The Fighter

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Chapter 15: Drew's Past

Drew took a deep breath, his eyes fluttering closed. “When I was eleven years old, my sister died,” he started, his voice cracking. He looked down at my feet in his lap. “She died in my arms, and I’m still convinced it was my fault.”

He paused for a moment, and I patiently waited for him to continue. It was a different feeling, listening to someone else’s problems for once.

“A few years before this, my dad left us. It put us in a financially tight position. I don’t remember too much about that because my mom did a great job in making us feel like we were fine. I could see her growing more and more depressed as she struggled to put on a front for us. She was working as an accountant at the time for a marine lending and repossession company, but she wasn’t happy. Her bosses were awful, and I remember she lost a lot of weight,” he continued, his steely eyes shifting to meet mine as his confidence grew in telling his story.

“My sister took over the role of caring for me since she was two years older than me. She made sure I was out of bed, ate breakfast, and helped get me out the door every morning for school. We did this for a couple years, but about six months before my sister died, we had to move somewhere more affordable. It meant compromising some on the safety of the neighborhood. We downsized quite a bit, and it made my mother’s commute nearly an hour and a half each way. She was leaving earlier and getting home later, which sometimes put my sister and I in the position of walking to the grocery store together, even when it was dark out.”

He stopped again and squeezed my ankles as he drew in another deep breath. He puffed his cheeks and slowly exhaled, and I could tell we were getting to the tough part of the story. Going through my own trauma made it easier for me to recognize this in other people. I did something very un-Madelyn-like then: I reached forward and rested my hands on his, so he’d know that I was listening and I was there for him. He gave me a brief but grateful smile.

“The night before my sister’s thirteenth birthday, I decided to surprise her with a birthday cake. I had walked to the store alone, leaving only a note on the counter that I would be back soon. I didn’t want her to know what I was buying at the store for her,” Drew explained, then squeezed his eyes shut. “It was November, so it was getting dark out really early in the evening. I had scrambled to pay for the boxed cake with change, then raced to get home as quickly as I could. I didn’t want her home alone in such a bad neighborhood. Crime rates were really high in this particular neighborhood and we were close to the holidays, which increased the number of break-ins and robberies.”

Oh no.

I felt like I knew where this story was headed. My stomach flipped nervously and I bit my lip. I squeezed his hands once more before releasing him. He still wasn’t looking at me.

“But by the time I got there…” his voice trailed off as he choked, his eyes welling with tears. “The door was wide open. I immediately knew something was wrong. I ran up the stairs and saw a bloody handprint on the doorknob and a trail leading to the bathroom. I shut the front door and called out my sister’s name. I heard her groan behind the closed bathroom door. It was locked so I kicked it in and found her leaning against the wall by the tub, her shirt soaked in blood and it was dribbling from her mouth.” He pinched the bridge of his nose. “She was too young to die. She had looked up at me and smiled, the blood between all of her teeth and in her matted curls. I stared at her in horror and asked what happened. She told me she was so worried about where I ran off to that she had ran out of the apartment, forgot to lock it, and started calling out my name. She was choking up blood this whole time, and I hopelessly had grabbed towels and cotton balls to try to stop the bleeding. I remember pulling her shirt up to see multiple stab wounds, then calling 9-1-1.

“I was sobbing and asked her why she didn’t just stay inside, that I had left a note for a reason. She told me she hadn’t seen the note, then grabbed my hand tightly, smearing blood all over the two of us. She looked me dead in the face and told me to always lock the door. There were two burglars who were robbing the apartment when she got back, and when she tried to fight them, they attacked her and left her for dead. She managed to get back inside to the bathroom where she could try to stop the bleeding but didn’t have the energy to get to the phone. She told me she loved me. I’d seen enough movies to know this was generally where people died. So I pulled her into my lap, despite her groans of pain, and played with her curls. She told me to tell Mom she loved her, and seconds later I watched the life drain from her eyes. Within two minutes the ambulance had arrived, but she was D.O.A. and there was no saving her from the amount of blood she’d lossed.”

Drew stopped talking then, and I realized he was done with his story. I wanted to ask questions, but I wasn’t sure he wanted me to.

“Drew, there’s no way you could’ve known she wasn’t going to see that note,” I told him softly.

“I should’ve called 9-1-1 as soon as I saw her. I waited, Maddie. I waited almost five minutes. If I hadn’t waited, she could still be alive,” he croaked, his voice as raw as the emotions on his face.

I shook my head and tucked my hair behind my ears. “You don’t know that. She was only twelve, and had already lost so much blood, that she may not have made it to the hospital alive. You can’t think about the ‘what-ifs’ when, medically speaking, it was out of your control.”

He set his jaw. “It gets worse, Maddie,” he whispered, still not meeting my eyes. “My mother came home, but it took so long that my sister was long gone. My dad never bothered to show. Mom blamed me. For weeks, she refused to talk to me, barely looked at me or fed me. She would just stare out the windows and let me sleep in. I got myself to school every day, and rarely saw my mom. On Christmas Eve, I couldn’t sleep as I kept replaying what happened in my head and recognizing this would be the first Christmas I spent without my sister. I heard a thud come from the kitchen. I jumped out of bed and ran into the kitchen to find my mom had slit her wrists vertically, the most effective way to commit suicide. It was a terrifying moment of PTSD to see all the blood and knowing my mom had just tried to kill herself. This time I did call 9-1-1 right away and helped bandage her wrists. She was passed out at that point, but alive. She was admitted into the psych ward and I was put under the temporary care of my grandparents since my dad was still M.I.A.

“I found out months later that my dad had been in rehab after a two week bender of drug use. After he found out everything that had happened, he cleaned up his act and came back to help take care of my mom. By that point I was basically completely independent. My relationship has never been the same with my parents. We love each other, but I never stop worrying about them.”

I opened my mouth to say something, but nothing came out. I just looked at him as he finally raised his gaze to mine. They were so filled with sadness as he recalled the darkest moments in his life.

Finally it dawned on me.

“That case down in Tallahassee,” I stated softly. “You blame yourself for reaching for your weapon and the unsub killing that girl, just like you blame yourself for leaving your sister and not calling 9-1-1 in time and her dying on your watch. That’s why you took it so hard.” It wasn’t a question. It was a statement as I put the pieces of the puzzle together. “That’s why you were in such a bad place when we met. You were dealing with your PTSD.”

He cleared his throat and nodded. The moonlight reflected off his shiny curls. “Years of therapy can’t fix PTSD. It can only give you ways to cope with it,” he remarked.

I laughed humorlessly. “You’re telling me.” I hesitated, then placed my hand on his shoulder. “Is this why you got into law enforcement?”

Drew nodded again but didn’t say anything this time.

“Thank you for telling me. I know how difficult it is to open up about these things,” I said quietly.

He shrugged nonchalantly. “It was time you knew. This conversation was well past due.”

I gave him a sad smile, and my inner hormone goddess wiped away her tears and shooed me toward him. I crawled into his lap and curled up into a ball. After a moment, he wrapped his arms around me and rested his cheek on my head.

“I haven’t told anyone except the onsite therapist this since I got interviewed for the FBI,” he whispered. “You have no idea how much you mean to me.”

But somehow, I did know. It was so obvious in everything he did for me, in how he talked to me, how he held me, and how he so obviously cared about me. And I knew how my feelings were developing, and if his were anywhere close to what mine were, then I knew we were on the same page.

“I do,” I murmured. “I hope you know I feel the same.”

He squeezed me. “I do.”

Two small words. Though small, they were powerful and profound. I tilted my head up to look at him, only to see him staring down at me adoringly. His blue-grey eyes flickered to my lips before he leaned down to press his to mine without any hesitation. He kissed me with urgency and passion, his hands lacing into my hair to hold me close to him.

I melted into him, and for the first time since my birthday, I felt safe. Despite the inevitable vulnerability that came with opening up about childhood trauma, I had never felt more secure with him.

Drew’s tongue softly ran over my lower lip, and a nearly inaudible moan escape my throat. Our mouths opened simultaneously, and our tongues played harmoniously together. I sat up so I was straddling his lap, relishing in his fingers grasping my hair and the feel of our bodies pressed together. We did this for several moments, until that urgency dissolved into deep-seated desire.

My hormone goddess was practically drooling, sitting back on her heels and making kissy faces, her cheeks flushed and her hair tousled.

I appreciated Drew’s respect for my boundaries, but my wayward hormones had something else in mind. I reached down and grabbed the hem of my t-shirt, pulling it up over my head, only breaking contact with him to get the piece of clothing off. I glanced down at him briefly as it revealed my completely exposed torso. Since I had ran out of my apartment in a rush, I hadn’t put a bra on.

I watched as Drew’s gaze dropped to my breasts. His now swollen lips separated ever so slightly. He reached up with one hand, placing it on my ribs and rubbing his thumb over the side of my breast. The touch sent shivers down my spine. Goosebumps followed, causing my nipples to harden as an inherent response. I watched him look at me in wonder, and I had never felt so empowered as a woman. For the first time in my life, I was able to experience making a man unravel at my behest.

He leaned down and drew one of my nipples into his mouth, suckling on it gently. The sensations that spread through me were new and pleasurable. His free hand moved to the nape of my neck, pulling my hair to tilt my head back, causing my back to arch and my neck to be exposed. Next thing I knew, his lips were traveling up, kissing the base of my neck. I sighed in bliss, then snapped out of my trance to grab his shirt and pull it over his head.

I was still in awe of his body and how someone like him wound up with me. I ran a hand over his fit chest and tight abs, eye-fucking him as I went. He was built like a Greed god.

Suddenly he picked me up. I latched onto his waist by locking my ankles around him. He carried me like this to the bedroom, gently laying me onto my bed. Drew crawled toward me, hovering between my legs, his steely gaze nearly black in the moonlight of the bedroom and his curls shone adorably.

He grinned wickedly at me, and instead of asking for permission, he dove right in, his tongue locking in on my sweet spot almost immediately. I cried out in pleasant surprise, not expecting the electric shocks to shoot through me so powerfully. My goddess took a live wire and pressed it against herself; she lit up like a cartoon, where I could see her skeleton while she was surrounded by bright blue electricity. Drew continued loving on my lady parts, and it didn’t take long until I was spiraling out of control. My goddess and I were spinning in a hypnosis circle as the orgasm tore through me unexpectedly, all the tension from the last few weeks — and really my entire lifetime — dissipating from my body.

As I came down from Cloud Nine, I heard the faint tearing of a wrapper. I managed to raise my head enough to see Drew roll a condom on, and prepare to enter me. Without knowing what my subconscious was up to, I grabbed his hips to stop him. He raised his eyes to meet mine, raising an eyebrow as if challenging me.

“Roll over,” I half-whispered, my voice husky and gruff and my tone demanding.

Drew smirked at me. “I don’t normally take orders in bed,” he responded, his voice equally throaty as mine.

I propped myself up on my elbows. “Well I’m not ‘normal,’ so roll over,” I commanded.

He hesitated for a moment, amusement coloring his features, but his nudity giving him a vulnerable edge. He complied seconds later, taking a spot next to me on his back.

My hormone goddess seemed to take over then, instructing me the way Remi instructed Linguini in Ratatouille. I rolled on top of my boyfriend, straddling him as I eased myself onto his dick. Drew grabbed hold of my hips, hissing through his teeth as I settled into the new position. I felt a power trip course through my veins as I drank in his reaction to feeling me all around him. I let him move my hips up and down as I got used to the new motion, his length filling me in all the right ways.

The new angle hit something deep inside me, and I couldn’t hold back the moan that escape my throat, my eyes fluttering closed. I put my hands over his on my hips, wanting more contact with him as we moved together. I leaned down and pressed my lips to his, needing his kiss. He released me and knotted his fingers in my hair, then planted his feet on the bed so he could thrust against me. It hit deeper, harder, and I felt a familiar pressure begin to unfurl from my core.

The goddess whispered over my shoulder to pin Drew’s hands above our heads, so I grasped his wrists and held them over our heads. Every time he tried to pull his hands away, I’d resist and push them harder into the mattress. I could feel his smile against my lips, and sensed his breathing grow more labored as he neared his climax.

That pressure continued to build as he thrust up into me, our hands above our heads, until it tipped me over the edge once more. I squeezed his hands and called his name as another sweet round of jaw-dropping, mind-boggling orgasm enveloped me in its embrace. I felt him finished, his arms flexing as he pulled his lips away to gently bite my shoulder.

After a few moments of harsh breathing, I let go of his hands and pushed myself to a sitting position on top of him, my body naked in all its glory. His curls were pushed out of his face, and his muscular arms were tucked beneath his head as he dimpled up at me.

“I’m not used to being bossed around like that,” he admitted, his smile growing bashful, to my surprise.

I climbed off of him. “Get used to it,” I singsonged as I flounced to the bathroom to pee. As I was washing my hands when I finished, I looked at myself in the mirror. My hair was sticking every which way, my cheeks were bright red, my skin exposed from head to toe. I wasn’t used to looking at myself naked, but the more I looked, the more I liked the woman I saw. I took control of my own life and I’d be damned if anyone took that away from me.

When I went back into my bedroom, Drew was standing in front of my bedroom window, the condom gone. Like he did to me after the first time, I wrapped my arms around him from behind.

“What’s on your mind?” I murmured, flattening my breasts against his back.

He sighed heavily. “Absolutely nothing at all.” He turned and kissed the top of my head. “I just want to hold you.”

I looked at him quizzically before breaking our embrace to crawl into bed, letting him snuggle in beside me. He wrapped his arms around me and held me, saying nothing more as the both of us drifted into a deep slumber.

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