Dread was starting to set in. I braced myself. “What?”
“Why would you marry someone if you haven’t tried the goods?”