Author’s Note: While the weekend was ugly, I asked for prompts, and Liana Mir gave me this one:
“Men always want to be a woman’s first love – women like to be a man’s last romance.” ~ Oscar Wilde
I was thinking I’d need a book to answer it, but no, I didn’t need a book. I just needed two of my favorite characters to discuss it without discussing it.
Thank you, Effie and Garan. You’re good at this sort of thing.
“The football player has been asking for it ever since I came here.”
Effie shook her head, letting out a sigh as she carried the bowl over to the table, taking the cloth out of it and wringing it before she touched it to Garan’s knuckles. “Scott hasn’t played football since he was in high school, you know.”
“It was the one highlight of his pathetic life, and it did enough brain damage to him that it still fits,” Garan insisted, watching her work on his hand. He’d make some comment about Scott’s hard head being the reason for his knuckles getting scraped up like that.
“You’ve got ten times the training he does, Garan. It would never have been a fair fight.”
“What isn’t fair is that he was your first love.”
Effie snorted, putting the cloth back in the water. “Scott was never my first love. He was my first… boyfriend, I guess, but I never loved him. He was—everyone expected us to date, everyone thought we made a cute couple, and I think we might have, but I never felt the way about him that I thought I should, even as a teenage girl with supposedly out-of-whack hormones. It wasn’t enough. It was nothing like the soul-crushing moment when I thought you were never coming back to me, and I think we both know how well the hormonal attraction part of things works between us.”
He grinned, and she rolled her eyes, taking the bowl with her back to the sink. “Besides, if either of us has reason to be jealous, it’s me.”
“You? I told you that she wasn’t a love. Christie was just—”
“Not her. Jordan.” At Effie’s words, Garan tensed, and she leaned back against the sink, folding her arms over her chest. “You know I’m right. You were willing to fight for her, to die for her… to kill for her. I get to be jealous.”
He rose, crossing to her side, his bruised hand cupping her cheek. “In case you missed it, heroine, I just fought for you. I was willing to die for you before I knew you. And while we’ve never gone and counted the bodies, I think there might even have been some killing in there for you, too.”
She flinched. She shouldn’t have said anything at all. She didn’t like the thought of him doing that. Not for her, not at all.
He tipped her chin up, looking straight into her eyes. “When I met Stirn, I was in a bad place. It was just after the accident, and I wanted something to replace what I’d lost at the same time as wanting to die. It was messed up, warped good, and it got worse. What happened with her pushed me down further into the darkness, into a hole I never thought I’d get out of, and that’s not love. Love is supposed to make you better, isn’t it?”
Effie nodded. “That’s what they say. It’s also about accepting people as they are. Kind of conflicting thoughts, I guess. Or maybe it’s just that… You can’t become better unless you’re willing to accept what the past was. You can’t pretend it wasn’t there or didn’t shape you because it did. So expecting someone else not to have a past is stupid.”
“Helping them overcome it is beautiful,” he said. “Just like you.”
“Listen to you getting all romantic on me.”
He laughed. “There is no romance in me, Effie. I thought you knew that.”
“Oh, yeah? And what do you call all this?”