Glancing covertly towards Kane’s arm, I try to catch a quick peek at his new tattoos. As far as I can tell, there are two additional ones, both in solid black ink to match his other tribal markings. Currently, he is playing pool with Reed as Eli, Molly, and I watch from a distance; he is easy on the eyes with his built physique.
Bending over to take a jab at the ball, he angles his arm around the pool-stick, making his new tattoos visible. I can see the first one clearly, an elaborate barren tree with branches stemming from a slim trunk with roots that swirl up and around. Inside the rounded circle, is the letter M in an italicized font. The entire design is etched in black ink, placed on the inside of his forearm, starting right below the elbow and ending towards the middle.
Reed’s curse word yanks me out of my reverie and I look at them both, revealing Kane smirking in Reed’s direction, as his shot evidently has banked into the corner pocket. Moving to align himself back up with the cue ball, his stance gives me a perfect view of his other tattoo on the top of his forearm. In fancy script, the words LIVE LIFE is spelled out in all black.
Reading it repeatedly in my mind, I know instantly why he chose it and the need for confirmation consumes me. We really haven’t had a moment alone since I walked into the kitchen this morning and noticed him sitting there at the table. Being surrounded by my friends and their loving support is beyond amazing, but some things can’t wait.
Moving away from my standing position against the wall, I stalk towards him. Thinking my mission is apparent only to me, I walk by Eli, hearing him say something to Molly regarding the look on my face. Whatever it is doesn’t matter at the moment, as I am only thinking of one thing. Zeroing in on the male bent slightly over the table, Kane’s back is toward me as he gears up to take another shot. My eyes take in his luscious backside, completely emptying my mind of coherent thought, but I quickly return to the task-at-hand.
Quietly stopping directly behind him, I reach out placing one hand on the center of his back while gripping the side of his bare waist, currently exposed between his shirt and jeans, with the other. Spreading my fingers wide, the warmth of his skin immediately warms me as my fingernails on my other hand rake up his back. With a quick intake of breath, he arches up, completely missing his shot as I bring my other hand to rest on the other side of his waist.
“What the…,” he starts to say while looking back, just as I lean forward to capture his mouth with mine. Swiping my tongue over his lips, I taste the cola that he has been sipping on and the sugary taste has me delving deeper for more. Slightly shifting my angle, I nudge him to open wider and as he does I dip my tongue in to roll against his. Never once leaving me, he turns his body to face mine, gripping my waist in return as he pulls me tighter towards him. Linking our arms around one another, we lose ourselves in the moment.
“For God’s sake, get a room.” Reed’s sarcastic comment comes from somewhere behind Kane.
“Shut up, Reed, and come kiss me like that,” Molly replies back.
“Yeah, Reed, shut up and come kiss me like that too.” Eli jokingly remarks.
“Sorry Eli, if I hit for the other team, you’d definitely be my first choice,” he playfully returns.
Joint laughter spreads through the room and my heart swells as the words LIVE LIFE echo’s through my thoughts. A huge grin starts as Kane and I continue to kiss, and in that moment, I am extremely happy that living my life is what I am able to do. Opening one eye, I see that Kane is open-eyed staring at me.
Detangling our tongues, he pulls back with one final soft kiss, whispering, “You made me miss my last shot.”
“Mmmm…yes, I did.” Licking the remnants of his taste from my lips, he closes his eyes at my actions and groans. Remembering my quest, I grab for his arm, turning it over to reveal the tree tattoo. Placing my index-finger at the base, I trace the outline until all that is left is the M initial. Looking up into his jade-green eyes, I simply say, “Matt.”
Nodding, he gazes down at me then directly at his tattoo. “One day, leafs may be added to this barren tree to show new life that will possibly live on from me. Hopefully, I will be able to pass all of mine and Matt’s good times down to my kids and his memory will live on through me.”
Turning his arm over, I repeat my actions and trace the ornate words, knowing they are meant for me. Glancing up, I clear my emotionally clogged throat and try to ask, but the words are lodged and refuse to come. Tears spring forth, taking all my willpower to hold them back. Blinking several times, I look towards him again and try to speak, but the only thing that passes in a squeaky voice is, “Me?”
Removing his arm from my grasp, he reaches up gathering my cheeks in both of his rough work-worn hands. He angles my head towards him so that I can’t turn from his steady gaze. “Yes. You. When you were in treatment and I was dealing with my own doubts, I still thought of you and the possibility of a future together. I knew that if we did end up here, I wanted something that would remind you every day to fight to live when you saw them. And if in the end we were not meant to be, it was a reminder of this beautiful girl that received another chance at life and that was all that truly mattered.”
Tears leak from both of my eyes, streaming down and through my watery gaze, I smile up at him. My heart yearns to tell him how I feel, but it all seems way too soon. Swallowing the words I long to say again, I reply instead, “I didn’t need a tattoo to remind me of it, just you.” Deep down, I realize the truth to my words, whispering back, “Only you.”
Our lips meld back together, as he crushes me to him, kissing me more deeply than ever before. Only seconds pass when voices invade our small universe, Molly’s being the loudest after an overly dramatic sigh.
“Lord have mercy, it is getting hot in here. I don’t think we are supposed to be staring, but I can NOT stop. I mean personally, I’m not all for public displays of affection, but this could make you want to go all ’voyeur’ up on somebody.”
Kane and I laugh while our mouths are still meshed together, ultimately ending our kiss. Turning towards my friends, we all burst out into laughter.