The story below works as a standalone, but is also the fourth (and last) in a series. These are the first three:
Head in his hands, shoulders heaving, Bruce cried out the five years of pent up pain and guilt.
He remembered those words, the words that made him leave everything behind: “You killed him, you beast!”
For five years, he believed he had killed his best mate, only to find out now it wasn’t true. He was as much a victim as his mate was.
As Veronica was.
He looked up, straight into her tear-filed eyes.
She flew into his arms, cradling against his chest, her arms hugging him. He held her close, feelings from way back then awakening his body.
Their kiss was a lifeline drawing them closer; him carrying her to his bedroom an action to rescue them both. They clawed at each other, kicked and tore clothes off in their frantic haste to get to nude, scarred skin.
Bruce planted himself between Vera’s legs, entering her forcibly as she cried out her lust. She hooked her legs around his, pulling him closer, then unhooked them and pushed him over so she could straddle him. Vera threw her head back, her eyes closed as she rode him. He grabbed her breasts, squeezed, then slapped them. Vera moaned in approval, pushing her breasts into Bruce’s hands while gyrating her hips, and soon she allowed him to take control.
Afterwards, they lay in each other’s arms, panting heavily. Once their breathing and heartbeats calmed down, Bruce lifted himself onto one elbow and softly kissed Vera.
They made love twice more before both of them fell asleep.
Bruce woke up hours later.
The silence was deafening, descending on his being as an ominous cloak of awareness.
Everything was quiet.
Even before he got up, he knew: Vera was gone.
His bitterness returned with a vengeance. He regretted the night before. Hated the hope he had felt; the hope for a future; for leaving the past behind him. Hated her for igniting the fire in him to live a proper life again. For coming out of hiding.
It was only three days later he went out again to check the traps for small game. A man had to eat, right?
On his way back to the cabin, he saw it: the message.
She had written him a message in the dirt on the windows of his cabin, for lack of pen and paper: If you meet me at his grave a week from today, we have a future.
His heart missed a beat, making him scowl.
He frantically tried to remember how long she had been gone and hated himself for that.
Two days? Three? Four?
He pushed all thoughts of not going away, rushed into his bedroom and threw a change of clothes in his backpack.
After two days of hitchhiking, he finally reached the city. Bruce didn’t even know what day it was anymore. He went straight to the cemetery and sat on a bench close to his mate’s grave, waiting for Vera.
She didn’t come.
He found a hostel for the night and returned the next day. By the time the sun disappeared behind the high-rise buildings, he knew she wouldn’t come. His calculations told him this was the day, and she wasn’t there. He would never see her again; didn’t even know where she lived.
The next morning, Bruce woke up in yet another hostel and was ready to hike back home; to retreat into his solitary life again.
He couldn’t leave the city.
An invisible force held him there.
Without purpose, he walked from one place to the other — places he had frequented when he was a student. He didn’t enter anywhere, just stood outside.
He couldn’t answer that question.
His feet carried him from one place to the other, and mid-afternoon he stared at the inscription on his mate’s grave. A tight feeling of grief gripped his heart.
“You came,” a soft voice said behind him.
Bruce didn’t dare turn around, for fear he might have imagined it.
He turned around, and there she was — beautiful in the late afternoon sun, looking at him with expectation.
“You came,” she said again.
Words choked in his throat.
Tears formed in his eyes.
His heart filled with love.
Bruce couldn’t speak, but he opened his arms, and soon held Vera close to him, knowing he will never let her go again.
He knew she was right — they do have a future together.
Note: This story first appeared on Medium, written for a prompt.