Authors: Lauren Hammond
And that’s because I never know when or if he’ll ever come back.
Eventually that starts to take a toll on a person’s emotions. Mine in particular. I have days where I question myself. I have seconds, minutes, hours even where I lie awake, alone, in bed and worry. I’ve asked him time and time again why he has to leave at such a late hour and what he could possibly be doing but always get the same answer, “I can’t talk about it.”
I don’t know how much longer that answer is going to be enough for me.
I turn to face him and he press his hips against mine, pinning me against the kitchen counter.
For a moment time stands still.
Swimming in each other’s gazes.
Torn up and shredded by love, lust, and need.
His lips move so close to mine that I can feel their warmth, the heat. It takes everything in me not to press my lips against his. He rests his forehead against mine and my lips part. Then without breaking our gaze, he tucks a loose piece of hair behind my ear and whispers, “A-lainn” into my mouth.
It’s at that second I feel like I’m searing from the inside out.
Almost to the point where I’m over-cooked.
Finally, his left hand slides up my thigh, up my nightgown, over my hip, and rests on my butt. I move closer. I need his lips on mine. I want to feel lost in his kiss. I want to feel wrapped up and warm by our love and our tangled limbs.
I want to say, please…
I want to say touch me.
In all the right places.
But he doesn’t give me the chance to say anything.
Our mouths collide.
Our tongues entwine.
Our breaths are short and raspy.
In one swift motion he picks me up and I wrap my legs around his waist. We make our way to the bedroom kissing and kissing and kissing until he lies me down on the bed. I love the way his eyes touch my face like no other part of my body matters. I love how he can be so fierce yet soft at the same time. More than anything I love that when we’re intimate it never feels dirty or raunchy.
Sometimes it feels like I’m floating toward the ceiling.
I’m a balloon full of helium and I know that he’ll catch me and pull me back down before I float too high.
I shed my night gown quickly as he takes off all his clothes. Then he positions himself on top of me and the moment are lips are unified and our bodies connected he moans against my mouth, “I love you.”
I pull out of the kiss for a brief moment and get lost in gaze once again.
Those three words are critical for someone like Sean.
He’s got a hard outer shell and soft insides that I know no one really sees.
So when he says those three words…
I know with everything in me…
That he truly and genuinely means them.
Night falls and I’m in a daze.
The streets are slick and wet and my eyes are glued to them, watching as a combination of the moonlight and the glow from the street lamps highlight the river of black in certain spots.
There’s a torrential downpour of thoughts raining down inside of my head. I wish the sun would come up and dry them out. There’s no chance of bright and sunny days ahead for me anytime soon. I keep thinking of Hadlee.
My next fight.
My loyalty to Connie and the Braithreachas.
And why the hell Tee has been MIA lately.
More than anything I’m pissed off. This is not unusual for me. I know. I know.
Maintain your temper, Seany. Maintain your temper.
I’m not supposed to be waiting of this damn corner.
There’s a buzzing in my ears.
A raw ache in my throat.
Gripping the metal pole in front of me, I feel the cold bleed through my skin, sending shivers of uncertainty down my spine.
Even though it’s only been about an hour, two tops, it feels like I’ve been standing on this corner for an eternity.
I imagine that’s exactly what it’s supposed to feel like when you have the weight of the world on your shoulders and a massive web of thoughts occupying your mind. It’s been affecting me so much lately that I’ve been having a hard time concentrating.
I’ve got a girlfriend at home, in my bed, that I feel like I need to protect.
A father-figure/boss that I’m beginning to hate more than love.
Pressure blossoms inside my chest, expanding every time I inhale. It’s like a message…
My body is telling me things that I don’t want to recognize. Things that I don’t want to listen to or understand even though I know that it’s the right thing to do. I’ve got to start making some choices.
That I have to start questioning make actions, my decisions, and learn to make better ones.
What to do?
What do I do?
What do I FUCKING do?
A loud thud rings out in the distance and pulls me from my reverie. I tear my eyes away from the wet, tarred street and watch a round, shadowy figure across from me toss a large, full black trash bag into the brown, rusted dumpster.
Then I hear something…
A soft whisper…
A name carried on the tail-end of the wind.
It’s beautiful, melodic.
Stepping away from the street lamp, taking a few steps to the right. “Hello,” I call out. I get no response, but hear the name again.
The sound is closing in on me.
Followed by familiarity.
Someone is calling my name. It’s too faint and too distant for me to be able to make out if it’s a man or a woman.
“Hello!” This time I raise my voice.
As I lurch closer, I reach behind me, wrapping my fingers around my gun and squeeze the handle.
It’s always the mother-fucking cowards that sneak up behind you. They don’t fire at you until you have your back turned. I’ve never been a coward. If I’m going to aim my weapon at someone, I’m damn well going to do it to their face and point it right between their eyes. Now pulling the trigger, that’s a completely different story.
I know this seems kind of soft, but I don’t think anyone deserves to die. I mean when it comes to the brotherhood, you come in contact with plenty of shady people. Me, I tend to be more lenient when it comes to assassinating people. Connie…
That man would shoot a toddler if he thought it would benefit him in some way.
Sometimes thinking about it makes me sick.
A figure appears in the distance…
A soft silhouette.
Recently high-lighted hair.
She colored her hair dark for a while. Mostly because of everything that happened before. She made mention that she was going to high-light it and I shrugged and told her, “I think you’re beautiful either way.”
It doesn’t matter what she does to her appearance or how her body changes or if she gets old and wrinkled or even gains weight. None of that matters to me. I’ll always think she’s beautiful. And when she walks into a room and I see her, I know she’ll always make my heart race.
I guess that’s what loving someone does to a man.
Their irritating habits become adorable.
When they’re angry they become sexy.
You morph into some whipped bitch, a slightly better version of your badass self.
“Hadlee!” My voice is laced with confusion and I pick up speed, jogging toward her. I don’t understand. I can’t comprehend. How did she know where I was? Did she follow me here? She doesn’t belong here. It’s not safe. “Hadlee!”
She starts walking faster and when I can make out her face a wide, vibrant smile spreads across her lips. I fight back the smile I can feel forming on my face and start sprinting…
Then, all of a sudden it feels like everything is happening in slow motion.
An old black Lincoln whips around the corner.
The smile drops from Hadlee’s lips and she looks over her shoulder at the car, confused.
Me, I’m running as fast as I can. I’m grabbing my gun and palming it. I’m watching in horror as the windows to the Lincoln go down and a man with a machine gun sticks the barrel out the window.
I am screaming.
I am screaming.
Hadlee starts crying and I feel like I can’t breathe. I feel like all of the air has been sucked from my lungs by a vacuum and the only thing I can think about is running faster, getting to her before shots go off.
“HELP ME!” she shrieks. “HELP ME!”
The Lincoln rolls past her slowly. I see the bullets flash as they leave the gun. My eyes snap to Hadlee as she screams and hunches over in a ball on the sidewalk. Dots of crimson line her shirt and my stomach lurches.
I’ve seen plenty of people die.
I’ve seen plenty of people get shot at, but this is different.
This feeling is different.
A rage I’ve never experienced takes over me. I’m blind to anything and everything. I can feel the veins in my neck pulsating and bulging. I can feel all of my skin over-heating. My jaw locks and my teeth clamp down so hard I swear I almost bite off a piece of my tongue.
I am shaking.
I am shaking so violently my finger keeps slipping off the trigger of my gun.
I need to stay calm.
So I take a deep breath.
Crack my neck.
Roll my shoulders.
Then wait for the Lincoln to roll past me. And when it’s diagonal to me, I see Connie’s face half hidden by the shadows, but I can make out the sadistic smile he’s wearing. My stomach twists and I think about yakking all over the pavement.
I swallow hard and opt for a better idea.
I aim at him, slide my pointer finger over the trigger and shoot that son of a bitch right between the eyes.
There are limbs flailing in my face.
Sean is screaming at the top of his lungs.
The whole bed is shaking.
“NO!!!!” Sean’s loud voice fills the room. “NO!!!”
I sit up in a panic and wrap my arms around Sean’s torso. I place my lips against his ear. “Shhh, baby. It’s okay. You’re having a nightmare.” My voice is soothing, almost a hum. He’s had nightmares like this before over the last couple months and my reaction always seems to calm him down.
The first time I did this, he hopped out of bed, taking all other covers with him, glared at me, and shouted, “The fuck are you doing?”
I responded with, “I am comforting you. Lie back down. It’s alright.”
He looked at me confused for a few minutes then hesitantly got back into bed. He later apologized for his reaction and explained that he wasn’t used to that kind of behavior. I expected that. This is why his initial reaction didn’t make me angry.
I know what it feels like to need somebody.
I know what it’s like to want to have that one person who can help piece yourself back together. Lara was that person for me. Well and Satine. The best thing about therapy is being able to talk about the things you’d rather not talk about to just anybody. I divulge a little to Sean here and there, but it’s not the same.
I know the whole attack wasn’t my fault. I know that it was just a wrong place at the wrong time sort of thing, but still I have moments where I feel so dirty. I can talk to Satine about these times and she never looks at me any different. She never judges me. Not that Sean and Lara would, but still. Sometimes the opinion of an unbiased thirty party is best.
Sean settles back underneath the covers and I scoot back into him. He lays his arm over my waist and kisses my shoulder blade. I feel his heart beat against my back and let out a calming breath. These moments between us are my favorite.
There’s no hidden agenda.
It’s not about sex.
It’s about love…
And it feels so real.
Sean breathes into my hair. He lets out a soft hum while I stare into the darkness. I’m one of those people that has a difficult time falling back to sleep once I’m awake. “Sean?”
“Yes.” There’s sluggish tone to his voice that tells me half asleep.
I close my eyes. “Never mind.”
“No,” he starts, “no. Come on.” He groans and pulls away from me.
I contort my body, trying to make out his face in the darkness. “You’re tired. Let’s just go back to sleep.”
“Nope. You know I hate when you do that.”
This is true. He tells me all the time he hates when I start to say something and don’t spit it out.
“Okay,” I tell him. “What was your dream about?”
I wonder this a lot. He has had these dreams often over the past couple months, but he never tells me what they’re about. In fact, there is a lot he doesn’t tell me and just once I want him to answer me.
“It was just a nightmare, Hadlee. A lot of people have them. Nothing to be concerned about.”
He’s lying. Sure, a lot of people have nightmares, but his are violent. One time he almost socked me in the jaw. “Tell me, Sean.” There’s urgency in my tone. “Tell me.” I wonder if he knows I’m not going to let it go until he gives me an answer.
His frustrated groan fills up the small bedroom. I watch him with an intense glare and he raises his arm and pinches the bridge of his nose. “Trust me. You don’t want to know.”
“Yes. I do.” I raise my voice a little bit so he knows I mean business.
“Hadlee, just drop it okay.”
I bunch my nose up. He’s starting to upset me. I always have to deal with him leaving at night without an explanation. I’m always have to put aside our time so he can take calls from this ‘Connie’ guy. Once… just once I want more than a ‘just drop it’ or ‘don’t worry about it.’ “No,” I say with force. “No.”
“Fine,” he snaps, “fine. You really want to know that bad, huh?”
“Yeah. I do.”
He pauses for a second.
Shifts in the bed.
Moves his hand to his side.
Then says, “You died.”