It was going to snow. There was no doubt about it, it was too cold to do anything but snow. I blew out a breath as the gas pumped into my jeep. I tried to keep my hands in my pockets so they don't fall off as I let it go itself. I feel my phone vibrate, but I don't pull it out. I still haven't gotten to where I'm going.
Then again I wasn't even sure where I was going. The dark clouds seemed to be following me though. Ever since I left I couldn't shake them. But I couldn't stay there, I needed space. There were too many ghosts; too much pain.
My phone buzzed once, telling me I had a message. I knew who it was, one of my brothers checking up on me. They were probably worried sick. I never left for this long without a note or a reason. I'm sure they knew why, they had to know why I needed time. I fought back the tears as I stood there letting the cold bite my face.
Life was unfair, I have always known that. I watched my mom die before she was even forty years old. I never even met my father. Life would never be easy, but I never thought it would be this hard.
The pump clicked off, snapping me back into reality. I closed the cap and then head inside to pay for my gas. It feels good to get inside and out of the cold. But when I step behind the guy paying my heart stops. There's a Coke bottle in his hand, one of the glass ones. He stuck a straw in the hole, shattering my attempt at shutting down that part of my brain. My mind starts to race, the memories I tried so hard to forget come back all at once.
She was beautiful, I knew it before she even turned around. Her blonde curls were swinging in the wind as she threw her head back laughing. The lights of the fair illuminated her green jacket. She looked like she loved life and from what I could tell everyone in her life loved her just as much.
Ryan pushed me towards her, my feet were frozen as she smiled at me. Her bright steel blue eyes drew me in. They were beautiful and yet she had an air of mystery around her. She giggled again as the brown haired girl beside her whispered something in her ear.
I offered her my hand, "Cassian Moten. Ferris wheel solo rider looking for a partner.”
She laughed again, then shook her head, "oh no. I don't do the Ferris wheel Mr. Moten.”
I raised an eyebrow, feeling more confident as her friends watched, "and why not? I thought a pretty girl like you wouldn't be afraid of anything.”
"I'm not afraid," she defended herself, my hand falling back down beside me, "I just don't like it, that's all.”
I nodded, biting my lip as I stood there, "okay well let me get you a drink. A funnel cake? Let me win you a stuffed animal with my ability to knock down glass milk bottles.”
She shook her head slowly, still giving me that half smirk half smile that was driving me insane. I had never been so taken by a girl let alone a stranger before. I was the guy who played the field, but I knew the moment she laughed she was it for me.
Sometimes you just know these things. It was the spark that changed your life.
"Come on Logan," the girl beside her nudged her shoulder, "he clearly wants to get to know you. Stop being a big scaredy cat.”
She glared at her friend and then sighed as she looked back in my direction, “fine. Let’s get something to drink.”
We walked to a stand together and I ordered two cokes. She giggled, shaking her head as I handed her the soda, "so does Logan have a last name?”
"Acher. Why do you want to know me so badly?" She put a straw in the hole and took a sip. Her friends were watching, Rhysand was chatting with one off to the side. I smiled at our situation.
I shrugged, "you seem like a mystery. I like a good mystery.”
We sat down on a bench and she sighed, "I'm not a mystery you want to figure out, Cassian.”
"I don't think that's true," I finished my drink and then smiled, "I bet I can get this can into that trash can. If I don't I'll leave you alone.”
She raised an eyebrow, "and if you do?”
"You go on the Ferris wheel with me.”
I didn't wait for her answer. I put my hands up and looked at the can waiting for the crowd to thin out. Once the coast was clear I flicked my wrist and let the can fly through the air. It hit the rim of the trash can and then slid around like it was going to fall in. But before it did it hit the wall and fell onto the ground.
"Damn," Logan clicked her tongue as I blushed at my failure, "I changed my mind. I'll go on with you.”
She threw her empty can into the trash can without trying and laughed when it landed in without a challenge. I shook my head, grabbing her hand before she could change her mind. I felt her grip tighten as we got closer to the ride and I smiled as she leaned into me.
Once we were sitting at the top, the lights were beautiful. Everyone was small and the town looked even more beautiful in the fall weather. My heart was beating faster than it ever had before as Logan slid in close to my side.
She let out a slow breath, her grip on the bar loosened as she relaxed, "you don't want to get to know me," she whispered as the stars sparkled above us.
"Sir? Are you going to pay?" I shook my head, the attendant at the gas station called my attention as the memory faded away.
I stepped up to the counter, "sorry," I whispered as I paid for my gas and then took my receipt. I was still reeling from the memory that I walked away from the door and through an aisle. My hands were shaking. I should be mad at her. I should be mad at the memory, but I wasn't.
I kept walking, unsure of where I was going in this small store. My heart hurt as I tried to collect my thoughts and my emotions. This trip was supposed to bring me peace, help me heal. But in this gas station only a few hours from home it was doing the total opposite.
I sighed, turning the corner of the last aisle. I thought I'd go to the bathroom and pull myself together, but I stopped short once more.
There beside the beer cooler was a set of those big camping lanterns. This time I smiled as the memory came flashing back.
The cabin had been huge, it was their vacation house and it was bigger than the home I grew up in. She promised it didn't matter, she wanted me to meet her parents. They were so excited to have me come along they went all out. The first night they cooked a big fancy dinner. Logan barely ate a thing, but it was delicious.
Better than anything I had ever tried to cook for the boys and me.
Her mom seemed distant, she would glare at me and I could tell she was judging me. She didn't think I was good enough to be with her daughter. That didn't stop me, I picked up Logan's hand while we ate and held it tightly in mine.
The entire time we ate mother and daughter would glare at each other. I knew they both had a secret they weren't sharing. Something that they knew and didn't want anyone else to know. I could only hope it didn't have to do with me.
Her dad was the opposite. He was so warm and welcoming I felt like I had known him forever once dinner was done. We talked about everything, he didn't look at me like I was a scholarship kid. He asked my opinion and listened to what I was studying. I could see where Logan got her personality from as I sat there with him.
Once dinner was over the storm started. It was late and her parents turned in for bed early. Her parents had set up the guest room for me. Logan yawned and seemed tired, so I told her to go on up I'd follow. She shook her head and sat down beside me. She settled into my arms as we watched the dying fire.
"So do you think they like me?" I whispered as she leaned her head back against my shoulder. I wanted them to like me, after all their daughter was very important to me.
"Yeah they like you. I just wish they realized I'm not five and you don't need to stay in the guest room," she huffed as she sat up straighter, "we're adults.”
I tickled her sides and she giggled, "you're barely an adult, Logan. And I will sleep wherever you or they want me to. Although your mom didn't seem to like me much.”
She sighed, choosing her words carefully, "she's protective.”
Logan hesitated when she explained her moms behavior. I didn't think too hard about it, I just held her closer and kissed her neck. It didn't matter, her mother could flat out tell me she didn't like me and I wouldn't care. Because I was here for her daughter and no one else.
That was the thing about Logan, she never looked at me like I was trash. She never cared about my small house or my sister tagging along on our movie dates. She loved the way we included her in our little family with ease. She seemed to understand that we needed her as much as she wanted to need us.
"So did you ever think a ride on the Ferris wheel would turn into this?" I whispered as the thunder boomed outside and Logan shivered in my arms.
She laughed, "no. But I sure am glad I got on it with you.”
She turned to face me, kissing my lips softly. I loved kissing her. I loved everything about her. We hadn't known each other long but hell I knew it was fate. There was nothing that could drag me away from her. Nothing.
Halfway through our evening of joking and laughing Logan yawned again. I told her to go on up I would make sure the fire died completely. She didn't fight me this time, she stood up and stretched. Her shirt pulled up as she stood on her toes and smiled at my eyes wandering to her stomach.
She giggled making me smile, "I love your laugh.”
Her blue eyes lit up as she stood there staring at me. She looked like she wanted to tell me something, but instead she just smiled, "your laugh is better. You and your deep voice. That's the only reason I'm still around.”
Logan leaned down and kissed my cheek and thanked me for being so kind to her parents, before heading off to bed. I watched the empty fireplace for a little while longer, wondering how a guy like me had found someone like her.
I settled into my bed a few hours later. I was about to turn my lamp off when the power cut out. I sighed, sitting up and letting my eyes adjust to the darkness. I didn't want to sleep alone anyways and I remembered Logan telling me about her nightmares. I got up and found the camping lamp her dad told me was in the closet. Apparently they lost power a lot when the storms rolled through here.
I wandered down the hallway slowly, hoping her parents room was in the opposite direction. There were more rooms than people on this floor and I hesitate between the last two doors at the end of the hallway. I couldn't remember which one was hers.
The door opened before I could figure out which room belonged to Logan. Her face was lit up by the lamp and she laughed softly as she pulled me into her room.
"I was hoping you'd come," she whispered setting the lamp down on her nightstand and kissing me. I wrapped my arms around her small body and held her close. She relaxed in my embrace, her skin cold against mine.
Thinking back now her hands were always cold.
She pulled at my shirt, her eyes hungry. Ever since we met we could barely get enough of each other. I kissed her that first night after the Ferris wheel and that was it. There was no going back. She never hesitated to tell me to slow down, so this was new.
Before she told me she wasn't ready. Now she seemed more experienced than I was. I pulled at her lip gently, "are you sure Logan?”
She nodded as she ran her cold hands up my stomach, "I want it to be you Cassian.”
I didn't need anything more to convince me. I laid her down on the mattress and pulled her shirt up over her head. I laid a trail of kisses down her stomach as her fingers ran through my hair. I couldn't get enough of her. I would never get tired of feeling her body against mine.
I pressed a kiss to her temple as she curled up in my arms. I knew it was wrong to be so happy after finally sleeping with her in her parents house. But I was more than happy as she sighed contently in my arms. She drew a heart on my chest and then she looked up at me.
"You don't want to fall in love with me," she whispered, her voice breaking as her blue eyes held mine.
I pushed open the door and walked out of the gas station, my heart still shattered in pieces. She had been right both times, but that didn't stop me. I got to know her and I fell in love with the blonde haired girl with the beautiful smile. I sighed as I climbed into the jeep and slammed my door shut.
My breathing was heavy as I tried to stop the panic attack that was coming on. I closed my eyes, squeezing my hands on the wheel as I saw her face. Her laughter played on loop in my head and it hurt to breathe whenever that happened. That stupid Coke bottle. That stupid memory. I had been doing so well.
My breath still came out in puffs, I didn’t bother turning on the heat. It wouldn’t help with the pain inside my chest. I hit the radio dial hoping it would help ease the pain. But it only made it worse as I pulled back onto the dirt road. The song that started to play was the old country song she loved to sing along to. She used to sit right there in the passenger seat and sing loudly off key with Faith Hill.
I looked over at the empty seat, that ache in my chest getting tighter. I didn't get far from the gas station, not even a mile away when I had to pull over. The tears made it too hard to see, the knot in my chest even tighter than before.
Another tear fell as I leaned my head against the wheel.
"Come on, it'll be fun!" She laughed as she tugged my arm and pulled me into the field. Her hair was covered by her red hat, her cheeks pink from the cold. I smiled as she led me out where the other couples were.
I wasn't big on school spirit, but for some reason Logan wanted to go to this football game. She was mesmerized by the homecoming court, her eyes glue to the girls wearing prom dresses in the freezing cold. She leaned in close when they waved and walked the track with their dates. I wrapped my arms around her tightly, my jacket swallowing her tiny frame. I loved her wearing my jacket, that's the only reason I agreed to come to this game.
She knew it too, that's why she always wore it when I was around. I was a sucker for that smile and her wearing my clothes. I shook my head, I didn't want to dance in front of people. That didn't stop her from dragging me into the middle of the football field with everyone else. Logan didn't care, she was already dancing on her own.
I smiled as her favorite song played and everyone grabbed a person to dance with. She pressed her fingers against my lips, "is that a smile Mr. Moten? Are you actually having fun?”
I laughed and pulled her in close as the snow started to fall, "not at all. But you, you look like you’re having the time of your life.”
She shivered as a flake landed on her nose and leaned in to kiss me. She wrapped her arms around my neck and pulled me in close. She held me tightly, as if she could keep this moment and hold onto it forever. Her eyes were closed when she pulled away. She leaned her forehead against mine and sighed.
Looking back now I realize we were so young. I thought we could take on the world together. We were high on big dreams and caffeine. We were the lucky ones, we had found each other before our lives truly started. I knew there wasn't anyone else for me. Not since I stepped into that fair and heard her laugh.
I would've given her my life and spent all the years I had spread out in front of me with her.
I opened my eyes and looked at the girl I never knew actually existed. I smiled at her, not realizing how little time we had left. I would've appreciated every second, I would've memorized her face. I would've held her tighter, tried to freeze the moment and never let it go.
But I was young. I didn't think I'd have to let go so fast.
"I love you," I whispered as the song ended and we stood there for a moment more.
There were tears in her eyes as she pushed my chest hard letting her hands fall away from me, "I told you not to fall in love with me.”
She was actually angry, she wasn't kidding. She walked off the field as the game got ready to go into the second half. I followed behind her, grabbing her hand before she could get far.
"What the hell Logan? You aren't serious?" My voice was hard as she shook her head.
She blew out a breath as the snow fell, her lips were almost blue, "you can't love me. I'm a grenade.”
She looked pale, I assumed it was the cold. Her cheeks weren't red from the wind anymore and before I could ask her what that meant she closed her eyes. I was still holding her wrist as it happened. Time seemed to slow down as she fell, my arms wrapping around her before she landed on the ground.
"Someone call nine one one," I yelled as I forgot all about the game happening around us.
I wasn't sure how I made it back home in one piece. One minute I was sitting on the side of the highway and the next my jeep pulled back into the town I never thought I wanted to see again. The song opened the damn and all my tears were pouring out now as I pulled into a parking spot outside the black iron gates. I hadn't stepped inside since it all happened.
Saying goodbye once had been hard, I wasn’t sure I could do it again.
The sky was gray as I stood there at her grave. It was white marble, her mom had taken care of every detail. Logan Acher; daughter, friend. Two words summed up the life of the girl I barely got to know. She was more than that, she was the one I thought I'd never lose.
The dash between her birth and her death was too short. There was so much more she was supposed to do. There was so much love we were supposed to share. My heart was still beating inside my chest, but the truth was it was buried there with her. I would never love anyone the way I loved her.
I placed the flowers on top of her grave. The stone was cold against my fingers. I sighed, not even trying to stop the tears as they gathered in my eyes. Then I leaned down and placed the Coke bottle in front of the marker, in the corner where it couldn't hurt the precious stone that cost more than my car.
"I miss you every damn day, Logan Acher. But I'd do it all over again, just to hold you one more time.”
She warned me, time and time again she told me not to fall for her. Her kisses weren't a promise she could keep, she knew it the night we met. She was already dying the day we met, the day I felt alive for the first time in my life.
It was cancer, stage five. It had gotten to her bones. There was nothing she could do, she had accepted that long before she ever met me. The chemo had stopped working so she stopped letting it destroy her body. She didn't look sick, but then again I didn't know what sick looked like. She embraced life and never once felt sorry for herself. She thought she was scared, but she was the bravest person I knew.
Logan held on when the ambulance showed up. I held her hand as they drove to the hospital. She would squeeze my fingers every once and a while to let me know she was still there. Her blue eyes weren't as bright, I could see the life fading from her. She was fighting so hard to stay with me.
Her hand tightened in mine as I sat there watching them attach lines and try to save her. She pulled the breathing mask off and smiled at me. It wasn’t her usual smile, there was less spark behind it. Tears were in her eyes, but she was more than calm as she looked at me.
"I didn't want to let myself fall in love with you," she whispered as I leaned in closer to hear her soft voice, "I didn't want to hurt you. I don't want to leave you.”
A tear slipped down my cheek as I kissed her cold skin. My heart was breaking into a million pieces as I realized the truth, "I know, it's okay. I love you Logan.”
She smiled slightly, before wincing at the pain she was in, "promise me you won't hold onto me. Let me go and find someone else to share your smile with. Let another girl fall in love with your attitude and your laugh.”
I nodded, "I promise I'll try," I whispered as the paramedics pushed the oxygen mask back on her face.
She pulled it off once more, "I love you too Cassian Moten. Thank you for giving me the best gift I never thought I would get to have.”
They forced the mask back over her mouth. That moment I knew I was lucky to have found her at all. I smiled, I put on a brave face for her. I didn’t want her to know I was about ready to fall apart. I wasn’t ready to lose her, but I knew that I didn’t have a say in how this ended.
I brought our hands up to my chin and kissed her fingers as the machines beeped and all hell broke loose.
"I will always love you," I whispered as the wind picked up. I closed my eyes and for a moment I thought I could hear her laughter.
Before I turned to leave the snow started to fall. I shivered as I looked back at the Coke bottle one last time. I would never forget that day, when I felt my life begin.
I knew I couldn't out run her ghost. She would always be with me, I'd carry her in my heart and never let her go. She taught me to love and what it's like to be loved. She gave me the greatest gift in the world. I only realized it after it was too late. I never got to truly thank her for finding her way into my life.
Life is unfair, there's no denying that. But knowing what I know now, I'd still buy her that Coke. I would still find a way to make her laugh. Even if I knew the way it would all end, I'd do it all over again. If that was the only way I ever got to know her, I'd hold her in my arms and never ever let her go.
Logan Acher was my first love and even though I promised her I would love again, I lied. I would never love another person the way I loved her. She took my heart with her in the short time we had together. And even though I knew I'd never get it back, I wouldn't change a thing.