“Ahh, still so beautiful when you’re mad.” He cupped her chin and smoothed the pad of his thumb under her eye. After wiping the smudged mascara from her face, he stepped back and crossed his arms. “And you still love calling me an asshole, huh?”
Throwing her arm out to the side, she stepped forward, her chin jutted up. “What do you want from me, Gavin? I came here to apologize. You knew damn well I didn’t marry him, but yet you didn’t take my calls and you say you’re dead? I’m dead right now!”
“I am fucking dead, goddammit!” He stepped closer, curled his arm around her waist, and pulled her against his chest. Staring into her watery, green eyes, he resisted the urge to kiss her again. “You killed me, Emily,” he breathed, brushing her hair away from her face. Leaning into her ear, he yanked the suitcase from her hand, his voice a heated whisper. “I didn’t know you never went through with it. I chucked my phone the night I came out here, and I haven’t read any messages my fucking housekeeper left for me. I threw each and every single one of them away.” He whipped around and headed for the car.
“Gavin, wait!” she called out. He came to a stop and shook his head, refusing to face her. Inching toward him, Emily swallowed nervously, her head more confused than when she’d first showed up. “What are you trying to say to me?” she asked, taking a cautious step forward. “Say it if you have to, Gavin, but I need to know. What are we doing?”
Gavin turned around and raked his hand through his hair. “I don’t know what we’re doing, Emily.” He paused, his gaze shifting between her and the highway. He shook his head again, then brought his attention back to her. “I don’t know what I want right now.”
“I’ve broken us,” she whispered, slowly bringing her hand up to her cheek as she stared at the ground. Trying to catch the breath that’d been stolen from her, she lifted her head. Her eyes locked on Gavin’s. “I have. I’ve broken us.”
Gavin cupped the back of his neck and stared at her a long moment, his mind fighting against what his heart wanted. “Yeah. I think you have,” he answered softly. He pulled in a deep breath and turned around. “Come on... I’m taking you back to your hotel.”
Emily felt lightheaded. Felt the blood drain from her face. She knew when she got there he could reject her, but no amount of mental preparation could’ve prepared her for the loneliness slamming through her. In a daze, she made her way back to the car and settled into the seat. Barely able to make sense of her emotions, Emily couldn’t look at Gavin when he slipped in and started the engine. She rested her head against the seat and blankly stared out the window. With everything in her, she tried to contain herself from breaking out into hysterics as Gavin eased the car back onto the highway.
“How do I know you’re not going to go back to him?” Gavin’s soft, broken voice cut through the silence. “And what makes you think I can trust you won’t?”
Emily snapped her head in his direction, her lips parted as she gazed into his eyes. They held so much pain, and it was then she realized how badly she’d hurt him. She took a calculated risk and reached over, brushing her fingertips along the dark stubble on his jaw. She felt him tense, and it stung her heart. She dropped her hand into her lap and looked down. “I’m not taking him back, Gavin. I love you,” she whispered, swiping away a tear that’d trickled down her face.
“You say that now.” He dragged his attention from her and brought it back to the road. “You love me while you’re here, Emily. What about when we get back to New York? What happens when you see him again?”
She cupped her hand over her mouth, and a sob crawled up her throat as she stared at him. “I don’t know how to get you to trust me other than giving me the chance to prove it to you, Gavin. I don’t.”
Exhaling, Gavin gripped the steering wheel and didn’t say another word for the remainder of the ride.
By the time they pulled up in front of the hotel, Emily wasn’t sure if her heart was still beating. She wasn’t sure if she could move… could breathe. However, she was sure her soul had shattered into a million tiny pieces, scattered somewhere along a highway in Mexico. With hues of pinks, purples, and orange replacing the lazy sun disappearing from the sky, Gavin slipped from the car and retrieved Emily’s luggage. Handing it to the bellboy, Gavin reached in his wallet for a tip and spoke something in Spanish.
Emily climbed from the car and walked over to Gavin. Staring up into his eyes, her words softly fell from her mouth. “Do you know how scary it is to want something so bad you’re willing to change your whole life for it?”
Gavin searched her face. “You mean the way I was willing to change mine for you?”
“Yeah. I guess we were both willing to do that, Gavin. I was ready to take that plunge and never look back. Never. I was ready to risk everything for you, to push away the overwhelming fear I had because I knew you and I are worth it. We fell in love in a second. I was barely able to blink, and you had my entire world upside-down. I was scared you weren’t… real. I was scared no one could be as magnetic as you are to me. It still scares me. You still scare me.” Pausing, Emily shook her head. “Then I saw Gina, and all my fears came back. My heart wanted to believe you, but my head wouldn’t allow it after I’d already taken that risk on us. I’m so sorry, Gavin. I don’t know what else to say other than I love you and need you with everything inside me.”
Gavin cleared his throat but didn’t say a word.
Once again unable to resist her want, her need, Emily moved closer, pushed up on her tiptoes, and placed a soft, lingering kiss on Gavin’s cheek. She closed her eyes as his heat radiated over her body.
Gavin lifted his hands, burrowing his fingers tight around Emily’s waist. Emily felt his lips brush against the crown of her head and heard him suck in a steeling breath, but before she could open her eyes, he let go. With her heart pounding, she watched him duck back into his car, his tires screeching as he veered out of the parking lot.
Feeling as though Gavin couldn’t get away from her quick enough, Emily hugged her stomach, sickened by what she’d done to them. All hope gone and head in a daze, she looked at the bellboy who’d been waiting with her luggage. Sporting a warm smile, he nodded and led her into the hotel lobby. She followed, her breathing shallow as she tried to unscatter her thoughts long enough to show the proper ID to the woman seated behind the front desk.
After handing Emily’s passport back to her, the young, dark-haired woman smiled. “Thank you for choosing the Royal Playa del Carmen, Señorita Cooper. Rafael will show you to your room. The presidential suites are located in a separate building, but they’re within walking distance.” She slid a pamphlet and room card across the clay-colored marble counter. “Any information about your suite and the amenities the resort offers can be found here, or you can call the concierge desk at any time. I hope you enjoy your stay.”
“Thank you.” Emily turned to Rafael and shook her head. “I don’t need any help with my bag, but thank you.”
“Are you sure, señorita? I’m more than happy.”