13 YEARS AGO
For a moment, my mind refuses to accept what my eyes actually see.
This can’t be happening.
The anger starts boiling in me, like a volcano exploding with hottest lava; even my brains are heated, my every thought leaded with anger, disappointment, heartbreak. I notice every inch of his skin on her body; it belongs to me. Everything about her belongs to me.
She’s fucking mine.
I’ve never felt that kind of anger that I felt looking at Tristan, at Avery; who pushed him away as soon as she saw me. My heart broke not because of her. It broke because of him.
Her red, angry face showed what actually happened; I didn’t need an explanation. Her clenched fists on his shoulders showed me that she was faithful to me, after all, I knew that she loved me. I trusted her.
In all those months she let me believe how she actually feels about me. She made magic with her love, with her compassion and devotion. I have never felt so loved, so important. Her words were medicine. They always came from her soul, making a bridge to my own. Her love makes me both angel and warrior - but not a fighter, not one who looks for pointless battle for thrill of power. It gives me the strength to defend myself, to fight for what I love, to overcome every obstacle that life gives me.
Avery showed me what is true love. She didn’t have to say a thing, I knew she would’ve died for me. Risked everything for me. I knew I was the only one for her. I knew she had the rest of her life planned for both of us. She wanted to be with me, as much as I wanted to be with her. Forever. Till death do us apart.
I knew she would never cheat on me.
“Explain before I kicked your fucking ass.”
My hands clenched in fists as I watch Tristan, when my anger comes, unleashed without thought of consequence. My vision blurred as a flame curled in the pit of my stomach. My brain went on overdrive as it picked every moment that I spent looking at my friend’s hands on my girlfriend. I know I can’t forgive, not this time. Neither I can forget.
“Come on, Brent, it was nothing...”
Companionship, loyalty and camaraderie were all in abundance. It had to be. The things I believe in, the most important things were and always will be loyalty and devotion to your friends, to your family. I always supported the people who were important to me, I helped those who couldn’t protect themselves.
And that’s what I got in return.
Though there were things in life I wanted to give up, Tristan was never on my list. But he knew how much I loved Avery. Everyone knew, I never thought someone would try to steal her away from me. Especially my friend. One of my closest friends.
I feel how my iris turn red as Avery runs back to me, wrapping her arms around my tensed body, my every muscle pulsing in rage, anger, disappointment. Even her warm body close to mine doesn’t make me less angry; it even makes it worse when I imagine someone else was touching her. There is a friendship code, and Tristan just broke it.
And there’s no forgiveness for what he did.
“He didn’t do anything to me, Brent. Please, let’s go...”
I release myself from Avery’s embrace, my steps are big, aggressive when I reached Tristan and threw my first punch. My balled fist collided with his cheekbone, flaying his neck backward like a willow caught in the wind. As he stumbled, he nearly fell over the toilet, rubbing his cheek with his palm. But that wasn’t enough for me.
I kept going, beating him like he was a piece of meat, my every punch and kick was harder and stronger, my muscles giving it more hate and rage. I hear people screaming behind me, all the guests came to see this little show, not having a clue what actually happened.
“Brent, stop! You’re going to kill him!”
Only two arms as strong as mine, pulling me away from Tristan stops me from hitting him, as I finally look at his swollen face, bruise under his eyebrow, blood dripping from his mouth and his missing front tooth.
“Brent, calm down.”
“I’m going to kill that piece of shit!”
My rage keeps pushing me to fight, to beat him until he’s not able to breathe anymore; but Kai throws me backwards to the crowd, and only as I land by Avery’s foot I realize how close I was from killing my friend.
“What the fuck happened in here!?”
Tristan spits the blood on the ground and turns to me. His lethal stare felt painful and piercing, as if his glare was tearing my heart apart with a blinding teal light. After all, deep in my heart he was still my friend. And he broke me. I looked at the blood on my hands-it was the physical consequence of betrayal. I looked up at him again, this time, with widened eyes. What has he done. What have I done.
“You’re going to regret this. You’re all going to regret this!” Tristan pushes Kai, standing right next to him and screams with the most piercing, angry scream I’ve ever heard. “Get the fuck out of my house! All of you!”
Kai and Avery helps me to stand up, still shocked. How could it turn out like that? I was so happy. We all were so happy, we didn’t have any problems, any things to worry about. And now I got my best friend beaten up, because he tried to hook up with my girlfriend. I never understood how it could turn that bad.
But that night was only the start.
Avery was shocked. For a few days, she couldn’t even talk to me or to someone else. Later she finally managed to tell me everything what actually happened. How a few looks at him, a few friendly greets made him think he has a chance with her. How he talked to her by that bathroom door, and when she rejected him, he pushed her inside that restroom. Tried to kiss her. To undress her. To rape her.
I wanted to go back and beat his ass even more; seeing, even hearing how he touched her made it worse with every day. But he wasn’t worth it. He wasn’t worth anything. But I was seeing loyalty and devotion as the most important things, and I’ve made enough for him to understand what piece of crap he actually was.
But the damage was already made.
For a few weeks, I haven’t even seen Tristan; and things went back to normal. I was just enjoying my days with Avery, being more in love than I ever was. She was my heaven, my safe place, my solution to every problem. She was my first, and my last love. I adored her, I was ready to jump off the bridge if she would ask me to. I was ready to do anything, because I loved her more than life.
She was special.
Not because I was in love. Only later I found out how actually special she was, I got all the answers to the questions that were bothering me deep inside my head.
Avery enjoyed late night walks around the beach, so almost every night we spent some time enjoying the miraculous view of the ocean and sunset. Just that night was different.
“I wish everyone had a friend like Kai. You’re so lucky that you have him.”
Indeed; she liked Kai a lot. He was a friend that could get up in the middle of the night to help me, or just to talk to me if I needed a good conversation. He didn’t talk to Tristan after what he did, proving me his loyalty and making our friendship even stronger.
“Indeed. I can’t wait to graduate, to start studying in the Police Academy. I hope one day we both will be detectives.”
“You will be.”
I turn to her, when like most of the time she answers to me like she knew everything; or she hoped that everything will be okay.
“You don’t know that.
“Actually...” Avery stops in front of me and locks those deep brown eyes with mine as if trying to find the shelter to hide from the world. “Can I tell you a secret?”
“Of course, baby. What is it?”
She reached for my hand, sliding her fingers between mine, holding on like she was afraid to lose me.
“I never liked the popular guys, to me they always seemed dumb, lame.”
“I already know that.”
“You are a popular guy. Do you know why I’m with you?”
Her body starts to shiver and I immediately feel anxious about her, the fear fills up those eyes and her lips arch down, as if she was making the biggest mistake in her life.
“Because the day you took me to the beach, the day we had our first kiss... I knew I can trust you, I knew there’s something more about you, that you’re not an ordinary popular guy in school.”
“Okay. How come?”
Avery blinks at me, taking a deep breath before saying the words. At first I didn’t realize why she was so afraid to talk about it; but later I found out that was not a thing you could hear about every day.
“Sometimes, when I touch people, I can see things. I can see an image inside my head, usually it’s about a person’s presence, about his life, and sometimes about his future. But also I have very weird dreams...”
“Wait, what are you saying?”
Her quivering lower lip begged me to believe her, my heart told me she was honest, she never lied to me, even if the truth wasn’t nice; but my mind found it hard to believe, even if she was a girl that I loved.
“I think I’m clairvoyant.”
I was never a believer, but time passed, and I saw how most of her visions were true. I had a lot of reasons to believe in her, and I did. I supported her; those things were driving her crazy, because she couldn’t control them. Sometimes she saw things, sometimes she didn’t. But I was always there to comfort her, especially when times got tough.
One day she dreamed about a man that called her a daughter, a man that she never saw before. And later she found out she was adopted.
Times became tough, but we were there for each other; we were each other’s light in the darkness, we were happiness, we were each other’s strength and it seemed like our love will last forever.
And I never thought I will lose her.
But Tristan had a plan how to get his revenge after I ruined his face. I always knew his older brother, Cody, who was in jail a few years ago, knew some bad people. He was a member of a criminal world, but I never thought Tristan could do that to me.
One night, after a long walk around the beach I was just walking home after I leaded Avery to her parent’s house; I still remember that warm breeze and a starry sky. But I never thought that night will turn into a bloody fight.
They found me. All alone in the street; six men with guns and knives. They were wearing masks, had a lot of tattoos; I knew they were criminals, and why they were there for me. It was an uneven fight; six men versus a teenager. I was beaten up like I was nothing, but their threats to rape my girlfriend were pushing me to fight back, until I blacked out.
I blacked out for a week.
I was in coma, I was a ghost. But my soul was bound to my body, as long as I was alive. And I didn’t want to die, I fought every day for my life, just to be with Avery. I heard voices when people came to visit me in the hospital, I screamed, but they never heard me. But only Avery was there to talk to me for hours, to say how her day went and how much she missed me. She always told me I’ll wake up, that everything will be fine.
But the last words she told me while I was in coma repeated in my head for a decade.
“Life is not the same without you, my love. Come back to me and fit all my broken pieces back together.”
With those words she left the hospital ward.
And never came back.
I woke up from coma two days later, only finding Kai’s and Jack’s worried faces. But Avery wasn’t there to see me. To hear how much I’ve missed her. How much I loved her.
“Hey man, how are you feeling?”
I slowly sit on the bed, though my muscles felt like frozen and my whole body was still in pain. But the only thing I could see was their faces when they glanced at each other, before Kai spoke again; and those words echoed in my head for thirteen years.
“Brent, I’m sorry... Avery is missing.”
Fear tortured my guts, churning my stomach in tense cramps. Fear engulfed my conscience, knocking all other thoughts aside. Fear overwhelmed my body, making it drastically exhausted. But I couldn’t be in bed, not when I heard those news. I had to find her. I had to know that it’s not true.
I didn’t care that I couldn’t walk yet, I tried to ran out of the hospital, falling on every step; I just wanted to find her. I needed to find her. I couldn’t accept the fact that I lost her.
I couldn’t live without her.
But I never saw her again. She just disappeared, like she never existed. When she left me in the hospital she never came back home, no one saw her again. Everyone knew that someone took her, but no one knew who, and why.
Not even Tristan or his brother, who were questioned by the police, everyone had an alibi.
All of my friends and acquaintances gathered together, searched for her for weeks, but we couldn’t even find tracks or evidence of her kidnap. Dark times came to Miami, when an innocent girl just disappeared from the ground.
It pushed me even harder to become a policeman when her case was shut down after a few months. It was renewed, but no one could find her. Neither the police, nor could I.
Everyone considered her as dead, even her stepparents; but not me. I never thought she died, not until I saw the body, not until I saw that she’s not actually breathing. I still went to the beach every night, knowing she would want to take a walk with me, remembering how she loved the ocean. Memories were the only thing left for me after I lost her.
And the ocean reminded me how we fell in love.
Everything happened so fast and unexpected, but it slowly killed me from the inside. It made a black hole in my head, deep inside my soul, slowly swallowing all my hopes and dreams. Losing her was the worst moment in my life. It left only the nothingness inside me, the absurd of my existence. I wasn’t living without her, I was existing.
With her a part of my soul, a part of my heart disappeared. I stopped laughing, I stopped smiling. I was living just because I was breathing. I had no intention to live anymore.
But I had to. I had to stay strong for Kai.
He was the one that supported me, that was always by my side and never left me, even when I wasn’t talking to him for days, dying inside, thinking about Avery and how much I need her. He stayed with me even when I became angry, senseless human that doesn’t even live for himself. I started to live for Kai; after everything, he was the only one that was left for me, and I made sure I’ll be the best friend I can be to the only person that really cared about me.
But all those years, all that decade the loss of Avery was killing me, day by day. I could never look at another woman again, because she was meant for me. I never stopped loving her, thinking about her, even when I lost hope to find her.
Until one day, when I heard her name from Carlos Pereira.