As Lizbeth left the room a dreary feeling bashed all over him. He knew that Lizbeth was pretending she was alright, that she didn’t care about Maggie being in their lives again, but deep down she was nervous.
She was understanding with all of it, but that was just her being her. Caring and kind Lizbeth, the person he had irremediably fallen in love the moment he met her. As much as she was feeling insecure she couldn’t help it but be supportive.
However, she had been very needy lately, sexually speaking, and he was well aware that part of that was the despair slowly growing inside of her. He didn’t say anything about it because she would probably deny it, but mostly because if that was the best way he could convey his feelings to her, he would do it as long as she needed it.
In those moments, it was just the two of them. Skin against skin, with their eyes locked, diving deep into each other’s soul as if the world around them had disappeared. Naked in all senses, touching, cherishing, loving each other.
“Thank you, for being here…” Maggie said, forcing him back to the real world. “I really don’t know what I’d have done if…”
“It’s fine, Maggie. I’m here. We’re here,” he told her as he squeezed her hand. He felt angry with himself and with the man that had done that to her, but he needed to leave that clear. Something inside him was yelling at him to set boundaries.
She could be alone, but she could have called anyone —even the police. However, she refused, insisting he was the only one who she trusted, and he couldn’t leave someone that needed his help alone —not that Lizbeth would have let him ignore her anyway. And now he was feeling guilty for doubting her. She could have been killed and it was all his fault.
“Thank you…” she whispered, sniffling.
“Sure… You think you’ll be alright by yourself?”
“Sawyer… I… I’d feel safer if I was with you guys, but I bet this is being really hard for her.” She motioned with her head towards the door. “I don’t want to put anything else on you.”
He was sitting in a chair beside her bed, with his head hanging low, fighting the emotions that kept agitating his mind, slowly dragging him to a dark place he didn’t want to be.
The last time he was that furious was when Beth died. She and Matt had lost their lives because a man decided that it was a good idea to drive drunk. He wanted to kill him, and the sensations he had back then were slowly creeping up again.
“We’ll figure something out,” he reassured her as he got up, letting her hand go. “I’m going to check on her for a moment, okay?”
“Yeah.” Maggie nodded.
It had been fifteen minutes since Lizbeth had left the room and he wanted to know what was going on.
When he opened the door, he was directly met with the scariest sight. Lizbeth was pale and her eyes red, bloodshot, as if she had been crying her heart out. The aura around her told him lots of things, but none of them were good.
“Are you done?” she asked, cold.
“Yeah… Don’t think there’s much I can do here.” He shrugged trying to get rid of the chills the atmosphere was giving him. Lizbeth only talked like that when she was angry.
“Can we go home then?”
“Sure… Let me tell her and—”
“I’ll wait for you in the car.” She didn’t let him finish.
“Okay…” He trailed off as she turned away and strode towards the exit, with decisive, marching steps.
Sawyer frowned. What’s got into her? He shook his head and tried to put on his best mask as he walked back into the room. “Maggie, do you need anything?”
“No, I’m fine,” the blonde tried to smile.
“Okay, then we’re gonna go, Lizbeth isn’t feeling pretty well,” he lied.
“I think dinner didn’t sit right with her,” he told her.
“Sorry to hear that, take care of her then.”
“Talk to you tomorrow, okay?”
“Okay. Thank you for everything again, S. I owe you.”
“It’s fine. Bye!”
He stepped out of the room and practically ran out of the hospital. He didn’t understand what was going on and incertitude was killing him. What could have Mike tell her that upset her like that?
When he reached the car, Lizbeth was waiting for him inside with her eyes fixed in front of her with a blank stare. He noticed that she was fighting the tears back, frowning, and gnawing at the inside of her cheek.
Sawyer walked around the car and jumped into the driver’s seat. As soon as he closed the door, he felt the eerie and freezing air. It was just a second but it was suffocating. “Babe, what’s wrong?” He tried to touch her hand, but she pulled it away. That small gesture went through him like a serrated edge sword, ripping him. She had never rejected him, not one kiss, not one caress. “Liz, please talk to me...”
“I can’t do this anymore!” she cried, startling him.
“What do you mean? Kitten… You went out to talk to Mike and then I find you in this state, shaking, crying… I—” Her words cut through him like a scalpel.
“Maggie! She’s lying!” Her voice got stuck in her throat, leaving her mouth in a quivering broken sound.
“Where did you get that from?” He opened his eyes and slightly leaned back. He was shocked. Lizbeth was completely out of herself, raising her voice as she hadn’t done before, with her face turning from red to almost purple with anger.
He should have felt better because she didn’t mean what he thought with her previous sentence, but he didn’t. Watching her in that state was harrowing, he hated it. She was the light, but the darkness was now shrouding over her.
“Sawyer, I didn’t want to think bad of her, I really didn’t, that’s why I supported you with this situation... But something was telling me something was off and now everything makes sense.” She looked confused, even disturbed.
“Babe, please, calm down, okay? I have no idea what you’re talking about… I know it seemed odd at the beginning, but how can she be faking that?” He pointed to the hospital as he turned his body to her.
“I don’t know… I have no idea how and why she’s done it, but that…” She shook her head. “That’s not true.” His heart broke a little with every tear that rolled down her face.
“I know she’s not the best person in the world, trust me… But how can anyone be faking with those injuries?” He asked, trying to understand her trail of thoughts.
“Sawyer! She’s put Nick in jail!”
“Nick, who?” He studied her face for a few seconds, it was twisted with pain and wrath. Then, it clicked. “Your ex?” he asked.
“Yeah. He was the man she was going to marry… And now he could go to prison! She’s going to ruin everyone’s lives! Nick ’s not a bad person...”
As she talked, he felt the heat and adrenaline running inside his veins, reaching every organ, every nerve, increasing his heart beats at a scary speed.
It was probably jealousy blinding him, but he didn’t want to hear anything else about it. “Is this what all this is about?” he scoffed. “You’re worried about that bastard?”
He was definitely jealous, but he didn’t care. A pang of frustration mixed with fear gripped his heart with so much force it felt about to explode. He had been there before, he had felt the exact same when he saw Maggie with that fucking jerk.
Rage took control. At that moment everything was black or white, there were no greys in between and there could only be a reason for her to be defending him after doing such a horrible thing. “Do you still love him?”
“What?” she yelled, her eyes almost popping out of their sockets. “Are you serious?” she fired back, creasing her brows and wiping the tears with the palm of her hands. “Nick and I were over long before we separated, you know that! I can’t believe you just asked that! I would never go behind you back! Fuck, Sawyer!” Anger and sorrow waved in her voice.
“Then, what is it? Because I don’t understand shit!” he growled as he hit the steering wheel with his hand.
They had never argued, not even once throughout all the months they had been together and he was feeling tense, so much that his head felt about to implode, staining the inside of the vehicle with little pieces of his brain.
He deeply inhaled through his nose, and slowly let it out, trying to calm himself down. He didn’t want to lose it to those unreasoning feelings, he wasn’t that easy to defeat and Lizbeth was definitely not like Maggie, she would never betray him.
He focused on their surroundings to let his mind and body relax. The only thing illuminating the sidewalk were the street lamps with their yellow light. The wind was softly blowing around, waving the leaves of the trees. The weather was warm but inside the car, it felt as if the dead had come back to life.
Anger turned into sadness and distress. “I know you’re feeling a bit insecure with all this Maggie thing, but there’s nothing to worry about… Liz, I love you.”
“Yeah, I’ve been feeling uneasy with all this, can’t deny that. She showed up one day at the bar where you met her, and since then she’s been trying to slowly get back in your life.”
“Why the fuck would she want to do something like that?” he snorted. For him, it didn’t make sense at all.
“Because she’s not over you?”
“You’re talking nonsense.” He shook his head, completely lost.
“Sawyer… Nick would never hit a woman. He isn’t the best man walking on earth, but he’s not like that and he could end up in prison for years!”
“Maggie isn’t the best either, but why would she make up something like that? Why would she try ruining his life and hers like that?”
“I don’t know...”
“Liz, it doesn’t make any sense... We’ve been over for three years and I haven’t heard anything from her since last time we saw each other before she moved to Europe,” he noted.
“You mean before she came back, right? ’Cause since then she casually met you at this bar, then she saw us at the movies one night with the kids and casually bumped into me in the street a few days after that. Then we saw her at this bookstore one afternoon and this day we went shopping with the kids, and, oh! Don’t forget about a date night she saw us at the restaurant.”
“Liz… It’s been more than six months since I saw her at that bar and we live in the same city, in not so far away neighborhoods… I don’t know.”
“I haven’t seen Nick in all this time—”
“You mean after he accompanied you to the hospital?” He knew he shouldn’t have said that, but he did anyway. You’re like a poisonous snake, man!
“Yeah…” She gazed at him with watery eyes. “But they were supposed to be living together and we haven’t seen him since then. It’s not that easy…”
“You always said he worked too many hours, that he didn’t have time for you anymore…” he insisted. He was having a hard time believing Maggie was actually faking everything. And how? Playing someone to beat and rape her so it looke real?
Sawyer huffed, pressing his head to the back of his seat. “None of this makes sense…” he said in a low voice.
“I know…” She sniffled.
They stayed in the car in silence for a while, each lost in their own thoughts.
Sawyer didn’t understand anything anymore. The fact that Maggie was marrying Lizbeth’s ex was simply ironic. What should he believe now? Maggie was badly injured and a man, that Lizbeth claimed was innocent, was in preventive prison because of that. It was all so twisted and felt so unreal.
“Let’s go home,” he finally said.
Lizbeth simply nodded.
The trip back home was silent. None of them said a word and the only thing feeling the space was their breathing.
He opened the window, trying to get some fresh air inside the car. The atmosphere was indescribably suffocating. Nothing between them had felt like that before.
When they finally pulled in the parking lot and he turned off the engine, Lizbeth spoke. “I’m going to visit him on Monday.”
“Who? Nick?” Sawyer asked, feeling how the anger soared inside of him again. He had managed to calm down, put all the turmoil of thoughts apart, but there they were again. “Why are you so keen on helping him? For what you’ve told me he was never a good partner, he didn’t support you and never took your side when you had a problem with his family,“ he reminded her.
“So what? I have to do the same? Oh, yeah, let’s all act like assholes!” she sarcastically noted. “What a great idea, Sawyer!” she hollered as she waved her arms around, the wrinkle between her brows impossibly deeper.
“I’m just saying that, okay, it’s weird that Maggie’s been around, but there’s no way she could have done that to herself! She’s not that crazy, for fuck’s sake!” Sawyer rolled his eyes in annoyance.
“At least I’m willing to hear his version of the story too. I’m not blinded by a pretty face,” she snarled.
“Would you do this if it was anyone else?” He stared at her, his nose flaring as he breathed. “Think about it.” He knew that due to her knowledge about traumatic experiences, even though she used to be fair whenever the subject was brought up because of a case in the news, she tended to side with the victim. “I’m sorry but… As much as you believe Nick didn’t do this, I don’t see any other plausible explanation for what happened tonight.”
Lizbeth looked at him. “You’re right, but I’m still going to see him.” She was determined, nothing he said could make her change her mind.
“Fine,” he said as he stormed out of the car.
“Sawyer!” She called. “Can you try to understand?” she asked him as they made their way up to their floor.
“Understand what? That you’re going to visit your ex in jail because you think he’s innocent?” he growled.
“Yeah, I mean—”
“He’s in jail while Maggie is lying on a hospital bed. What else do you need to know?”
“It could be a false accusation,” she stated.
“Why? Why the fuck would she blame him for something he hadn’t done? And how did she get all those injuries?”
“I don’t know!” she whispered-yelled when they reached his door.
“That’s your answer,” he declared. “There’s a lot of things in this whole situation that doesn’t make sense, and until they do I’m trusting the facts I have in front of me.”
“Nick isn’t a violent person, that I’m sure of!” she responded.
“He could have changed! People change, Liz!”
“You can change, but how does a man turn into a monster in less than a year?”
“You tell me,” he scoffed as he unlocked his door. Noah immediately walked out, barking. Sawyer petted her head lightly to calm her down. Then, she moved to seek attention from Lizbeth. When she was done, greeting both of them, she walked inside the house, completely unaware of what was going on.
“It makes no sense, that’s all I can tell you,” she said looking at him, a defiant look in her eyes.
He looked at her, not knowing what else to say. Hurt, irritation, and exhaustion taking over him. “Liz… Let’s drop this, okay?” He sighed out of defeat, aware that the conversation was going nowhere. “I’m tired of this shit, it’s not even our problem, we were just trying to help someone out of a complicated situation. I don’t want to argue about it anymore. Do what you think is best, okay?” He ran a hand through his hair. “I don’t understand why you want to do this for him, but I trust you so, even if I don’t agree with you, I’ll support you, just as you have done with me, okay?”
“Fine,” she sternly said.
“Now, let’s get in. I really need the day to be over…” He motioned her to walk into his apartment.
“I’m sorry, but I’m going to sleep in my apartment tonight.”
“What?! Liz, couples fight and then make out.”
“I know, and I’m sorry, but I need some space.”
“This is how it’s going to be?” He couldn’t understand how a simple discussion could break them apart like that. It wasn’t as if fighting was something strange. Everybody did, then talked, apologized and kept on with their lives, but Lizbeth wanted space.
What the fuck does that even mean?
An irrational fear of losing her invaded him, but instead of acting like the mature man he was supposed to be, he acted like a brat out of spite. “Do whatever the fuck you want!” he spat, slamming the door behind him, aware that a horrible, sleepless night was ahead of him.