I just want my Grace back.
I want the girl I found sending me dirty tweets on Saint Thomas. I want the girl who reluctantly gave in to my charms and let me boss her around. I want the girl who sent me to my knees and made me imagine what her fairy tale would look like with me in it.
I just want to move on.
I want to plan the future and think about kids and preschools and college funds. I want everything she ever wanted, and I want us to make it happen together.
But the media needs more from us. More dirt. More pain. More payment for past transgressions.
You can’t change the past. And even though Grace is ready to put her demons to bed, mine are just starting to get restless. Because when you’ve silenced as many enemies as I have over the years, you know that secret won’t stay buried forever.
“Why am I not affected by this, Vaughn? Why doesn’t it bother me that three days ago I shot a man? I killed a man. I think that makes me sick. I’m a sick, sick person.”
“That doesn’t make you sick, Grace. That makes you strong.” He kisses me again and then stands up and walks out of the plunge pool. My body gets heavy and I immediately want nothing more than to get back in the water and hide underneath its soothing surface.
Vaughn walks us over to the edge of the river, grabbing a towel from the little cabana as he goes. He tosses it down on the concrete edge and then places me on top of it. My leg hurts a little now and my clothes are sticking to me. “Lift up your arms.”
I do as I’m told and he peels off the man-sized white t-shirt. My nipples are erect and hard, my breasts firm and taut. I look up at my husband and he’s shirtless too. I watch his fingers as he unbuttons his jeans, kicks off his shoes, and then drops his pants. It takes both hands to get the heavy wet denim to cooperate and when he’s finally standing there naked, he puts his arms out and says, “This is me.”
And then he reaches down for my hand, like he wants to pull me to my feet. I hesitate because of the pain it will take to stand up. But then I decide to trust him and place my hand in his.
He pulls me up and I manage to keep the weight off my bad leg and just balance on the good one. Vaughn holds me steady for a second, and then he takes my hand and places it on his thickly muscled bicep. “Hold tight,” he says.
And then his fingers unbutton my shorts and he tugs on them for several seconds, rocking the sopping wet fabric over my hips until they plop to the ground.
He steps back a little and I let go of his arm.
I put my arms out like he did and say, “This is me.”
I’m pulled back into an embrace and I notice everything about this moment.
The sun is warm. The wind floats past my wet body, making it cool. There’s a bird singing a sweet song on a branch above our heads.
His heart beats fast. Mine beats faster.
His lips touch my ear so softly I shudder.
“This,” he says, “is us.”
In The Series
JA Huss is the author of the Amazon bestselling Rook and Ronin series, the epic science fiction I Am Just Junco series, and hundreds of kid-friendly science books in subjects such as biology, physics, anatomy and physiology, astronomy, and forensics. She has an undergraduate degree in equine science and a master’s degree in forensic toxicology. She has never taken a creative writing class and she hopes she never will.