MY HEROES

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THE GROWN CHILD

JENNA, THE GROWN CHILD

I completely forget about Tyler until several hours later and I don’t arrive at the airport. I send him an apologetic text explaining that a friend is injured in the hospital, which seems to settle his wounded ego. I know I’m going to have to decide on him one way or the other soon. That is tomorrow’s problem. I finally go back home since they won’t allow me in to see Mitchell. I’m no one special in his life so I won’t be granted visitation.

I try to convince Trey to leave with me – if only for a shower and rest, but he refuses. I think his guilt is so overpowering, that he is punishing himself in any way he can. I pray Mitchell wakes up – if only to alleviate Trey’s heartache.

It has been three long, excruciating days since I left the hospital. Mitchell is in a medically induced coma; with only his immediate family and Trey being allowed to visit, after Mitchell’s parents lied and said Trey was their other son. He has second and third degree burns on the left side of his neck and face, but I don’t know to what extent. Trey texts me updates that consist of as few words as possible, but with nothing changing – there isn’t much to say anyways.

When my door buzzer goes off, somehow, I know who it is. I don’t speak, just push the enter button. I open the door when I hear the heavy footsteps in the hallway, sounding so sad as they drag their way to me. He hasn’t slept. I’d be surprised if he’s had anything more than coffee. I want to give him whatever it is he needs, so I wait for him to tell me what it is.

“Jenna… he’s awake…” those two words send the strongest man I’ve ever known to the end of his rope, and now it is me who is the support. I pull him into my suite and close the door behind us. His face is buried in my neck, and I can feel the wetness of his tears. All of the emotions of the last few days have caught up to him, and he’s finally relenting.

We stay like this for awhile – I have no idea how long. As long as he needs. I lead him to the bathroom when his breathing regulates again and turn on the shower. I know he likes it hot, so I adjust the temperature accordingly. Trey is practically swaying on his feet in exhaustion, so while he doesn’t help me undress him, he doesn’t resist me either. Once he’s naked, I strip too and guide him into the shower. He hangs his head low so I can wash his hair for him, and I massage his scalp gently. Soot, ash and dirt swirl around our feet. He hasn’t left Mitchell once, staying in the same clothes since the fire. I didn’t think it was possible for me to love him more than I already did – turns out it is.

I opt to use my hands instead of the loofa and wash him entirely. Even with my hands between his legs, his body shows no evidence of arousal – a testament to how truly tired me must be. His eyes never leave my face, his gratitude apparent. I dry him off, and he stands immobile – granting me full control. On wooden legs he follows me, and then allows me to tuck him into my bed.

When I turn to leave, he grabs my hand and asks me to stay. He reminds me of a small child, scared to be left alone in the dark. My heart aches for him, and I know right then I never want to be apart from him again. Holding his hand, I sit beside him on the bed. His eyes are fluttering closed, despite his best efforts to fight back sleep.

“Trey, baby. Please sleep. I’ll be here when you wake up. I promise.” I run my fingers through his hair, and his eyes finally relax closed. How can such a large, strong man be so vulnerable at the same time? The contradiction is so revealing, both of him and for me.

“Jenna… I’m so sorry… all my fault… I love you Jenna…” and with that Trey falls asleep. All his fault? Our separation? It takes two to tango – or in our case, three. I’ll set him straight on that when he wakes up. Wait. Wait wait wait. Oh. My.

He loves me.

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