**Companion to One and Only and Falling Fast but probably should be read last.
How did he even get so lucky? He didn’t have an answer and he was sure that no one could answer that question for him either. He had the most beautiful girl in the world by his side, she loved him, regardless of the fact that fate said they were destined to be with another. That didn’t matter. The words printed on the inside of his arm didn’t matter. He found love on his own. She was beautiful.
He remembered the day he met her.
There was a used bookstore he liked to frequent. They often had great stuff in there for a cheap price, and he liked things that were good quality and cheap. He was looking at their book selection when he heard someone humming in the next stack. It was just humming, everyone could hum, at least in tune, but he still chanced a look. He acted like he was moving into the aisle to check out the shelves, but when he saw her, he was immediately taken.
There she was, with headphones in, her hair out in a curly afro, intensely reading a book. He could barely see the cover, but she was into it. Her head bobbing along to her music every now and then. Everything about her drew him in. He moved a little closer, hoping to see what she was reading; his hazel eyes shifted slightly to catch the title of the book. He couldn’t see the cover but he could just make out the title printed on the top of the page. A throner? Nice.
“Winter is coming.” He said aloud, moving a bit closer to her, enough where he wouldn’t freak her out, but enough for her to know that he spoke. She noticed him, and with an arched eyebrow turned her head towards him.
“I’m sorry, what?”
Um, maybe her headphones were too loud. He nodded towards the book in her hands.
“Winter is coming.”
She glanced at the book and it took her a minute before she laughed. It was a beautiful sound and he was already into her. Her brown eyes looked back to him, a twinkle in them… her smile though, wow.
“Yeah, it sure is. I can’t take it already.”
“You read the books?”
“No, not yet. I’m buying some of them today. I was reading the first chapter. I watch the show though.”
“Me too. This last season, man, it killed me.”
“I know right! I cannot believe they ended it with Jon’s death. I’m so upset right now.”
He watched her as she spoke about the show in an animated fashion. She was obviously very passionate about it and it showed, in her facial expression, in the movements of her hands and the speed of her words. He was locked into watching her talk. He could do that all day to be honest.
“I’m sorry, I didn’t mean to talk your head off like that.” She said with an awkward chuckle. She closed the book, and moved to lift a stack off the shelf. It was the second and third book of the series. He hadn’t read them before either, but he did have the first book on his desk. He’d been meaning to read it since the second season of the show. He was slacking. She was already ahead of him.
“No, it’s not that. I just never met anyone who loved the show like that.”
“Oh yeah. It’s great. I can’t wait to see how different it is from the book.”
They stood there and talked for a few minutes. He honestly lost track of time. It was interesting to say the least and he enjoyed talking with her. She was animated, opinionated and passionate. It was kind of funny at how easily they fell into this kind of easy conversation. He never really talked with a woman this way. He found himself wanting to keep in touch with her. He actually never wanted to leave her presence. She was mesmerizing.
Later, he asked if she wouldn’t mind joining him for a sno-cone. It would be his treat. He was ecstatic when she accepted. As they talked, he couldn’t help but notice the scrawl on her shoulder. Oh yeah. He always forgot about these damn things. He saw the beginning of the word or phrase. “Ser”. What was the first thing he said to her?
Winter is coming.
Damn. He wasn’t her soul mate. But they were perfect for each other. He could feel it. At least he felt something special. He had no idea how it would really feel when he finally met her, but this had to be close.
Yeah, he thought about that constantly. The day he met her. It was supposed to be a special night tonight. They were going to go to dinner and then a movie and just spend time together. They’d been talking of moving in together, well, he talked about it more than she did, he was ready for it but she always had a reason as to why they should wait.
He checked his watch. It’s been a while since she went out to get groceries. It’s almost been an hour. He hadn’t heard from her, and even when he called, she didn’t answer. Was everything okay?
Those words popped into his head. No. Surely she would have said something if someone said those words to her, at least to the point where it wasn’t just a regular question. But if he was honest, he already knew who his soul mate was. He met her. He was jogging and she was walking her dog. He watched as her dog spotted a squirrel and took off after it. The leash was yanked from her fingers. She called after her dog but he was quicker and went after the dog.
He managed to grab the leash, and calm the dog down. He always loved dogs and this stranger’s dog took to him immediately. She jogged up to them, her face scrunched in irritation.
“Cute dog.” He said with a grin, as the dog continued to lick his face and enjoy his rubs.
“That damn dog.” She said with a light laugh, kneeling down next to him to scratch behind her dog’s ears. That damn dog. It was his words, the ones on the inside of his arm. Shit. He looked at her and she stared back at him, the dog between them panting, probably with a pleased expression on his furry face.
No. No. No. NO! His insides twisted, it almost felt a little painful considering what he knew. There was a sharp intake of breath, but whose it was, he didn’t know. They just stared.
“It’s you.” She finally breathed out.
No, it’s not me. He wanted to say to her, but something inside stopped him. What was going on? After all this time, NOW? He’s with Theo. He loves Theo. They play video games together, most times she hogs the controller and he swears she cheats when they play Mario Kart. They watch Game of Thrones and Supernatural together. They go to the movies together. It’s Theo, even without their matching soul marks.
Her expression killed him because he knew, he knew he was going to shatter whatever fantasy her brain and heart cooked up.
“I’m sorry.” He said.
“What do you mean? It’s you.” He watched as she removed her shoe. Her sock followed and he recognized his own slanted handwriting on her foot. Cute dog. It was right there on her foot. He stood up. She followed. “Wait, please.”
“I can’t. Look, I know what this means but I have a girlfriend.” Her eyes widened and he turned away.
Electricity surged through his body when he felt her hand on his shoulder.
“I- I’ve been waiting for this my whole life. To find you. For you to find me and you’re telling me you’re going to ignore this?”
“Didn’t you hear me? I have a girlfriend and I love her.” He said firmly. As far as he knew, Theo hadn’t found her soul mate, nor did she ever mention the word on her shoulder. Theo was always determined to make her own way. She marched to the beat of her own drum and he admired that in her. He wanted to be like that. He needed to be like that.
He shrugged her hand from his shoulder and he started to walk away. He didn’t understand it. His parents warned him when he met Theo that this might not turn out very well. Soul mates were hard to ignore once found and though it’s happened before, though people never find their soul mates, it’s not impossible to be happy with someone else. They were still human after all.
“Please…at least take my number.” He could feel the worry in her voice. What would happen to her if he refuses to even acknowledge their connection? Would she give up? Especially since she’s been waiting for this forever. He hated to be a disappointment.
He found himself looking at her contact information in his phone.
Ebony James (704) 931- 8979
He never reached out to her; it was the only viable solution to keep himself from falling in love with her. He even refused to give her his number but for some reason, his mind wouldn’t let him stop thinking about Ebony. Why today of all days?
Steve jumped up from the couch hearing her voice come through the front door. He calmed himself down before casually walking into the kitchen where she was busy putting things away. He leaned on the bar counter watching her. Something was wrong. Something was off. She wasn’t buzzing with energy like usual. Instead she was reserved, something Theo never is.
“Hey, what took you so long. You were gone for nearly two hours.”
“Yeah. I got caught up.”
“Is everything okay?”
She stilled, her back to him, the door to the freezer open. Something was definitely wrong. The nagging feeling in his guilt continued to build and he felt like it wasn’t going to be good, whatever it was that she wanted to tell him.
“Theo.” Nothing. He could see the words on her shoulder. “Theodora.”
She reacted to hearing her full name. He heard a heavy sigh be released before she turned around. Her eyes held a weight in them, her energy was off, everything was wrong. But he knew… he knew what happened because he felt the same way when it happened to him. She was about to tell him but he didn’t want her too. He didn’t tell her when he met Ebony. He couldn’t.
But Theo, she would tell him. She told him everything.
“I met my soul mate today.”