A soft breeze rattled the limbs lining the road as we stepped out of Reece’s truck, and I walked around to the driver’s side. Lifting my chin, I squinted as I stared out over the cemetery, my gaze drifting over the marble tombstones and large tombs. It was a sunny day. The sky was the perfect shade of blue, the scarce clouds fluffy and white. My mind churned with the watercolors I’d have to mix to capture that right color of blue and clouds, well, clouds were easy and fun to paint. I tugged on the hem of my light sweater and then reached up, tucking the streak of pink hair back behind my ear.
Reece walked to where I stood, with the tips of my flats just brushing the manicured grass. “You ready?”
Pressing my lips together, I nodded and so we started out, following the paved walkway. There was a ball in my throat, a mixture of nerves and a sadness that would linger probably for a long time. I knew that one day I would think of Charlie and there wouldn’t be sadness. There would just be warmth and happiness that cuddled the memories of him I would always have and cherish.
Neither of us spoke as we crested the small hill and we could see Charlie’s final resting place for the first time since I’d left the funeral. My step stumbled and my heart pounded. His parents had, as expected, spared no expense when it came to marking their son’s grave. It was weird to me since they’d barely been there for him the last six years, but who was I to judge? Maybe this was their way of showing him how much they did love him, how much they missed him.
A pearly white angel had been erected behind a rather simple headstone, wings spread wide and head bowed. In her arms was a small child, held close to her breast. I don’t know why, but seeing the statue made me want to plop down in the grass and weep like I’d never cried before.
But we weren’t the only ones in the cemetery. Nor was Charlie’s resting place empty. Not that I was expecting it to be.
Standing off to the side, with his hands shoved into the pockets of his jeans and his head tipped up as if he too was caught up in the angel’s mournful expression, was Henry Williams.
The breath I took was shaky. When I’d told Reece the second thing I wanted to do was finally talk to Henry, he’d been 100 percent behind it, just like he was when it came to my college plans. And that’s why we were here, at the cemetery on a breezy Sunday afternoon.
Henry lowered his head and turned toward us. A small, unsure smile appeared as he pulled one hand out of his pocket and ran it over the buzz of blond hair that had grown since the last time I’d seen him, which had been in Kip’s apartment.
I had to be honest with myself. Henry and I were never going to be friends. I didn’t even think that was what he wanted, and it would be too strained, too painful, and that was asking a lot out of both of us. But to really, truly, forgive myself, I had to forgive Henry first.
For a moment, I let myself picture Charlie somewhere up in that beautiful sky, looking down on all of us, and I imagined him smiling. I imagined him being happy about this. Most of all, I imagined him being proud of me—of all of us. And God, that felt good.
Reece’s hand found mine and he squeezed reassuringly. “You want to try to do this?”
“No.” I looked up at him and our gazes met. Love was spelled out in every flicker of emotion on Reece’s striking face. God, I was such a lucky girl and I was so in love with him that it could lift me right off my feet. I squeezed his hand back and said, “I’m not going to try. I’m going to do this.”