**As promised, the conclusion to Nathan and Jesse’s story! You can read part 1 here, if you missed it last week. Ivan and I decided to break it into two parts, so last week you saw my guys break up. And this week, they make up. Enjoy!**
I knew about seven seconds after I’d done it, that breaking up with Nathan was the wrong thing to do. I mean, I’d done it for all the right reasons. As much as we loved each other, as good as the past two years had been, I knew we couldn’t go on the way we were. I couldn’t. I was worried and scared all the time, convinced I’d get the call that he was dead. Missing him so hard when he was gone that I could barely function. I fell apart when he was gone, and I just couldn’t keep doing that to myself. It wasn’t healthy
Turns out saying goodbye didn’t mean I stopped missing him horribly and worrying incessantly. Seems like something I should have realized sooner.
But I still stayed away. Didn’t call. Didn’t worry about the things of mine that had gravitated over to his place and were living in his closest and drawers and cabinets. A week passed. Then two. And every day I had to remind myself I wasn’t Nathan’s anymore, that I’d ended things for a very good reason. That the hurt would lessen over time and we’d both move on. And I wouldn’t spend every waking minute, and even most of the sleeping ones, missing and worrying about him.
“How are you still moping? You broke up with him, Jesse.” Rhea’s voice cut through the sadness on the fifteenth day.
I scowled at my sister and pulled the throw blanket up higher around my neck. “Doesn’t mean it wasn’t hard. Doesn’t mean it doesn’t hurt.”
I ignored her and she eventually went away. She didn’t get it. She’d never been in love like I’d been with Nathan. Still was. And it would take a long time to move past it. There’d always be a Nathan-shaped hole in my heart, no matter what I did or who I loved in the future.
On day twenty-two, I had a revelation. It happened when I finally dragged myself out of bed and attempted to make coffee, which was never as good as what Nathan could brew. The TV was on in the background, and the news was reporting shots fired and officers down the night before. My knees nearly gave out as I scrambled into the living room, scrabbling for the remote to turn up the volume. My heart didn’t even settle after it was reported that the officer was from the police force, had only been grazed, and was expected to make a full and complete recovery. But in that moment, I knew without a doubt that being with Nathan and knowing what was going on made the worrying about him so much easier. The not knowing was infinitely worse.
I sat on the couch, waiting for my pulse to slow to somewhere back toward normal. What had I been thinking? I’d been selfish to leave him. Because I knew the man who’d been sharing my life for the past two years. And I’d made our separation all about me. In the process, I’d forgotten about the things Nathan needed. How he felt grounded when he got to come home to me. How I helped him leave his work at work, and just enjoy his life. And even leaving that out of it, we were just plain good for each other. We learned how to take care of each other over the years. We laughed, we talked, we loved. All the good was so very good. And I’d thrown it away.
I couldn’t get my phone out fast enough. But I didn’t call Nathan. Instead, I dialed his partner, the marshal who’d had Nathan’s back for a decade.
“What do you want?” Lou’s gruff voice, even filled with venom, made me smile. Nathan’s best friend, and my friend as well. I knew he’d take Nathan’s side, had wanted him to, but I loved to hear it anyway.
“Is he home? You’re not on assignment?”
Lou growled. “Why in the fuck should I tell you? You broke his heart, you piece of crap.”
“And I was wrong. And I want to fix it.” I didn’t bother to tell him I was hurting too. He knew it. But he didn’t care.
“Jesse, I swear to Christ…”
“Will he talk to me, Lou? If I go over there, will he shoot me down and shut me out? I was wrong. And I don’t know if he’ll forgive me but I need to try.”
A beat of silence, and then he huffed. “Why?”
“Because I love him and need him. Because he needs me. We need each other and our lives are better with each other. If we can get over what I did, that is.” I dragged in a breath, my heart constricting at the thought, and it took me long moments to realize Lou hadn’t responded. “Lou? Will he talk to me?”
“Yeah,” was the gruff response. “But this is your one chance.”
I thought I would be nervous when I finally got to Nathan’s, like when I’d shown up to end things, but I wasn’t. Instead, I was determined and filled with peace. This was my man, and I knew I was wrong. I would take full responsibility and lay my heart at his feet. He might kick it away, stomp on it, but I didn’t think so. And I’d spend however long it took to make it up to him, show him I’d never do it again.
Nathan opened the door about sixty seconds after I knocked. He looked haggard, beaten down, but his face lit up for a split second when he saw him, before quickly shutting down into his”cop face.” It broke my heart to see it, but I’d done that to him, made him look at me like that, and I would do anything in my power to fix it.
“You here for your stuff?”
“No.” I took a deep breath. I’d rather have done this inside, but I hadn’t earned that right. If I had to do this on his porch where his nosy neighbors could see, then so be it. “I’m here to beg forgiveness and tell you I was wrong and I miss you and I love you more than life. I made a mistake. And if you’ll have me back, forgive what I did, I’ll spend the rest of my life showing you.”
For a moment, Nathan didn’t say anything. His posture softened just a little, I thought. His gaze roamed all over my face, taking me in, assessing whether or not I was telling the truth, I was sure. I stood there, trying not to fidget, letting him look.
Eventually, he took a breath. “What about what you said? The worry and fear and all that. It’s valid, bab–Jesse. And if you can’t–”
“It’s a million times harder to worry about you and not know what’s going on.” I took a chance and moved a few steps closer. Nathan dropped his arms to rest at his sides, but he didn’t move otherwise. “When I know, when you keep me in the loop, I’m scared and worried. And miss you like crazy. But not knowing where you are or what you’re doing, the worry is so bad it’s debilitating. I’d rather love you and worry about you, and have you with me, then be terrified without you.”
He didn’t say anything to that either, but I knew he was listening. His gaze was fixed on mine, and I could see the warmth in his eyes that wasn’t there before. I took it as a good sign, and gave him a tentative smile.
“I love you.”
I got a ghost of a smile at that. “I didn’t doubt that for a second.”
My smile grew. “And I know I hurt you, and it’ll be a while before you can trust me completely again. But I know you love me. Need me. Just as much as I need you. So if you think there’s a chance you can forgive me, then I’m begging you. Give me another–”
Nathan grabbed me and pulled me to him, fitting my body against his the way we always fit together. So perfectly. As his mouth came down on mine, I opened for him, savoring his flavor, loving his taste. Eventually, he pulled back, both of us needing to breathe. I hadn’t even realized he’d moved us into the house. But we were in his entryway, and I was reminded of that night three weeks ago when I’d broken both our hearts. It seemed fitting we’d make up here.
“I hoped,” he murmured against my skin, his lips on my throat. “I hoped if you took some time, you’d see it was wrong for us to be apart.”
“I should have talked to you,” I admitted, squeezing him tightly. “I don’t want you to change, or get a different job or anything. But if you knew how I was feeling, maybe we could have figured out some things to help.”
He shook me a little as he laughed. “You think? Damn, baby. Only thing I want is for you to be happy. I thought you were. Hearing you weren’t? Made me feel like I failed.”
“No, Nathan. It’s not…it wasn’t that at all.”
He nodded, and kissed me lightly, ending with a little nip to my lip. Then he grinned and dragged me into the kitchen. “We have things to work out. To talk about. To get us back to good. Solid and strong.”
“Definitely,” I agreed, gripping his fingers tightly.
Nathan opened the junk drawer and rummaged in the back, finally pulling out a jewelers box. My breath caught, and I thought back to the day he’d been so excited and insistent I come over, and I’d broken his heart. Had this been what he’d been planning? He held up the box, but didn’t open it. And a part of me was glad. I didn’t want to see. Yet.
“I want to work toward this.” Nathan’s voice was low and fervent. “And maybe we should both be on the same page before we assume things, hm?”
“Yes.” I had to choke back the emotion, because it threatened to overwhelm. “And yes. Same page. And working toward that. In the future.”
“In the future.”
I lunged at him and we kissed, sealing the deal. In a minute, I knew he’d ask to take me to bed and I’d go happily. As much as I regretted the past three weeks, what I’d done and why, it had also shown us both that we didn’t want to be apart. We needed to communicate better if we wanted to get to the point where that jewelry came into play.
But as Nathan held me tight, and my body relaxed into his, I had no idea we would get there.