Part Fifty One
Chapter Fifty One
Natasha watched Torrie leave the room and wished she felt the sense of freedom she always hoped telling him would bring. Talking about Mia, it had been painful, and she had wanted to throw accusations against him, make him hurt like she did. But he had hurt without that.
Before he left, he asked if she would send him a picture, one that he could keep. She hadn't bargained on that, and whilst she had always wished that Mia was loved by more people, the thought of sharing such a sensitive thing scared her. So he'd left his email address.
Then hugged her.
She hated that she cried when he did, that as he'd hugged her she'd temporarily collapsed for a moment, but she had. It was a long moment before she pushed him away and scowled, "this doesn't make us friends, anything but."
He had nodded and left the room before her.
Stepping out into the foyer felt like stepping back through the wardrobe in the C. S. Lewis books, from a surreal place back to the harsh, cold reality of life. Nothing had changed, the hotel reception looked the same, the dark night was still in progress, the party was still in full swing, across the foyer the ballroom doors were open and he sounds of celebration wafted out. Life went on, despite her trip to the past, so graphically.
Crossing the room, she peered through the door, looking for Bo, she'd had enough, but this night had always been about him, she only hoped that she hadn't ruined his night. There was a loud guffaw at the bar, and as she glanced in that direction, she saw Nathan clapping Bo on the shoulder as he threw his head back devouring a shot. The others in the group cheered and followed suit.
He was having fun.
That was good.
But she was in no mood to go in there and watch people get drunk. She wanted to process all that happened, and cry. That was the most important thing. Solitary tears, until she was ready to face anyone, including Bo.
She had planned to tell him about Mia, to move on that had to happen, but tonight had derailed her. She hadn't felt this vulnerable and scared in a long time. Torrie couldn't hurt her any more, that much was obvious. But her sadness as she left the hotel, took a taxi back to the hotel, was overwhelming.
As the car hit the busy road back into the city, she pulled out her phone and sent Bo a message.
Looked like you were enjoying night, and I'm glad. But feeling a bit of a party pooper. I'll see you back at the hotel, hope you don't mind, x
She placed the kiss in the hope that he'd understand, then sat back in the car.
Six shots and nothing felt any better, that was until Bo spotted Torrent hanging around at the door, looking for the next group of people he was going to leech from. But there was no sign of Natasha.
Patting Nathan on the shoulder, he left the group and made straight for the man, the man who had smirked at him as he had hugged his girlfriend.
"Where is she?"
Bo didn't show any pleasantries, instead he invaded Torrent's personal space, forcing him to back up against the wall.
For a moment there was a glint of fear in his eyes, and Bo thrived on that. He'd hated being thought of as an enforcer at his recent team, but physically he'd never been unsure about holding his own against anyone. Torrent was no exception.
"Asked you a question Torrent. That warrants an answer."
He shrugged, gesturing behind himself."left her there."
"You may have wrapped your slimy arms around her, but that, Torrent, is a one off, you touch her, hurt her, dammit, you dare to fucking look at her and I will end you, one wrong move. That's all it will take."
Torrent smirked again, and he fumed, "don't fucking push me, you do not want to push me."
"Fair enough, just remember, whenever you're with her, that I was there first."
A red mist wafted across Bo's vision, and he threw a punch that hit the other man square in the jaw, knocking him to the floor. He hadn't anticipated it, and Bo stood over him.
"Wanna repeat that you prick?"
Before he had a chance to act, Nathan was there, bundling him out of a side door, whilst his two friends dealt with Torrent.
"Are you trying to get arrested?" he shouted at Bo, who was trying to wrestle free of the restraints of his friend as the door slammed behind them. "Don't make me hit you, dickhead."
That made Bo stop fighting, and he slumped against the wall of the alleyway behind the hotel.
"Let me at him."
He shook his head, "No. He's not worth it, and you are better than that. Whatever he said, ignore, and get back to the woman you love. Where is she?"
He shrugged as he didn't know, then felt like a worthless bastard for caring more about avenging her honour, than seeing how she was coping.
"I don't know..."
Nathan squared up to him, "and that is your priority."
Bo groaned then reached into his pocket for his phone, instantly relaxing when he saw the message from her.
"She's gone back to the hotel."
"Then that's where you need to be."
Nathan pulled out his phone and within seconds a car pulled up, "go, get her. I'll sort all this shit out."
His old friend had come good. He reached around Nathan to give him a hug. "Thanks, you have been a true friend."
He laughed, "no one wants to see you get arrested. Now, go."
"I'll call you."
Nathan's grin was the last thing he saw before diving into the back seat of the car.
The hotel room was in darkness, but he could make out the lump in the bed that he knew was Natasha. Kicking off his clothes, in just his boxer shorts, he slipped in to the bed behind her, drawn to the heat and comfort of her body. He slid an arm around her, pulled her back into his body, but he could feel a tension in her, she didn't let go, didn't really relax, and that made him sad. He'd punched Torrent, and virtually abandoned Natasha. Not a good night.
As he held her, hoping that she was going to open up to him, he felt her shoulders shake, she was crying, and she didn't want to share that with him. Had he blown it all?
The delayed effect of drinking half a dozen shots on top of beer and wine, meant that despite his turmoil, he fell fast asleep, his arms wrapped around her.
Natasha waited until he was asleep, snoring deeply behind her. Usually his arms around her was comforting, but tonight, she felt as though she was suffocating, over heating, struggling for breath, and his proximity was only adding to the sensation.
When his soft snores vibrated against her ear, she slipped free of his arms, and out of bed. Wrapped in his hoodie, as it was cooler outside of the bed, she crossed to the sofa that sat across the room, then curled up on it. She'd tried to ignore the evening, to forget all that had happened. But the door to her past had been yanked open, and she couldn't close it again.
She honestly thought that confronting him, Torrie, would make her feel better, that she'd get closure, but it felt more raw than ever. Her emotions were fraught, her patience exhausted, and she didn't know what to do. All she could do was try to breathe, to control her racing heart. It was a true fight or flight response, and all her instincts said flight...but then she looked across at Bo and knew she couldn't run away again, even if almost every cell in her body was craving space, distance and time. Because he'd been there for her, helped her, supported her...hell, he loved her.
No one had said those words to her since Nana H had died, and an even longer time before that.
She glanced across at him, he was sprawled back on the pillows, his arm tossed over his eyes, his deep breathing almost, but not quite, a snore. Her heart pained as she looked at him, because she knew that nothing felt different, that telling Torrie hadn't helped, she thought it would make her see a future, that she'd be able to relax into their relationship. But she wasn't sure she could. She wasn't sure that she could give him everything, as he deserved.
Morning finally arrived. And with it came a message from Torrie. She had sent him a photo of Mia when they'd been together, and his message was to confirm he'd received it. She was tempted to block his number at that point, but then she knew that as Mia's father, if he wanted anything else, photos, answers...then he deserved the chance to ask, so she hadn't. Instead her phone seemed to flash in anger at her every time she looked at it. She hated him having access to her. She'd thought she'd never speak to him again, instead, he had somehow garnered some of her sympathy. She re-read the message, noticing on the third attempt that he mentioned having a headache, and referenced Bo. Suddenly she felt sick, not knowing what had happened after she'd left.
It was all such a mess.
And she could do nothing about it, could talk to no one, as no body knew about Mia, not even Steph, despite them being such good friends.
She'd met Steph on her first day at college. A year after Mia had died, Nana H finally made her get her life back into focus. She'd baked a lot whilst she'd wallowed in her grief, that and helped out in her Nana's knitting shop. Pensioners were her only company, that and her Nana's cat, Jerome.
But the pleasure she found in baking enticed her, and meant she got a little excited at the thought of joining the catering course. And her first day at the local community college was the first day she hadn't cried in over a year. She needed it, Nana was right.
After two lectures, Natasha had needed a breather, her brain was fuzzy and she was desperate for some serenity. So she headed for the cafeteria, where Steph worked and had served her coffee and a sandwich. Mid morning, everyone was in class, and she was the only customer, so the two struck up a conversation. For Natasha, it had been the only time since giving birth to her daughter that she'd talked to someone her own age.
And their chats had become daily until they were the best of friends.
Steph knew that something had happened before they met, but Natasha hadn't been able to share any detail, Steph understood and never pressed her. But it meant that now in her hour of real need, she couldn't call the only person who stood a hundred percent in her corner and ask for advice or support.
Not because she didn't trust Steph, because she did, with her life. But the sad and sorrowful fact was, that since Nana H died, she hadn't spoken Mia's name aloud until coming face to face with Torrie, Mia's father.
Groaning, Natasha pulled herself out of the chair and made for the shower. They were flying home early afternoon, she wasn't going to miss that flight.
She was packing her bag when Bo finally surfaced, groaning as he slowly opened his eyes. He groaned, then tried to smile at her.
She nodded, unable to feel any emotion, she felt as though she'd been passed through an old fashioned mangle, inside and out. "I've just showered...breakfast is served for the next hour, so you need to get your arse into gear."
He groaned again, running his hand over his eyes, "tequila is never a good idea."
Again her smile was polite but she new lacked any warmth, "depends why you were drinking it."
Her tone made him crack open an eye, "what does that mean?" When she shrugged, he sat up, "what does that mean?"
"Did you hit Torrie?"
"He's a dick, why do you care?"
Turning to face him, she replied, "because he didn't deserve that. He's done nothing to you."
Bo's eyes widened, "really? You think this was about me? The man that broke your heart in ways I am unable to fathom?"
"My heart and my life. Not yours."
Bo gritted his teeth and looked at the ceiling for a moment, "is that how this goes? I am suddenly the bad guy and Gabriel fucking Torrent is the wronged one? What the fuck is that all about?"
"It's not like that." And it wasn't, was it?
Leaning forward he laughed sarcastically, "so how exactly is it? Because it seems you only want to share some part of you with him, the man who fucking broke you, and not the man who loves you and wants to be with you!"
That made her step back, pain at his words so real. The flight sensation was bubbling over, smothering her, making it hard to breathe.
"I'll be in the dining room when you're ready to be civil."
With that she left the room, fighting off tears.