Part Fifty Two
A/N Sorry to upset so many with the last chapter, LOVE that you are all so involved in the story. Hope this is more palatable. It was always going to be a long and hard slog to get them on track. Stick with us, xx
Chapter Fifty Two
Bo sat on the edge of the bed and dropped his head into his hands, this was a fuckfest even if he didn't feel like shit, and he did. Drinking wasn't great, and hitting him, that prick wasn't his greatest moment. Even if it felt fucking amazing at the time.
He was no threat, and his actions weren't in defence of Natasha, she was right about that, even though he told her they were, it was pure unbridled jealousy. Seeing someone else's arms around her was bad enough, but knowing they shared a past, having him throw that in his face, yep, his motives were anything but altruistic. And he still wanted to ruin that man's face, even though he was normally the least violent man...off the ice.
Fucking prick was still his mental vibe as he headed to the shower, then he shook himself as the water sluiced down his body. Natasha had walked out, it was all about to go to shit, and he was thinking about that man! There was definitely something wrong with him.
She'd walked out. That hit him like a ton weight to the chest.
It was the quickest shower and dress that he'd ever had, and he was falling out of the hotel room and almost running to the elevator in record time.
The reception was quiet, filled with suited men, sitting at tables over laptops and trays of coffee. The restaurant was to the right and he headed there, relieved to see Natasha sat at a table in the corner. Head bowed as she toyed with cereal in front of her.
She'd been through her own hell, and he'd made it worse. Shaking his head, he moved across the room, slipping into the seat opposite.
"I shouldn't have hit him."
It was a long moment before she looked up, "I don't want you doing that in my name."
He felt his cheeks blush, "it was more than that, you were right."
That made her lift an eyebrow, "really?"
He paused as a waiter approached and he ordered more coffee and toast, then turned back to her, "I came to check on you, he was hugging you..."
"That? That was what it was about??" She was hissing but he knew she wanted to scream and shout. He was suddenly grateful for the public setting.
"It's not that I don't trust you, I love you...you know that. But he looked at me, smug, gloating. He hurt you then he was goading me...I saw red."
She shook her head, "and I'm supposed to be what? Impressed? Grateful?"i
"Nether, none, nothing. I was out of order, but I was tense, worried...last night started out difficult and catapulted into bat shit crazy. And I flipped, and for that I'm sorry."
She dropped her eyes again and he was unable to read her.
"You forgive him for whatever he did, but not me for caring?"
Sitting back she finally met his eyes, with a glare, "I have held your hand through all this, tried to be everything to you, be the support you needed, and the minute my world upturns, you make that about you too? Wonder why I'm pissed off?"
He dropped his head, he had no defence, but that didn't mean he wanted to hear all this, so instead he looked back up, "I wouldn't change it, in fact I wish I'd hit him harder...but for you, not me. That was the only thing that was wrong."
"I don't want that, don't you get it?"
He nodded, "I do, but I couldn't help myself."
She sighed, deflated.
"I'm not the bad guy here, you know that, right?"
He watched her nod, slowly, "of course I do, and I love that you want to fight in my honour, but I had to talk to him, I needed to do that. I don't want to fight. Not with anyone."
"Just me," he muttered and she rolled her eyes. "Do you feel better for it? Talking to him?" he needed to get himself out of the spotlight.
She shook her head. "No."
Her bottom lip quivered, and suddenly he could see how fraught she was behind the anger.
"If I hadn't spoken to Nathan we'd have got out of there before he turned up. Could never have happened. That was my fault."
"I wasn't anyone's fault. And I have thought about that, but I am glad I spoke to him, it's eaten away at me for years."
He wasn't sure how confronting a man you were never good enough for could end up in an embrace, but he was very different to her, that was blazingly obvious.
"I was going to talk to you, tell you about it all, last night."
That had been the plan, she'd told him, they were leaving for her to share that.
She sighed, "it's a bit different, his side of things...I thought he knew, I thought he abandoned me..."
Bo grimaced, a hotel restaurant wasn't the place for this.
"Let's eat, then head back upstairs. OK?"
That made her stare at him with eyes wide, "you don't want to hear?"
"If it makes things good between us then I'll hear anything you have to say, but you don't owe me that. Tell me what you want me to know, but not here. Somewhere private."
They ate in silence, but it felt like death sentence. Both biding time until they were alone.
Natasha watched the bedroom door close and turned to Bo, attacking Torrie the previous evening had been easy, this though, telling someone in the cold light of day, with distance from it all...it was hard.
"He took my virginity. One night after knowing him, being besotted with him for a long time, he was one of my father's students. Older than me. Teenage hormones, hunky older guy, flattering me...you get my drift?"
When he nodded, she smiled, "don't really remember much about it, but I do remember trying to speak to him afterwards, it was a while before I realised the man who'd been so understanding, so supportive for months had just added me to his pile of 'one and dones'. It hurt, a lot. But I got over it."
Bo was rocking from foot to foot, chewing on his thumbnail. He knew this was hard for her, he got her. That made her smile. She didn't deserve a man who empathised so freely.
"I found out I was pregnant, maybe six weeks later."
He gasped, frozen in time, but she carried on.
"I tried again to contact him, but the only contact I had was the landline, in his sorority house, I left loads of messages, I wanted him to know." She ran a hand over her face, "I told my parents, eventually, and they wanted me to terminate, started making appointments, and I didn't want that, but at seventeen, they were still in control of me.
"I tried again, to contact him. But my father told me he'd spoken to him, he wasn't interested either...I found out last night, that was a lie. But I...I came home, back to Britain, Nana H was here and she was the only one on my side, and she paid for my ticket. I haven't seen my parents since.
"It wasn't an easy pregnancy, I was ill, sick, all the time. Then Mia..." She choked on the word, "my daughter...she came early and had a heart defect. She had surgery, but was weak, tiny..an infection killed her, She died in my arms, at ten days old."
She'd closed her eyes as she spoke, needing to hold off the tears, but then felt his arms go around her, his chest against her cheek. And she gave in to it, let him hold her.
"I've not told anyone else this, it was me and Nana, and when she died, no one mentioned her again, and it's been the easiest way."
"I'm not sure that's right, but I'm not going to argue, not now."
She looked up at him, "I tried to call him again, Torrie that is, when she was born and when she was sick, but he never replied. It only added to the pain, no one wanted to meet her, see her."
She wiped at a tear, "but he didn't know. All the anger I wanted to throw at him, all disappeared when he got upset. He didn't know. Doesn't make him an angel, but all my life I've hated him, blamed him...and now that's on my parents again."
"They were doing what they thought was right?" He offered, but it was met by Natasha's harsh laugh. "They didn't even come to her funeral."
He couldn't defend them, she knew that, but he looked terrible.
"So I gave Torrie a picture, last night. It was sad, not cathartic, that's what I'd been hoping for."
"Can I see her?"
That surprised Natasha, he seemed to do that quite a lot. Say and do things that she didn't expect, things that made her warm inside. She reached for her phone and showed Bo the picture she'd shared with Mia's father.
"Wow, she looks just like you."
He was studying the screen intently, before his eyes flashed to her, "It's not right, that it happened, that you went through it all alone."
When she shrugged, he stooped down to kiss her forehead, "it does explain a lot."
"You saw me at the cemetery."
He nodded, "and I presume the tattoo..."
She swiped at her eye, "it's lyrics, from Bob Dylan, Restless Farewell, that song is my life, in a nutshell. Those lyrics...remind me that I wasn't ready to say goodbye to her."
Bo smiled sadly, "I cannot imagine your pain."
Breaching from his embrace, she made for the bed and sat down.
"I thought this would work, that talking, like it would ease the load."
She shook her head, "it still hurts, like hell."
At that point the phone in the room rang, the concierge informing them that their airport transport had arrived.
The chaos of travelling did little to lift Natasha's mood, but she had a constant presence at her side, and it felt nice to have Bo in her corner.
Natasha fell asleep on the plane, which meant that Bo could relax a little. He had no idea how to deal with all that she'd told him, all that she'd been through. What did you say to someone who'd buried a child? She'd been abandoned by her parents in the midst of all that, it was more than he felt anyone should have to put up with. He'd held his own family at arm's length, especially the last two years, but they wanted him, they loved him unconditionally. That was something that he had taken for granted, it felt crazy to think that not all families were like that.
She looked sad even in sleep, but she was leaning against him, her hand on his thigh, which was having a warming sensation on his body. He was going to stick by her side when they got home, he wasn't letting her run away again, he knew that she needed time to get her head around things, so did he. It was a lot to take in, but he figured that being with her was the best place to be.
She woke as they were coming into land, and the first thing she did was try to remove her hand, still on his thigh.
He placed his hand over hers, "I'm liking that, your hand is warm."
Natasha blushed, but left her hand there, before looking up at him, "sorry, I'm poor company."
He shook his head, "You're a cute sleeper, you didn't get much last night?"
Shaking her head, she reached in her bag for a bottle of water and took a drink. "Was awake most of the night."
"I wish I could help, that I could make this easier for you."
She gave a small almost quiet laugh, "I wish I could be less of a drain on you, what with all my baggage."
He wasn't having that, "Natasha, I don't look at you and see baggage, and it doesn't bother me, I hate that you're going through all this, but it doesn't make me think of you differently. And let's not forget, all my baggage that you helped me deal with."
"It's hardly the same. Maybe you should, see me differently."
She was staring up at him with big expressive eyes, and the only story they told was one of sadness.
"Stop. Will you? I see you. I definitely see all of you. We all have a past, we have all had bad things happen. It moulds us into the person we are today, and with you I really like that person. She is really good for me. So it's too bad, I'm not going anywhere."
She bit her lip at that, dropping her head. He wasn't sure if that got through to her or not, because she was suddenly quiet. But she held his hand, and leaned into him.
He wished he knew what to say to stop this falling apart so fucking disastrously. But all he could do was clutch her hand and wrap an arm around her. And be the man she needed, not the one she felt she deserved.