Love, Unwanted (Discovering Love #3)By: Ra Chael Ohara
My eyes widen when I see Phoenix take one of his hands from the handlebars. I’m just about ready to scream for him to put it back, but I’m struck mute when he rests his hand on my knee.
He softly strokes my thumb with his calloused thumb. Butterflies erupt in my stomach. When he gives my knee a gentle squeeze, all thoughts of telling him to put his hand back on the handle bar where it belongs disappear. I want his hand to stay right where it is.
I’ve constantly been back and forth whether or not I should fight my growing feelings for him. I always remind myself to shut them off or run from circumstances such as this one, where he makes me want things I know in my heart I’ll never have, but I don’t want to right now. I just want to live in this moment with Phoenix. I just want to make believe, for just this motorcycle ride or just tonight, that I can have this, that Phoenix Castle is the prince I’ve been waiting for my entire life.
“What is this place?” I ask in awe after Phoenix helps me off his bike. I mean, it’s obvious what I’m looking at. I just never expected any of the wishes on my list to lead to us staring at the remnants of an old, but stunning, stone castle.
“I stumbled on this place one night after a show. It’s beautiful,” he says. He takes my hand and guides us up a big, grass covered hill where the castle sits on top. From the top of the hill, the view and beauty of the castle and its surroundings is even more magnificent.
I realize, in this instant, just how much I’ve missed out by closing myself off from the real world and burying my head in books. My whole childhood, I read about the beauty of Ireland. I’m an adult now. I live in the country I dreamed of my entire life, and I’m completely taking it for granted.
“It is beautiful,” I agree, “but I don’t really understand what this has to do with my list of items.”
My stomach tightens when Phoenix gives me his half smile, the one I’m sure drives women crazy.
“Well…one of your items was to scream at the top of a mountain. I figure this castle would make a nice substitute.” I don’t answer verbally. I just look back at the castle and silently agree. This is a beautiful substitute.
I follow Phoenix to the door of the tower, but I stop following him as soon as I take my first step in. “Are you sure this safe?” I ask cautiously when I get my first glimpse at the crumbling stairs.
“Perfectly safe, birdie.”
He makes me go ahead of him. I can’t help but pause when I hear him mumble on my first step, “At least I hope so.” I look at him with an expression I’m sure expresses pure horror. His laugh echoes through the stairwell. “I’m joking, baby. Come on.”
I ignore the tightening in the pit of my stomach when he calls me baby. He grabs my hand and leads me up the stairs. After what feels like hours of climbing, my feet are throbbing because of my heels. I’m just about to call it quits when we reach the roof of the castle.
All thoughts of my aching feet cease when I see the beauty in front of me. “This is amazing,” I whisper in awe to myself as I walk closer to the edge of the castle roof. Unlike most days in Lishoy, the sun shines bright and the air is warm with an occasional cool breeze washing through.
The scenery is phenomenal. For miles, there are nothing but big, beautiful, green hills. In the distance, I see a big bay of almost crystal clear water; I’m shocked by its beauty. It’s one thing to read about this in books; it’s another to experience it.
“I can’t believe I wasted so much time.”
“What do you mean?” Phoenix asks. I jump when I hear his voice. I was so lost in my own head I forgot he was on this roof with me. I shake my head to clear my thoughts when I see him looking at me, waiting for the answer to his question.
“What do you mean by ‘you can’t believe you wasted so much time?’?”
“I’ve been in Ireland for years. When I was little, I made a promise to myself that if I ever came here, I would explore, try new things, and live. All I ever had growing up that counted as adventures was what I read in my books. I’ve wasted so much time being too scared to actually live that I’ve missed out on all of this beauty.”
Sadness is heavy in my voice and Phoenix, being Phoenix, picks up on it immediately. I take a calming breath when I feel him wrap his arm around my shoulders.
For a moment, neither one of us says anything. We just stare at the beauty in a comfortable silence. I’m used to silence. In fact, I even enjoy it, which is why it’s been so easy for me to close myself off from the world.
It’s being around people that makes me feel uncomfortable. I never know what to say or how to act. I’m just…awkward, but I don’t feel that way with Phoenix. I’ve never felt that way with him. Of course I still get tongue tied when he smiles or blush when he calls me baby, but I’ve always felt safe with him, which is something I’ve never felt with anyone before.
“You know what I think, birdie?” He finally says as he turns to me.