“I’m scared.” It wasn’t even a whisper, really, more a fragile breath, a delicate exhalation. “Of being loved. Of loving. Of not being good enough. I’m scared that you might be attracted to me now, but in a few years, you won’t be. That I’ll gain thirty pounds and you’ll leave. If we…we went with this, got together and made it work, I know you’d love me. We’d get married. I’d get pregnant, and I’d gain fifty pounds, and some of it would never come off. And then I’d have another kid, and there’d be a few more pounds that just wouldn’t come off. And then one day…one day I’m not the same woman you married, and—and—”
He shut me up with a kiss. A gentle one. The gentlest. A butterfly’s wings fluttering the air, the touch of a summer breeze, the sunlight on closed eyelids.
“This is still about your weight?” He didn’t tip my face up, this time. He spoke to the top of my head. “Nina, sweetheart. Love sees beyond the numbers on a scale. It sees beyond the circumference of your waist, or your hips, or your chest. It sees beyond an extra five or however many pounds you may or may not gain. Sweetheart, love, real love—it’s a decision. Not just an emotion, or attraction. It’s not hoping it’ll work out somehow. I’ve been through that. I’ve loved someone and had it fall apart because we weren’t both totally invested. I won’t do it again. And you know what, if you can’t trust me to love you whether you weigh a hundred and fifty pound or two hundred and fifty, then this won’t work.”
“I’m just supposed to trust you won’t care what I look like in twenty years?”
“Exactly. It’s a risk, Nina. You won’t ever know with one hundred percent certainty. That’s why love is scary. I’ve risked, and I’ve had my heart broken. More than once, actually. But here’s the thing, when you left, when I woke up alone and all your shit was gone, it was worse than when I realized Jamie had never really truly loved me, that she’d been in love with Chase Delany the whole time.”
“Wait, Chase Delany from Six Foot Tall?”
“Yeah, that Chase Delany.” He sounded irritated to have to acknowledge it. “She was in love with him the whole time, and was just using me to hide from it, because she was scared. And when she broke up with me, I tried to play it cool, but it fucking hurt. I was an asshole about it, I guess, but I’d just had my heart shit on. And like I said, when I realized you’d bolted, that hurt worse than what happened with Jamie. It took this long just for me to decide if I had the balls to let you explain. To decide if I could risk my heart yet again.”
“And you did.” This, through slowing tears.
“And now you’re telling me you’re holding out on me because you’re worried you may put on a bit of weight in a few years? If that’s what’s bothering you, then why don’t we go eat a bunch of cheeseburgers and we can get fat together? I don’t care, Nina. More than that, I love you exactly how you are. You’re beautiful to me, as you are. And assuming you have the fucking stones to try this with me, I’ll still love you in five or ten or fifty years, regardless of how you look. Because you’ll be beautiful to me then, too.”
“Jesus, Ian.” I could barely get the words out, because I’d lost it all over again.
“Nope, no Jesus here. Just me.”
“Shut up,” I laughed. “What about—”
“Logistics are easy, Nina. Quit making excuses.” He drew a breath, let it out. Cupped my cheeks in both of his hands. “Tell me you love me, or tell me to leave.”Posted by