BURNING LOVE

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13 | Silence

Never too late, Three Days Grace

Not wanting to upset Lizbeth more, Sawyer left her apartment when she asked him to. She was mad, and he couldn’t blame her, though she hadn’t really let him explain shit... He wasn’t rejecting her, not at all, but he needed to make things clear between them before going any further.

Yeah, the guilt of having been hiding the truth was bugging him. He wasn’t proud of acting like that, didn’t feel like him, and it wasn’t that he was ashamed of his new status. While he had never made plans to be a father, he was happy to be called one, those kids were his light in the darkness. But if he had to be honest... He was scared of Lizbeth’s reaction.

In the end, he was human too.

Ugh.

Confused and frustrated after that uncomfortable moment in her apartment, Sawyer didn’t see her the rest of the weekend, which made him think she had gone north to see her parents or she had mastered the art of ghosting people. Hopefully, it was the first.

He knew he should have had the balls to talk to her before letting things get to that point. They both had been silently playing at the same game, postponing the inevitable, sizing each other up.

But after feeling her the way he did, realizing that she wouldn’t run away from the desire burning between them, he felt brave enough to stop fooling around like a stupid teenager.

Their past and their personal situation didn’t have anything to do with them and this newfound flame. Whatever was going on, whatever happened, he didn’t want to miss the chance to get lost into her, even if it was just one more time.

However, she wasn’t a simple hook-up, and getting entangled underneath the sheets with her wasn’t something he could take lightly. She would still be around after that, they were bound to be together, one way or another. Their doors being side by side, the people in common in their lives... There was a lot at stake and he wasn’t willing to fuck everything up. Not for her, not for his raging needs.

He wanted her—fuck, he already had a ticket to hell because of all the indecent thoughts and reactions she caused him—but he needed her to know about Sophia and Adam so she could choose what she wanted to do. He didn’t have time or space in his life for misunderstandings and, for sure, he couldn’t allow himself to hurt her again.

In an attempt to disconnect from that whirlwind of nonsense—at least until he had the chance to talk to Lizbeth—he put on some sweat pants and a thermal t-shirt to go for a run with Noah.

As he was closing the door of his apartment, Lizbeth approached them. It was late and she looked tired even though it was only Monday. Her bun was a complete mess and her shirt slightly wrinkled. It was probably one of those days she had gone to talk to Courtney after her classes or to a meeting with the prosecutor.

“Hey...” he greeted.

“Hi,” she said in a low voice as she petted the dog’s head.

“... How was your day?”

“Fine. Yours?” she responded as she looked for her keys in her briefcase.

“Not as boring as I wanted it to be, but fine.”

Silence.

Uncomfortable and dense silence.

“We’re going out... wanna join us?” He tried. That could be a good opportunity to talk.

“I’m going to the gym today, but thanks for offering,” she said as she opened her door.

“We’re actually going for a run.” He gave her a small smile. Okay, running and talking wouldn’t work, but maybe afterwards...

“I signed for a spinning class, sorry.” She tried to return his gesture, but it was weak. “Another time?”

The fact that she wasn’t completely shutting him gave him hope, so he dropped it, for now. “Of course, whenever you want. You know where we live.”

“Yeah.” Her lips slightly curled up, the smile reaching her eyes this time.

“See you around then. Have a good evening,” he said as he walked away.

“You too.”


Two awkward days of just greeting each other in the hallway as if they were strangers, passed by. But he was tired of the bullshit, so he made up his mind and decided to get their relationship back to normal. He had given her space enough, and if she still didn’t want to hear what he had to say she could slap him.

But he had to try. He wasn’t going to let her go away again.

It was Thursday, his last day of work for that week. He would spend the weekend with his parents because the only thing he would never forgive himself for was not spending enough time with his kids. But before going away, he wanted to see Lizbeth.

Should I invite her over to dinner? I still owe her that homemade meal... She might say no. Maybe go outside?

“Are you listening to me?” Ryan’s voice brought him back to the real world.

“Huh?”

“Fuck you, man!”

“Sorry. What were you saying?”

“I was just wondering if you had plans for this Halloween.”

“Eeh... We’re on guard duty that weekend.”

They didn’t have to go to the station, but they had to be available in case they were needed. As much as he liked that holiday when he was younger, he did not so much now. Halloween was always crazy, people lost it and messed up a lot. The mayhem was real some years.

“I know, I know...” Ryan sighed.

“What is it?” Sawyer raised an eyebrow.

“Nothing, just thought we could go to Bacon Bros’ or something.” He shrugged.

“Isn’t your girl with you this year?”

It was a three days long weekend, and his daughter was supposed to come to visit his father and they would get matching costumes, they always did during that weekend—well not anymore since she had already entered that weird teenage period, but still.

“No. Her mother thought that it would be fun to spend this weekend with her parents,” he scoffed, bitterness rolling off his tongue. “But at least Michelle’s acting as bitchy with her as she’s acting with me, so that’s fine.” He laughed, but Sawyer knew that not seeing her for another month saddened him.

He had met his perfect woman in high school. He loved her with all his heart, they had a beautiful daughter together, two dogs, a house with a white fence. The whole package. But after almost twenty years together she stabbed him in the back. The worst of it all, for him, was that she took his little girl away with her and now he just got to see her during the holidays because they lived three hours away.

“I’m sorry man...” He really was.

Ryan could be a womanizer, but that was only his way to cope with all that shit. Not that he didn’t enjoy that freedom, but since the day she was born, Michelle had been his entire life, he was so devoted to her that not seeing her every day probably felt like he was missing something.

“I was planning to go over to my parents before Adam went trick or treating with my sister, you can join us. They’ve actually been asking a lot about you lately.”

“Those kids are the best.” He laughed.

“Yup,” Sawyer proudly agreed. “Okay, time to go back home,” he said, checking his wristwatch. “I’ll see you on Monday. Don’t fuck around too much this weekend!”

“We’ll see!” Ryan smirked.

As Sawyer got into his car his neurons got into a rollercoaster of excitement mixed with nervousness. What the fuck?

He laughed alone.

He didn’t remember the last time he felt so... dumb and twitchy about a woman.

He was fine the way he was, not having to explain what he did or didn’t do to anybody. He was so accustomed to that and had never thought about another alternative, not after Madison and how it all exploded in his face. But Lizbeth was different. That chemistry they still had after so many years...

He needed to feed that flame or extinguish it once and for all. Staying in that dim place with no answers was stupid.

They weren’t kids anymore, whatever happened, good or bad, they would figure out how to deal with the consequences.

As he pulled in front of the condo, he took his phone out and texted her to see if she was at home. What he was going to tell her... Well, he would have to improvise.

Sawyer: Hey

Liz: Hey

Sawyer: Are you home?

Liz: Yeah

Sawyer: How was your day?

Liz: Fine

Sawyer: Everything ok?

Liz: Yeah

Her answers were short and cold. They weren’t over the weirdness between them, yeah, but that wasn’t normal. Even with all the awkwardness between them when they crossed in the hallway or something she still offered him that beautiful smile of her, an honest one.

Something was off.

When he got to their floor, instead of walking to his door he rang the bell of hers. He was worried and talking to him always seemed to ease her mind.

She opened the door, frowning.

“Nice to see you too,” he teased her. Maybe that would help to break the ice. But when he actually saw her, her pale face and red eyes, he knew she had been crying. “Are you—”

“What do you want?” She was harsh. A tough day?

“Are you okay?” he asked her as he moved closer, getting into her personal space.

She moved away, jaw clenched, nostrils flaring. “Yeah.”

He grabbed her by the arm when she tried to walk away. “C’mon, Liz! You know you can talk to me, right?”

She turned to him. Her eyes watered and her bottom lip started quivering. He was not used to dealing with those kinds of situations, he had never liked them, but it was her. So, he stepped forward, but before he could say anything, she started trembling, tears running down her face, uncontrollably. And everything came crashing down.

“Hey, hey... Liz, what’s wrong?” He almost choked on his words.

She covered her face with both hands and pressed her back to the wall as she kept sobbing. Then, her legs gave in and she slid down to the floor, ducking her head between her arms and knees. That chilling crying, those sharp breaths...

His heart was beating so fast with worry he thought it might tear him open. She was a mess, he had never seen her like that, never, and it hurt him beyond imagination.

He crouched down to be at her level, hand immediately reaching to her, giving hers a light squeeze to make her know he was there.

“S-she...” Lizbeth started, her voice kind of muffled and cracked as she rubbed her face.

Sawyer tilted his head, brows creased together.

“C-Courtney...” She couldn’t even look at him, fingers frantically running through her hair, shaking. “She couldn’t take it anymore.”

What?

Sawyer sat beside her, his back against the wall too.

“W-when I went to see her today”—another sob left her lips—“I-I found her... in the tub.”

Another wave of agony hit her, making her shriek in pain against his chest as he pulled her to him, wrapping his arms around her. Her sorrow deafened him, and even though he didn’t mind being that lifesaver to hold onto, he hated not being able to rip that crumbling torment from her.

“I’m so sorry, Kitten...” he said, pressing her further against him.

Lizbeth started talking again after a couple of minutes, but she was so broken her thoughts were incoherent. However, he could put some of them together, understanding she tried to add pressure to her wound and that they had taken her to the hospital but it was too late.

“Why couldn’t I save her?” she cried, frantically scratching the dry blood from her nails, hurting herself in the process.

“Liz, Liz, Liz!” Sawyer grabbed her wrists and forced her to stop, feeling his soul growing cold, vanishing in that cloud of smoke that was her anguish.

“This is not fair!” With a fist gripping her tee, right over where her heart was, she howled. She was probably feeling her insides crushing. Not an anxiety attack, nothing like that, just unspeakable grief. She was shattering. He knew how that was.

Feeling completely useless, he stayed there in silence, listening to her ragged breathing and harrowing sobs. He kissed the top of her head and pressed his cheek against it as he embraced her tighter, rubbing her back as she cried her heart out.

She was one of the best in her field, she was strong and she had seen evil before, but this was different. That poor girl that was supposed to be in her prime of life had been raped and tortured. And after showing an otherworldly strength to survive, after helping them to build a stronger case against that fucking maniac, she had taken her own life because the horror she had been through... It was simply too much.

He didn’t know how long they were sitting at the entrance of her house, but the light had completely faded out outside, sinking them in a soothing darkness by the time she calmed down, dozing off on his chest.

“Hey, Liz...” he whispered against the top of her head, kissing her one more time. “I think you should go to bed. You need to rest.”

“Can you stay with me?” she asked, looking at him, her pained gaze boring into his. “I don’t want to be alone,” she added when he didn’t answer right away.

“Sure.” He sighed, touching her forehead with his, thumb caressing her jaw, making her close her eyes. Then he kissed her, at the corner of her lips, lingering there for a few seconds, taking in her fruity scent, hoping that his warmth, his affection for her would help her drown part of the misery that was eating her alive at the moment.

“Thank you.”

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