Imperfect, p.17

Imperfect, page 17



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  He shoves her out of the way and takes a swing at me, barely making contact with my chin. I strike back, hitting him hard in the nose with my sore hand. God it hurt, but it felt so good.

  People clear out from around us as we exchange blows. Barstools crash to the ground and break apart as our bodies flail around the bar area, punching wildly at each other.

  We are on the ground when someone pulls me off him. “You two need to take it outside!” A massive wall of a man has me by the neck of my jacket.

  “I think we’re done here.” I wipe my bloody lip on the tail of my shirt. The man I was fighting is slow to get off the ground. The redhead helps him up by the elbow. I yank free of the man’s grip and head to my bike. I should feel like I burned off some energy, but now I feel an even bigger surge.

  I head out a little further north and stop when I come to a train trestle. I park my bike in the dirt before the bridge and take off my helmet and jacket so that I can feel the cool air of the night. Small lights on the side of the trestle light my way. I walk to the very center and stretch my arms outward and turn in circles. I feel so alive.

  I step up next to the edge and all I can see is darkness. I can’t tell how far down the water is. It would be such a rush to bungee jump from the trestle. As I look out into the darkness a sudden sadness spreads over me. What the hell am I doing? I can’t live in the darkness. I’ve been there and my life imploded. I lost Aedon and I almost lost my life. I finally have her back and I’m an idiot. I know from my history that I can’t control my mood swings without my medication. I love the thrill of the highs, but the lows are too much. I can’t think about anything other than being pulled under by them.

  “Why can’t I fucking be normal?!” I scream out into the night. All I want is to love Aedon and to be able to help people. “Is that too much to ask?!” I yell again. I have no idea who I’m yelling at. The shadows of my irrational depression pull me in and I curl up on the ground in the fetal position.

  “Aedon, I’m so sorry.” I made her a promise not to fall apart again and here I am, in the middle of nowhere, completely broken. She deserves so much better than me. She deserves Wren and I already know he’s in love with her.

  I lay on the ground for over an hour before I’m able to gather the strength to get up. I’m mentally and physically drained. I put my helmet and jacket back on and kick my leg out over my bike.

  The ride home is a complete blur. I make my way into my apartment and go directly into the closet to find my bottle of medication. I sit on the floor and pick it up, removing the lid.

  “You win.” I double the dose I would normally take to get back under control, swallowing down the dry pills as tears spill down my cheeks. I know after some sleep and the pills take effect, I’ll be back wearing the stuffy suit and tie that the real me doesn’t want to be in.

  I lay flat on the floor in the closet. My mind is on Aedon. What a beautiful creature she is. She’s perfect in every way. She doesn’t need someone so imperfect, so flawed. I love her and only her. The question is, do I love her enough to finally let her go?

  Pain stabs at my heart at the thought. If I stay here, I will never let her go. I will always want to be touching her, holding her, enjoying her conversations. Trying to make her laugh. Picking that beautiful brain of hers for ideas and trying to keep her safe. Safe. Part of keeping her safe is keeping her away from me.

  Chapter 29


  “I slept so well,” I say, stretching and reaching for Ashe. His side of the bed is empty and cold. The aroma of coffee drifts to my nostrils – he must be in the kitchen already. A touch of soreness tinges my muscles when I move. I smile, remembering our lovemaking last night. I fall back onto my soft pillow, biting my lip at my carnal thoughts. I love how he loves me. I love how he makes love to me. Hell, I like it even more when he just downright fucks me. I couldn’t be happier that we’ve been able to put our lives back together. There is no one in this world I want like him. I don’t think want is a strong enough word.

  Just lying here thinking about him has revved my libido back into full gear. He does that to me. Funny thing is, he can get me going with a simple shy smile. Sometimes it’s just a look from those gorgeous green eyes of his. Damn, now I’m all worked up and he’s in the other room. I need to go take care of this ache I’m starting to feel.

  I sit on the side of the bed and strip off my shirt. I don’t have to worry about my panties, because he took care of those last night. I smile to myself thinking about it, then step in the bathroom to brush my teeth real quick and run my fingers through my tangled hair.

  I bounce out into the living room, stark naked and ready to do some naughty things to my man. “Oh, my God, Wren! What are you doing here?” I grab a pillow off the couch and cover the front of me. “I thought you were Ashe.” I can feel my entire body blushing.

  He has his coffee mug to his lips. “Right now, I’m wishing I was Ashe.”

  I walk backward to my room, keeping myself covered. I pull the robe off the back of my door and wrap it tightly around me, then bravely go back out and face him.

  “How did you get in here?” I take the mug from his hand.

  “The door was unlocked. I called out but no one answered. I peeked in your bedroom and saw you sleeping, so I decided I’d stay and make you some coffee.”

  I glance around the apartment. “Where’s Ashe?”

  “I haven’t seen him since last night. He was going out for a ride on his bike.”

  “You didn’t try to stop him?”

  “He’s a grown man, if he wants to go for a ride, he can.”

  My fingernails go to my mouth and Wren pulls my hand down. “This isn’t good,” I say.

  “What isn’t good?” His brows draw together.

  “I think he quit taking his meds, but he won’t admit it.”

  “What makes you think that? I know he missed a couple doses when we were in Washington, but I was there when they were delivered to the hotel room.”

  “He’s… well… he’s more intense than normal.”

  “Why, because he bought a motorcycle?” he laughs.

  How do I explain last night to him? His lovemaking was like it used to be when he was on a high. I can’t tell him that. “I know him and so do you. Think about how he’s been acting.”

  Wren pulls me to sit with him on the couch. “He’s been acting weird and all possessive because of me.” He stares at me.

  “What do you mean?” I’m really worried.

  “When Ashe and I were trying to get to you…I told him that I was in love with you.” He swallows hard but doesn’t break eye contact.

  “What? Why would you tell him that?” I can feel a knot building in my stomach.

  “Because it’s the truth. I’ve always been in love with you. Ever since the first day I laid eyes on you in high school.”

  “No, we were just friends. Maybe that’s not exactly the truth. I thought I was in love with you at one time. We were young when we met. I wasn’t ready for a relationship. I was determined not to let anything get in the way of med school for me, so I kept my feelings for you at arm’s length. There was a time, I thought we would end up together.” I start to stand, but he places his hand on my knee.

  “I’ve always wanted more from you than you were willing to give me. I knew you loved me, but you wouldn’t let me in. I even went to med school because I wanted to be near you. I thought maybe in time you would finally give into what I knew you felt for me, but then…”

  “I met Ashe.” I whisper the words.

  “You met Ashe,” he nods. “I knew instantly that I had lost you to him. The bad thing is, I understood why. I really liked the guy. I thought when you two had your falling out that things would change between us.” He finally looks down.

  “Because I came to you that night.” My heart aches for him. I reach over and take his hand. “I wasn’t thinking straight at the time. I thought maybe being with you would finally make me
get over Ashe. I knew you wanted me and I honestly wanted you that night, but the next morning, it didn’t feel right. I didn’t feel the way for you I did for him. I loved you. I do love you still, but my heart belongs to him. I’m so, so sorry.”

  “I don’t regret it.” He looks back up at me.

  How do I tell him that I do because it has been a source of pain for him? I love him, but I’m not in love with him, and it wasn’t until that night that I knew the difference between the two. It was a rash decision that I made and he’s paid the price for my mistake ever since.

  “What did Ashe say to you when you told him?”

  “He didn’t get a chance to say much of anything. I hit him.”

  “You hit him?” I release his hand.

  “I’m not proud of it. Things were a little intense to say the least.” He takes my hand back in his. “Why didn’t you ever love me like him?” he asks with moisture filling his eyes.

  “I didn’t choose to fall in love with him. Actually, I had no choice. He was the half of me I had always been missing. When I saw him, he was my next breath. I knew I would never breathe without him again. Every little thing he did after the moment I met him made me fall deeper in love with him. I didn’t care that he was broken until he crushed my heart into a million little pieces. Even then, I still loved him.”

  I get up and start walking around the room. “I felt so guilty for the longest time because I loved his highs as much as he did. He was larger than life and happy. He was daring and would push me to go beyond my comfort zone. I knew there was something wrong with him, but I didn’t encourage him to get help until his lows were so bad that I literally hurt for him. When he tried to kill himself, I had to get away from him. Not because I didn’t love him, but because I didn’t want him to take me down that road with him. So, I chose to stay away, but never out of sight. I resigned myself to knowing that I would always be alone because I could never undo what fate had in store for me with him.”

  I stop walking and kneel down in front of him. “So, you see it wasn’t just you. I would…I will never love anyone like I love him. There is no choice for me. I’m so sorry.” Tears stream down my face because I know I’ve hurt him.

  His hand reaches out and dries my tears. “We’re going to be okay.”

  I hug him. “I do love you, Wren.”

  “I know you do, baby.” He kisses the side of my head. “How about you go get dressed and I’ll call Ashe to make sure he’s okay.”

  I draw back from him. “Thank you for always being here for me.”

  “I always will be, even if I have to beat the shit out of Ashe if he hurts you again,” he laughs.

  He stands with me and I hug him again. I hear the door open behind me before I release him out of my arms.

  Ashe’s eyes look dark and that vein is popping out in the middle of his forehead as his brows draw together. “What the hell is going on here?” His voice is deep and defensive.

  I release Wren and wipe my nose on my sleeve. “We were just…”

  “Screwing around behind my back?” He strides toward us. “I know how he feels about you and I’ve known for a while you have feelings for him too.”

  “It’s not like that.” Wren puts me behind him and stands between Ashe and me.

  They have a staring contest for a few moments. Wren’s fists are tight at his side like he’s preparing for battle. “We are partners and friends. How did I not see it until recently that you’re in love with her?” They are now nose to nose. Ashe is twice the size of Wren in muscle strength and he could really hurt him, but Wren is not backing down.

  “Because you were blind. I loved her long before you came along. If anyone should be pissed it should be me,” he hisses through clenched teeth.

  Ashe glances past Wren and looks at me. “Are you in love with him?” The vein in his forehead is throbbing.

  “No, not like you think.”

  “What the hell kind of answer is that? Either you do or you don’t. Which is it, Aedon?”

  “I’m in love with you and I always have been.” I step from around Wren. “He and I were clearing the air.” His hand traces the low cut of my robe causing a rawness to ignite in me. I cinch it tighter around my waist and pull the top together.

  “Dressed in a robe with nothing on underneath it,” he snarls.

  “I thought it was you in my kitchen. I didn’t realize I needed to get dressed before I came out of my room.” His glare scours my body, like he knows I was really naked when I came out. I take a deep breathe in, knowing I need to come clean. “When you and I broke up years ago, I saw you on a date with a woman. I was walking down Park Ave and saw the two of you sitting inside a cozy little restaurant by candlelight. It tore me a part that you had moved on and I was still trying to get over you. I ran to Wren that night and we…”

  He takes a step back. “You slept with him?” His voice is low, but I can hear the betrayal in it.

  “We weren’t together at the time. You have no right to be angry.” I step toward him.

  “No right?” he laughs. “He was my best friend and that’s who you chose to run to?!” His voice is bellowing.

  “You forget that he was my best friend too, long before you came into the picture,” I snap back.

  “Oh, I get it now.” He turns toward the door. “You were in love with him before me.”

  I follow after him. “Maybe I was at one time, but all that changed the day I met you.”

  “Maybe for you, but not for him.” He points at Wren. “I see the way he looks at you when you’re not looking.” His hand grabs the doorknob.

  “Please, this is not at all what you think. I love you.”

  “You love me only when my mind is seduced by the drugs.”

  I reach out and slap him across the face and he doesn’t even flinch. “That’s not true and you know it. I’ve loved you in spite of everything you put me through. You needed those medications so that you wouldn’t kill yourself and I couldn’t stand back and watch it happen!” I take a calming breath. “You are the best person I know. You give so much of yourself to other people and take nothing back. I love the man that you are. I love the man that you were without the meds, when you were high on life. You were unstoppable. I fell in love with that man, so much so that I hurt for you when you were at your lows. I loved that man too, enough to give up the vibrant man that loved life on his highs. You say you’re not yourself on the drugs, but I see you. I see that man. Why can’t you?” My tears finally start to fall.

  “You see a controlled version of me. The last few days, he’s been free and it has felt so damn good.”

  I step back from him. “I knew you weren’t taking your meds. It felt so good, but what happens when you hit your low point?”

  “I hit it last night and I came home and swallowed down those pills that I hate, because of you. I’d rather be numb and have you, then get drowned in my own pathetic thoughts.” He opens the door. “The way I see it…you’re better off with him.” He points at Wren and slams the door behind him. I fall to my knees crying. Wren’s arms reach underneath me and pick me up, cradling me to his body and he sits on the couch with me. He lets me cry until I’m all cried out. I finally stand on my own two feet.

  “You know this doesn’t change anything between us. He is still the one I’m in love with,” I sniff.

  “I know it doesn’t, but I will always be here for you, even if you don’t feel the same way about me.” The hurt I caused him is engraved in his face.

  Chapter 30


  I tried Ashe’s phone several times last night, but he didn’t answer. I envisioned him sitting on his leather couch with a whiskey in one hand and his phone in the other. In my mind, he stared at it while it rang for the millionth time and then threw it across the room, shattering a mirror and the phone.

  I laid in my bed bawling my eyes out, contemplating whether I should go to him or not. I got up and got dressed twice, but each time ended up
convincing myself that he needed time. The third time I got dressed, I went to the movie house that he loves so much, expecting to find him there, but he wasn’t. I sat in the back row hoping he would come in at any moment, and instead ended up falling asleep. When I woke up, I was bunched up in the chair and one of Ashe’s old soft cotton rock and roll t-shirts was covering me. I sat there in the back of the dingy theatre, holding his shirt to my nose so I could smell him, feel close to him. I sobbed silently in the back row, all alone.

  Now, I’m standing in front of the mirror in my bathroom, trying to hide the dark circles under my eyes. The tears have finally stopped flowing. I dab on some lip gloss and pull my hair into a messy bun. Instead of putting on a skirt and blouse, I pull on a pair of skinny jeans and throw on his t-shirt that he covered me with, and a pair of Keds. I’m determined to make this work with us. I can’t lose him again, I don’t think I’ll survive it.

  I grab my bag and head out on foot to the office. People step aside for me on the sidewalk as I run at a full sprint towards my destination. My side throbs, but I ignore it. I bite at my pink nail polish as the elevator takes me to our floor.

  Ander is sitting at his desk with earphones in, but no one else is here. I check my watch and see that it’s almost noon. Ashe is usually the first one in the office. Ander finally sees me and he yanks his earphones out.

  “I didn’t think you were coming into the office this week. Ashe said you needed time to recover.”

  My eyes gaze over at his desk. “Has he been here?”

  He reaches in his desk and pulls out a white envelope. “He told me to give you this when you showed up.”

  My hand shakes as I take it from him and I can feel my heart almost stop beating. “Has Wren been in?”

  “He was here early this morning with Ashe when I came into work. They were both in the back corner having a heated conversation, but they got quiet when they saw me. Is there something I need to know?”

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