#1 My default mode is loving her
Rekindling an old flame can be disastrous or the best idea ever. In the case of Sadie and Theo, it was both. Best sex ever, followed by the second worst heartbreak ever. The truly worst heartbreak ever was the first time they broke up, ten years ago – the lowest time in both of their lives, which they absolutely refuse to talk about. What happened ten years ago? Why did they swear they would never get back together? And is it too late to right the wrongs of the past? Both need to earn the other’s forgiveness, but it certainly won’t be easy…
This book is written as a stand-alone, but it’s best read as a part of the Sweet Caroline series. In the timeline, it comes right after the book ‘Blaming Benjamin’. The first book in the series is ‘Sweet Caroline’. Look for the guide to my books on my profile if you want to learn more. Feel free to start reading this book separate from the other books, you totally can. But you won’t get the little easter eggs and will miss some snippets of the backstory of the side characters, just so you know.
If you have read ‘Blaming Benjamin’, you don’t really need an introduction. Most readers seemed eager to find out more about Theo Johnson and Sadie Smith. This book is set right after Benjamin and Alana’s engagement party, which Sadie didn’t show up for. Theo jumps on a plane to see her, and… CUE THE START OF THIS BOOK! I will do a dual POV book, and I will include flashbacks. In many ways, it will be like ‘Blaming Benjamin’ the way I’ll set it up. Hope you will enjoy that!
Trigger warnings for this story:
Abortion, sexual abuse, pedophilia, graphic violence, and parental neglect/abuse.
Of course I do NOT romanticize or glorify any it! None of it is shown in a ‘sexy’ way like in some dark romance novels. I will put extra trigger warnings at the start of the most intense chapters, but the story as a whole is about these intense themes, so if these trigger you too much, best not read this book!
#1 My default mode is loving her
Name: Theo Johnson
Time: The present
Location: On a goddamn plane, trying not to go insane
Sadie. Fucking. Smith.
The woman of my dreams. And my nightmares.
I’m not even sure why I got on this plane, if I’m honest. She and I? We’ll never work. We’ve tried and failed time and time again. Or more accurately, we even failed at trying.
Still, I can’t get rid of this nagging voice in the back of my mind, telling me something is wrong. She would never miss her best friend’s engagement party unless something is going on with her. Something big. I know this girl through and through. She likes to think she’s all mysterious and complex, but she’s really not. There are three things I know about Sadie beyond doubt. The three things that make her tick.
One: she loves sex. More specifically, sex with me. I’m not saying that to be arrogant or anything – she truly does love sex, and she told me herself not that long ago that she missed my dick like crazy ever since we broke up. Can’t blame her. I do have a great dick, and she and I… We’re fire.
Two: she hates feelings. Sadie has always been a great actress, both professionally and in her personal life. She never managed to fool me, though. I can always see right through her, and it’s obvious that when she left town, she was so consumed by grief over her dad dying that she couldn’t think straight. She ran away from her emotions, and from me. She doesn’t want to feel, and I make her feel. I always have, always will. Not in a good way, maybe, since I mostly seem to piss her the fuck off, but I do force her to feel something when all she wants is to turn off her emotions.
Three: her friends are everything to her, especially Alana. For Sadie not to show up to her best friend’s engagement party means something is very wrong. So wrong that it caused me to leave said engagement party – even though my best friend and cousin is the future groom – to get on a flight to see the one woman in this world who I know for sure doesn’t want to see me.
“I don’t wanna sit there,” I hear a woman hiss at her husband, her voice startling me out of my thoughts about Sadie. “That guy looks like a serial killer.”
Ah, that would be me. I’ve been accused of that before. Could be the scar across my face. Or the wild hair. Or the crazy eyes. The tats, maybe? A combination of all of the above? Fact is people think I look scary. That I’ve got brown skin probably doesn’t help matters. People are racist assholes, most of the time. Judgmental racist assholes.
To be fair, I can be pretty dangerous, especially to guys who don’t treat women with the respect they deserve. Just ask anyone I’ve ever beaten up.
“I only kill pretty women,” I tell the woman, who looks freaked when she realizes I heard her. “So don’t worry, you’re safe.”
Her husband laughs, which earns him a hard look from his lovely wife. He takes the seat next to me, and she huffs as she takes the last seat, the one at the aisle. I have a window seat, which is pretty cool. I don’t care much about the view, but it means I only have one person sitting next to me, and I don’t have to get up if one of those two idiots needs to pee.
“She’s a nervous flier,” the guy says, giving me an apologetic smile. “She’s a little on edge.”
I don’t fake a smile back. His wife is a cunt, but I bite my tongue. That’s very unlike me, but I am simply not in the mood today. I’m on edge myself, since I feel strange about going to see Sadie. There’s this weird feeling in my stomach that started the second I realized Sadie wasn’t at Alana’s engagement party. It’s what prompted me to spend my savings on a last-minute plane ticket. I can’t explain it, but I just know I need to go. She needs me, even if she doesn’t want me.
“Where are you headed?” the relentless guy with the shitty wife asks me.
“Dude, we’re on the same plane,” I remind him. “It’s a plane to LA, so obviously I am not headed to Tokyo. Did your mom drop you on your head as a baby?”
Again, he laughs. This dude truly seems to only know how to be happy. It’s annoying as hell. “Let me rephrase that. What are you going to do in LA? Is it a work trip? Or pleasure? We’re going to-”
I don’t hear anything else he’s saying, since my eyes are glued to the magazine his wife just took out of her carry-on luggage. Is one of those trashy gossip magazines that always publishes absolute crap about Sadie. I never pay any mind to what silly articles people write about her. Never have, never will. Still, the headline across the front page catches my attention.
Where is Sadie Smith?
Without saying anything, I reach across the guy’s lap, snatch the magazine out of his wife’s hands, and flip through the damn thing to find the article about Sadie. I vaguely register her protests, but I don’t give a shit.
Ah, there it is. The article.
It’s been weeks since anyone last spotted party girl Sadie Smith. The actress hasn’t been to any of the night clubs she used to frequent, nor did she show up to the premiere of the movie ‘Love to hate me’ that she starred in. Her agent tells us she is taking some time off from making more movies, focusing on voice acting instead. That doesn’t sound like our Sadie, now does it? She loves the spotlight. Why would she hide behind silly cartoon girls instead of showing her pretty face in yet another romantic comedy?
The article goes on to list all the wild stories that are circulating online. I honestly didn’t even realize Sadie hasn’t been acting lately. I figured she’d go straight back to work after fleeing her childhood home, her grief, and me. That’s what she always does. Act her ass off to forget about everything else. Seems like she hasn’t been doing that this time around.
The theories are insane, of course. They range from stories of how she feels responsible for her father’s death – not sure why anyone would think that, since the guy had cancer and Sadie took damn good care of him – to people saying she gained too much weight to keep playing leading roles in romcoms, saying how she has a severe eating disorder.
Sadie. An eating disorder.
There’s also a picture of Sadie, taken a month ago by paparazzi, showing her ducking into her car. She’s wearing a huge pair of sunglasses, her hair a mess, and she looks like she doesn’t want any attention on her whatsoever. The magazine put a huge red arrow right next to her belly, and of course the text next to it speculates whether she might be pregnant.
With a huff, I throw the magazine back into the woman’s lap. What a bunch of bullshit. Sadie has been complaining about people focusing on whether or not she has a baby bump ever since she had her first role in a movie when she was a teenager. The older she got, the more people got obsessed with her having kids. Every single time she wore something tight and her stomach didn’t seem to be so flat it would be considered unhealthy, people were writing about how she must be with child.
She’s obviously not pregnant.
She can’t be.
I mean… Technically, I guess she could be, since she’s a woman with a uterus and all that female stuff down there, and she does have sex with men who have sperm. Like me. I’m a man with sperm. And I did sleep with her a gazillion times.
But she’s on the pill, and we last had sex about… two months ago? No, three, I think? Obviously, she’s not pregnant. And if she is, it’s not mine, because she would have told me.
I close my eyes for a second, the images that I always try to shove down washing over me for the first time in months. And… I stop. I’m definitely not doing this. Not now. There’s a reason she and I never speak about that. Why I never think about it. Try to, at least.
“Hey,” the woman says suddenly. “Are you by any chance Theo Johnson?”
Oh good Lord, not this. “No,” I lie, casting a dark look at her. “I am most definitely not Theo Johnson.”
“Yes, you are!” She squeals, grabbing her husband’s arm as she waves the magazine in his face. “Remember Sadie Smith? We went to see her latest movie last month! This is her ex-boyfriend!”
It’s not often that I get recognized, since we only got photographed together a handful of times, back when Sadie wasn’t as well-known as she is now.
“I saw some pictures of the two of you together a couple months ago,” the annoying twat says, her voice rising with excitement. “One was at her father’s funeral, I think? Are you guys back together? Is that why you’re on a plane to LA? To see Sadie?”
Fucking hell, I can’t believe people snapped pictures of her when she was at such a vulnerable place in her life. The last thing I need is for word to spread that Sadie’s psychotic ex is back in her life. That’s how the media framed me at the time. The dangerous bad boy. Sexy but deadly. Probably abusive, since I already had a criminal record back then. I remember some mug shots of me splayed all over the front page a celebrity gossip website. I don’t really give a shit, but Sadie won’t like it if people start writing about us again.
“Look, I’m not whoever you think I am,” I lie, finally faking a smile just to seem less threatening. “I’m heading to LA to say goodbye to my dying grandmother. I don’t know Sadie Smith, other than seeing her on TV. This Theo Johnson must be a good-looking guy, though, if you think I look like him.”
She frowns, taking me in again. “You look just like him.”
“Not him,” I insist. “Also, mind your own fucking business, lady.”
Lucky for me, the plane takes off soon after, and she indeed turns out to be a nervous flier. She leaves me alone, growing extremely quiet. The universe seems to be on my side for once. I never appreciated turbulence this much in my entire life. When she barfs into a plastic bag, I don’t even mind the smell. That should distract her.
The flight seems to take forever, as does the drive in the taxi to Sadie’s place. It costs me a fortune, but that’s okay. I can’t shake the feeling that Sadie needs me, even though she made it clear she doesn’t want anything to do with me.
Whenever she needs me, I come running. That hasn’t changed since we were stupid teenagers, and I doubt it ever will. Some days, I hate her guts, but that doesn’t mean I ever seem to be able to stop loving her.
I think my default mode is loving Sadie.
I wish I knew how to make it stop.
Finally, after what feels like three lifetimes, I end up in front of the fence that separates the houses inside of the gated compound from us normal people. I’ve been here before, so I know exactly where the blind spot in the security is. I throw my bag over the fence first, climbing over right after. This security breach really should get fixed. It’s dangerous. Convenient for me, though.
After a short walk, I find myself standing in the front yard of Sadie’s huge luxury home. It’s one of those modern artsy-fartsy fancy white houses with lots of glass and stupid statues. I absolutely despise it. Always have, always will. But it’s her home, so here I am.
I take out my phone, wondering if I should call her first.
Nah. She’ll just ignore me. Best to take her off guard.
I ring the doorbell, waiting impatiently. My leg twitches, my knuckles hurt from grabbing my bag so tightly, and I’m grinding my teeth.
Shit. I never get nervous.
What the fuck is wrong with me?
When she doesn’t answer the door right away, I ring the doorbell again. And again. And again.
Maybe she’s not home?
Right when I’m about to give up and just sit here on these stupid steps to wait for her to come home, the door swings open to reveal Sadie in a light blue dress, her eyes bleary, her hair all over the place. She looks like I woke her up, even though it’s still early in the evening.
“Theo?” she asks like she thinks she must be hallucinating. “What… How…?”
My eyes immediately drop to her belly.
Her big-ass belly.
The belly that is very obviously round and… carrying a baby.
Unless she just swallowed a melon without chewing or something.
Sadie is… “Pregnant?” I somehow manage to choke out. “You’re… but…?”
She gasps, her hands rubbing her stomach. Her perfectly rounded stomach.
I know shit about how big women get in which trimester, but I’d say this can’t be new. She’s too big for this to be recent. She’s nowhere near ready to give birth or anything, but this isn’t something she just found out about. No fucking way. She looks… halfway there or something?
A pregnancy is 40 weeks. Halfway there would be 20 weeks. That means…
She was still fucking my brains out 20 weeks ago.
My knees give out from under me, something I’ve never experienced before in my life. I’m suddenly kneeling, my hand involuntarily reaching out to rest right next to hers. On top of her belly.
Right on cue, the baby in there kicks.
The kid fucking kicks my hand.
Tears well up in my eyes, but I know better than to assume anything. I mean, it can’t be mine. She’d have told me. Maybe she’s not 20 weeks pregnant. Could be less. Besides, we weren’t exclusive. She was very clear about that. This baby could be anyone’s. Not mine, since she’d have called me.
She’d have called me… wouldn’t she?
“Sadie,” I breathe, my voice cracking. “Is it… Is it… mine?”
Author’s note: I know I’m also writing Married Ladies at the moment, but I have NO inspiration for that story anymore. I miss writing like crazy. With a newborn baby and starting my job again, I really need to write every now and then to stay sane, but with Married Ladies I am just staring at my screen, not writing anything. Hope you guys don’t mind me starting this story while still in the middle of writing another book. Not sure if I will finish this one and then return to Married Ladies, or if I will do both at the same time. No idea. All I know is I NEED TO WRITE.