''If I could have called you, I would have. Believe me, Cia, I missed you like Hell. I still do.'' He said softly. ''I thought about you every single day,you have no idea how much I wanted to pick up every phone I saw and call you just to hear you say my name. I know you probably hate me for leaving without telling you, but at least now you know the truth.''
''I don't hate you.'' I whispered as a tear escaped my eye. ''I don't think I could ever hate you, Toby, and that's the problem.'' I turned my head and met his eyes for a moment before I closed mine and looked away again.
''I wouldn't blame you if you did.''
''I want to. Believe me, I want to hate you. But I can't.'' I shook my head. ''Six months you left for without a word. No letter, no e-mail,no phone calls. Not even a text. You could have told me before you left, but you didn't. For weeks I sat and stared at the phone,grabbing it the second it rang in case it was you. But it never was.'' I choked back a sob. ''Every night I waited by the phone, even ringing your cell knowing it was off so I'd hear your voice on your message.
''You hurt me, Tobes.'' I said, barely above a whisper. ''You really broke my heart. I wanna hate you, but I can't, because I'm still in love with you. No matter what my head says, my heart won't let me hate you because it's still completely and utterly in love with you.''
Silent tears fell down my cheeks as I said the words I'd never said before.We'd never said the L-word. I heard him moving closer to me. I ran my fingers through my hair and screwed my eyes shut when his hand took mine and he linked our fingers. He rested his forehead against mine and stroked the back of my head.
''Ci-Ci.'' He whispered. ''Look at me.''
I opened my eyes and stared straight into his. He moved his head and kissed the corners of my eyes and down my cheeks where my tears had fallen. It was so comforting, so familiar.
So everything I'd wanted for the last six months, all in that moment.
He rested his forehead against mine again and nuzzled my nose with his, gently.
''I love you.'' Toby said softly. ''Going away didn't change that. I did then and I do now. Give me another chance, Ci-Ci, please.''
''It's not that simple.'' I told him. ''You can't just come back into my life this way. You broke my heart, Tobes, I can't do that again. I just can't. If you're gonna have to leave again then I can't do this.''
''I'm not. I promise. I've already spoken to Arthur. I told him I can't leave school, that I need to finish Senior year and go to college before I decide if I want a place in the Kindred authorities. I told him I had Kindred experience now I need human experience. But I think he knew as well as I did I was lying. He knows the real reason I wanna stay is you.''
I dropped my head to his shoulder and placed my free hand on the side of his neck, my fingers curling in the ends of his hair. He unlinked our hands and pulled me in close to him, close enough that I could feel the contours of his muscles from years of surfing all year round under his shirt, close enough that I could see his pulse beating in his neck and see every shade of blonde and brown in his messy hair.
''Please.'' He breathed into my ear, his voice cracking slightly. ''I've had to leave you once when I didn't want to, don't make me do it again. Just one chance, Ci-Ci. That's all I'm asking. Please.''
I stayed quiet, relishing in the feel of his arms around me after so long. Mom was right. 'What the heart wants, the heart wants,' and my heart wanted Toby.
''One chance.'' I acquiesced. ''But we take it slow. No more secrets, and no more disappearing on me.''
Toby pressed his cheek against mine and kissed the spot just below my ear.