156,754
07.03.2019

He stopped the car outside my apartment, “You okay?”

I nodded slowly, “I am okay. I feel conflicted about him, but I feel strong about my decision. I’ve seen him, we’ve touched hands, I didn’t falter. I think I’m safe from the thing we had.”

He sighed, “That’s too bad.”

I frowned, “Why?”

He shrugged, “I don’t think I’ve ever seen him look more in love with you. Gerry agreed. It was the best they’ve played in months.”

I shook my head, “Don’t be such a bitch.”

He smiled, “See you Monday.”

I laughed, “Thanks for making me face my fears.”

He nodded, “That’s my job.” I got out and went upstairs.

I was in the kitchen drinking from the carton, when someone walked out of the hallway, “Hey.”

I ripped my mace from my purse and sprayed before I realized what had happened. Seeing it was Lochlan, I dropped it and rushed to him. “Oh my God, baby. Are you okay? Never mind, dumb question. Come on.” Tears streamed down his face. “Jesus, Erin, you trying to blind me for real?” He blinked and looked at me, his eyes were completely red. I winced and got the eye-wash station from the first aid kit. I pulled him to the sink and started to flush his eyes.

He blinked some more, “Is this stronger than the last time?”

I laughed, noticing my eyes were burning too. “I don’t know.” I filled the cups and started the eye washing. He cleaned his face. I opened all the windows and doors.

I came back into the kitchen feeling slightly justified, “I’m sorry but why are you here? How did you get in?”

He held up his key. I had forgotten to ask for it back. Technically, the apartment was still his. He never had stopped paying for half.

“How did you beat us here?”

He chuckled, I think at himself, “I ran some of it and had a car pick me up. I knew you would be stuck in the traffic. I couldn’t let you slip through my fingers again.”

He ran across the city for me? Even the evil, man-hating bitch inside of me had to give that some credit.

He looked at the floor, “I didn’t think it was fair to you, the band, and mom. They all saddled me with the band and everyone’s success. Gerry bought a house, and everyone was buying cars, and there was no way I could back out. Their success was based on me being in the band. My dad was dead and everything felt too big. My mom needed help and I never thought about what she wanted. I wanted things to stay the way my dad had done it.”

I took a step closer to him, “You don’t need to tell me this.”

He looked at me, “I needed you to see my side. You never see it.” He sighed, “So I wanted you gone, because I had obligations; I never wanted you to feel like one of them. I wanted your life to be better than always waiting for me to have a free minute. I knew if I pushed you away, you would come back here and finish school, and I could try to win you back later. Then Gerry told me Dean said you seemed like you were over me. He said you had been flirting with some lawyer, who was talking about your summer job being at his firm. I panicked. I came here and I saw you at school.”

I started to feel the desperation that was all over his face. He had been watching me?

“You were laughing with a guy. He was older than you. He was dressed like a lawyer and he suited you. You were so clean and shiny and perfect together. He was your kind of guy. You looked alive again. I didn’t know what to do. You looked so professional and he touched your hand and you let him.”

He gave me a look, “But you came tonight.” He hopped off the counter, “It gave me some hope.” He walked to me. I almost wished I had my mace again.

I shook my head, “Don’t.”

He ignored me and walked right up against me. My braless breasts squished against his abs. He looked down on me, “Seeing you tonight made me realize…” he bent and kissed my cheek, wrapping his arms around me. He kissed the other side of my face, “I don’t have to be a singer. I don’t have to be in a band. I don’t have to do anything in this whole world. But I do have to make you love me again.”

He lifted my chin and pressed his lips against mine. “That’s all I want, baby. I don’t even care if you love me back. Just let me try again.” His hands slid down my body, lifting my dress. He cupped my ass cheeks and lifted me into his arms. I wrapped my legs around him. He walked to the bar and sat me on it. He cleared the shit off with a swipe of his arm.

Instantly, our lips moved against each other hungrily. His touch lit me on fire, worse than before. His hands got between my legs. He grabbed my underwear, ripping them, pulling them off of me. He pulled back my dress and unzipped his jeans in one movement. I was still wet from the show. He pushed himself into me. I gasped as he shoved into me hard. There was no controlling him. He was long past that. I gripped to him as his fingers bit into my hips. He thrust hard and fierce. His lips never left mine. We breathed each other in, in moans and sharp inhales.

He pulled me into each thrust, filling every bit of me. He held me so tight, I could feel the desperation in his fingertips. I could taste it in his kisses. I came hard, leaning back, letting him have me. He spread my thighs more and he came inside of me with an explosion. Breathless and confused, we clung to each other. He placed out-of-breath kisses on my stomach.

I watched him. He glanced up at me, “I missed you.”

I smiled, “Me too.”

He lifted me off the counter, “Let’s go have a shower. I’m sweaty from the concert.”

I put a hand on his chest, “Wait.”

He shook his head, “Not another minute, princess.”

After the shower, we lay in each other’s arms, wrapped tight and constricted.

“I like the effect coconut-cream pie has on your body.”

I laughed, “Are you saying you like my new fat?”

He lifted my breast like he was weighing it, “It makes you look fuller, like a woman.” He sucked my nipple, “Makes me want to touch you more than before, which was a lot.”

I laughed, “I remember.”

He stroked a finger down my cheek, “I’m sorry I hurt you. I hate myself.”

I shrugged, “I understand and I don’t. I just… don’t… can’t forgive you. That’s going to take time and we can’t just be together like living together, like before, until I can get there.”

His eyes burned, “I’m not leaving.”

I laughed, “You have your work and I have school. We can finally take it slow. Take those trips you take all the time, as a way to go slow.”

“You want to take it slow? We just fucked and showered together, and I’m about to buy you breakfast at that all-night dive, where we got the eggs Benny.”

I smiled, “Yeah. I expect you will buy me breakfast, and then you’ll frig off, so I can study and write my paper. I also expect that you’ll text me as soon as you get wherever the hell you’re going to next, and maybe even a few times in the cabs and shit.”

He kissed my belly, “Okay, slow it is, but I ain’t leaving.”

Chapter Twenty-Two

Slow it ain’t

98.8

Perfectly normal.

I frowned at the thermometer and put it down on the counter. It had to work, it was brand new.

I looked at the other thing that was brand new and sighed. If the throwing up wasn’t the flu, it was something else. I walked, defeated and sickened, to the bathroom to try package number two.

There are things you should never do alone, this was one of them. I peed, holding it under the stream. I capped it, wrapped it in toilet paper, and washed my hands. I paced, feeling hungry and sick at the same time. I wanted some more pie. I looked at the clock, two more minutes. I went over the things in my bag one more time. I had everything. I was ready to go. This couldn’t be happening.

One minute.

I ran into the bathroom and picked it up. The second line was faint. I squinted and shook my head, “That’s not a line.” Of course as I said it, the line filled in. I dropped the pee stick and dropped to my knees. I leaned into the bathroom counter, gasping for air.

Instead of breathing, I vomited again. I clutched the toilet and tried not to die. I was heaving, when I heard the horn for the second time. I wiped myself down and grabbed the pee stick. I shoved it in my purse and grabbed my bags.

I ran to the car and jumped in. Dean gave me the disapproving-teacher look. Lise was in the back seat, grinning away.

I rolled my eyes, “Would you stop.” My heart was pounding.

She shook her head, “I can’t. I can’t wait to see him.”

Dean frowned, “We can’t be late. Jeeze. It’s a wedding, Erin. Not a normal day. Her, I expect to be late. You—not so much.”

I frowned, “Sorry.” And I was. I was very sorry. I didn’t even know what I was going to do. The wedding would be an awesome distraction at least.

We ran when we got to the airport. We just made our flight and the customs guys were pissed. They like two hours for international flights, not twenty minutes.

I was just about to start a full-fledged panic attack when we finally landed in British Columbia, Canada. Dean was a friend of a lawyer who had bought a winery in the Okanogan Valley. He was excited to have a wedding there.

I was exhausted. The time change was deadly. Gerry, Danny and Loch met us at the airport in Kelowna. It was hot and sunny. I looked at Dean, “This is Canada in May?”

He laughed, “This is actually part of the same desert as Nevada. The North American desert comes up into Canada. That’s why the wine is so amazing, the heat.”

The guys walked up in tee shirts and shorts. I pulled my parka off, “Seriously, Canada’s hotter than Boston in May? There was a frost warning when we left.”

Lochlan smiled and pulled off his sunglasses Seeing him was making it all worse. He was being so sweet and I was in the midst of trapping him. He nodded at me, “Want to see something cool?”

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