how to honeymoon alone

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This is chapter 21 (yes, that chapter) from How to Honeymoon Alone written from Phillip’s perspective. 

How to Honeymoon Alone

Map of Barbados

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phillip’s pov

“I love you,” Eden says.

I stare down at her, frozen in place. Something in my chest feels almost painfully alive at the words. “You do?” I ask.

“Yes.” Her voice is soft, and her eyes softer still. “It’s okay if you’re not there yet, or if you don’t want to say it. But I want you to know how I feel.”

Happiness makes my head dizzy. But I need to make sure it’s true first. “Really?”

She smiles. It’s a beautiful sight. “Yes, so much I don’t know what to do with it all. It’s taken me by surprise… but I love that, too.”

I shift her more firmly beneath me and kiss her. She tastes like home. “Eden,” I mutter. “Fuck.”

“It’s okay,” she says. “It’s fine. This doesn’t change anything.”

I rest my head against the warm skin of her neck. My heart is beating so fast I can hear my own pulse.

“It’s not that,” I say. Because it really isn’t. It’s the opposite. It’s the knowledge of how big this is, the two of us, and how important it is. I can’t mess this up. It would kill me.

It feels like the biggest thing I’ve ever experienced. The best thing.

I look down at her. Tousled hair. Warm, open eyes. Kissable lips. Achingly familiar and still so new.

“I love you too,” I say. “I have for much longer than I realized. It crept up on me, slow at first, and then so fast that I was deep in it before I knew.”

“You do?” she murmurs.

I nod and cup her face. The skin is warm beneath my hand. “Yes. I don’t think I’ve ever experienced this, or felt this much before.”

“Not like this,” she says.

“Not like this,” I agree. Not even close. “I know how bad it can hurt when things fall apart. And now? Feeling like this? I don’t think I could handle it, Eden. If I lost you.”

It feels like an understatement. But it’s the best I can do, with these feelings burning in my chest. Eden wraps her legs around me and rests her forehead against mine. I can feel her heart pounding.

“You won’t,” she murmurs.

“No?” I ask. Never leave.

“No. Besides, this, with you and me? It’s an adventure. And we’ve been on those before.”

It’s a normal Tuesday when everything suddenly stopped being normal. And it’s all thanks to the postcard waiting for me when I get home from work.

Not that it had been that normal before. Sure, I had the same colleagues, lived in the same apartment, and had the same routines as before Barbados. But there was something distinctly different about it all. I’d come back from the trip and seen it all in a new light. There was a before the trip and an after.

There’s also been a distinct lack of Eden everywhere I look. The only thing worse than her absence has been kicking myself for not getting her number.

It had been some stupid impulse to be chivalrous, to not push her for more than she was willing to give. Writing down my number in the postcard to her was the right thing, I’d told myself at the time.

She was grieving her past relationship. She’d said she wanted a fling. Well… let her be the one to decide if she wants more from me.

I’d hated my restraint the second I boarded the flight away from Barbados.

And now I’m staring at the postcard in my hand, at the softly rounded handwriting on the back, and I don’t see any digits. She hasn’t given me her number.

I read it once. I read it twice. And then a plan starts to form, one that’s not chivalrous at all. Because she had given me her address, and she’s invited me to Washington. Offered to show me around.

Hope is a sudden burning flame in my chest. I’d already applied for the Washington consulting case at the firm, twenty-two minutes after the email first arrived in my inbox.

Crazy, perhaps. Wild, yes. But nothing about the normalcy of Chicago has felt right, and I have the strongest suspicion that it’s all because of her.

I run my finger over her handwriting. You liked vacation me, I think. Let’s see if you’ll like the real me.

Because I’m already sure I’ll fall in love with the real her.

“We could do something to pass the time,” she says softly.

The waves beat against the shore in a soft, steady rhythm I barely notice. The sand beneath me is cool and the sky is wide with stars and the only thing I’m focusing on is the girl beside me.

“Hmm. Any ideas?” I ask.

“Um, there’s a lot of sand. We could build a sandcastle?” She’s joking, but her voice is a bit breathless.

I love how she thinks.

“We could,” I say. “But I haven’t done that in twenty years.”

“We’d probably disrupt the turtles, too,” she says.

“Yes, and we can’t have that.”

“No. Conservation is… important,”

she says.

It’s hard to focus on words when she’s so close. Her eyes are large in the darkness. “Mm-hmm.”

“Staying put is a safer bet,” she whispers.

I lean in closer. “Yes. Much.”

We stay there for a few seconds, close enough to almost kiss. My body feels tight with anticipation. I’ve wanted this for days. Thought about how it would be to finally kiss her. What she’d taste like.

I close the distance between us.

Her lips are warm. Soft. She moves against me like she wants this just as much and it’s better than I’d anticipated. Didn’t think that was possible.

Energy pulses through me. It increases in strength when her hand runs up my shoulder, coming to rest around my neck.

Fuck, she tastes good.

“Come here,” I mutter and shift her towards me. I wrap an arm around her waist and tug until she’s closer, until our bodies meet.

The kiss deepens, and I’m dimly aware that I could do this forever, that it might become a problem. Being this attracted to her and needing her so much.

I slide my hand up her cheek and into her thick, brown hair. I’ve wanted to touch it since I saw her the first night.

Her hand echoes mine and slides into my hair. A second later her nails scrape along my scalp and there’s a shot of pure energy down my body.

I groan against her lips. “Fuck, Eden,” I mutter. I pull her closer. “If I’d known…”

I would have kissed her much sooner. I wouldn’t have been able to help myself.

She laughs a little, a gentle break between kisses, and it makes me smile. I could do this all night. Feel her in my arms, revel in the sounds she makes, and kiss her until we’re both breathless.

“It’s happening! The first turtles are emerging!” someone calls. Eden breaks the kiss and we both turn to the excitement on the beach.

I’ve never liked turtles less.

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