*Companion piece to One and Only.
It was always there, as far as she knew. Her memory only put it back to about twelve years old when she first noticed it. As a little girl, she knew about the words on her shoulder-blade but she didn’t know the meaning until she was older.
That was what was written in an interesting scrawl on her shoulder-blade. She didn’t know what it meant, until her mother explained it. Her parents were soul mates. They met in college and been together ever since. Their words matched. Her mother’s was on her lower back, a place she hated by the way, You’re really pretty when you yell. It was the first thing her soul mate said to her after he accidentally hit the back of her car. She got out and said Are you blind!? and those words were printed on her father’s leg.
Neither one of them could truly tell her how it felt after they said their words to each other. Her parents couldn’t put it into words so she didn’t know what to expect. All of her life she heard people say “Seriously” in various ways, but none of them were the right one. She never had a feeling that she couldn’t explain. She had friends who found theirs, some in high school, which put a whole new meaning to the phrase “high school sweethearts”. She wasn’t jealous but she couldn’t help but wonder what would happen if she never found her soul mate. What if instead she fell in love with someone else whose words didn’t match hers? Would the words go away?
When she met Steve, they had a great conversation and hit it off right away. They talked more, spent more time together and she found herself forgetting and ignoring those words on her shoulder because as far as she was concerned, she found her soul mate. She loved Steve. He was a good man. Smart, had a stable job, a car and ambition that he pursued. Two years they dated, they often talked of moving in together and she barely thought of her words.
Every now and then, someone would say Seriously? and she would freeze thinking it was for her, but it never was. She moved on. Fate would not dictate to her who she had to love and who she could be with. No. She made her own future.
At least until she slammed into the body coming around the corner in the grocery store. She was looking for some goodies, she and Steve had a reservation for dinner and then a movie later. It was going to be a good night. But fate apparently had other plans.
Crap! She dropped her items. She scrambled to pick them up while glancing up to address the young man.
“Are you okay?”
Her shoulder tingled, like someone just barely caressed it. Her eyes widened as she looked at the guy who stumbled into the shelves behind him, her items forgotten. What…? His dark brown eyes snapped to her face and she couldn’t help but to stare. He was tall, his skin brown like coffee, hair cut short but she could see the curls. Her eyes couldn’t help but to look. He was well dressed even though he seemed to just be grabbing goodies himself. A nice shirt, with dark wash jeans, a jacket. He was handsome. He was perfect. She could feel it. It was him. It had to be. Now she understood why her parents couldn’t tell her what it felt like because it was like nothing she ever felt. How could she ever explain this?
She yanked herself out of her stupor. She had to. “Um…” he continued to stare. What should she say now? So, she moved closer and touched his arm to get his attention. “Hello?”
“Oh yeah! Sorry, yeah I’m good.”
Those dark brown eyes blinked rapidly as he seemed to get himself together. He wouldn’t stop staring though and she found herself…curious. She wasn’t uncomfortable but she wasn’t comfortable either.
“Are you sure? We hit each other pretty hard, you went back into the shelf.”
Her eyes flickered to the shelf behind him, though he hit it pretty hard, nothing too bad happened. Nothing that would cause a bad reaction from an employee.
“Yeah no, I mean, yeah. It hurt. But I’m good. Nothing I can’t handle.”
She smiled at his awkwardness. He seemed to be the type to not say much, he seemed to be someone who observed, which was clear due to how much he stared. But she couldn’t fall into this. Steve. If she was honest, she could have stared into those brown eyes all day, but… Steve. He was good. She told herself. He’s a good man. She thought of his face. His darker skin, bald head, which she always teased him about, his strong arms… Steve.
“Okay, well that’s good then.” She quickly grabbed her things and forced herself to walk away. She would run if she could. She couldn’t deal with this. Nope. She wouldn’t. Fate would not force her into anything, no matter how much her stomach may twist into knots, or how her heart feels like it’s aching. Nope.
“W-wait!” She froze. It was her words. He saw them. He had too. She didn’t even think to look for his words, because she knew. She felt him walk closer, he stood before her and she refused to look at him. If she looked at him, she would fall deeper and she didn’t want too.
“I can’t do this.” She said. She looked away. She couldn’t do this. Steve.
“What are you talking about?”
“You know what I’m talking about.” She could only muster a whisper.
“Can we at least talk about this?”
No. They couldn’t talk about it. What was there to say? Nothing. She made her own fate, she was with someone else. But she couldn’t help but to think of what would happen to him if she refused to accept this. Now that he knows, would he just be… alone? She shook her head.
“There’s nothing to talk about.”
“That’s not true and you know it.” She felt his fingers touch her skin, she tried not to shiver at the electricity that occurred from his touch. He lifted her chin and he made her face him. She could see it in his eyes that he wanted to talk. “We’re not required to get married right away.” MARRIED?? Now she really wanted to know all of his thoughts. “We don’t have to do anything now.” He released her. “I just want to talk.”
After a moment of silence. She couldn’t think of anything else to say that would refuse him. Besides, she wanted to talk too.
She went through the store to get the rest of her things. Now her mind wouldn’t stop buzzing. What happens now? Gosh. She was losing her mind. What was she going to do? Part of her hoped he went home. But he didn’t.
“Oh, you waited.”
He leaned against the bike rack near the entrance of the store. When she walked over, he pushed off and came towards her. She felt her entire body stiffen with anticipation.
“Yeah, I didn’t want to overwhelm you.”
“Well… can I see it?”
“Huh?” She arched an eyebrow. Come on. He obviously saw hers. “Oh! Yeah.” He pulled up his sleeve, and she could see the script on his forearm. That looked just like her handwriting. Is… does the words match the handwriting of the soul mate? She needed to see his handwriting.
“Wow. How many times have you heard that?”
If he only knew how many times she’s heard “Seriously?”
He laughed and pulled down his sleeve. He shook his head and it seemed like maybe he was trying to remember but it was a loaded question. He couldn’t possibly remember.
“Too many to even count.” Right, that makes sense. “I’m Michael by the way.”
It was perfect. Everything about him was perfect. She wanted to know how his arms could feel around her. No! Steve!
“Theo. Well, Theodora but Theo.”
He nodded and it got really awkward. Theo shuffled her feet, unsure of what to say next. Perhaps it was time to go. She needed to get back home to get ready for tonight. But he had something else to say.
“So, about this whole soul mark thing-“
“I have a boyfriend.”
It came out before she could stop herself. Steve’s name was lodged in her throat and she couldn’t not tell him… Michael, that she was already with someone. She loved him. Her thoughts were like a broken record today, she would not let fate tell her what to do. She felt bad for Michael but she loved Steve.
His eyes widened in shock but at the same time, she could see the resignation in his face.
They stood in silence, brown eyes staring into brown eyes. A connection between them that neither could truly explain or deny. What were they gonna do?