I'm Here to Fix You

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Chapter 73

CHAPTER 74 - A BIG FAT LIAR

SILVIA

“A good luck kiss, huh?” I giggled when Joe pulled back.

“Well, it worked, didn’t it? They scored.” He answered cheekily, pecking my lips.

“You don’t even root for this team.” I pointed out.

“On the contrary, I am a keen fan of ...” he turned to look at the screen, squinting his eyes to see the name of the National team that just scored. “Russia. I’m a keen fan of Russia.”

I rolled my eyes, though amused. At least he finally grew some balls and kissed me. If I’m lucky, tonight he’ll also get the hint and take me to his place or come over to mine. I mean, I accepted that our second date would be with his friends. In a bar. Watching a World Cup match that doesn’t even concern our country. If that’s not a hint ... if this doesn’t work I’ll have to show up naked at his place.

Joe kissed my cheek, and I giggled again. My eye fell on the exit, though, and I was surprised to see the elevator stranger-Jake. He looked vexed, but was staring my way. I cracked a small smile, and waved at him, but he swiftly ignored me, choosing to get out. I definitely didn’t make a friend there today. Oh, well, I’ll survive.

“You know what, this match is boring.” Joe sighed, wrapping an arm around me to pull me closer. “How about we go somewhere else? We could get ice cream.”

Oh, finally. “Or ...” I bit my lips, trying to be sexy, but I doubt I made it, I probably looked like a seal with conjunctivitis, “we could go to your place ...”

He smiled. “You’re making it real hard for me, you know that?”

“I’m actually planning on making other things hard, but ... you know, I’ll settle for this for now.” I laughed at my own corny joke. I know, I know, I’m bad at this whole seducing thing. I wonder how did I manage before. To be honest, I’m just ... going with the wind. Spontaneous. Que sera sera, right? I have enough problems trying to recollect memories, I don’t want my “new” life to be so complicated. Besides, maybe old me was just as spontaneous.

Joe smiled, only to then peck my lips. “You know you need to be careful, you only got out of the hospital a few weeks ago and ...”

Boldly, and taking advantage of the fact that nobody was paying attention to us, as focused as they were on the match, I leaned in enough to whisper in his ear, hoping my attempt at a raucous voice sounded sexy, not asthmatic: “I hear sex is a pretty effective pain killer ...”

"Merda.” Joe hissed through his hitched breaths when I grabbed his hand. I love when he speaks Italian. Not because it reminds me of a country I come from but have no memory of, but because his Italian is clearly influenced by English, so it’s cute. “Alright. My place.” He finally decided.

“Hallelujah.” I laughed. Finally action.

***

When my phone vibrated, I silently slid out of bed, grabbing the sheets to cover myself, and headed out on the balcony. Thankfully Joe is a heavy sleeper, so he didn’t notice.

“Where the hell are you?!” Tess barked in my ear the moment I took the call.

I grimaced, though apologized. “Yes, sorry, I ... forgot to warn you I wouldn’t sleep at home tonight.” You need to know, my best friend has basically decided to move in with me. She says it’s for my own safety, because with this whole amnesia thing I’m dazed and I could get hurt, also my bones are still on the process of healing. I keep telling everyone that my body is in perfect health, the problem is psychological, but they all treat me like I’m made of glass. The “accident” was so heavy that it scared the hell out of them, definitely.

Also, Tess is convinced that amnesia makes me unable to look out for myself. I keep telling her I have no memory of my past, but I know full well what’s what and where’s what, also, my brain works, memories aren’t there, but my brain works perfectly fine, doctor said that much. Amnesia is weird like that, like I said. But she won’t hear it, so now she sleeps over at my place every night, sometimes David joins, but only because she can’t stay too long without him. Cute, huh?

“Where are you?” Her voice was halfway between an accuse and a concerned plea. Then she gasped. “You’re not ...” I heard a sound, something like ... her gritting her teeth? Something of the sort. “He’s there with you, isn’t he?”

“Uh ... we slept together, so yes.” I giggled to myself, eyeing Joe from the balcony. Definitely one hell of a heavy sleeper. Then again, we did wear each other out tonight, if you know what I mean ...

Tess cursed, though, loud and clear. I don’t understand why. I thought she liked Joe. Actually, she was the one to prep me when I needed to woman up and ask him out. It was her to say that amnesia shouldn’t keep me from living my life, which is hypocritical if you think she barely lets me take one step without her knowing, but I’ll blame that on over-protectiveness. So if she was glad I dived back into dating so easily, why was she so mad that I slept with Joe?

Tess went on ranting, so fast that I could barely make out a word of what she said. I was baffled. But also somewhat offended. Best friend, okay, but it’s not like she can just decide for me. “Give him the phone.” She barked in the end.

“What?”

“Give him the phone. I wanna talk to that moron!”

I frowned. “Uh ... Tess, no offense, but this doesn’t concern you.” I said calmly. “I mean, thank you for taking care of me and all, but ... my sex life is my business only.”

“It’s mine too when you hook up with the one person you shouldn’t even want to see!” Tess hissed.

“Wait, what?” I was totally lost here. “Joe has been nothing but kind with me, and-”

“Joe?” Suddenly her voice was calm and peaceful. Talk about weird. “You hooked up with Joe? The Italian guy?”

“Yeah, who else?” Did she think I picked up some stranger at a bar? “Who did you think it was?”

“I ...” she seemed speechless, “I thought ... you said you met J-I mean, a stranger in the elevator. You told me he was really handsome and you liked him, so I thought ...”

I laughed. “Well, not that I would mind, but I’m pretty sure Jake – that’s his name, you were saying it right, yes –, doesn’t like me.” I pointed out. “I mean I saw him tonight, just a glimpse, but he didn’t even say hi. Either he forgot me in the blink of an eye, or he didn’t find me interesting. I wouldn’t blame him. I was really awkward.” I laughed to myself, though careful not to be too loud. Joe may be a heavy sleeper, but what about his neighbors?

Tess remained silent for so long that I started wondering whether she’d hung up. The call was still on, though. When I looked up, I noticed Joe stirring, and when I caught his mischievous smile as he waved his hand to call me back in, I mimicked it. “You still there?” I asked Tess, eager to end the call and go back to the room. “Tess?”

“You shouldn’t ... that man you met, he’s ... you shouldn’t talk to him.” She claimed.

I frowned. “I doubt he wants to talk to me, like I said, but ... why shouldn’t I? Aren’t you the one that says amnesia can’t keep me from living?” I argued. Meanwhile Joe pouted, and I made a sorry face. I was eager to go back inside, but I’d rather understand what does Tess have against this Jake guy.

“Because he’s ... he’s no good for you.”

“Way to be vague ...”

Tess heaved a deep sigh, her breaths filling my ears through the phone. “Okay. We don’t ... like this to be known, because he’s closely related to Mr. Watson, but ... you see, that guy is dangerous.”

I arched an eyebrow, now fully ignoring Joe. “How dangerous?”

“... jailbird kind of dangerous.” Tess said after a small moment of hesitation. “He’s ... he’s been in jail for murder, you see. I mean, he’s served his time and all that, but ... still.” She cleared her throat, as if nervous. “He ... he murdered his ex girlfriend, you know. And ... rumor has it that he’s a violent type. That’s why I want you nowhere near him.” A violent type. More than surprise me, it ... somehow struck a chord. “He’s the kind of man that would beat up his woman.”

I froze. Not because I was scared. Chances are, I’m never gonna see that man again, so no, I wasn’t scared. It’s just ... the kind of man that would beat up his woman, she said. It sounded familiar. The phrase, I mean. So familiar that I couldn’t ignore it. When you work so hard to recollect your memories, you realize that every bit is essential, the tiniest sensation can lead to bigger discoveries. For instance, the nickname Sissy led me to better understanding my friendship with Tess. The fact that Ryan brought me to an old bookstore reminded me of his grandma, and consequently of how we met. I have no idea what happened later, but I think I remember somewhat vividly that we met at his grandma’s bookstore.

So I can’t ignore the tiniest bit of info that my brain lets slip. Hence, when I feel deep in my gut that that phrase doesn’t just sound familiar, but it’s as if it’s left my own mouth before, I can’t ignore it. “Tess, was I ... was in an abusive relationship?” She gasped, loud and appalled, but I didn’t bother. “I mean, the ... accident, was it that?” I asked, forcing my mind to work harder. These days I feel like I’m working against my own brain. “Was it ... you never told me what put me in a coma. Was it ... I don’t know, was I abused? Was I in a relationship with someone that abused me?”

It would explain a lot. It would explain why did nobody tell me what happened, and why is there a gap between what I’ve been told and the rest. It would also explain why is everyone so worried about me, why did my parents ask so many questions about Joe when I mentioned him. Heck, it would even explain why did Lulu ask me why wasn’t she seeing my grumpy but funny boyfriend around anymore.

“Tess?” I called, demanding. She’d been silent for too long for it to be good. “Am I right?” I wanted to know. “If I am, you must tell me. I have the right to know whether I-”

“Yes.” She finally answered, and I gasped. “Yes, you ...” she cleared her throat, her voice breaking, “it was ... your ex boyfriend. He ... he didn’t take the breakup well, you see? And ... well, he’s a violent man, so ... he reacted like a violent man would, you know. He ...” again, her voice broke, I think because she was getting emotional on my behalf, “he beat you up, bad.” Tess inhaled harshly. “I’m so sorry, Sissy, we kept it from you because we didn’t want to upset you ...”

“What’s ... what’s his name?” I heard myself ask. I felt lost, I couldn’t even see my surroundings anymore. To be honest, I thought they called it accident because it was indeed an accident. I mean, I thought I’d been in a car wreck or something. I never even considered ...

“Don’t mind that now. You’re with Joe.” Tess said. “Forget about that bastard.”

Was she here, she’d have seen my duh look. “Seriously? You’re gonna ask someone with amnesia to forget?” I scoffed. “Tess, I’m asking precisely because I’ve forgotten!” I snapped, maybe a little too loud.

“Everything alright?” Joe asked as he popped out on the balcony. He looked cute all disheveled, wearing only boxers, but I was more focused on the huge bomb Tess just dropped. “Babe? You alright?” He insisted, coming to rub my shoulders.

“I’m fine.” I answered flatly. “Give me a moment, will you?”

“You sure?”

“Yes.” I forced myself to smile. “I’ll be back in a minute, I promise.” I leaned in to peck his lips. “Then we can start over from where we left off ...”

“You’re killing me, woman. You’re killing me.” Joe laughed as he walked backwards into the bedroom. “I’m going to get a beer, want anything?”

“Uh ... beer is fine.” I grinned angelically when he gave me that ‘doctor said no alcohol’ kind of look that makes him even cuter. “I mean ... no beer for me, Doc, you know it’s not healthy ...” I stuck out my tongue to him, and he laughed. Hopefully the pouty look will work and I’ll get a muffin at least.

When I saw him getting dressed, and grabbing his keys, I knew it’d worked. There’s a nice bakery right down the street that opens at 2 am. He went out in the middle of the night to get me a muffin. Signs Joseph De Luca is a kind man and definitely a keeper, ladies and gentlemen.

Opposite to the scumbag I dated before, apparently. Which brings me back to Tess and her stubborn silence. “I know you’re still there.” I scoffed. “Please, answer my question.” It served for a confirm more than anything.

“Names have no value.” She stated solemnly, as if she’d just read it somewhere. Or rather, as if someone that is some sort of new age literati and would most likely say such a thing, had just suggested it to her.

“Yeah ... hi, David.” I spat louder, so that he’d hear me. “Names may have no value, but I still want to know. I have a holy right to know who did this to me.” Emotional blackmail, yes. Sometimes desperate times really call for desperate measures.

“You need to move on from him and from what he did to you, so no names, no recalling him. It’s better, trust me.” She claimed.

“Tess ... I need every piece of info available, only that way I can put together my life before the whole coma drama, you know that.”

“But not this one.”

“Since you say he was the cause, I am bound to know who was he.” I spat, determined. I won’t get a no for an answer, no matter what. “So tell me, what’s his name?”

Tess sighed, and I heard David saying something in the background, but I couldn’t tell what exactly. Finally, after a few minutes of silence, enough to give Joe time to come back from the bakery with, as I’d figured, a white bag he waved in my direction with a sweet smile, she spoke. “J ... Jeremy. His name was ... Jeremy.”

“Jeremy?” I repeated, savoring the name. “It doesn’t ring a bell.”

“Well, it’s better, don’t you think? You’ve entirely forgotten about him. It’s great.”

“Mmh ...” I eyed the white bag and Joe. Both too inviting to keep this conversation going right now. “Alright, you win tonight, but I’ll ask more questions, and I’ll want a honest answer.” I stated.

“Sissy ...”

“And don’t worry, now that I know, I’m gonna steer clear of the murderer.” Good thing we didn’t really speak, huh? I saved myself in corner on this one. Then again, I shouldn’t jump to conclusions. They might say he killed her, but maybe he simply took a wrong turn, so he crashed the car. I mean, maybe they say he killed his ex, but it’s just rumors. Then again, it’s not like I can ask him personally, so I guess I’ll just steer clear of him.

***

What was it that I said? Steer clear of him. Right. Kinda difficult when he works in your same building. I promised Tess I wouldn’t even meet his gaze, but to be honest, I feel bad judging someone I don’t know solely based off rumors. Tess says it’s not hearsay, he did kill his girlfriend and it wasn’t an accident, but ... I don’t know, I smell fishy.

Nevertheless, when I had to work overtime, and I wound up going home late, I found myself once again stuck at the 17th floor with this mysterious Jake, whose last name I haven’t been told. “Hi.” I greeted, cracking a small smile, when I saw him. murderer or not, manners never go a miss.

Needless to say he blanched when he saw me. Judging by his reactions every time, you’d think I’m the murderer, not him. I know I should be scared, but there’s something that tells me I haven’t heard the full story ... I wouldn’t say Tess lied, but ... what if she ... manipulated the truth a little? Her main goal was to keep me away from this particular guy, so maybe she overly explained ... or maybe I just like to think my first instinct is right.

“Hi.” He answered coldly, his body tense.

I was torn between being nice and making small talk, given how many floors we had to go, or keep to myself because I still don’t know the facts, so it could be true. There were so many doubts swimming in my head, though.

For instance, why did I feel that weird knot in my stomach again? It was ... similar to what I felt at the hospital, when ... he appeared out of nowhere. To be honest, I haven’t thought of that guy in a long while, because it was no use, but I don’t know, the sensation felt familiar. I felt ... safe? Which is completely absurd, given that this guy here may actually be a murderer.

Yet no ... I felt safe. I was blocked in a cubicle with an alleged murderer, yet I felt safe. How crazy is that? It was this sensation deep in my gut, I just couldn’t ignore it. especially because so many questions popped up like mushrooms. What if he lied? What if we actually do know each other? What if he’s ...

Too late. I spent too much time thinking. He stepped off the elevator before I could muster up the courage to speak. I’d dare say he got out because he preferred using the stairs instead of being blocked in there with me. As if I were the dangerous one. Either he’s extremely shy, or he’s a liar, a big fat liar.

***

Oh, come on. This can’t be a coincidence. I see this guy everywhere. Even at the grocery store near my apartment. Should I think he’s a stalker? Or maybe he thinks I am a stalker. I mean, every time he sees me he turns on his heels and picks another route. It’s like he hates me or something.

I was standing in the queue by the register, right behind him. He was so tense, I could perceive it from his back, so he definitely knew I was behind him. Not even the cashier’s meaningful looks served to anything. I wanted to shrug it off, ignore it, recall Tess’ words about him, but ... I don’t know, there’s something odd about this guy, and the sole fact that I keep on seeing him everywhere is something I cannot ignore.

Hence, I swiftly paid for my stuff, and followed him outside. I looked everywhere, to find him, and I finally noticed a guy on a motorcycle. Definitely him. He was putting on his helmet, so that was my chance to go before he left. Good thing I only bought enough to have dinner tonight. “Hey!” I greeted, I bet awkwardly.

I’d dare say he jumped when he heard me. I bet he seriously thinks I’m a stalker or something. Or maybe he’s had people approaching him about his alleged crime, so he’s just tired of it. In fact he pretended he didn’t even hear me. Rude.

“Uh ... hey,” I went to stand right in front of him, so that he couldn’t escape, “Jake, right? I’m Silvia, in case you’d forgotten. We ... work in the same building ...” Ok, I definitely sounded desperate. But I needed answers.

“Hi.” He answered laconically as he stepped onto his motorcycle. “And goodbye.”

“No, hey, wait ...” I raked my mind for anything to say, “uh ... could you give me a lift, please?” Neutral and lame, great combo.

“What?” His voice was muffled beneath the helmet, but oh, so sexy nevertheless.

“Uh ... you see, I ... it’s starting to rain, and I don’t have an umbrella, and ... uh ... with the motorcycle it’s faster, so ... uh ... would you? Pretty please?” I offered him one of those sweet smiles I give Joe when I want something. Usually it works.

“Take the bus.” Jake answered gruffly instead. Ok, I see, handsome doesn’t equal nice, got it.

“But the bus stop is far and ... you’re here, so ...”

He looked up at me, an odd glint in his eyes. Luckily he hadn’t pulled down the visor, so I could still see his beautiful hazel-green eyes. Gosh, there must be something seriously wrong with me if, the more I’m told to keep away from him, the more I feel like I should get to know him better. I wanna think it’s just that I don’t want to misjudge him based on rumors, but ... let’s be honest, it’s more about this feeling in my gut, that there’s been something between us, and I don’t know what. Or that there hasn’t been anything, but ... there should be.

I’m with Joe. I like Joe. We’ve been going out for over a week now and it’s nice. But ... I don’t know, I keep thinking about this mysterious guy before me right now. It’s ... weird. It feels familiar, comfortable, it’s ... I feel like I know him, like I’ve known him for so long, as if I’d known him even before being born. How weird is that?

And there’s this other detail. Remember that ... tugging beneath my ribs? It relents. Every time he’s around it relents, just like with ... so what if ...

“Fine. Hop on.” Jake answered gruffly in the end.

I grinned, glad I was getting somewhere with him. I eagerly gave him my grocery bags, which he tucked beneath the seat, together with his, and once he’d hopped onto the motorcycle again, he stretched a hand for me to take it. When I did, the weirdest thing happened.

I felt a sharp shock through my veins, like a spark lighting up at the unexpected. It made my whole hand feel tingly, my skin fell scorched. And I bet he felt it, too, because he let go of my hand in the blink of an eye, as if it were truly on fire.

I remained there interdicted for a long moment, as he stared at me. I couldn’t see his face, due to the helmet, but his eyes, oh, his eyes told the whole story.

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