Edge of Recovery (Love on the Edge)

BOOK: Edge of Recovery (Love on the Edge)
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Edge of Recovery
Molly E. Lee
Edge Of Recovery
An On The Edge Novella

By Molly E. Lee

E
dge of Recovery

Molly E. Lee

C
opyright
© 2016 by Molly E. Lee All rights reserved. This book or any portion thereof may not be reproduced or used in any manner whatsoever without the express written permission of the publisher except for the use of brief quotations in a book review. This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, businesses, places, events and incidents are either the products of the author’s imagination or used in a fictitious manner. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, or actual events is purely coincidental. This book is licensed for your personal enjoyment only. This book may not be re-sold or given away to other people. If you would like to share this book with another person, please purchase an additional copy for each person you’d like to share it with. Thank you for respecting the author’s work.

Visit my website at www.mollyelee.com

Cover Designer: Regina Wamba at Mae I Design

ISBN# eBook:
978-0-9973464-8-0

ISBN# Paperback:
978-0-9973464-9-7

“I have absolutely no pleasure in the stimulants in which I sometimes so madly indulge. It has not been in the pursuit of pleasure that I have periled life and reputation and reason. It has been the desperate attempt to escape from torturing memories, from a sense of insupportable loneliness and a dread of some strange impending doom.” 

― Edgar Allan Poe

Rock Bottom

T
he vodka was
sharp and cheap, but it slid down easy enough. A piss-warm beer chaser threatened my gag reflex, but I swallowed that shit and motioned to the bartender for another.

“All out, Justin,” he said and shook his head.

“Fuck you saying?” My tongue felt thick, and my cheeks may as well have been packed with sand with how hard it was to shape the words.

Dave, the asshole bartender, walked over, lowering his head across the bar. “Come on, man. I don’t need this shit tonight. Go home. Sleep it off.”

I tried to lean closer to him, show him how pissed off
I
was over his miss-placed intentions, but the wooden bar underneath my elbows wobbled, and I slid to the left slightly.

“I’m fine. One more. I’ll leave after.” I slapped a wad of sweat-soaked ones on the trembling bar.
Why won’t it stop moving?

He pushed the money back toward me. “Let me call someone for you.”

I hissed, a dark chuckle rumbling off my near-numb lips.

“Excuse me?” A douche in a backward-bedazzled cap called from the opposite end of the bar. “You serving drinks or what?”

I cut my eyes over the chump. “Yeah, to
me
.” I refocused on Dave, trying to soften my gaze. We had a love-hate relationship, me and Dave. He either was my favorite person, or my least favorite person, and the one and only constant I had left in my life.

“Just a minute,” Dave said, pointing to bejeweled-boy. “Justin, man, just tell me who to call. I’m not even worried about you clearing your tab tonight. I just want you to get home. Take a break. Drink some water for a change.”

I could barely feel my forehead scrunching, so I made sure to try harder to fasten the rage that boiled in my gut, on my face. “Fuck you,
Dave
. You sell drinks. I buy them. It’s not rocket science. And this isn’t group therapy.”

Dave’s shoulders slumped, and he reached for the bottle I knew he kept three feet to the left of where I’d chosen to sit every day since…

The clear, beautiful bottle touched the lip of my empty double-shot glass, and my mouth watered.

One more. That’s all I need. And I’ll forget. It’ll make me forget.

A loud smack on the bar didn’t make me jump, but it startled Dave, causing him to draw the bottle back and glare at the sparkly dude who has his hand splayed out on the bar.

“Two pitchers of Bud, please.” He said
please
like
fucking now.
I only notice because he’s speaking my language but at the wrong fucking time.

“Back up, bedazzled. I was here first.” I nodded to Dave, eyeing the gloriously half-empty bottle in his hand.

“Looks like you’re here all the time, loser. Can’t you leave some for the rest of us?” The two dudes behind him laughed and snorted, and they all looked like puffed up like frat boys. I fucking hated frat boys.

Before I blinked, I’d stood up so fast the barstool scooted across the floor behind me. My arms were heavy but strong, and bedazzled’s shirt—which I now realized had beads on it too—felt like cardboard clenched between my fingers.

His friends pulled and tugged on my arms, but the look I cut them was enough to send them backward a few feet. I focused on bejeweled but still couldn’t really make out the color of his eyes. Blue? Brown? Who gave a shit?

I lifted him to his toes despite his struggle against my grip. “Fuck you call me?”

“Relax, man. Just wanted a drink.”

“Good little frat boys have to wait their turn.” My words were slurred and muffled even in my head. I let go of his shirt, shoving him so hard he flung into the bar behind him, knocking over three stools. His friends were quick to pick him up. Funny, how loyal those guys were…like fucking dogs.

The flash of a fat white bulldog blazed behind my eyes, and I clenched them shut.

Something sharp hit me in the stomach, and the breath shot out of my lungs as my spine slammed into the hardwood beneath me. No thoughts, I just started swinging.

My fist connected easily with bedazzled’s head, cracking against his temple as he tried to land a punch from on top of me. Somehow—six, no seven?—drinks in and this chump was still slower than me. It was a good clean hit, and he fell to the side, covering the part of his skull I’d aimed for but this was far from over.

“Sucker hit? Really?” I scrambled to my feet which felt as steady as jackhammers and cracked another punch across his jaw. The sickening crunch of skin and bone made adrenaline rush in my blood, and it felt almost better than a shot of vodka.

He struggled underneath my weight, and I lifted him up by his collar, only to drop him with another punch. Frat-dummy one and two are back, pinning my arms behind me. Bedazzled somehow managed to stand, blood dripping into his thick eyebrows, and from the corner of his mouth.

I raised my chin, my attempts to get free of the frat-dummies unsuccessful.

Stars burst across my vision as bedazzled retaliated, his fist sinking hard and low into my kidney. I doubled over, sucking in air like I had a straw for an airway.

That’s when all three came at me. Jabs and hits landed on my back, my side, and jaw. I blocked what I could but my reaction time wasn’t what it should’ve been. I missed too much, but the blood pulsing in my ears was fuel for the fire constantly roaring in my chest.

Thrashing, snarling, like the fucking monster I was, I made connection, dropping one of the dudes to his knees. Frat-dummy number two went for my balls, and I barely blocked him.

“Not cool, bro,” I said, shaking my head and breaking his nose on principle.

Bedazzled took the opportunity to horse-collar me, and I slipped. My ass hit the floor, and the douche dragged me through the double doors of the bar. I saw Dave’s wide eyes, a phone pressed to his ear, just as the doors swung shut.

A hard boot sunk into my gut and I hissed, curling in on myself. “Damn. When did frats make the switch from loafers to steel-toe?” I spit, staining the pavement red.

Night has blanketed the area, the darkness stunning me. The sun had been shining when I went in to see Dave.

Oomph!

Another kick to the gut. I pressed against the pavement with my palms, my brain telling my body to get the fuck up and finish this.

Crack!

I flung backward, a razor-wire of pain wrapping from my jawline to the base of my skull with a swift kick in the head. The night sky above me spun in thick heavy circles, the edges of my vision blurry.

“Stay down,” bedazzled said, leaning over me. He spits, a hot spray hitting me in the face.

Another ending played out in my mind—one where I got up, delivered the last hit, and then Dave gives me my fucking drink.

A final, sharp kick to my side rattled my spine, shaking my core, and I lose sight of the sky completely.

Black filled my eyes, the thick kind that refused to clear no matter how many times I asked it to.

* * *

J
ustin
?
Blake’s voice is clear…
so
fucking clear and my body immediately responded to it, begging me to wake the fuck up.

Justin, stop, you’re hurting me!

The spot in the center of my chest flared—that damned spot that did nothing but
rage
. The one I could only numb with vodka. I forced my eyelids to move, glancing around frantically for the bottle I kept on my nightstand.

I reached for it but ran into a cold plastic railing instead.

Where the hell am I?

“Justin.”

The voice shot ice through my veins, and I froze in my attempts to reach for something that wasn’t there. Because I’m not in my bedroom. The acrid scent of disinfectant combined with the shit bed underneath me screamed hospital.

“Justin?” My aunt’s voice cracked, and I finally moved, forcing my palms into my eyes as I scooted up to a sitting position.

Wake up. Wake up.

“Sir?” A male voice joined the room and from the tone, I suspected the voice had a uniform attached to it. “We need to ask you some questions.”

Cop. Fucking knew it.

I dropped my hands, the gray gunk over my eyes cleared. The cop stood closest to my bed, notebook in hand. I glanced down, unable to look for my aunt, though I knew she was in the room. My upper half was bare except for a full wrap bandage, a spider web of purple peeking out of the top. I shifted, trying to sit up straighter, and winced.

“Mr. Hobbs,” the cop said, “Can you tell me what you remember about last night?”

I closed my eyes again, the heavy sigh on my lips sending a sharp pain down my left side.

The memory was fuzzy, clouded, like a sink-full of dirty water.

“Does it matter?” I finally choked out, focusing on the cop. My bottom lip was split and the dried blood was metallic on the tip of my tongue.

“It does. This is your third recorded incident of public violence and the gentleman is pressing charges.”

I huffed. “Funny how if you have money you’re a gentleman and if you’re me you’re a…” I turned my head to the side. “What would you call me, Officer?”

“A cry for help.” The cop shook his head and flipped his notebook closed. I think I’ve seen him somewhere before, but I couldn’t be sure.

“Can I have a minute alone with my nephew?” And there she is. My aunt. The woman I’d avoided since I was sixteen years old. She stepped around the officer, a pair of khakis and white blouse hanging off her tiny frame. Her hair is the same, long, brown, and frizzy at the ends.

“I’ll be outside, Ma’am.”

She nodded at the cop as he shut the door behind him. Her fingers trembled as she wrung them in and out.

“Why are you here?” I asked.

“The paramedics called Blake,” she said, taking a step closer to the bed and I flinched.

Blake.
A fog covered nightmare. Her scream.

“They got her number from your old employer, Spray Goods?” She continued. “She called me. She couldn’t be here. She’s on a chase in the Texas Panhandle.”

I tilted my head. Was it storm season already? Fuck, where had the last six months gone?

“She wouldn’t have come even if she was in town. Hell, even if she was in the hospital.” I shrugged, enjoying the pain that rocketed up my body. “Not like I’d need her to. Not the first fight I’ve ever been in.”

“What happened?”

I cocked an eyebrow at her, shocked at how much she looked the same and yet how unfamiliar the woman was to me. I’d once called her mother, loved her more than anything on the planet. That was before she decided to abandon me. Just like my biological mother. And…everyone.

“They told me you lost your job.”

“Yeah.” That’s what happened when you showed up to work drunk too many times and screwed up a set of four-thousand-unit shipments.

“And you’re no longer with Blake?”

My eyes cut to her, and I wondered how much Blake had told her. How much had Blake revealed about our past?

“Again. Why are you here?”

She crossed her arms over her chest and sighed. “I’m sorry about what happened all those years ago, Justin. I tried to reconnect, you know, after your uncle and I divorced. You would never hear me out.”

“It doesn’t matter anymore. Nothing does.”

She sank down on my bed, her light weight barely budging the mattress. I jerked my hand away when she tried to reach for it. “That’s what worries me,” she said.

A chuckle ripped from my busted lips. “Yeah?
Now
you’re worried. Brilliant. I’m a grown man. You don’t need to worry about me. Hell, you don’t need to think about me.”

Tears coated her eyes, and I sucked in a sharp breath. Damn it.

“That’s where you’re wrong, Justin. I do worry. I care about you, believe it or not. And getting this call? Speaking with that officer out there that seems to know more about you than I do? It was the final push I needed.” She grabbed my hand, forcing new and unwanted compassion on me. “I’m here to help you.”

I yanked out of her touch, throwing my legs over the opposite side of the bed. Every muscle in my body screamed, the pain in my sides searing. A throbbing ache pulsed at the back of my head and I rubbed my neck, my eyes darting around the cold hospital room, searching for a drink I knew wasn’t there.
I wonder if they keep any on site?

I doubted it. The sooner I got out of here and to a stiff drink the better. I could think clearer that way. Figure out what the hell to do about my aunt.

“I don’t need your help.” I finally said, turning to lean against the wall on the opposite side of the room.

She stood, smoothing out the stiff sheets on the bed. “Yes, you do.”

“No---“

“You do. Justin.” She pinched the bridge of her nose. “Blake told me enough. And the officer rounded out the tale. You want me to enlighten you?”

I sucked my teeth. “You have no right to be here.”

“I’m the last chance you have.” She held out her fingers, ticking off facts. “You were fired from your job. You lost the only real girlfriend you ever had. And you’re three months behind on rent, on the brink of getting evicted.”

I shrugged. “Not news to me.” That’s what happened when nothing mattered anymore. When you couldn’t stand to look in a mirror or be alone in the room with yourself for more than five minutes.

BOOK: Edge of Recovery (Love on the Edge)
5.3Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

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