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Green swirled past her, many beautiful shades of red, yellow and blue intermixing in a whirl. She smiled and pressed her forehead against cool glass and breathed, a small foggy circle soon appearing.
“Rae, look.” A dark winding road met her vision. But soon, off to the sides beheld gorgeous rock, carved by God’s own hand. Rushing water fell and the sound of the roaring waters made her smile.
“I think so too.” She looked up at Hiroto, who held the steering wheel comfortably. He focused his attention on the road; better for her to look all she wanted. He looked ahead at the road. His hair was pulled back from his forehead and his cheeks were rosy. His jaw was relaxed but smooth and sharp. She glanced away before her eyes got to his lips. He looked so good wearing a flannel shirt, dark jeans and dark brown boots. So simplistic but so him. She sighed and turned to look out of the window again.
“Where are you taking me Man?” He chuckled next to her.
“I’m taking you on the best adventure of your life my dear.”
Little by little, step by step they had grown closer. Laughter filled her heart and his eyes. A new strength and a new bond had been birthed between them. Ebere simply returned to…Rae. Hiroto returned to… Roto. It had taken some time but it was so good to have him back.
“Rae?” She laid her head on his lap and looked up at him.
“Tell me something.”
“This feeling I have in my chest… this warmth. What is it?” She felt herself smile.
“Does it feel like a soft but big light inside of you? Somethin that takes over your being and leaves you unexplainably calm?” He nodded.
“Yes. What is it?” She sat up and pressed her forehead on his shoulder.
“That’s the peace of God Roto.”
“Where does it come from?” She nibbled on her lips for a bit before answering,
“To be honest… it’s somethin I think you can only experience once you have a relationship with His son Christ Jesus. It’s one of them unexplainable things. It feels wonderful don’t it?”He smiled and pulled her gently against him in a hug.
“There are so many questions I have… but… more than anything, I’m blessed to feel this peace with you.” He sighed against her curls. She closed her eyes and inhaled his scent.
The air was suddenly much cooler and she was immediately relieved. It was now mid August and still summery in conditions. The trees provided such shady and solace, the sunlight streaming through. She stepped out of the car and breathed in the clear air. She heard another car door close and smiled as he came around the car and stretched.
“I’m ready to eat.” He said with a pout, glancing at her out of one eye. She snort.
“I’m sure. You could eat the whole place down.”
“Ah, you too!” She giggled and poked his chest.
“Let’s go fore you start howlin like them wolves somewhere out here.” They headed toward the small diner across the street from their rented cabin. All the while, memories kept running through her mind bringing a smile to her face.
The rain poured outside and it pitter pattered as it hit the ground. She had just gotten her pajamas on when she heard a knock at the door. Scrunching her eyebrows together, she scurried to the front door and opened it to find Hiroto standing there in his business suit, drenched from head to toe.
“Can I come in?” She stepped aside and opened the door wider.
“Please.” He stepped in and took off his shoes. She lightly gripped her neck as she watched him step into her kitchen.
“Um… may I ask why you’re dripping wet?” He sighed but all too soon sneezed, his nose turning red.
“I’m sorry…I just… I didn’t know where else to go.” She nibbled on her lip.
“First, let’s get you outta that suit. I don’t have too many clothes that’ll fit you.” He smiled.
“Thank you.” She led him back to her bathroom and gave him a towel.
After a short while, he emerged in some of her extra baggy sweatpants. He had a small towel around his neck and gently fluffed his wet hair. She cleared her throat. None of her shirts would fit him so…
“I’m sorry I don’t have much else on…” She waved it off.
“You’re fine. Um.. come sit.” He came to sit on the floor in front of her.
“What’s up?” He sighed and gently placed his hand on top of his towel covered head.
“Everything is driving me crazy lately. The demands of my job are too much.”
“Your place is the only place I feel at peace… I didn’t think being alone would be too helpful.”
“Is that girl you came with playin a role in any of this?” He didn’t answer. She pursed her lips. Hm.
“I’ll take that as a yes.”
“Even so, you’re still with her.”
“I wanna know.”
“I don’t think we should talk about that right now…” She exhaled through her nostrils and sat back on the couch.
“You goin through all these changes. The question was simple. Are you still with her or not?” There was a pause before he answered.
“…Okay then…Yes.” She sighed and slowly stood up.
“What? I’m cool.” He watched her go to stand at the sink. She gripped the edge.
“I have no reason to be upset…”
“She doesn’t mean anything to me.”
“You just said you was with her so…. I’m confused..”
“I haven’t told her that it’s over as of yet.”
“And why is that?” She felt arms come around her shoulders.
“I’m…I’m not entirely sure.”
“She makin you scared to talk to her?”
“She’s not making me anything but stressed.”
“Well whose fault is that? You the one still not sayin anything.” He sighed against her.
“You’re right.” She was quiet for a little while biting her lips.
“So I’m still on the fence about this. You with chick but you not with chick.” She felt his lips press against the back of her neck.
“You’re cute when you’re jealous Rae.” She pursed her lips.
“I am not jealous.”
“Your reaction says otherwise.” She sucked her teeth.
“Don’t flatter yourself homie. Explain yourself.”
“I haven’t been in a relationship with that woman in over ten years. The reason why you already know.” Well then…The breath that whooshed out of her was loud enough that he heard and laughed softly against her skin.
“Relieved?”He chuckled and slowly let her go. She turned and crossed her arms.
“Shut up. If all this is the case, why you lettin her drive you up a wall?” He put his hands in his pockets and stepped away from her a bit.
“Silence…” He licked his lips.
“I wanted to give her a chance to find out the truth concerning our families herself.”
“What did she do with that opportunity?”
“She didn’t take it.”
“Hm.” She walked by him and sat down on the couch. She pat the cushion next to her. He slowly sat down.
“It sounds like you feel responsible for her.” He looked at her.
“I…I suppose in a way I do feel responsible.” She pulled her feet underneath her bottom and turned towards him.
“She in a lot of ways was a victim of her family as was I. I wanted to help her. However, I made it clear from the beginning that I wasn’t in love with her. And now she’s chosen something I can’t do anything about.”
“What has she chosen?”
“She’s chosen to let the jealousy of my feelings for you consume her.” She looked down.
“While you were jealous of her…she has been jealous of you too.” Her eyes found his and she swallowed.
“She’s chosen her way. And I’ve chosen mine. Now, I simply want to have my hands washed from the situation.”
“You should tell her that Hiroto. It ain’t nice to keep the woman waitin.”
“How much more can I tell her? I’ve spent ten years making it known. She refuses to see reason.” She nibbled on her lip.
“Maybe I should talk to her? Ya know woman to woman.” He snort.
“I’d be interested to see how that goes sweetheart.” She pursed her lips at his grin.
“Well you ain’t doin nothin about it. You over here in my space talkin bout you stressed.” To her surprise, he leaned over and pressed his cheek against her legs.
“I don’t know how to approach it.” Her fingers itched.
“Sometimes Roto you just gotta say it and not worry about the way it comes.”
“It don’t do nobody any good keepin it all to yourself and lettin it boil up. You gotta be direct and to the point.” He turned to bury his face into the cover.
“I’ve all of the above.”
“This heifer clingy huh?” He bust out laughing against her skin.
“Rae…did you just call her a cow?” She pursed her lips.
“Sure did. Shoo, seems like she can’t take a darn hint. You been tellin this girl this for ten years and she still tryna hold on?”
“Now you see my frustration.”
“Put me on the phone with her, I’ll make it nice and clear for her. She got you livin stressed. Ain’t nobody got no time for that. She gotta go Roto.” His lips formed a smile.
“Is this coming from a friend or a woman who is in love and slightly jealous?” She wanted to trace his broad shoulders with her fingertips but gently pressed them instead against the wet strands of his hair.
“…Is this a trick question?”
“It’s a simple one.” She exhaled slowly.
“I’m saying it as both.”
“Ah.” She pushed at his shoulder.
“Look dude…” He lifted suddenly and the gaze was deep.
“I’m grateful to have both giving me advice.” She felt her cheeks grew warm. Well…
“You’re welcome.” He licked his lips and slowly leaned back away from her.
“I want to give you something.” He got up and went into his briefcase that sat out to dry by the door. He came back with a small narrow vertical envelope.
“Here.” She blinked at it as it rested in his hand.
“What is it?”
“Take it.” She slowly reached out and took it.
“Promise me you won’t read it yet.”
That same envelope was currently pressed against her chest. She glanced towards the bathroom where Roto was taking a shower. She had been literally prying her fingers off of it the entire time he had been in there. She had promised him she wouldn’t read it yet. But when was that yet gon come? She forced herself to lay it flat against her things and with a heavy sigh began to prepare herself for her bathroom turn.
It had been a couple days since he had brought her to Hocking Hills, a beautiful hiking spot. She’d never traveled to Ohio before but she could see why he insisted on coming back. It was lush greenery, naturally carved mountains and rock and a plethora of fresh water falls aplenty. When he had asked her to come with him, she had been a bit nervous. The two of them… together… alone… in one big ol cabin. But by the grace of God, the Holy Spirit and maturity they both had kept their hormones in check. Smiling proudly, she felt her eyebrow twitch as she glanced at the letter. Why did she feel like some secret was all over the paper inside? It was a typical Japanese letter envelope so she knew it was a letter. What did it say she wondered?
The door opened and Roto stepped out in some comfortable clothes. With a smile, he nodded his head towards the bathroom.
“All yours.” She swallowed with a tight smile. Ask him about the letter….
“Hm?” He asked stepping into the main room, drying his wet hair with a small white towel.
“About that letter you gave me…”
“Mmhm…” She blinked and watched him as he came to his suitcase. He wasn’t fazed. Like he knew she hadn’t read it. Pursing her lips, she spoke.
“When is that yet gon come?” He chuckled.
“You want to read it so badly don’t you?” He asked, looking up at her.
“What do you think?” She grit out in between her teeth. He got up and slowly ruffled her curls.
“You can read it Rae. Feel free.”
“It’s the right time to read it.”
“Oh, is it?”
“Yeah. Enjoy.” He said, leaving her in the room. She glanced at it and nibbled her lips. Okay after she showered…. then… then she would. Grabbing her towel and toiletries, she went into the bathroom.
The early sunlight streamed in through the bright and airy windows making her smile. She sighed as he came to the front door and stood up. They were going to go on their first hike of their excursion this morning.
“Ready.” They headed out and drove over to the hiking area not too far from their cabin. As he put the car in park, he looked over at her as she put some lip balm on her lips.
“Thank you for coming with me.” She closed the small mirror in the visor and blushed, a small smile on her face.
“Are you hungry? Thirsty? We’ll probably be out here for quite a few hours.”
“While you were sleep, I made some lunch for us.” He blinked.
“Yeah. Peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, granola, jerky you name it.”
“Wow. Ah, thanks!”
“Couldn’t have us starve outchea.” He grinned.
“I’ve brought a lot of water and gatorade for us so we don’t dehydrate.” He spoke before slowly opening the door.
“Okay sounds good.” She balled her lips once more and got out of the car.
“Let’s drink some water before we start.” He said, handing her a bottle.
“Okay.” Once done, he grabbed their lunches and water put in a backpack and put it over his shoulders.
“Is it too heavy?”
“It’s okay. Come on. Let’s go.” As they started to walk towards the trail known as Old Man’s Cave, the sun broke through the morning clouds and shined brightly. Excitement traveled through her and she took a deep breath of the air. Let’s go.
Her legs burned as she trekked up the trail, sweat dripping from her forehead. The sun by now was blazing bright and hot but down where they were it was cool and shady.
To the love of my life, Ebere Marshall:
She took in the deep crisp air and closed her eyes as she came to stop, taking in the swirling green of the trees.
There is so much I can say about you…
“Are you all right?”
We’ve been through quite a lot haven’t we? But through it all, we were able to meet. Through it all, I was able to fall in love with you. You gave me a glimpse of who you saw me to be… underneath all of the ugly scarring. For that, I can’t thank you enough.
She opened her eyes and set them on the man in front of her, his expression full of concern. He reached up and pushed his hair which had grown wet away from his face. His forehead shone with perspiration.
I am deeply sorry that I hurt you Rae. I wasn’t ready to fully love you like you deserve. We’ve both made many mistakes throughout our knowing each other. A lot of those mistakes were made out of pain. I was hurting. You were hurting. We needed to be apart. But now, I think that it’s time that the love between us heals us both completely.
“You look all worried.” She mused a smile on her face. He snort as he opened his bottle and took a nice long swig of his water before handing it to her. Looking down, she saw that hers was all gone.
“You need to drink something sweetheart.” She nodded and took his bottle and gently pressed it against her lips.
I know somewhere in the back of your mind you wonder…will I hurt you again? While I can’t promise that we won’t fight or disagree about things, I can give you my word that I shall never hurt you again to the degree I did before. I’ve learned my lesson and I’m not willing to make another mistake as grave as that one. Give me a chance to make things right. Let’s work through it together. Let’s build something new.
She drank as much as she could before wiping her mouth with the back of her hand. She slowly approached him and pressed the bottle into his chest, a smile on her face.
“Thanks.” His cheeks grew red but he cleared his throat and nodded.
“It feels good down here don’t it?” She asked, looking away from him. She could feel his eyes staring at her.
“Why don’t we try something else? Go a little higher up?”
“How high?” She pointed to a trail a little ways up above their head, the forms of people shuffling in and out of the trees visible.
“That high.” Finally he turned his eyes from her up to where her finger pointed.
“Feeling adventurous are we?” He said with a grin.
“I think we can do it. Don’t you?”
“Mm.” She watched as he put his bottle away and to his surprise, she slowly slid her fingers through his.
“Let’s go.” His expression was tender.
I don’t think I will fully be able to express just what you mean to me. Words and I are still getting used to one another.
His fingers gripped hers tighter as they ascended up the mountain and he glanced back at her along the way.
“I’m fine Roto. Keep goin.”
I don’t know how you feel… about this. About us. But I believe in you Rae. I believe in us.
The shade of the trees was almost playful in the way it would hide and reappear. Sometimes, the sun would hit them and blind them with light. And then as they made their way further along the path, it would come out from the tree and clothe them with relief and coolness.
With that belief, when I return to New York…I will pursue you full-heartedly.
The smell of water hit her nose and she pulled her hand away from his.
“Roto you see any water?” He went up ahead as they were approaching a bend in the trail.
“Yes. Come look.” She ran up beside him and as the wind picked up, she gently pressed her body against his. Below them, water stretched back as far as the eye could see and the shades of deep to light blue mesmerized her.
I am not sure how long you need until you are ready to let me back into your heart.
She looked up into his eyes and felt her heart beat faster.
“Are you ready to continue?” Mouth dry, she smiled and nodded.
But, you are the only woman I want. So, if need be… I will wait.
“What time is it?” She asked, having gone up a bit ahead of him. He looked down at his watch.
“It’s 2:33 pm.”
“Dag. We been out here all day.”
“I knew we would be.”
“It’s so magical up here Roto. It feels like we’re on top of the world.” He laughed gently as he glanced up at her, who walked backwards ahead of him.
“It does doesn’t it?” She tilt her head back and let the lukewarm breeze drift across her neck.
“Yeah. I wanna see what else is up here…”
“Rae… wait for me.”
“Do you think we’re the only ones up here now? It’s kinda quiet.”
If I have you then I have everything.
“Thank you for bringing me with you Roto. It means a lot that you would invite me.” He was making his way closer and closer to her and she grinned, purposely keeping her distance. “Don’t thank me. It’s something I wanted to share with you.” Something special.
For now, this letter shall be my affirmation.
She continued to step back, further and further, the smell of the water growing closer and closer. The wind drifted by her and she smiled. She wanted to stay up here forever. With him.
Let’s put all of our fears, worries and hurts behind us. I’m ready when you are.
“Yeah yeah. I ain’t gon go nowhere.”
Don’t feel as though you have to carry the world on your shoulders…You’re not alone anymore.
Her feet kept going backwards as he kept forward. Would he catch her?
“You’re doing this on purpose Rae.”
“I want you to catch me.” He frowned.
“That won’t be hard to do I assure you.”
When you get tired, I’ll carry you. When you get frustrated, I’ll listen.
She giggled and stepped backwards once more before feeling her legs grow wobbly. Sooner than she had liked, he dashed in front of her, his arms tightly around her waist. She turned to look down and her eyes grew wide.They were standing on the edge of the trail. Nothing was below but rock and water.
When you need someone to comfort you, I’ll wrap my arms around you. I’ll defend and protect you.
“You are playing entirely too much.” He said, his voice chastising.
“S-sorry.” He sighed.
“Step gingerly towards me.” He took his hands off of her waist and reached up to grip her hands.
I’ll cherish you all the days of my life and provide the best way I can.
As she began to take a step, she felt the ground suddenly crumble beneath her and she screamed as gravity pulled her down. She heard him grunt as he was pulled forward and hit the ground. She gripped his hands, her body dangling off of the side of the trail.
“Oh my God…. Hiroto!” He tightened his jaw and inhaled sharply through his nostrils as he tried to grab more of her.
“It’ll be okay. Just breathe. Try to see if you can touch anything with your feet.”
“It’s nothin but air.”
“That’s all right. I’m going to pull you up.” He quickly glanced behind him and brought his eyes back to hers.
“Move your hands up my arms slowly.”
“I’ll pull you down.”
“Rae. Just do what I’m asking. Please.” She licked her lips and squeezed her eyes shut tight.
“I’m scared to move my hands…”
“Nice and slow.” She felt a rush of nausea hit her in the stomach and swallowed. She slowly took her hand off of his and yelped as her body swung to the side. She reached up and tightly grasped his forearm. Taking a deep breath, she moved her other hand up to grasp his lower wrist. He tightly held on to her.
“Okay. Good.” She felt tears come to her eyes. The fact that she couldn’t feel anything underneath her feet was frightening her. She knew they were considerably elevated and the only thing she could see in her mind was the drop… the fall.
If you’ll let me.
“Hiroto…my fingers gettin tired.” She felt guilt in the pit of her stomach. Her childish playing had gotten them in this mess. His face was focused but she could see the beads of sweat on his forehead and hairline, caused she was sure by him trying to hold her up.
“Just hold on. I won’t let you fall.”
“Let me pull you up. Okay?” His calm tone was firm. But no matter how much he tried, she didn’t get any higher than where she was. Five more minutes in, his arms were shaking with fatigue but he held on to her wrists. It hurt her to see him struggling.
“Roto…. I’m gon fall…” She took a breath and closed her eyes. She would just do her best…. and swim…
“I won’t let you go Rae.”
“You’re tired. You can’t hold me forever.”
“Yes I can.”
“No you-” She shut her mouth as he suddenly started to move his body closer to hers.
“What are you doing?”
“If you go into the water I go into the water too.”
“Don’t…don’t be stupid!! Now is not the time for some Titanic stuff!”
“You’re not hearing me Rae. I’m not letting you go. We’re going together.” Suddenly, tears fell down her cheeks and she gripped his hands as if to say thank you.
“Hiroto-” Gravity pulled her body down in the split of a second, leaving her no time to finish her sentence. As she began to fall, she pulled his body down with her and the look on his face was calm. Unafraid. The wind grew thin and they fell faster than the speed of light it seemed. She could do nothing but hold on to him, the calmness all over him perplexing her. How was he so calm when they were falling into the earth? As the water grew closer and closer she felt herself begin to panic.
“DON’T LET GO!” Crisp and sharp, the water crashed into them and they dove underneath the waves. She could see him in a blurry haze and tried to pull him closer. But the current was strong… too strong. Her fingers were ripped away from his and she felt the current pull her further and further away from him. NO! A wave of fear shot through her and she shut her eyes tight trying not to inhale. Soon, fatigue got the best of her and blackness covered her. Before it closed around her, she remembered thinking… I love you….Roto…
A/N: Hey beloveds!! It's been a while!!! Y'all so much has happened and through it all I am still pushing and pressing by the Grace of God!!! I wrote this in the midst of workload so if it feels different or out of place pardon me! I hope that it doesn't! :) How have you been??? Hangin in there? :D Prayers for you reader! Prayers that you make it through whatever you goin through!! :) Now, to the chapter!
Finally Rae and Roto are backkkkkkkkkk!!!!!!!!!!!! I had this scene in my head for a while and couldn't wait to get here haha. :) Of course Rae's playin got them in trouble but I think it's cute that even still, they were together! It's beautiful to see Rae so carefree with Roto once again to where she can freely play and be her! :D Their friendship has blossomed and grew into something special... and unique from what it was before I think. A new level of closeness and bond! :) I love the flashbacks haha and I ask you guys this: what y'all think gon happen next chapter??? I tried to keep it realistic, something I think could happen given a weak patch of ground lol.
Welp, I gotta go beloveds but please comment and leave your thoughts! I love you guys! Take care!!! God bless! Till next time,
Sunray bright and yellow, high in the sky!
Be set free by the renewing of your mind!