20 - Open up
“You did not mean to.” She feels less scared seeing his teary eyes. He looks mortified by his actions. She thought he was about to kill her. He had never hurt her or done anything like that in his sleep before. She clears her throat and wipes her tears. “I am okay really.”
Tucker just shakes his head silently as he looks sorrowful at her. She reaches over and turns off the ceiling fan. She looks up at the blades spinning and wonders why a helicopter would make him want to strangle someone. She looks back at him but his eyes are closed and she sees a tear running down his cheek. She wraps her arms around him and it causes his eyes to open and look into hers. She tries to imagine what those eyes have seen over the years. She wishes he would tell her. He gently touches her neck and it hurts a little.
“Baby.” He looks and sounds so in pain. “I didn’t even know.”
She wonders if he ever had choked someone like that before. The thought scares her. How many people had he killed?
He kisses her forehead before she puts her head on his chest. She can hear his heart beating fast like hers. It scared them both.
She sees the soft glow of the streets outside as they stand hugging in silence and she wonders what time it is. “Are you alright?” Tucker moves back to look at her neck again.
“Yes. It doesn’t hurt anymore.”
“Are you sure?”
She pulls his hand down from her neck. She does not want to tell him, but him touching her neck kind of scares her. “I am fine.” As she moves away from him toward the bathroom, she notices it is almost 4:00 a.m.
She looks at her neck in the mirror as she washes her hands. She has red Mark’s in different spots where his hands had been. She begins to cry again thinking about how he looked like a totally different person when he was choking her. She tries to wipe her eyes and contain her emotions. She does not want him to know how upset she is. She hears a door shut and it causes her to exit the bathroom.
“Tucker?” She walks around their apartment not seeing him anywhere. Realizing he left, she sits down on the couch and buries her cry in a pillow.
The light streaming in the window from outside wakes her. She stretches before rubbing her neck. It feels a little soar. She begins to wonder if Tucker might have come back without her noticing. She wanders toward the bedroom noticing it is empty before going into the bathroom to look at her neck.
She sees a large line along her collar that is black and purple in appearance. She knows Tucker will feel bad if he sees it so she goes to find a turtle necked sweater to hide the mark.
It is just after 10:00 a.m. on Saturday and she wonders where he could be. She knew he did not have training or anything going on today. She picks up her phone wondering if she missed a call or text from him. Nothing.
She debates on texting him or just giving him some time alone. She decides to wait until lunch time at least.
She still has not heard from him at 1:00 p.m. so she calls his phone. It surprises her to hear it ringing. She follows the sound into their bedroom. She finds it laying on his bedside table. She has no other way to get a hold of him and starts to feel worried.
She is not able to sleep as she lays looking at the ceiling wondering why he has not come home to let her know he is at least safe. By Monday morning she feels panicked thinking something bad might have happened. She calls in sick to work before calling to see if he was at the training academy.
“Is Tucker Lancaster there this morning? This is Chasity his girlfriend.”
“One moment ma’am.” She waits nervously hoping they will bring him to the phone. “Ma’am?”
“I am sorry but he isn’t here.”
She does not know who else to call as she paces the floor tapping her phone against her palm. “Surely he didn’t go home.” She pulls up his moms’ number and calls.
“Hi. I am sorry to bother you. Are you busy?”
“No sweetie. It is no bother. Is everything okay?”
“I hope so. It is. Well, I just haven’t seen Tucker in two days.”
“What?” She hears the concern in his mom’s voice.
“I was hoping maybe he turned up there.”
“No. He is not here. I will call him though.”
“I have his phone. He left it at home when he left.”
She hears silence for a moment and it makes her start to cry.
“Did you two have a fight?”
She does not want to tell her what happened because she might think badly about Tucker. “I guess you could call it that.”
“Does he usually leave when you quarrel?”
“We have never fought at the level before.” She runs her finger over her bruised neck as she remembers his teary eyes. “He was upset more than I have ever seen him be before.”
“You’re his world. I know he has changed a lot over the years he was gone but he will be back. Maybe he just needs some time.”
“I am sure he is fine. Give him a few more days.”
“Let me know as soon as he turns up so I don’t worry though?”
She hopes his mom is right. Chasity knows he felt bad about choking her so he may just need some time to deal with his own feelings.
He unlocks the door to their apartment nervously. He remembers how scared Chasity looked as he choked her. He still cannot believe how he could hurt her like that. As he opens the door, he sees Chasity’s face sweep with relief followed by immediate tears. She places both hands over her face so he cannot see her cry.
He inches closer to her slowly. He is not sure what to expect. He wants to hold her but he is not sure it would be welcomed. He stops about a foot away from her and he feels a small relief when she moves toward him burying her face in his chest.
He wraps his arms around her feeling horrible about what happened. She lifts her head up and suddenly slaps him across the face hard. He knows he deserved it and looks down at the floor feeling ashamed.
“You have been gone for two weeks.” He hears her anger in every word.
He knows how terrible it is that he disappeared for so long. “I know.”
“You don’t do that. You don’t disappear for two weeks.”
He knew she would be mad and he was prepared to take whatever she threw at him. He glances up at her seeing a long light-colored bruise on her neck. He hurts inside and must look away from the pain he caused her.
“I was so worried. I called everyone and every place I could think of. I went to every hotel and every bar in town trying to find you.”
He stays silent hoping she will hit him some more. He feels he deserves to be beat up.
“Where were you?”
“I flew to Nevada.”
He hears the confusion in her tone. “Nevada? Why?”
“A friend lives there.” He still cannot bring himself to look at her.
“What friend? And why did they need you for two weeks?”
“Tony. We were SEALs together. He didn’t need me.” He glances up at her. “I needed him.”
“I wasn’t even worth a phone call?”
“I didn’t.” He shrugs his shoulders knowing he has no good excuse. “I didn’t know what to say to you.”
“Oh?” He notices how mad she looks as he watches her left eyebrow arch. “Let’s see. Hey. I am okay. Or hey. In Nevada visiting a friend. Or even hey. Working through some shit. I’m alive.”
He fights a smile as he pushes his hands into his pockets. He loves how cute she sounds mad. He moves closer to her and pulls the bottom of her old t-shirt toward him so that she is in his arms reach. He runs his finger gently over her bruise, feeling bad for marking her. He looks up into her eyes and talks slow and soft. “Hey. Working through some shit. I’m alive. But I wish I wasn’t.” He sees her anger disappear into sadness. “I hurt the only girl I have loved since fifth grade.” He looks back at the bruise. “If I had not woken up, I would have killed you.” He wonders how many times she has thought about that.
“But you didn’t.”
“I might next time.”
“You have been back for almost three months and you had never hurt me before then.”
“But I can’t promise that it will never happen again because I didn’t even know it was happening.” He steps away from her remembering her fear of him. “Oh my god. And the way you looked at me.” He feels his eyes tear up. “I can’t do this Chasity.” He hears her sniffle and it makes him look back toward her just as she is wiping her new tears away.
“So, we have some complications to get through.”
“Complications? That is putting it mildly.” He shakes his head no toward her. “I can’t be with you.”
“Tuck. Please?” Her increase in tears hurts him but he would rather see her cry than dead because of him. “Don’t do this?”
“I can’t hurt you if I am not with you.”
His heart hurts as she comes closer and hugs him. “So, let’s have different bedrooms. There are other solutions besides leaving me again.”
He shakes his head no again trying to reassure himself leaving is the best option. “I have to let you go.”
Her wet brown eyes look up into his and he knows how much he is going to miss her. He pulls her lips to his and softly kisses them.
“I don’t even understand why you have bad dreams or why you tried to strangle me.” He knows she is curious but if she knew half the things he had to do, she would never look at him the same. “You are just going to leave me clueless and with our last memory together of you strangling me?”
He had not thought about that being their last memory together. It would be a bad memory to hold on to. “I wish that wasn’t a memory at all. It should have never happened.”
He sees her eyes begging for him. “So, make it go away.”
“Am I not even worth the try?”
He wants to say yes to her every wish but he knows he must protect her.
“Make love to me?” Her eyes beg him as much as her words. “Please?” Her lips are so close to his, he feels her warm breath. “I need you.”
He cannot fight her begging as he lifts her feet from the ground kissing her. He feels her slide out of her panties and then pulls her dress off so that his hands now touch her bare skin. He glances down at her perfectly shaped naked body. He needs her too.
Her tears have subsided but he sees mascara running down her face. He uses his thumbs to wipe the black streaks away. She helps him slide out of his clothes before their bodies collide.
He carefully slides his arm from around her as she sleeps. He looks at the bruise on her neck one last time and tries to memorize her details again. After a few minutes pass, he kisses her lips softly. He gathers a few of his things in a bag quietly and stops at their bedroom door.
“You once left me without saying goodbye.” He tries to hold the tears back. “Now it is my turn.” He watches her chest rise and fall for a moment knowing she will be safer without him. He pushes past his emotions and makes his way out of their apartment.