With Love From Tillie Cole’s Austin

With Love From Tillie Cole’s Austin

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Valentine’s Letter for Sub Club

From Austin to Lexi: A Sweet Fall Extra

By

Tillie Cole

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San Valentino

[This excerpt occurs two weeks after Lexi is admitted into hospital in Sweet Fall]

Lexi’s Hospital Room, Tuscaloosa, Alabama

Austin

Dear Pix,

I’m not real good at expressing my feelings, you know that much about me by now. But well, today’s Valentine’s Day, and although I’m not one for the soppy, romantic, hearts and flowers shit, I’m writing this letter for you anyway. Hell, Pix, I ain’t ever even acknowledged this day before now, you’ve changed me so much… you’ve just made every part of my life better.

After everything you’ve been through of late, after everything we’ve been through together, and the shit you’re facing now, I wanted to tell you, wanted to show you how much you mean to me.

As I sit here beside you in this chair, you’re fast asleep in bed. I know it’s not the bed you wish you were in, baby, you want to be home, you want to be okay. But you’re not okay yet, and this goddamn hospital bed you’re stuck in now, this hospital bed that you despise, you need to be in to survive.

For me, for us, but mostly for yourself.

And you will get better, baby. Fuck, Pix, you will, not only because you’re the strongest person I’ve ever met, but because you’re my entire fucking world. You, my little dark pixie, are all I have left, alongside Levi and Axe.

You’re my family.

You’re my home.

And you’re doing so well. Two weeks, baby. It’s been two slow, hard and pain filled weeks since I found out you’d fallen, found out you’d become trapped once more by anorexia, by that fucking evil voice in your head. And it’s been a week and a half since I lost my mama. But despite your own battle, you were there to pull me from the darkness. You were there to save me when I needed you most.

By fighting for yourself, you’re saving me too.

As I write this paragraph, I’m looking at you. You’ve turned in your sleep to face me, and Pix, despite what you think… you’re fucking beautiful.

You’re my little emo fairy in that bed, my broken little pixie who is putting herself back together, curled up tight on that small mattress that’s swallowing you up. But you’re trying, baby, and you’re getting better all the time.

Day by day I’ve watched you try, I’ve seen you eat when all you want to do is run away. I’ve held you in my arms when you’ve broken down and cried, scared of the long journey ahead, scared of the inner demons you fight. And I’ve held you in my arms when you’ve shed tears and shook while you tell me you’re afraid to close your eyes, just incase you never wake back up. But as long as you’re in my arms, you won’t be going anywhere. I’ve slept beside you every night in this bed, I’ve held you tightly every night, and Pix, I ain’t going nowhere either, and I never intend to spend another day apart from you for as long as I live.

You’re going to win this, Pix, we’re going to win this together. And because it’s Valentine’ day, and you’re my girl, I just wanted you to know that I couldn’t be more proud of you if I tried.

You amaze me every day, my tiny pint sized fighter.

My heart.

My soul.

The best thing that’s ever happened in my life.

Ti amo tantissimo, Pix… more than the stars in the sky…

Your Austin xxx

*****

Placing the pen on the side table, I folded the letter and glanced to the clock on the wall.

Midnight.

February fourteenth.

Valentine’s day.

Running my hand down my face, I shook my head at the fact that I, Austin Carillo, ex-gang member and the most unromantic guy on the damn planet, had written my first ever love letter. But as I glimpsed at my pix’s stunning sleeping face, her hands tucked under her chin and her lips pursed making her look all kinds of cute, I didn’t question why I done it. The answer was right before me, melting my fucking heart.

I stood from the chair without making a sound and walked around the small bed. Shrugging off my hoodie, I stripped down to my white Tide shirt and sweats and, as gently as possible, carefully avoiding the IV’s sticking out of Pix’s arms, I laid down beside her. Leaning my arm over her waist, I placed the letter beside her head and, holding her close, closed my eyes and tried to go to sleep.

It wasn’t but two minutes later when I heard Lexi stir, and when I caught the sound of rustling paper, my heart began to pound.

She was reading my letter.

I kept my eyes shut; this moment was just for her. That, and I was a total pussy, too nervous to see her reaction to my words.

The telltale sounds of Lexi crying followed, and I had to fight back a planet-sized lump in my throat at hearing my girl fall apart. Lexi sniffed, and placing her feather light hand on mine, she wrapped her tiny fingers around my fingers and held on for dear life. I felt like I’d laid here an age before I felt her tuck the letter under her pillow and Lexi gently rolled her tiny frame to face me.

I could feel her eyes watching my face, and I had to fight every urge within me not to open my eyes. Lexi’s warm palm landed on my stubbled cheek and her light breath drifted across my face.

I held my breath in anticipation of what she would do next, then my heart burst open as she leaned forward and whispered, “I love you too, baby. More than you will ever know. Being with you is saving my life. I’ll win this fight for you. I’ll beat this disorder for you, because nothing is taking me away from spending the rest of my life completely in love with you… You’re my home too and, as long as I have you close, it doesn’t matter where on Earth I am because I know I’ll be safe … Happy Valentine’s day, baby. I love you beyond any words could ever say…”

Lexi pressed a soft lingering kiss to my cheek as I sucked in a slow breath at the emotion behind her words. My girl then curled into my chest, tucking her nose into the crook of my neck, where I wrapped her in my arms and we both fell asleep.

It was the best Valentine’s Day of my life.

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