Their Protector: An MC Outlaw Halloween Romance, page 124
What the hell had gotten into me? And how can I get it back out?
I was right back where I’d started, with nothing to hold onto. The very few memories I thought I had found were lost once again. It was worse than if I had never found them in the first place.
It hurt more than usual. It felt like I’d lost something special, something rare, all over again. But I guess that’s what I got for opening my mind and heart to the possibility that anything could ever be any different for me than things have been for the past five years of my life, which were the only five years I’ve ever even known I existed.
How foolish of me. I was determined not to make that mistake again, because I didn’t want to open up my heart just to have it be torn out by life and fate all over again.
I woke up feeling down and depressed. In fact, I felt like shit. I hadn’t felt like this in years, not since Sadie’s accident and then again after she had rejected me the first time around. I guess that was understandable, back then. She was overwhelmed and frustrated and I had only been making things worse.
I hadn’t even tried to push for anything this time, though. I’d just wanted to be with her. And she had even been the one to suggest brunch.
Maybe I hadn’t been completely honest with myself. I had gone to see her to see if there was anything left of the girl that had once been my whole world. A part of me had probably been pretty pushy even if I hadn’t realized it. Some urgent need probably showed on my face that had manipulated her into saying yes.
She might not have remembered anything from before, or at least, she might not have remembered me. But there was so much about her that reminded me of the girl she used to be. And there was so much about her that was new and different. She had grown up. She had become more herself. The girl was gone, and a woman was in her place.
And still, something about her had seemed so lost. I guess that was understandable, too. She had been through alot, and my memories were my most prized possessions. I couldn’t imagine what it had to be like, to lose them.
It didn’t change how I felt. I didn’t like being this down, and I usually tried to do something about it. Being depressed just pissed me off. To get out of a funk in the past, I would donate to a charity, push to be better at my sport or perhaps took a hike in the woods.
I would do something to enrich my life with things that weren’t about money. And most of the time, it helped.
Today, I was planning on running it out of my system. I had training in about an hour, and I was going to push as hard as I could for as long as I could. I was going to work myself to death if that was what it took.
I stepped into the shower and closed my eyes, letting the hot water run over my body and my face. I made the water as hot as I could bear, and I stood there for longer than I needed.
Before long, I couldn’t escape the thoughts of Sadie that came crashing into my mind. My cock was hard and I decided that taking it into my hand and playing with it would be as good a cure as any.
Try as I might not to, all I could think about while I stroked my hard cock was Sadie. Her seductive grey eyes. Her beautiful smile. That round ass and small waist.
God, she was so fucking hot. I remembered how I had taken her virginity, pushing my cock in and out of her pussy. I usually tried not to fantasize about that because it made me feel guilty— feeling pleasure out of remembering the night on which she had fallen. Especially when she herself couldn’t even remember it.
But now, I leaned onto the glass shower wall and pumped my cock harder, letting the images flood into my mind. Of her perfect tits I used to get to suck on. The way she would take my own cock into her hand and play with it like I’m playing with it now, but it was better when she was the one making it feel good.
I thought about how I wanted to do things to her I hadn’t gotten to do. Tie her up. Fuck her doggy style. Pick her up and carry her while her legs are spread around me until I’m pushing my cock into her and fucking her against the wall.
Holy shit. I felt a pulling at the base of my balls as my cock swelled up and then emptied itself into the shower. I welcomed the sweet release as I thought about her moans and the way she screamed my name when I made love to her.
It was what I needed, even if the thoughts of wanting what I couldn’t have, tortured me. Physically, I felt a lot better.
But by the time I got out, I was late for training.
I hurried to throw on my workout clothes and get out the door. It was time to get out of fantasy land and back to my reality of living life without Sadie in it.
The trip to the training facility always felt longer when I was in a bad mood. When I arrived, I looked around, searching for the cheerleaders that Sadie trained. I wanted to see her again, even if it would be from a distance.
“Get a grip, McMurray,” I told myself.
She wasn’t there. Just as well. I wasn’t sure I could afford a distraction. I was one of the best players on the team. I had a whole group of men that I couldn’t let down.
“Are you okay?” Hanson asked me when we ran through the same play for the tenth time, and I still couldn’t seem to get anything right. I fumbled the ball when I caught it, got trampled when I didn’t fumble, and I was out of breath long before training was over.
“Yeah, fine,” I lied.
Hanson nodded and let it slide. He was a good friend. Good friends didn’t push.
I couldn’t get Sadie off my mind. I tried to figure out what it was that was bugging me, and I couldn’t find it. It wasn’t just about seeing her again and having her reject me again. It was more.
When one of the forward players knocked the wind out of me in a tackle and I lay on the grass, gasping like a fish out of water, I realized what it was.
Sadie had seemed different before brunch than she had on Saturday. She had started off as if she knew me, really knew me. As time had passed, she had pushed me away until there had been nothing left of that sliver of the past, but it had been there.
For one small moment, something had been there. I was sure of it. I just wasn’t sure of how to get it back, capture it, keep it. It was almost as frustrating as those early days in the hospital had felt.
When we walked to the locker rooms together, Hanson and I walked side by side.
“I saw Sadie yesterday,” I said. “For brunch.”
Hanson glanced at me. “Shit. That’s big.”
“I asked her out for drinks after the game Saturday, but she was too tired.”
“How did it go?” Hanson asked.
“Well, she said she never wanted to see me again.”
Fucking fantastic, in other words.
I nodded. We walked into the locker rooms in silence. When we sat on the bench together, pulling off our protective gear, I told him what was on my mind.
“For a moment, it was different. It was like everything was the way it used to be. It didn’t last very long, I don’t even know how to tell you what it was that gave it away. I just…” I blew out a breath in a sigh. “I don’t know.”
Hanson stopped tugging at his gear and looked at me, one hand on his knee, elbow jutted out.
“Maybe you should keep doing it,” he said.
I looked at him. “And just keep screwing myself over?”
“Well, you said it was just a chat, just catching up, right?”
“So, keep doing that. Keep just getting to know who she is now. Maybe something will come of it. If you push too hard, she shuts down, but if you don’t? If you just let her be?”
I blinked at him.
“And if I fall for her again, and she pushes me away eventually? I’ve already lost two years of my life because of this. Two years of loving her. I don’t think I have that much more time to waste. Time is money now.”
Hanson shrugged. “Love is always a risk. It’s just a different kind now.”
I nodded slowly, and Hanson carried on stripping off his gear. I did the same, my mind spinning.
“You know, women are like sand,” Hanson said.
I pulled a face. “What?”
He shook his head and then said it again. “Sand. Beach sand, I mean, not that muddy shit. If you hold onto the sand tightly, it slips out of your fingers. You know that, right? When we used to go to the beach as kids?”
I nodded, not knowing what he was getting at.
“But if you cup your hand, it stays right there. You can keep it all if you don’t squeeze. If you don’t hold on so tightly.”
I understood what he was trying to say.
“That’s what I learned with Lacey, anyway. Her and her fear of kids, and we have one. It’s not the best scenario, but we’re making it work.”
But it wasn’t that easy. It was fine to say that I could keep her, if she decided to stay. But if she didn’t? I had told Hanson that I’d taken a long time to get over her. The truth was, I hadn’t gotten over her at all.
I’d just learned to live with a hole in my life, with a gap that would never be filled. I couldn’t afford to hope it would change, and this time, she might come back to me.
Hope was a dangerous thing. I had hoped, once, and it had damn near crippled me. I couldn’t do it again. It was easy for Hanson to tell me how I should handle it. He had been through a difficult time in his relationship once, too. But he still didn’t know what it felt like or what I’d been through.
Everything was easier said than done.
I collected my bag and left the training center to go to the cafeteria. I wasn’t hungry, but I had to keep feeding my body if I was going to push this hard.
Hanson’s words kept running through my head, what he said about the sand and holding on too tightly. It was all well and good to say I had to keep trying, to get to know her for who she was now, and to just spend time with her. Maybe she would end up remembering me if we spent enough time together.
But she had pushed me away. Again. She had told me she couldn’t do it, and she was right. I wasn’t able to argue, to tell her what she should and shouldn’t do. I had already made it that much harder for her just after the accident, pushing for her to remember me, pushing for her to know who I was when it just wasn’t going to happen.
I couldn’t do it to her again. I should leave well enough alone and leave everything the way it was. I had built a life without her, I’d become famous, and I did what I loved.
I didn’t need someone in my life.
It was a blatant lie, of course, and I knew it. I was lying to myself to try and get over her. I just couldn’t go through it all again. I couldn’t fall for her, get to a point where I didn’t want to live without her again, just for her to tell me she didn’t want me in her life anymore.
Flashbacks about our time together— if you could call it “together”— always appeared at the worst times, and grated the shit out of me. I didn’t like thinking back on the love we shared because it hurt like hell. I didn’t like thinking back to the pain, either, because it hurt even more.
It was another day in the very opposite of paradise— Sadie’s hospital room.
“Hello, Beautiful,” I said as I walked in, winking at her and trying to act normal, as if I wasn’t praying against all hope that this time she would actually recognize me.
She looked up at me. Her eyes were dull, the gray so light it was like an overcast day with no promise of rain or sun.
“Hi,” she said listlessly.
She had stopped fighting me about her memories, about what I was trying to get back. At first, she would get angry with me and tell me I was asking the impossible of her. Later, she would cry and tell me she was nothing more than a disappointment. Now, there was nothing left.
I had been upset about her mood swings, her violent fits of rage, and her hysterical outbursts. Sadie had always been a stable girl, someone everyone had depended on.
Now, she was unpredictable, different. To the point where I missed her instability, her fits of rage. All of that had been better than this lifeless shell sitting on her bed, staring at me like she was tired.
It wasn’t sleep tired, either. It was like she was tired of life. I could understand that.
Her mom hadn’t wanted to let me in. She had told me to let it go, to leave things as they were. There was only so much any of us could do before it became clear nothing was going to work. And she was beginning to get resentful that I kept pushing Sadie to remember things long after she had given up.
I often wondered if her mom was as mad at me as I was for “causing” the accident. She hadn’t even known we’d been at High Rock. I had had to call her and explain the awful news and she had come rushing with Sadie’s dad to the hospital.
So, it was natural to think she might be telling me to leave as a punishment. She’d never said she was angry with me— in fact, she had reassured me that it wasn’t my fault and that she knew that Sadie and I loved each other very much. She had often hoped and prayed that Sadie would remember me so we could be together again.
But by that point, she agreed with the doctors that it was better that I stay away. She said perhaps Sadie would have more peace and time alone to heal. Part of me even know she was right.
But I was stubborn. I didn’t want to listen. I wanted Sadie back and seeing her this way hurt me more and more every day.
Lately, I had been angry that I was the only one left with hope. Everyone else had thrown in the towel. Three months had been enough for Sadie to lose everyone she couldn’t remember, and I wouldn’t be another one of those people abandoning her.
But I understood it when I looked into her eyes. They were vacant, empty of fire, empty of the life I used to love about her.
Was this what we had come to?
I sat down next to her. I’d stopped reaching for her hand, trying to hold onto her. She wasn’t comfortable touching me anymore. Why would she be? I was a stranger to her now.
She knew some people, like the salesman she’d met a week before the accident when he had come knocking on her parent’s door trying to sell them a silly set of Encyclopedias. We had laughed at him later— who the hell buys Encyclopedias anymore? Doesn’t he know there’s a thing called Google now? Has he not heard of the Internet?— but she didn’t know me when we had dated for two years.
She remembered the guy, kind of, but nothing at all about us laughing or joking about the guy, because she didn’t remember me or anything at all about me. I didn’t understand how it was possible.
The doctors said they couldn’t explain it, but it was normal.
What the fuck was normal? Who the fuck were they to tell me this was normal?
And what did they learn in school if not what the hell was going on with their patients and why? I knew I was misplacing blame onto the doctors who were taking great care of Sadie, but I was beyond the point of caring.
It seemed all they did was tell me “I don’t know, but it’s normal. We’ll just have to wait and see. The brain is a peculiar thing,” and other such fucking bullshit nonsense that made me want to slam my fist through the window of Sadie’s hospital room and pull both of us through the hole I would make. Maybe I had some crazy idea that by doing that, we could be sucked back into the past, or into some alternative universe where she hadn’t had the accident or she at least still had her memory.
But as I saw the look on her face as she opened her mouth to talk to me, I could tell she had different ideas. She just wanted this to be over with.
“Brian, I can’t do this,” she said.
When she looked up at me, her face was solemn, her eyes big, but there was no trace of tears.
“What?” I asked.
It was a fucking ridiculous and completely unnecessary question, since I already knew wh
She shook her head.
“All of this,” she said. “I can’t do it anymore. It’s not fair to you, and let’s face it. I’m never going to be the same. I don’t know who you are, and every time you expect me to remember something and I don’t, I just feel like more and more of a disappointment.”
I heard a loud crack then. I shook my head.
“Don’t do this, baby, please.”
Her face closed a little at the accidental pet name.
“Don’t push me away,” I said, but I knew it was too late.
She shook her head again. Her hair was straight and plastered up against her head from lying in her hospital bed. It didn’t have the curly ringlets from the night of prom. But it still looked beautiful to me, as did everything else about her, and I couldn’t believe I was losing all of her.
“I’m sorry,” she said.
She looked at me with a face that said she was sorry she hurt me, but she wasn’t hurting, too. She didn’t feel a thing. She told the man she’d loved for two years goodbye without shedding a tear, and I had no choice but to walk out of her life for good.
Present Day and Back Then
I thought not speaking to Brian would make everything better again. I had pushed him away the first time, and it had helped. All the reminders of everything forgotten had gone away with him, and I had been able to move on with my life. Or at least, what had been left of it.