Long Cold Winter: Chapter Thirty-Three

Matt awoke with a start. He looked around. Amanda lay sleeping next to him, but awoke when he sat up. She blink as he looked aimlessly, as if seeking something, around the room. She sat up.

She put her arm around him. “What is it, Honey? Having nightmares again?”

He drew her close and nodded. “I was back at her bedside. I could feel my heart being torn from my chest all over again as I promised her to move on. But I didn’t. Not then.” Tears began to form in his eyes. “I didn’t think I could. For over ten years, I thought my world had come to an end. I carried on only because my kids needed me.”

She smiled. “They still need you. So do I. Maybe she knew that. Maybe she knew that you wouldn’t be able to move on until the right person came along.”

He rubbed her bare arm. “I just wish this pain would go away.”

She laid her head on his chest. “The hurt will subside, but never go away. It is a part of you. You just have to learn to live with it. Deal honestly with it. Not let it define who you are and what you do.”

he looked down at her in wonder. “You sound as if you have been there.”

She nodded. “I have. I told you that I have never been in a relationship, but that isn’t quite true. My first taste of romance and love was when I was fourteen. He was the same age as I and we thought it would last forever. We never got intimate, but our bond was still strong and nearly unbreakable. But it all came crashing in after our sixteenth birthdays.

“One winter night, shortly after I turned sixteen, he was coming to pick me up for a date. They say he hit a patch of black ice. But whatever he did, he ended up rolling his new car. He was thrown out, because he was not wearing a seat belt, and ended up under the car. By the time they reached him, he had already died.

“I felt a part of me die that night and I swore I would never love again. But you changed all that.”

She looked up at his face. It was difficult to tell how he felt. She had to laugh. He tried to be so stoic in his reaction, but he was evidently touched by her confession.

He opened his eyes. A tear ran down his cheek. “She saved me from myself. Just as you are now. Falling in love frightens me. I am afraid to lose again. But I want this. I want it in the worst way. I need it.”

She smiled. “I’m scared too, My Love. Let’s be scared together. Maybe we can banish the fear.”

He kissed her passionately. “What would I do without you? I know we haven’t been together more than a couple of days, but this feels right. It feels good. I can’t imagine life without you.”

She closed her eyes and listened to his heart. “I can’t either.” His heart beat so strong. So constant. So self-assured.

He slid back down in the bed, pulling her with him. “Let’s finish this night. Shall we? Tomorrow is another day.”

She smiled. “What about a snack and some milk first?”

He smiled over at her. “Sure! Why not?” they both rose and threw on a robe. “Hurry! We don’t want anyone to know we’ve been up!”

She giggled. “They’re going to know when they see the twin glasses in the sink in the morning.”

He wrapped her in his arms. “Then we’ll hurry so that we don’t wake anyone. Let ’em know we’ve been up. Who cares?”

They made their way down the stairway and to the kitchen. He opened the fridge to get the milk. “Ice cream or cookies?”

She sat down at the island. “How about both? with chocolate syrup. Who cares if it is all fattening? We shouldn’t worry about that.”

He looked at her lovingly. “Then both it shall be. smothered in chocolate syrup.” He opened the cabinet. “Tuille or ginger snaps?”

She pondered the question. “Do you have any chocolate chip and peanut butter?”

He cocked his head sideways in mock wonder. “No, but I made some peanut butter chocolate chip cookies a couple days ago. Will they do?”

She rubbed her hands together eagerly. “Perfectly. And I do love a man who knows how to cook. So creative.”

He got out two small bowls and dished up some of his homemade vanilla-mint ice cream, then topped it with three peanut butter chocolate chip cookies, followed by chocolate syrup. He opened a drawer and got two teaspoons. slipping them into the bowl with the ice cream, he carried them to the island. Returning to the fridge and got the milk, then opened and reached into a cabinet for two glasses. Pouring the milk, he replaced the jug in the refrigerator, then carried the glasses over to the island.

She sat waiting for him to join her. He looked at her. “You going to eat that before it melts?”

She leaned over and kissed him on the cheek. “I was waiting for you, Dear.”

He dipped his spoon into the ice cream and then held it before her, wanting to feed her. She smiled and opened her mouth, accepting the spoonful of ice cream. She did the same. Yes, she could definitely live for this. And she could tell that he could too.

They spent nearly an hour with their snack. Still, they left no mess. Except the bowls, spoons and glasses in the sink. Quietly, they made their way back up to the bedroom. Soon, they were back in bed. She lay awake just long enough to watch him fade back to sleep.

She cuddled up against him and began fading back into sleep herself. She reached behind herself and pulled his arm around her as he curled up behind her. Tomorrow was going to be the first day of their healing. Together.

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