Breeana stepped out of his embrace and walked slowly along the beach. Moments later, she turned to him. “So, what you're saying is I'd never be able to see Carol or Dave again? I'd have to quit my job?”
Shock painted her face. Hurt and rejection ripped through Mel's gut.
What the hell was the matter with him? Did he want her to toss everything to be with him?
Yeah, shit. The selfish bastard in him did, which was ridiculous because even if she agreed, he'd still say no.
Mel exhaled a vicious curse. “Everything, Breeana. Everything you've worked for, everyone you love, gone.”
“Why does every goddamn thing have to have a price?”
“I don't want you giving up anything, especially for me. I would never ask that of you.”
She swiped at her tears, then rubbed her hands on her jeans. “I know you wouldn't. It's just I've worked so hard my whole life to get where I am today. And Carol is more than just a friend, she's like my sister. She's always been there for me. If it wasn't for her, I don't know how I would have made it through my parents' death, and to never see her again…”
Pain twisted his gut tighter. “Breeana, I'm not asking you to give up anything.”
Her gaze was fierce. “Do you want to know what scares the shit out of me?”
She hesitated. “I would leave everything. I'd leave it all behind because I…love you.”
Mel's heart ground to a halt when her softly spoken words filtered through his brain. An instant later, it jumped, slamming so hard against his ribs it felt like it was going to burst free.
She loved him? Did he hear correct?
He searched her face and saw it was true. She loved him.
Joy, love, sadness, and God help him, hope pumped through him, adding to the chaos of emotions he already felt.
He tilted her face up with a hand cupping her chin and kissed her hard. A kiss brimming with love, despair, and frustration over a situation that held no other solution than heartbreak. And he sensed she experienced the same whirlpool of feelings. He felt it in her kiss, in the desperate way she gripped his shirt, and he tasted it in her tears.
He pulled back and stared into her eyes. “I love you, Breeana. The short time we've known one another, you have become my everything. My heart. My breath…My life. I was dead inside before you.”
She crumpled against his chest and sobbed. “Oh God! I can't let you go. Don't ask me to.”
He wrapped his arms around her and held her tight. He couldn't speak. His throat choked up, strangling him, which was a good thing since he didn't trust what would come out. He was afraid the moment he opened his mouth, he'd start begging her to stay; to leave everything behind to remain at his side…forever. Only with her did he feel whole, alive and loved. He couldn't go back to the lonely state his life had been before her.
Mel snapped his teeth together, trapping the unspoken words even though his mind screamed to speak aloud what was in his heart.
But being a demon slayer was to be alone because of the danger it posed to anyone they loved. And because of the danger, seldom did they form strong emotional ties. They married and had children, doing so mainly to keep the species going. But marriages were usually not a love match. They were arranged for both the male and female. For the safety of their families, slayers oftentimes lived at the base where they served from.
The bottom line was a slayer couldn't afford the weakness love brought. It was a handicap the demons could and would use against them. And the way he felt about Breeana, she would be one huge weakness, a massive crack in his emotional armor. His love for her was a liability. One that could bring him to his knees.
But what was worse, he doubted she had really thought through what it truly meant to leave her former life. She could never go back, even if things didn't work out between them. She'd be stuck in his world for the rest of her days and she'd eventually come to despise him for it. That, he couldn't live with. The pain of a broken heart, sure, but her hatred, never.
Sighing, Mel dropped his face into her hair, breathing deep. “I don't want to let you go either, but there's no way around it.”
She rubbed her face against his chest, her sobs now just sporadic hiccups. “We're quite a pair, aren't we? We love each other, but we can't do anything about it.”
She stepped back from him and made her way down the beach. A few meters away, she stopped and turned to face him. A breeze blew her hair back. The pain and sadness he saw in her eyes shattered his heart.
When she spoke her voice was hoarse, but strong and free of any doubt. “I would leave it all for you—for us. I would miss Carol terribly, but my heart is going to wither up and die without you. And as for my job, I would chuck that without a second thought. I love you more than I ever thought it possible to love another living soul.” She bent her head and then faced the ocean. “I would leave it all but for one thing.”
He didn't answer, mainly because he couldn't. She glanced over her shoulder. “The only thing that's stopping me is I’ll grow old and you won't. I couldn't put either one of us through that.”
The words there is a way screamed through his mind so loud he was sure she would hear them.
“What did you just say?” she asked.
Startled, he wondered if she did hear his thoughts. “Nothing.”
“Bullshit! I heard you say, there is a way.”