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Authors: K. Bromberg

Tags: #Driven#2

Fueled (3 page)

BOOK: Fueled
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“Like hell I do!” I yell at her, throwing the towel in my hand across the bathroom in frustration and knocking over some stupid bottle-like vases. Her chin lifts up in obstinance
as she stares at me.
Just go, Rylee! Make this easier on both of us!
Instead, she just holds my gaze. I take a step toward her, trying to look as threatening as possible to get her to leave.

“I’ve fucked you, Rylee, and now I’m done with you! I told you that’s all I was good for, sweetheart…”

The first tear slides down her cheek, and I force myself to breathe evenly, to pretend that I’m unaffected, but the wounded look in those amethyst eyes is killing me. She needs to go—
now
! I pick up her bag off of the counter and shove it at her chest. I cringe when her body jerks backwards from the force I’ve used. Putting my hands on her like this makes my stomach churn even more.

“Out!” I growl, fisting my hands to prevent myself from reaching out and touching her. “I’m bored with you already. Can’t you see that? A quick amusement to bide my time. Now I’m done. Get! Out!”

She looks at me one last time, her watery eyes still silently searching mine with a quiet strength before a sob tears from her throat. She turns and stumbles from my room as I brace myself against the doorjamb and just stand there, my heart pounding in my chest, my head throbbing, and my fingers hurting from gripping the doorjamb to prevent myself from going after her. When I hear the front door slam shut, I exhale a long, shaky breath.

What the fuck did I just do?

Images from my dream resurface, and that’s the only reminder I need. Everything hits me at once as I stagger into the shower and turn the water on hotter than I can stand. I take the bar of soap and scrub my body violently, trying to erase the lingering feeling of his hands on me, trying to wash away the pain within from both remembering him and from pushing Rylee away. When the bar of soap is gone, I turn and empty a bottle of some kind of wash over me, and start again, my hands frantic in their quest. My skin is raw and still not clean enough.

The first sob catches me by complete surprise as it tears from my throat.
Fuck!
I don’t cry.
Good little boys don’t cry if they love their mommies
. My shoulders shake as I try to hold it in, but everything—all of the emotion, all of the memories, seeing all of the pain in Rylee’s eyes—from the past few hours is just too much. The floodgates open and I just can’t hold it back anymore.

 

 

 

 

As the sobs that rack my body slowly abate, the stinging on my kneecaps brings me back to the present. I realize that I’m kneeling on the coarse cobblestone in Colton’s front entrance with nothing on but his T-shirt. No shoes. No pants. No car.

And a cell phone still inside on the bathroom counter.

I shake my head as hurt and humiliation give way to anger. I’m over the initial shock from his words, and now I want to give him my two cents. It’s not okay to treat or talk to me this way. With a sudden rush of adrenaline, I push myself up from the ground and shove the front door back open. It slams back against the wall with a thud.

He may be done with me, but I haven’t had my say yet. Too many things jumble around in my head that I might never get the chance to say again. And regret is one emotion I don’t need added to my list of things to rue over.

I take the stairs two at a time, never more aware of how little I’m wearing as the cool morning air sneaks beneath the shirt and hits my bare flesh; Flesh that is slightly swollen and sore from Colton’s more than thorough attention and adept skill the numerous times we’d had sex last night. The discomfort adds a quiet sadness to my raging inferno of anger. Baxter greets me with the thump of a tail as I enter the bedroom and hear the spraying water of the shower. My veins flow with fire now as his comments replay in my head, each one compounding upon the next. Each one transitioning from hurt to humiliation to anger. On a mission, I toss my bag carelessly on the counter alongside where my cell phone sits.

I stride angrily into the walk-in shower, ready to spew my venom back at him. To tell him I don’t care who he is on the social scale, and that self-proclaimed assholes like him don’t deserve good girls like me. I turn past the alcove in the shower and stop dead in my tracks, the words dying on my lips.

Colton is standing in the shower with his hands braced against the wall. Water streams down his shoulders, sagging and defeated in their carriage. His head hangs forward, lifeless and beaten. His eyes are squeezed shut. The distinct and always strong line of his posture that I’ve come to recognize is missing. The strong, confident man I know is nowhere to be found. Completely absent.

The first thought that flickers through my mind is it serves the asshole right. He should be upset and remorseful over how he treated me and for the abhorrent things he said. No amount of groveling is going to take back the hurt he’s caused with his words or from pushing me away. I fist my hands at my side, warring within over how to proceed because now that I’m here, I’m at a loss. It takes a moment, but I’ve decided to leave undetected—call a cab—walk away without a word. But just as I take a step backwards in retreat, a strangled sob wrenches from Colton’s mouth and shudders through his body. It’s a guttural moan that’s so feral in nature it seems as if it’s taking every ounce of his strength to hold himself together.

I freeze at the sound. I watching this strong, virile man come undone, and I realize the anguish ripping through him is over something much bigger than our exchange. And it is in this moment, being witness to his agony, I realize there are so many different ways a person can ache. So many definitions I never realized held within such a simple word.

My heart aches from the pain and humiliation Colton inflicted with his words. From opening itself up after all this time to have it torn again with such cruelty.

My head aches with the knowledge that there is so much more going on here—things I should have noticed with my extensive training—but I was so blindsided by him, his presence, his words, and his actions that I didn’t pay close enough attention.

I missed seeing the forest through the trees.

My soul aches at seeing Colton fighting blindly against the demons that chase him through the day and into his dreams to torture him at night.

My body aches to go to him and provide some type of comfort to try and ease the pain these demons cause. To run my hands over him and soothe away the memories that he feels he’ll never be able to escape, that he’ll never be able to heal from.

My pride aches from wanting to stand my ground, be stubborn, and stay true to myself. To never walk willingly back to someone who treated me the way he did.

I stand on the precipice of indecision, unsure which ache within to listen to when Colton strangles out another heart wrenching sob. His body shakes with its violence. His face squeezed so tight, his pain is palpable.

My debate on what to do next is minimal because I can’t hide from the fact that whether he wants to accept it or not, he needs someone right now. He needs me. All of the cruel words he spat at me evaporate at the sight of my broken man. They fade elsewhere to be addressed at another time. My years of training have taught me to be patient but to also know when to step forward. And this time, I won’t miss the signs.

I have never been able to walk away from someone in need, especially a little boy. And right here, right now, looking at Colton so bereft and helpless, that’s all I see: a shattered little boy that’s just broken my heart—is currently breaking my heart—and as much I know staying here will result in my own emotional suicide, I can’t find it in me to walk away. To save myself at the expense of another.

I know if I were watching someone else make this decision, I’d tell them that they’re stupid for walking back in the house. I would question their judgment and say they deserve what they get. But it’s so easy to judge from the outside looking in, never knowing the decision you’d make until you’re in that person’s shoes.

But this time, this time I am in those shoes. And the decision is so natural, so ingrained in me to take a step forward when most others would step away that there isn’t one to be made.

I move on instinct and cautiously enter the shower,
willingly walking into emotional suicide
. He stands beneath one of two huge rain showerheads while numerous jets in the stoned walls squirt water down the length of his body. A built-in bench spans the length of one wall; various bottles of product are shoved in a corner. In any other circumstance, my jaw would have dropped at the grandiose shower and thoughts of standing in there for hours would have flickered through my mind.

Not now.

The image of Colton—so magnificent in body yet isolated in emotion—as he stands there with water running in rivulets down the artfully sculpted lines of his body overwhelms me with sadness. The anguish that radiates off of him in waves is so tangible I can feel the oppressive weight of it as I walk up to him. I lean against the wall next to where he presses his hands. The scalding water that ricochets off of him tickles my skin. Indecision reappears as I reach out to touch him but pull back, not wanting to startle him in his already fragile state.

After some time, Colton lifts his head and opens his eyes. He gasps audibly at the sight of me standing before him. Shock, humiliation, and regret flash fleetingly through his eyes before he lowers them for a beat. When he raises them back to me, the uncensored pain that I see in their depths renders me speechless.

We stand there like this―motionless, wordless, and staring into the uncharted depths of each other for some time. A silent exchange that fixes nothing and yet explains so much.

“I’m so sorry,” he says finally in a broken whisper before lowering his eyes and pushing himself off of the wall. He staggers back and collapses onto the built-in bench, and I can’t hold myself back any more. I take the few steps to cross the shower stall and use my body to push his knees apart so I can step between his legs. Before I can even reach for him, he takes me by surprise, gripping his fingers into the flesh at my hips and yanking me to him. He finds his way beneath my now wet shirt and runs his hands up my torso, pushing it up as he goes until I cross my arms in front of me and strip it off. I toss it carelessly behind me and it lands with a loud slap against the tile. The minute I’m naked, he wraps his arms around me, and crushes my body to his. With him seated and me standing, his cheek presses against my abdomen, and his arms are like a vice gripping me tight.

I place my hands on his head and just hold him there, feeling his body tremble from the emotion that engulfs him. I feel helpless, unsure of what to say or do with someone so emotionally closed off. A child I can deal with, but a grown man has boundaries. And if I overstep my boundaries with Colton, I’m just not sure how he’d react.

I gently run my fingers through his wet hair, trying to soothe him as best as I can. My fingertips try to express the words he doesn’t want to hear from me, the motion just as comforting to me as I’m sure it is to him. In this space of time, my thoughts process and begin to whirl. In the absence of his mind-numbing words, I’m able to read behind the venom of Colton’s outburst. The pushing away. The verbal lashing out. Anything to get me to leave so I wouldn’t witness him falling apart, trying to reaffirm to himself that he needs no one and nobody.

This is what I do for a living, and I missed all of the signs, love and hurt overriding my training. I squeeze my eyes shut and mentally chastise myself, although I know I couldn’t have handled it any differently. He wouldn’t have let me. He’s a man used to being alone, dealing with his own demons, shutting out the outside world, and always expecting the other shoe to drop.

Always expecting someone to leave him.

Time stretches. The only sound is the splatter of the shower water against the stone floor. Eventually Colton turns his face so his forehead rests on my belly. It’s a surprisingly intimate action that squeezes at my heart. He rolls his head back and forth softly against me and then takes me by surprise as he kisses the long line of scars across my abdomen. “I’m sorry I hurt you,” he murmurs just above the sound of the water. “I’m just so sorry for everything.”

And I know that his apology is for so much more than the verbal barbs and the cruelty in how he pushed me away. It’s for things far beyond my comprehension. The angst in his voice is heartbreaking, and yet my heart flutters and swells at his words.

I lean over and press my lips to the top of his head, holding them there as a mother would a child—as I would to one of my boys. “I’m so sorry you were hurt too.”

Colton emits a strangled cry and reaches up, pulling my face to his. Between one breath and the next, his lips are on mine in a soul-devouring kiss. Lips collide and tongues clash. Need crescendos. Desperation consumes. I sink down so my knees rest on either side of his on the bench as his lips bruise mine, branding me as his.

BOOK: Fueled
2.41Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
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