Andrea waited until he was alone and then she went over to him. He stood looking down at the grave, his face pale. Her heart was heavy and she wanted so much to put her arms around him. He looked up when she was standing beside him. She didn’t say anything. Words were not necessary. The expression on her face adequately conveyed her sympathy. He reached for her hand and drew her closer to his side. “Stay with me for a while,” he said, his eyes filled with pain. He and his father had been close. They had been there for each other since his mother died when he was six. Now, both of them were gone.
Andrea stood there with him, the tears silently rolling down her face and her hand clasped firmly in his. She would stay there with him for as long as he needed her to. She glanced at him, wondering if he had any idea of how much she love him and wanted to take away the pain he was feeling. She knew what it was like to lose a parent. It was devastating. She still missed her own father. She wished he had been alive when she met Liam. They would have gotten along very well. They were so similar in many ways.
She met Liam at a mutual friend’s barbecue and they hit it off. They became fast friends and spent a lot of time together. From the very beginning she had been wildly attracted to him and those feelings evolved into the love that burned in her heart now. She wasn’t sure how long she would be able to hide her feelings from him but their friendship meant the world to her so she did her best not to jeopardize it.
He turned to her now. “Thank you for being here,” he said.
She brushed the tears away from her cheeks. “Where else would I be?” she asked. “We’re friends for life, remember?”
His eyes were restless on her face. “Friends,” he repeated softly. “Andrea, what if–?” he started to say when a few of the other mourners joined them.
She reached up and kissed him on the cheek. “I’ll come by and see you later,” she promised.
He nodded and released her hand. A muscle throbbed along his jawline as he watched her walk away.
Andrea went home and after fixing herself a salad, she cleaned her flat. As she did her laundry, she wondered what he had been about to say before he was interrupted. He looked a bit odd when she said that they were friends for life. When I see him later, I will ask him, she decided.
Finally, she was done with her chores and it was time to head over to Liam’s place. She took a quick shower and left the flat. She stopped at the supermarket and picked up some groceries. She planned to fix him something to eat. When she got there, he was not in the house. She went to the kitchen and quickly unpacked the groceries. Then she went out of the back door leading to the beach where she knew she would find him. Her toes sank in the soft sand as she went down the embankment.
Liam was leaning against a tree, dressed in a white, knitted robe. His hair looked a bit damp. He had been swimming. He watched as she approached him, a curious expression on his face.
She went up to him, her eyes searching his face. How she longed to reach up and brush the hair from his forehead. Instead, she shoved her hands in the pockets of her capri. “How are you holding up?” she asked.
He shrugged. “As best as I can,” he said. “It will take some time to get used to not having him around, though.”
“I know,” she sighed. “It took a very long time for me to get over losing my father but time makes all the difference. And now I have my memories of him to keep me going. It will be the same for you but it will take some time. And, you’re not alone. I’m here for you.”
“Thank you, Andrea. Your being here means a lot to me.”
“I brought over some groceries. I’ll go and fix you something to eat.”
“No, don’t go,” he said, moving away from the tree. “Come for a walk along the beach with me.”
“All right,” she said and fell into step with him as he walked along the water’s edge. She gazed out at the swell of the waves, savoring the tangy salt air and the sensation of the wet sand oozing between her toes. The warmth of the sun felt good on her face. It was peaceful here. She felt as if they were the only two people in the world.
Liam stopped suddenly and turned to her, his expression serious. “Andrea, you and I have been friends for a very long time,” he said. “We have been through good times and bad.”
She looked up at him, wondering where this was leading. “Yes, we have.”
He ran his fingers through his hair as he struggled to find the words. “What if…what if I want us to be more than friends?”
She swallowed hard. “Is this what you started to say to me at the cemetery?” she asked.
He nodded. “For the longest while I have wanted to broach the subject but just never got around to it until this morning. When I looked up and saw you standing next to me, I knew I had to say something. I want to be more than a friend to you, Andrea. Right now, I am aching to take you in my arms and kiss you.”
She moved closer, her heart pounding and her eyes betraying her feelings. With a deep groan, Liam pulled her against him and kissed her. She clung to him as she surrendered to the emotions that were churning inside her. The sun bathed them in its golden light while the foamy water swirled around their ankles. It was a beautiful afternoon–the perfect setting for the two solitary figures who were embarking on a new chapter in their lives.