The Air He Breathes: Chapter 44


I awakened to the sound of a lawnmower coming from the backyard. The sun was just waking, and there was no need for anyone to be cutting the grass at such a time. Walking toward my back porch, I looked at Tristan, who was cutting the grass around where the accident with Tanner had happened. My hand lay over my heart, and I moved down the steps, feeling the wet morning grass against my toes.

“What are you doing?” I asked.

He turned my way and shut off the lawnmower. “I didn’t want you to have to see this when you came out to the backyard. I didn’t want you to have to deal with what happened.” He reached into his jeans pocket and pulled out a coin. “Tanner dropped his coin… I mean, did you ever see this?” He tossed it my way.

“It’s a double-sided coin. It’s always heads.” I said, a bit shocked. “He never truly won the coin toss?”

“Never. I can’t believe I didn’t put the pieces together sooner. I can’t believe he was almost able to hurt you and Emma… I should’ve known something was off. I should’ve known…”

He’s my world. I wanted so much to overthink everything. I wanted to overthink him leaving us. I wanted to overthink his return. I wanted to doubt that he could ever be something that was mine, but my heart told my head to shut up. My heart told me to just allow myself to feel, to live in this moment in time, because all we had was the here and now, and in the blink of an eye, that could be taken away. I had to allow myself to cherish the man in front of me. “I love you,” I whispered, and his stormy eyes smiled in the saddest way as he slid his hands into his pockets.

“I don’t deserve that.”

Moving over to him, I wrapped my fingers around the back of his neck, pulling his lips closer to my lips. His hand fell to my lower back, and I jumped a little from the pain that shot through me. “Are you okay?” he asked.

I chuckled. “I’ve felt worse pain.” My lips lay against his, and I felt his breaths weaving in and out of his mouth. As I inhaled his breath, he exhaled mine. The morning sun was rising behind us, lighting up the grass with a light we both craved. “I love you,” I whispered again.

His forehead pressed against mine. “Lizzie…I need to prove to you that I’m not going to just run away again. I need to prove to you that I’m good enough for you and Emma.”

“Shut up, Tristan.”


“I said shut up. You saved my daughter’s life. You saved my life. You’re good enough. You’re our world.”

“I’m not going to stop loving you both, Lizzie. I promise you that for the rest of my life I am going to prove just how much I love you.”

My face brushed against his thick beard and my finger danced around his bottom lip. “Tristan?”


“Kiss me?”


And then he did.


Emma and I sat on the front porch of the house the next morning, drinking the tea and cocoa that Mr. Henson dropped off for us. When a car pulled up to our house, Emma screamed with excitement as it parked and the driver climbed out, and opened the back door. Zeus came sprinting out of the car and he headed straight to Emma.

“Zeus!” she shouted with the biggest smile ever. “You came back!” Zeus wagged his tail, excitement overtaking the both of them as he knocked Emma to the ground and covered her in kisses.

My heart smiled as I walked over to the two older people who just climbed out of the car. “Sorry about that,” I said, nodding toward Emma and Zeus. “It turns out they are old friends.”

Before I could say anything else, the older woman wrapped me tight into a hug. “Thank you,” she whispered. “Thank you.”

When she pulled away I smiled to the woman who was clearly Tristan’s mother. “He has your eyes. I remember when I first met him, I felt like there was something so familiar about him, and that was it. He has your eyes.”

“I don’t think we’ve properly met, I’m Mary and this is my husband, Kevin.”

“It’s so great to meet you both. I’m Elizabeth, and that’s my daughter, Emma.”

“She’s beautiful,” Kevin said. “She looks like you.”

“Really?” I disagreed. “I think she looks like her father.”

“Trust me, honey. She’s a mini you. Come on inside. Tristan said you remodeled his place and I would love you to show me around.” Mary winked. We walked inside with Emma and Zeus following behind us. “So did Tristan tell you about his shop? How Mr. Henson left it to him?”

“I heard that. I think it’s great. Tristan’s amazingly talented. I think he’ll do so well.” I smiled and turned to Kevin. “I hear you are running it with him?”

“That’s the plan,” he replied. “I think it’s great. A new beginning for all of us.”

As I showed them around Tristan’s new and improved home, Mary commented that I should consider going back into interior design. For the first time in a long time, I was starting to consider the possibilities of starting over. It didn’t scare me the way that it used to. The idea of beginning again inspired me. I was hopeful for the future, and I was ready to make my daughter proud of me.


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