“Just try and live. Try and be happy. Or else, what’s the fucking point?”
“Eventually, something or someone will come along in your life to show you that what other people think don’t matter. You’ll find the strength to not let what people say affect you in quite the same way.”
“Do you know what I wish for, Levi, what I hope and pray for all the time?” “What, bella mia?” “That people have one thought, one instinct: Be kind-hearted. Simply be kind of heart.”
“I’ll be your voice when you can’t speak.”
“Pushing Elsie back, I said, “I’m not the most special guy in the world. I’m no one’s perfect dream. I’m not sure I’ll ever do anything extraordinary with my life. I’ll always be that little bit awkward, and that little bit too shy. I’ll always blush and dip my head, but if you’ll let me, I’ll be the one that’s there for you. I’ll be happy knowing I’ve got you and you’ve got me. That’s enough for me, to be the one that you can lean on, to be the one to tell you you’re beautiful every day. And talk to. I’ll adore every sound that comes out of your mouth. I’ll be the one to love you like nothing you’ve ever seen, bella mia.” I blushed with embarrassment, but managed to rasp, “If you’ll just let me… If you want me.”
Elsie sobbed out a cry, tears tumbling down her rosy cheeks. “Levi. You are my dream realized, in every possible way. You are the most special person in my world. And I love that you blush—because I do too.” She wiped at her cheeks. “I love that you’re shy, and,” her breathing hitched, “I love that you love my voice. I love that I never have hide who I am, disguise how I sound. Because I’m tired of trying to please others.” She dipped her eyes and almost flattened me when she said, “You’re my kind of extraordinary. Levi Carillo, you’re the sweetest of souls.”
“And the Italian thing. He speaks fucking Italian, fluently.” Ashton shook his head and gripped my arm. “Use your powers, Alabama. For the sake of jocks everywhere, use the fucking pussy-magnet powers you’ve been granted!”
“Ally Prince’s huge smile greeted me and she pulled me in her arms. “I knew you’d be back,” she said.
“You did?” I questioned.
Ally rolled her eyes then spun me around to face the three Italian brothers and pointed at Levi. “You see that look in Levi’s eyes, the same one Aust is giving Lex and the one my tough guy is giving me?”
I blushed, but nodded my head under the attention of Levi’s storm cloud colored gaze. “Well that’s how I knew you’d be back. Once a Carillo cracks his hard shell and lets you in, once you see them look at you like that, you’re toast, and you’re theirs. You never really had a choice.”
“Words are the worst kind of ammunition. Physical pain fades in time, but bullets of cruelty forever penetrate the soul.”
“Alone and lost, appeared this saint,
With pretty gray eyes, darkness can’t taint.
He stole her from cold, from blustering storm,
Kind and gentle, he took her from harm.
Fearful of dark, he created her light,
A jar of gold, chasing demons of night.
Telling stories of love, he brought to her life,
A moment by his side: no pain, no strife.
He gifted her poems, a gesture on whim,
With every word read, she could see only him.
She counted the days until he returned home,
The boy with his light, the girl not alone.
Invisible to all, a shade wandering in dark,
He brought back her faith, with his pure kind heart.
“I’m so fucking pissed that I was born in Cali. I’d clean up if I said ‘y’all’ and ‘fixin’ every other word,” Jake complained.”
“I don’t want to hurt you.”
Her head tilted to the side and she smiled. “That’s why I want to do this more than ever.” Her eyelashes fluttered against her cheeks. “Because you care enough to stop at the thought of causing me pain. Because, even though I can see how desperately you want to be inside me, you’re going slow, you’re making sure I’m safe.”
“Because you’re my girl,” I replied. Elsie’s eyes glossed at my statement.”
I’d search the world for Heaven’s Door,
Over mountains and valleys, each sandy shore.
I’d find the stairway, soaring through clouds,
I'd climb each step, without making a sound.
I’d arrive at the door of glimmering gold,
I’d slip through unnoticed, not stirring a soul.
I’d gasp at its beauty, at its rivers and trees,
I’d stray from the paths, I’d hide among leaves.
I’d tiptoe unseen, under sun and sky blue,
I’d search every corner until I found you.
I’d capture a tear, catch a glimpse of your hair,
As you danced and you twirled, without any care.
You’d smile and you’d laugh, like a bird you’d be free,
I’d try not to cry, you’re there without me.
I’d stay my hand from touching your face,
From calling your name, to feel your embrace.
You’d open your mouth and your voice would be pure,
I’d treasure the sound, no more pain you’d endure.
I’d stay ‘til the sunset, when I’d have to leave,
A pain in my heart, my spirit in grief.
I’d blow you a kiss, let it drift to the sky,
I’d whisper ‘I love you’ and bid you goodbye.
I'd pass through the door, I’d descend out of view,
Knowing that one day, some day, I’d again be with you.
“We healed each other,” Lexi said, without removing her attention from her husband. “We were both lost and knocked down, but we held on tight, and raised each other from the ashes. He brought me my rainbow, Elsie,” she huffed a loving laugh and said, “he brought me the stars.”
I didn’t know what that reference meant, but I could feel the magnitude of what he meant to her. Lexi slipped out of the car and I did too. I walked to the back gate, staying out of sight. I glanced back, seeing Austin, with his gang tattoos and intimidating stature, taking Lexi in his arms and pressing a soft kiss on her mouth.”
“You are the timid one, the gentle brother – inside and out. You are the one to carry his heart on his sleeve. You are the one who watches silently from afar and loves with all his soul.”
“Elsie … you can talk to me. You can open up to me. I swear, you are safe with me.”
“I want to kiss you,” he whispered, barely making a sound. “Real bad.”
I was shocked into stillness. Levi’s warm breath drifted over my face, and I found it in me to ask, “Why?”
Levi pushed closer to me, his breathing stuttered. “Because you’re you.”
“I’ve been lost, Elsie. Lost and drowning since I was a kid … Then I saw you. I saw you and you brought me back to me … Elsie, you brought me life.”
“I want it to be good. I don’t want to mess it up.”
“Because it’s you. And it’s me. Nothing means more to me in the world but this. But us.”
“It’s okay, kid,” Austin said quietly. “It’s okay to admit that you love her. It’s okay to open yourself up to allow yourself to love. You’ve fought getting close to anyone for too long. Elsie fucking smashed through that wall.”
“Why didn’t you dare it before? he asked harshly.
When I hadn’t a job? When I was starving? When I was just as I am now, as a man, as an artist, the same Martin Eden? That’s the question. I’ve been asking myself for many a day. My brain is the same old brain. And what is puzzling me is why they want me now. Surely they don’t want me for myself, for myself the same olf self they did not want. They must want me for something else, for something that is outside of me, for something that is not I. Shall I tell you what that something is? It is for the recognition I have recieved. That recognition is not I. Then again for the money I have earned and am earnin. But money is not I. And is it for the recognition and money, that you now want me?”
“Yes, my mind was wandering. I wished I were there with someone who could bring peace to my heart someone with whom I could spend a little time without being afraid that i would lose him the next day. With that reassurance, the time would pass more slowly. We could be silent for a while because we'd know we had the rest of our lives together for conversation. I wouldn't have to worry about serious matters, about difficult decisions and hard words.”
“Letting my heart instead of my hormones decide when to do it made what Aiden and I'd done special. And when we passed each other throughout the day, the looks we stole suddenly meant more. Everything meant more, because we both were risking it all and neither of us regretted that.”
“I think that if advice is good it's the best comfort.”
“I would always be a better hater of things and institutions than a lover of them.”
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