Something about Ev was different.
It wasn’t the difference I had noticed when she first walked back into my life. That indecision, always second guessing herself…
I’d been fucking furious when I’d finally found out the reason why. That goddamn asshole Keith had almost destroyed the confident, take-charge woman I loved. I wanted to kill him for it.
I paused, taking a moment to contemplate about what I’d just thought.
The woman I loved. It was so easy to say it in my head, and yet so hard to say it out loud.
But I’d done it. I’d wrestled with my demons and told my past to go fuck itself.
I’d told Everly I loved her.
I should have done it years ago, the first time we were together. I’d been a coward back then, an idiot. I was goddamn lucky she had given me a second chance.
And now, here I was, ready to play a song I’d composed for her, using the title to tell her how much I cared for her.
Forever Love, and For Ever, Love.
I was going to prove to her, on stage, in front of everyone, how much I loved her.
“Hey, man,” Seth murmured into my ear over the roar of the crowd. “You ready for this?”
I put my hand in my pocket and fiddled with the small black box.
“More than ready,” I said.
Or at least, I had been, up until tonight.
Something was different about Ever.
It wasn’t like the change that had happened during the moment we’d shared at the art gallery. That sweet vanilla scent of hers, those bright pink lips, the way her fingers trembled as they tugged on my jacket and pulled me close… I had obsessed over it for days, wondering what might have happened if some idiot hadn’t crashed into that display, interrupting us. Would she have wrapped her arms around my neck? Would she have pressed her lips to mine?
Instead, she’d immediately yanked herself away, like my presence offended her. It felt like a dagger had stabbed me through the heart.
But I hadn’t given up. I’d invited her to my concert, and afterward to Walt’s bar.
The change I’d noticed in Ev also wasn’t like the way she’d changed moods suddenly when I’d been off talking to Jessie about Gael’s party. I hadn’t known what caused it, back then. I still didn’t.
Ev had asked about Gael’s birthday, but I could tell she wasn’t paying attention. Then she’d pushed her glass away with a heavy sigh and said she wanted to go home.
I managed to convince her to stay, but only by cajoling her into playing another one of her “games.” By the time we found ourselves on the roof of Walt’s bar I’d been wondering what the hell I thought I was doing.
This was the girl who had stubbornly refused to hear my warnings, refused to listen to me. I thought if I walked out, she’d see how serious I was. When I realized she wouldn’t budge, I tried to come back and talk some sense into her. But when I showed up at our rehearsal space, that asshole Keith had been there. She’d been in his arms.
Rage like I’d never felt before had filled my veins. How dare that motherfucker try to steal my girl.
Then the rage had been displaced by despair.
I hadn’t been able to give Ev what she needed. He could. Maybe she was better off with him in the end.
I shook my head mentally, refusing to get lost in thoughts of the past. The only thing that mattered was that Ev was here now, right in front of me. I hadn’t known if we’d be able to work through all the shit we’d done to each other, but I’d held on to hope with every bit of strength within me.
Still, I couldn’t help shake a small feeling of unease. Ever had been acting strange, not like her usual self.
I knew it was probably nerves. In only minutes, she was going to be back on stage for the first time in years. I couldn’t blame her for being nervous.
But it wasn’t the usual jitters that came before a show, wondering whether the sound system was properly in place, wondering if you’d manage to hit your cues.
There was something else, too. Something more personal.
My stomach flipped. What if she knew what I was planning? What if she had found out and was trying to think of a way to turn me down before the show began?
Sweat lined my brow, and it had nothing to do with the body heat radiating in this small club.
I came up behind Ever. She was gnawing on her bright pink lips, her boot-covered toes tapping the ground in a staccato rhythm.
I put my hand in hers and repeated the same thing Seth had asked me.
“You ready for this?” I asked.
“No clue,” she replied, her voice so thready she was almost wheezing. “Ask me when it’s over.”
I squeezed her cold, clammy fingers. I probed a bit, trying to figure out why she was this nervous. Then she said spoke and everything made sense.
“What if they’re only here for you and Seth?” she asked.
After the way I’d walked out on her, after the way that motherfucker Keith had treated her, after the way the entire music industry turned their backs on her…
It was no wonder she feared her comeback was going to fail. She was worried people didn’t care about her, not even her fans.
“Listen,” I told her as I kissed her forehead. I wasn’t into PDA, but I could do this much. “They’re calling for you.”
She went quiet, her tense shoulders easing, her breathing becoming less labored, as she took in the sounds of the audience chanting her name.
As she listened, eyes shut, I examine her closely. Flushed cheeks, soft lips, silky hair…
Ever had always been a beauty, but there was something about those moments before getting on stage that illuminated her.
Maybe it was the musician in me, but it seemed like something was radiating from her, some sort of vibrant energy, an almost mystical aura emanating from her body.
Or maybe it was just the sappy, lovesick, emo artist in me, as Ev liked to say.
She opened her eyes, excitement shining brightly, no hint of the anxiety I’d seen before. I took a strand of her hair, weaving it between my fingers, enjoying the smooth texture, the bright pink color, as it twisted around my fingers. I was reminded of the previous night when I’d fisted her hair in my hand and tugged, bringing her lips crashing down on mine as I pushed her up against the wall and…
But now wasn’t the time to think about those kinds of things. After the concert, maybe, when we were still riding high on the adrenaline.
After I presented her with the small black box burning a hole in my pocket.
After she accepted the engagement ring and agreed to become my wife.
My stomach flipped again. I swallowed heavily. She had to say yes. She had to. We’d talked about it. She’d seemed more than enthusiastic. She probably hadn’t expected it to happen so soon, but I was tired of waiting. We’d lost years of our relationship to dumb mistakes and misunderstandings. I wasn’t going to let her slip through my grasp again.
Seth jumped up behind me, startling me with his sudden appearance.
“What the hell are you guys waiting for?” he beamed. “They’re going to call our cue in five seconds.”
Ev’s hand clenched down on mine.
“Let’s rock our goddamn hearts out,” she said.
She didn’t know it, but that wasn’t the only thing I was going to do with my heart that night.
I was going to open it up and lay it bare in front of her. I was going to let down all my defenses, let down my guard, and finally, truly, let someone in.
Everly Davis, Ever Darling, my Ev, was finally back in my life.
I was going to prove to her, with my actions and my words, how much I cared about her.
I was going to prove that I would love her, forever.
Join my Facebook reader group for contests, giveaways, early access, sneak peeks and more.