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I found it very hard to let go of Macsen & Ellis, and I know many readers felt the same.

Their ending wasn't an ending; it's more a pause, a semicolon.

I could write about these men and the love they share for infinite lifetimes.

I can envisage them in every love story I read or write.

And so, here is where I see Macsen and Ellis next.

This is a taste of their next love story.

I'll let you finish the rest of it with your imagination.

I hope you enjoy.

Eli.

Favourite Hello - Bonus Chapter.

A New Beginning...

The muted warmth of the winter sun feels different today like it’s brighter, more persistent, and filled with the promise of spring. I lift my face towards it, eyes closed, searching heavenwards, as I listen to the breeze rustling through the mostly barren trees. 

It’s been three years since I moved to Rexton, and this must be the hundredth time I’ve visited Ellis Park—drawn here by the ghost of a memory and the sense of a new beginning on the horizon.

But in those three years, that feeling has never become more.

Doubts have crept into my decision making, heightened by my agent’s desire for me to end my hiatus and return to my day job.

I was close to making that choice—close to following something I didn’t feel—until today.

The tap of wood on wood catches my attention, and the opening notes of Ode To Joy by Beethoven spread warmth through my chilled body. 

Each lyrical phrase melds into glorious harmony as four instruments play as one.

Four pairs of hands coax magic from strings.

Four beating hearts share their passion for all to hear.

While a crowd of four strangers plus me watch enraptured.

Only one isn’t a stranger.

At least, not to me. Although I am to him.

He’s here.

I can feel it.

It thrums beneath my skin—a calling heartbeat of now, now, now. Here, here, here.

He’s in this small audience.

Can he feel me too?

I am dizzy in his presence. Overwhelmed that I almost allowed myself to be convinced that I was wrong. It wasn’t going to happen here.

My worries told me, ‘Not yet. Not now. Wrong place. Wrong feeling.’

I let myself weaken under those doubts despite my heart telling me, “Yes. Now. Right here. Right place. Be patient.”

My heart was right. It always is.

 

“Wow,” a deep, accented voice to my left says in awe. “These kids are good.”

His first five words, encased in a burr so thick with memories it makes my heart ache, also cause a rush of pride to spread through my chest. On the crest of a wave of sound, a smile so unfamiliar to my face lately, challenges my muscles and pulls my cheeks tight.

“They are,” I offer simply, unable to say more. My throat tightens with words and questions while promises thicken my tongue, begging to be set free.

But not now. Now is the start of the beginning.

My favourite hello.

The tempo of the music changes and grows, taking on a physical form and caressing each listener with the touch of magic. 

“I wonder if they’re all blind?” he muses, almost to himself, but the question is said loud enough, I can assume he meant for me to hear.

My heart stutters before clattering around aimlessly in my chest, and I tilt my head towards him in an inquiry.

“Why would you assume that?”

His feet scuff the gravelled ground, and his voice lowers, yet is intimately closer than before, when he replies, “My brother is blind.”

“I’m not sure what that has to do with anything,” I reply flatly, my emotions locked up tight, my voice monotone, while a maelstrom of feelings and worries churn and bubble in my gut.

“It doesn’t,” he admits softly, his accent wrapping the words in a sound so exquisite, I feel myself leaning closer not to miss a single utterance from his lips. “But I know a guide or symbol cane when I see one, and I see four. All sat neatly at the side of each musician’s chair.”

His observation catches me by surprise. Most people would not notice, too wrapped up in the music or in themselves. But not him.

I should know better. He is, and always will be, aware of others. That never changes. No matter the place or the time.

The music continues without the need for me to respond in confirmation. 

“Also,” he adds after a few moments. “They all have their eyes closed to the music. Even the pretty girl with the tinted glasses. My brother does the same. Especially when he’s concentrating or lost in something.”

“How old is he?” I try not to rush out the question, desperate for any information about his life now.

“Twelve.” His tone is generous with devotion. It tells me so much about him as a person that I already know. “He’s been blind since birth.”

“Then he sees the world differently to you. He feels it more.”

The solid weight of his hand lands on my arm, and his warm breath ghosts over my cheek. 

“Like you?”

I close my eyes and take a shaky inhale. His nearness, his interest, his understanding, it’s everything and not enough.

“How did you know?” I ask, as the rich, soothing tone of his voice seeps into my skin and settles into my lonely bones.

“I just did,” he offers simply. An uncomplicated confession. A truth. “Just like I know I’m going to take you for a coffee when your students have finished their performance.”

That smile again, a long-forgotten movement, tips at my lips. 

“And before you ask how I know that, I just do. Am I wrong?” he pushes, and I feel a smile—the twin of mine—on his lips via his confident words. 

He’s as drawn to me as I am to him, only he doesn’t yet know why.

“I wasn’t going to question the coffee,” I respond with humour evident in my tone. “But I would like to know why you think they’re my students?”

The music stops, and the handful of bystanders give their applause. As the clapping dies down, he leans in further to reply directly into my ear.

“Because you wear your pride for them like someone would wear a warm winter coat—without any other thought than it keeps out the cold. It’s as honest and clear as the sky on a cloudless day.”

I once more tip my head to the heavens and offer, “Not like today?”

“I don’t understand.” Confusion laces his reply.

“The sky isn’t cloudless today,” I explain softly, envisioning the muted blue. “It’s filled with feathers. Feathers and the harmonious touch of a horse-haired bow.”

I feel him move and imagine him looking up at the sky to see the exact clouds I described. The shape of feathers and violin bows evident to anyone who dares to imagine them as more than mere clouds.

“How did you know?” His voice is filled with wonder.

“I just did.” I throw the words he used back at him, and his returning throaty chuckle sends bolts of lightning down my spine. For long moments I bask in the nearness of him, each of us content in our silence as we listen to the sounds of the park, and the noise of the musicians packing away their instruments.

But that ever-present need to find him and to know him—to love him—pushes me to make our first meeting more.

Always more.

I will never get enough of you.

For infinite lifetimes. Forever and always.

“Let me introduce you to my students, and then you can buy me that coffee.”

“I’d like that.” His hand catches mine, and he squeezes. I feel the heat of that touch deep in my chest. “I’m Leo. It’s nice to meet you…?”

“Ayden.”

And so, it begins.

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