Loving the Broken

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Chapter 16-Hindsight

Song: Never Be The Same-Jessica Mauboy


It's kind of ironic when I think about the situation I'm finding myself in. Karma came a knocking and has literally bitten me in the ass.

I fled the room because I feel ashamed for not telling Damien the truth. In hindsight, I should have told him that the last day I talked to Dan. In all honesty, I used him avoiding me as an excuse. I could justify my choices because how could I tell him? We weren't talking.

I also let fear guide me, I didn't know how he would take it or if he would even believe me. We were intimate the week before he told everyone he enlisted. I understand now that breaking it off was a bitch move and not the wisest of decisions. Had I known he was going to walk into the war with death on his mind and not knowing he was going to be a dad, I wouldn't have shattered his heart. Maybe things would have been different for us.

However, that's the beauty of hindsight. We can't undo our past but we can move forward and try to make amends for those we've hurt. The hurt and betrayal flashing in Damien's eyes were too much for me to bear. He hates me and I don't know if he'll ever forgive me for keeping something so big from him.

I don't blame him for hating me since I hate myself too. I've made so many decisions and now I have to face the consequences. Which happens to be telling me the family I lied to them.

After leaving Days' room, I look for an empty room so I can make a call. I found the family waiting room empty and spot a comfy chair the sit. I pull out my phone and pull up my older brother Tuck's number.

I need to see how my baby is doing, it's been a week since I've been able to hold him but I know Tuck and Jules are taking good care of him.

I dial Tuck's number and hit the face time button when he answers.

"Hey, baby girl." Tuck's nickname has always been a baby girl, because of me being the baby in the family. Granted I was six when I joined them but he just said it was going to stick. At first, I hated it but it grew on me over time, and now I just tool with it.

"Hey, Truck, how is everything? Is Michael doing okay?" He chuckles.

"He's doing great but sure misses his mama. Jules has been playing that CD you made and always makes sure he has the teddy bear with the heartbeat. She and Haylee have been having so much for him. I blame you if Jules asks for another baby."

I can't help but laugh at his comment. Jules has been wanting another baby since their daughter is now three but Tuck isn't quite ready for it yet.

"Yeah, I'll take the blame." I giggle. "I really appreciate you two helping me out. I should have brought him with me but with everything that's been happening he's better there."

I tried to keep my voice peppy but just like Dan and Damien, he sees right through me.

"You sound sad, baby girl, what's wrong?"

"Well, I don't know if mom or dad called you but Dan survived the surgery, but the bullets shattered his L4 and L5. He's paralyzed, Tucker."

"Mom called me an earlier but didn't give me a lot of information. What does this mean for Dan?"

"The doctor says he's likely to never walk again." I sob into the phone.

"Oh, shit! How's he taking the news?"

"Honestly, he's scary calm but more upset that Dani isn't here when she should be." The line goes quiet for a second, I guess my brother is trying to process the news.

"Em, I don't know how to tell you this because I know you two used to be close and all but I'm not surprised she isn't there."

"Why? What happened?" The idea that something happened to her doesn't sit well with me.

"Oh, she's fine, so to speak. The other night Jules and I were out getting dinner with Haylee at Millie's. Dani was there with another guy and she was all over him."

I should have expected Dani to pull this because she already complained about being lonely when Dan had only been out a week. Still, the news hits me like a punch to the gut.

"Are you sure it was her, Tuck?" He sighs loudly.

"Yes, I'm sure. Jules saw her as well and wanted to confront her but Dani looked really wasted. I talked her out of it." I believe Tuck but now I have to tell my disabled brother his girlfriend of four years has been cheating on him.

"This is going to destroy him, he loves her. They had their entire lives planned out and then he's gone for six months and she up and pulls this crap. I don't get it Tuck, and what am I going to tell him?"

"I don't know, maybe just give it a few days. Hopefully, she'll come clean. As for why some are just not strong enough to handle the separation, it's very common for a partner to stray in this situation. It sucks and it hurts but it happens."

"Do you think I would have cheated on Damien if we hadn't already broken up?"

"I really can't give you that answer Em. I mean look what happened after he sent you that letter. You had convinced yourself there was no one else for you and you were going to wait for him. However, the second you met Zeek and he paid an ounce of attention to you, you were taken with him. So I really can't tell you what you want to hear." He wasn't trying to be a dick and hurt my feelings, Tuck isn't like that. He's the brother who tells you how it is and doesn't shy away from the truth.

"Okay, ouch!" I say to him.

"I know, and I'm sorry but you wanted the truth and you don't come to me unless you want that. Dan and Damien were good for you in a way but not when it came to shelter you. I do know one thing Emily and that is you still love Damien, and even though you aren't together right now, you're heart still belongs to him. You feel as if you did cheat on Damien because you tried to give your heart to another." Tuck has a point.

"I never saw it that way but it makes sense. I could never completely give everything to Zeek, could that be why he turned out to be an asshole?"

"Emily, nothing you did made him behave that way. He is a product of overindulging, rich and unethical parents. Zeek never had to pay for his actions because his parents would just brush it under the rug or pay off the judge. Don't blame yourself for his actions towards you.

"I'm really trying not too but sometimes those words slip in and I let them consume me."

"That's normal for an abuse survivor Sis, and you are doing so much better then most women I meet with. They are barely getting themselves out of bed and can't function. You are doing a great job of living your life."

"Thanks for the encouragement, Detective Woods."

You're welcome but I know that's not the only thing bothering you."

"It's not, Damien hates me." An ice-cold feeling of emptiness fills my veins.

"I don't think that's true but why do you feel that way?" If I tell Tucker he would be the first one I told. Damien figured it out and I'm still trying to wrap my head around that.

"Talk to me baby girl. Tell me what's going on." He encourages me.

"Damien figured out he's Michael's father." There I said it, now let the judging and slut-shaming commence. Tuck was so quiet I thought he might have hung up on me.

"Tucker, you still there?"

"Yeah, I was just doing the math." Great, now he's going to think the worst of me if he doesn't already.

"It's not hard to add up nine months, Tuck." I snap. My bitchy side was starting to make an appearance and that is never a good thing. "I'm sorry, I shouldn't have snapped at you. I'm just a bit overwhelmed."

"It's alright and I get it. Did you know when he deployed?"

"No, Zeek and I had been together a month when I realized. I truly thought he was Zeek's until the day he was born."

"So now Damien is upset because you knew for three months and didn't tell him? Why didn't you tell him Em?" Now, I'm really feeling judged and I hate that it's Tucker making me feel that way.

"Please don't judge me, I'm doing enough to myself." I sniff.

"I"m not judging, I'm just trying to understand." I thought about my answer and nothing I came up with didn't make it any better.

"I really think I should explain all this to Damien before I talk to the family," I tell my brother.

"That's a good idea but just remember he is hurting too. You and Damien are going to come back from this. It may or not be as a couple but you both have this innocent little boy who needs his mama and dad. You can do this baby girl."

This is a big reason why I love Tucker and come to him for advice. He has always been the polar opposite of the two boys when it came to me. He was never one to shy away from but he would still kick someone's ass if they hurt me. I'm the baby and the only girl so of course all four of my brothers would jump into a brawl to protect me.

However, he did often argue with them, he felt they weren't doing me any favors by fighting my battles and never letting me face my problems. Now that's I've had the first-hand experience with life and Zeek, I have to agree with Tuck.

As much as I love those two I need to take a step back and learn to stand on my own two feet. I need to be the mother Michael needs and to show him I'm not a coward. I'm strong and survivor. That starts with me sucking up my pride and my shame and facing the one obstacle waiting to be defeated.

"Tuck, I need to go but I want to say hi to Micheal."

"Sure, thing. He's just playing on the floor with the girls." Tuck flips his camera around so now I'm staring at my adorable baby. He's laying on his back and making the funniest of faces.

I miss him so much and watching him made my decision.

"Hey, little man, you're getting so big. I've only been gone a week and you've grown so much." His face lights up when he hears my voice and he starts cooing.

"I miss you so much, and I just can't wait till you're in my arms again. Guess what baby boy? Mama is heading home tomorrow."

He smiles and just for a moment, I think he really understood. "I pray your Daddy will be able to come with us. He's so excited to meet you and I just know he's going to love you just as much as I do."

I don't know how Damien really feels but I can only hope he'll be just as smitten with our little boy. I also hope he doesn't make me and an even bigger liar. "I love you, my sweet boy."

I blow kisses into the phone and say my goodbyes. I hang up the phone and brace myself for the biggest challenge I may ever have to face. Facing the love of my life and confessing all my mistakes to the father of my son.

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