It had been so long. New York still looked the same as ever, though, buildings rising high into the perfect sunrise. When my plane landed at the airport, I knew there was only one place to go.
It's funny how easily things come back to you, even after days away from the only place you'd ever known. I found myself walking the familiar streets, my duffle bag over my shoulder and a faint smile upon my lips. It was good to be home. In spite of it all, it felt right.
When I stood at last before Ryder's apartment, I could feel nothing but the beat of my heart. Part of me was screaming run, run far away, because Ryder had been the one to break my heart in the first place. The rest of me was telling the first part to shut up, because Ryder was the only reason my heart was beating to begin with.
Hesitation swept over me. Then I pressed my finger to the buzzer.
"Hello?" I had never heard a more pitiful sound in my life. Ryder sounded completely drained and shattered beyond repair.
There came a pause. Then, sure enough, "I'll buzz you up."
He was awaiting in the doorway when I made it to the top of the stairs, dropping my duffle right there in the hallway.
"Dinah.." he whispered. Like he wasnt quite sure if I was really there, or only some sick fantasy he'd conjured up. "Oh, Dinah. You came back."
Not another moment passed, and then I was up in his arms, and he was spinning me round and round, and nothing else even mattered. I didnt care about Lexi or the kiss or anything at all except the fact that I was here, in the one place I so desperately needed to be.
"I'm so sorry, Dinah," Ryder said in a strangled voice, setting me gently back onto my feet.
I ignored the apology, at least for the time being. There were more important things to be said. "Lexi told me what happened," I told him, hating all the emotions that seeped into my voice. "How could you, Ryder? How could you try to kill yourself?"
"I was so empty," he replied softly. Ryder reached out to take my hand in his own, leading me back to his apartment. "Nothing felt right without you here, Dinah. I was so alone..."
I took in the state of his small home with wide eyes. Empty, crushed beer cans and cigarette butts covered the floor, waves in the ocean of apathy. Islands of whiskey bottled were scattered about the mess. I couldnt believe what I was seeing. Ryder had seemingly thrown away all purpose in my absence. And I hadnt even bothered to call him once.
We'd wound up in his bedroom, somehow, the one room untouched by the hurricane of poisons. I closed the distance between us, snaking my arms up around his neck. "I really am sorry, Dinah. About everything. I just...I cant bear the thought of losing you. I love you, and I will always love you. No matter what happens you will always be the one reason I wake up in the morning."
I smiled up at him, a small one that told him not to say another word. To stop his resistance and take me up into his arms, set me delicately on the bed and make passionate love to me like we might never see tomorrow.
Ryder must have comprehended my stare. He hugged me tightly to him, kissed my forehead and cheeks and lips before pulling me into the heap of blankets. With his body on top of mine, his heart beating so violently I could feel it within my own chest, I closed my eyes and breathed him in deeply.
This was where I belonged.
[The Summer Obsession- Where You Belong]