CHAPTER 57 - MY WORST FEAR
“Why did you take me here?” I wondered, confused as to why did we come to a museum of astronomy of all places.
Ryan chuckled. “You don’t remember, do you?”
I squinted my eyes, scanning the place. It looked abandoned. As if it’d been closed for a while, in fact we could only enter because he had the key. I smiled when I realized. “Of course. Our third date.”
“Indeed.” Ryan guided me to the same spot where that night we lay, to observe the constellations on the ceiling. “I thought that, after the cemetery, this would cheer you up.”
It wasn’t easy lying on the floor in my conditions, but I rejected his every attempt at helping me. We went to visit Violet’s grave. She wanted to be buried here, next to her husband, so they complied. It wasn’t easy, I’ll admit, but I managed not to let my hormones lead, and I didn’t cry. I’ve cried so many tears within over a year, I’m sick and tired of it.
First I cried for Ryan. Then it was about my troubles. And now the final blow ... Jake. Don’t get me wrong, I hate his guts for what he did, and I do not have the slightest intention of giving in. But I would lie, if I said I don’t love him anymore. I’d like if I said I don’t miss him like the air I breathe. I’d lie, if I said I don’t cry for him.
I hate myself for it afterwards, but ... it’s inevitable. I was already seeing our future. I never have, I’ve never once been able to see past the few months I had ahead, but with Jake ... I saw it. I saw Ryan back in the day, I saw our future, but it didn’t feel as completely right and fulfilling as this one, I suppose because, in the end, I still doubted.
And that’s the whole point. I was sure, so very sure that Jake and I would last. I was sure we would fight for each other. I was sure that amongst every issue that might have pulled us apart, cheating wouldn’t have been one of them. Because I trusted him, go figure. I trusted Jake blindly enough not to ever doubt him in this sense. If I was grouchy when women flirted, it was because I was jealous, but that didn’t mean I didn’t trust him.
God, I learned so long ago that I should never trust promises. Yet I fell for it anyways. Because I wanted to, because I needed to believe in something, and Jake seemed a great place to start, given what we had. How stupid of me.
“Thank you.” I heaved a deep sigh, eyes on the ceiling. “I needed this.”
Ryan reached for my hand, cracking a small smile. “Like I said, I’m here when you need.”
How familiar. Yet what struck me the most was that he was never this explicit back in the day. It’s as if now that we weren’t together he felt free to be more open in every sense. I’m not sure why is that, I just know that it made things a lot easier and less awkward.
“Have you given a thought to what I said?” Ryan wondered, cutting straight to the chase.
I inhaled deeply. “I have. But ... I haven’t changed my mind.”
“I know you think it’s wrong, Rye. But ... even more so now, keeping this baby would be impossible.”
“You wouldn’t be alone, I-”
“You don’t understand, Rye.” I slipped my hand out of his, and placed it over my belly bump. 7 weeks to go. “I couldn’t keep this child even if I wanted to. It’s ...” I closed my eyes, trying hard to contain the ache within my chest as tears inevitably sprung to my eyes. “It would remind me of him.”
“I know that, but-”
“Besides, I’ve met Mr. and Dr. Levinson. They’re nice people, I’m sure it’ll grow up well with them.”
“He.” Ryan pointed out. “He will grow up well. But someday he will want to know about his biological parents.”
“How do you know it’s ...” I turned around, confused, “... never mind.”
“Dr. Stuart told me.”
“That woman really knows nothing of her job, does she?” I scoffed.
He chuckled. “Don’t take it out on her, I pressed her.”
“Of course you would.” I made the mistake of taking him to the check up the other day. I wouldn’t have, it was highly inappropriate and stupid, but ... he caught me in a vulnerable moment, and I didn’t have the strength to refuse.
This whole business, this friendship with my ex, the fact that he’s there, helping through this damn pregnancy, it’s so absurd. It’s a completely idiotic idea. Not because we might be tempted to trip into old habits, but because the breakup did shatter us both, so we should have kept the clear cut. No friendship. But again, Ryan caught me in a vulnerable moment, so ... I can’t deny I enjoy his company. It makes me think of good old days, when everything was simpler. When I was so crushed that I was bold enough to not only ask him out, but also confess my feelings right off the bat and before him even.
“The point is,” Ryan restarted, taking back my hand, “someday this child will want to meet his real parents. What will you do then?”
“Who knows. I might not even be there anymore.” I said absentmindedly, which had Ryan squeezed my hand in concern. “Sorry, I wasn’t-”
“Don’t even joke like that, Sil.” He reprimanded, his look harsh.
“I know, I’m sorry, I just-”
“I know it’s a hard time for you, but you’re a fighter, and you’ll get through it.”
If only that were true. I closed my eyes, once more letting go of his hand. “But you see, it’s not easy to keep fighting when you’ve lost the strength to. It’s not easy to fight when your heart is bleeding debilitating you day by day.” I let tears stream my cheeks as I inhaled deeply. “It’s not easy to fight when every day you wake up reminding yourself that the one person that should have cherished you, the one person that promised not to hurt you, did exactly that, and without a care in the world.”
Ryan didn’t answer. He was too busy listening, or trying not to, I guess. I sighed, wiping away the tears. “I’m sorry. I keep forgetting whom am I talking to.” The ex boyfriend whose heart you accidentally broke shouldn’t exactly be the first person you talk about your cheating ex to, don’t you think?”
“It’s alright. We can talk about him, if you want.”
“I’m fine, really.” He flaunted a bigger smiled than needed, to convince me, but I knew he wasn’t. It’s odd how it was him to end it between us, yet it was him to take the fall. I may have been through a rough time after the breakup, but I survived, and it was mostly thanks to Jake, or rather, it was mostly due to my sneaking feelings for Jake. While Ryan? He was on his own, or rather, he had his grandma, but now even that support is gone.
“As someone that has been cheated on, I understand how you feel.” Ryan said, eyes on the ceiling. “You wonder why did he do that, why did he break his every promise. Then you ask yourself where did you go wrong. Was it your fault? Did you neglect him in some way?”
“I can assure you, I haven’t even considered it being my fault.”
“But you certainly have considered blaming the pregnancy.” Ryan hit the bull’s eye. “You have thought, at least once, that maybe he cheated because the pregnancy pulled you apart in a ... physical sense. Or that he may have done it as a response to your predicament, as an unconscious way of saying he wanted nothing to do with it.”
I have. I’ve considered it was one of his coping mechanisms. I’ve considered that the past months have been hard for him, no pun intended. I know it’s possible to have sex until the 6th or 7th month, but I didn’t feel like it. So Jake was on short. I did consider it might have been that. But it wasn’t, I know it wasn’t. Same as it wasn’t his way of dissociating from the pregnancy, because we fully agreed on what to do about it.
“My point is, I know how you feel right now.” Ryan claimed, turning his head to look me in the eyes as he reached out for my hand. “You’re angry and hurt. You feel like a bottle that’s ready to explode. You feel like screaming at the top of your lungs and at the same time crying your heart out.” He squeezed my hand. “I tell you, do either of those, or whatever else you prefer. But don’t give up on your child just because of him, Silvia. Don’t give up on your child just because his father is a jackass.”
“You’re probably right. But the thing is, as cold as it sounds, I never wanted this baby in the first place.” I sighed, rubbing my belly bump, which is getting bigger and bigger. “Believe me, Rye, he’s gonna be much better off with Mr. and Dr. Levinson.”
My ex stared at me for the longest, clearly unconvinced, and in the end he sighed. “I just hope you won’t regret it afterwards.”
“I regret plenty of things. Like falling for the baby’s father. But usually I cope, and I will this time, too.” I half smiled. “I’m made of a sturdier stuff than you imagine.” I hope so.
I don’t even know why I’m here. I should have listened to Tess, and let her handle it. Or I could have taken Ryan with me. Anything would have worked, but not coming to the lion’s lair on my own. Either I snap and kill him, or I let him woo me into forgiveness. One way or the other, it’s bound to end badly.
I stood before Jake’s door, a box in my hands. Not just any box, but the box. The one containing all his belongings that he left at my place, and every residual of our relationship. I want nothing to do with him anymore, and seeing those things at home every time causes me a sharp pang I am not willing to submit myself to.
I chose a terrible moment, though. Today we would have celebrated our first anniversary. I don’t even know what compelled me to come here exactly today. I just couldn’t avoid it.
We’ve been apart for over three months now, though. I haven’t seen him nor heard of him. Tess says he quit going to work and his uncle is consequently furious, in fact he called me. When I told him what happened, even Mr. Watson cursed his nephew’s behavior, which is funny because in the end he had predicted it. He did say Jake would cheat on me while I was pregnant, and so he did.
I shouldn’t have come here on such a peculiar date, but I couldn’t resist anymore. It was either give him his things back and move on, or burn down everything related to him. Be it only not to have to call the firemen, I chose the first one.
I knocked on his door, rang the bell three times, but nobody came to the door. I stepped back with a sigh, wondering whether I should just leave these things here, he’ll see them when he comes back. It would be easier, wouldn’t it? I wouldn’t even have to see him.
They say the pain you feel when you go through a breakup is proportional to the love you felt. If that’s true, then it’s a miracle I can even breathe despite the searing pain to my chest every time. Jake once said I was the air he breathed. He failed to realize that, so he was for me.
I knocked a fourth and a fifth time, but I received no answer. For a moment I considered using my own key, but last time didn’t go too well, did it? If he’s in there with some rebound chick, I don’t want to see it. It’s already impossible to delete the image of him eagerly kissing and touching Olivia, I couldn’t endure anything else.
So I left the box on the mat. He’ll see it when he come back or goes out. I took the keys to his apartment from my purse, and placed them on the box. I should have moved, left, but I couldn’t. It was the last act of a disastrous relationship, I should have parted from it eagerly, contently, yet I couldn’t.
Rubbing my belly, I sighed. “You’re lucky, kid, believe me. Your actual parents are screw-ups. You’re gonna be so better off with the Levinsons.”
“How do you know that?”
God, I should have moved earlier. I closed my eyes, refusing to cry once again. He holds no power over me, I won’t cry. “Because his father is a jackass and his mother is a fool.”
Jake sighed, and I heard him coming closer, but I didn’t dare look up, afraid even only seeing him would make me waver in my resolutions. I will not let my stupid feelings guide me. Not this time. “Better a fucked up family than none at all, you can trust my word on that.” He claimed.
“Maybe. But I’d rather not wake every morning and be reminded of you.” I admitted without thinking. “If I could, I would erase you from my every memory.”
Jake exhaled harshly, as if his lungs couldn’t quite make it. When he basically dropped against the wall, I finally looked up, and came to terms with the miserable sight.
He was wounded, bruises covered a good half of his face, blood gushed from his broken nose, and I’m not sure the rest of his bones were alright as well. “What the hell did you do?”
Jake barked out a laugh that seemed to exhaust his lungs. “Why do you care, didn’t you leave me?”
“What did you get yourself into?” I insisted, crossing my arms over my chest.
Jake, in response, pulled off the wall, which seemed to have served as a surface to rest again, walked over to his door, and kicked the box away. “None of your business.”
“It’s not, you’re right.” I spat. “I just wanted to know whether you went legal or illegal this time.” Either he got in a fight, which is not unbelievable, sure, or ... he went back to his old habit. MMA is not violent enough for one like him, you can believe it.
“Why? You wanna report me to the police?” Jake opened the door with a laugh, even though his lungs seemed to be clearly suffering.
“I wanna know whether you’re destroying yourself or it’s just a whim.”
“Well, you said I’m dead to you, so why do you care?”
I clenched my jaw, tired of his victimized attitude. “You’re right, I don’t.” I stepped back. “You’ve got your sweet little Olivia to cure your wounds.”
“Oh, please, get over it. I made a mistake. It’s been three months. Just get past it.”
“As I’m sure you would, if you were in my shoes.” I scoffed, taking one more step back. “If you don’t even grasp why can’t I forgive you, then we have nothing to say to each other.”
“You’re doing all the talking. I’m just politely not slamming the door in your face, as you so love to do.”
I didn’t even care to reply. I just turned on my heels, and left, without a word. Let him be beaten black and blue, he likes it, after all. It gives him adrenaline, he says. When he’ll have broken all his bones I certainly won’t go to the hospital for him.
I must be stupid, so very stupid. Why did I even come here, I don’t know. Not the right place for a pregnant woman, I guess. But what else could I do? Serene called, then Tess called, even Colin called.
Jake is down a dangerous path, they said. He’s going to really destroy himself this time, they said. I flaunted my indifference, yet here I was today, in search of my bastard ex boyfriend.
When I said illegal fighting, I meant exactly that. Take Fight Club and add drug cartels plus criminals of every sort and absolute mercilessness. That’s the kind of environment Jake got sucked back into.
Colin told me his best friend went home every night worse. Until he just quit going back all at once. Each of them tried to convince him to quit this lunacy, but none of them succeeded, not even Serene. So in the end they called in the main responsible for this downfall, aka the woman that brutally crushed his heart after he broke hers.
This is probably the worst decision I’ve ever made in my entire life. Coming to a far away warehouse in the depths of the worst New York, where secret illegal cage fights are held. I basically walked in on every possible scumbag. I’m pretty sure there are murderers amongst these people. Yet you know what, my worst fear didn’t concern them. My worst fear concerned Jake, and the fact that, the moment I got to the cage, I saw him lying on the floor, unconscious.