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Alluring Serenity by Gail Haris

I promised myself in that moment that Serenity was off-limits. I knew I needed to get my eyes off her. I had work, goals, and more responsibilities than I could handle, so a relationship and all the drama that it would entail was a hard pass. And again, she was only eighteen—way too young for me.

As my eyes veer off the road and back to her, it’s clear she’s no longer a young girl, but a woman now. But she’s here to grieve, and I need to allow her that.

It’s just… everything went so wrong last time she was here.

Our age difference had prevented me from making a move. Then I had to stand by and watch as Adam had shown up. Jealousy had hit me hard as I’d watched my brother, who was closer to her age, charm her and persuade her to hop on a jet ski, which wasn’t ours since we could barely afford a sandwich then.

Even wet, her body had weighed nothing as I’d pulled her out onto the shore. I couldn’t help but take in how beautiful she was with no makeup and her dress clinging to her curves. But her eyes were closed, and she wasn’t breathing. I’d placed my lips to hers, silently praying to God to breathe life back into her.

That entire summer, I was tortured by the sight of her, by the sound of her gentle laugh, and by the knowledge that my brother’s lips were where mine had once been.

Now she’s sitting here next to me in my truck and asking about him. I debate how much I should tell her, wondering if it’s better to get it over with all at once. I knew if I picked her up I’d be faced with this exact question, but foolishly, I hoped she wouldn’t ask. In the end, I go with honesty.

“How can you even ask about him after… what they did?”

That was clearly the wrong thing to say because the tension that fills the truck is suffocating. Her doe eyes turn to slits of pure rage, and her cold voice is barely above a whisper. “That’s in the past.”

Regardless of how much it doesn’t sound like it’s ancient history, I’m smart enough not to point that out to her. Her eyes continue to bore into mine, and I hate that I’m still so hypnotized by them, even if at the present moment they look like they could slice me in two. I want to ask her if everything, everyone, is also “in the past.” And those of us who are, is there a possibility for us in the future? No longer able to keep my eyes on her, I break contact to focus on the road.




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