Crossroads

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Chapter 13

Mia

“Lincoln is pure poison, pure temptation, waiting patiently for me to give in, to finally let myself feel.”

PAST

The night before Lincoln’s first session was a nightmare, quite literally.

He had a full-blown panic attack, the sole prospect of having to leave the house sent him into a spiral even I couldn’t stop. But after a few hours of talking to him, of holding in my arms like it was the last thing I’d ever do in this life, he finally fell asleep. He moved around a lot, as he usually does. His demons probably haunt him in his dreams whenever they get the chance to.

But it seems like the therapy is working, because after four sessions his nightmares already become easier to handle, he generally seems to understand his emotions much better than before, though there are still moments in which he spirals again. That was to be expected, though. I know therapy is not something that just changes your entire being in one night. It’s a process, and mostly about accepting your habits and how to deal with them.

Lincoln does talk more, though. It seems like he’s teaching himself to open up to me, telling me about his parents and his former patients. I can tell he’s very slowly starting to get his drive back, at least when it concerns his job. There’s this spark in his eyes when he talks about his patients, about how he treated them and how much joy they brought him. It makes me believe that he will be able to get back to his old self, at least partly.

He’s in his fifth session today, and I decided to go visit mom and dad while he’s in, that way I get to see just the two of them for once, without my nagging brothers fighting for attention the whole time.

“Mia!” mom smiles widely when she sees me parking the car in the driveway.

She makes her way over from the deck chair on the porch and wraps me in a tight hug as soon as I get out of the car, her motherly love immediately crashing into me.

“Hey, mom,” I whisper in her ear when she squeezes me once more, “you’re suffocating me.”

But she just laughs as she pulls back to look at me, almost like she hadn’t seen me four days ago.

“To what do we owe the pleasure?”

“Can’t I just say hello to my parents without having an agenda?” I raise an eyebrow at my mother.

“Of course. I’m just surprised! It’s been a while since you came here on your own,” she smirks at me, and I immediately see the insinuation in her eyes as she continues, “I mean we wouldn’t mind if you decided to introduce us to someone... New.”

I can’t help but groan at her comment. Obviously my brothers as well as my father are insanely protective when it comes to the men in my life. My first and only boyfriend hit the ground running when Max stormed into his room at his parents’ house, both of us in rather compromising positions with little to no clothes on. Mom is aware of the issue, and she slapped Max upside the head when she found out what he did back then, her need to allow me a private life is the only reason I have one, I guess.

“You mean you wouldn’t mind,” I correct her, knowing that dad would probably hit the roof if he found out about a man in my life.

“Your father is a very protective man, Mia. That doesn’t mean he can dictate your life, though. You know that.”

She takes my hand and walks us over to the old wooden bench I once painted in a baby blue color as a kid, thinking my dad would love that. Only ten years later did he tell me that this bench was made from the tree my great grandfather planted about a hundred years ago. Apparently it got sick and they had to fell the tree, but used its wood to make small memories like this one.

“I know, I know...” I sigh as I run my fingers along the different shades of blue on the armrest, “It’s just a lot sometimes.”

“I know, sweetheart. And I understand your need to live in the apartment and away from everyone, I really do,” my mom squeezes my hand once more, “but don’t forget about your old momma.”

A chuckle escapes my throat when she bumps my shoulder, and I can’t help but place my head on it while she wraps her arm around my waist.

“Are you okay, honey?” she asks with her soft voice.

“I think I am. Things are... A bit chaotic. I might step back from the exams this semester.”

I realized a few days ago that my exams would come up in about two weeks. I am nowhere near prepared enough to go through with them, though. Even if I started studying day and night right now, which would prove to be difficult with Lincoln living with me, I probably wouldn’t pass them.

“If that’s what you think you need, then do just that. A little chaos never hurt anyone... It’s okay to take a breather every now and then. I know you deserve it. You know I’m here if you need me,” she bumps my shoulder when she answers, and I can’t help but rest my head on it as she wraps her arm around my waist.

“Thank you, mom. Are you doing okay? How do you feel in the house, now that the trio is gone?”

She sighs heavily at my question, her arm around my waist tugging me in a bit closer as she answers, “Four months without them and the house isn’t the same anymore. I miss having all of you here, so much that I’m almost begging your father for another baby...” she laughs, and I lean back to look at her with wide eyes.

“Mom! Please don’t, there’s too many of us as is!” I retort.

“What? I wouldn’t want to get pregnant again, but I was thinking about fostering someone. We have this huge house, we have so much money, and there are so many children out there who need a place to sleep, someone to rely on...” she rambles on, and I can’t help but just smile at her.

“You are such a good person, mom,” I whisper, “really. Any kid would be very lucky to have you as their mother, biological or not. I know we all are.”

And I think I even see her kind eyes turn glassy when she looks at me, her green irises portraying so much love for me that it’s extremely hard to keep the tears at bay as well.

“Thank you for saying that, sweetheart,” she brushes some hair out of my face as she speaks, “I hope you all know that your father and I love all of you with everything we have.”

“We know. Really, we do.”

I press a kiss on her cheek, but suddenly get startled, the front door opening behind us makes me turn my head.

“There you are! I was looking all over for...” my dad stops in his tracks when he notices me, “Mia?”

“Hey, Dad.”

He grins when he walks over to us, pressing a swift kiss on my mother’s lips before wrapping me in a hug.

“Well, you are the one who gave me six kids, honey. That’s the only reason we needed a house this big,” my mom comments when we break the hug, a smirk playing on her lips while dad just starts laughing.

“Those are your genes, love, not mine!” dad retorts, pointing out that it is in fact my mother’s side of the family that deals with twins, given that she is one herself.

“That’s why they all look like me.”

“Except for this one!” Dad presses a kiss on my head while mom just laughs, shaking her head in disbelief.

“Oh, thank you, Dad. You’re so sweet,” I can’t help but comment sarcastically on their interaction.

“Just stating the truth.”

“Okay, you two,” Mom suddenly chimes in, “I’ll go and start some coffee. You still have time for that, Mia?”

I glance at my wristwatch, noticing I still have about an hour left.

“Of course”.

Mom just nods her head with a smile and then walks inside, leaving me and my dad alone on the porch.

“Come on, I have to show you something,” Dad suddenly tugs at my hand.

“Okay...”

He walks around the house and towards the garage, typing in some numbers on the keypad before the large door opens with a faint jarring noise. The lights turn on as we walk inside, and even though I’ve lived in this house for about twenty years I still get absolutely mind-blown with the amount of expensive cars my father stores in this garage.

I mean, don’t get me wrong. I know he makes a lot of money with his business, we always had everything we could’ve asked for. But mom was very strict with us not growing up as rich pricks, and even though we lived a very privileged life, we never had an excessive amount of toys, clothes or anything else. It’s just dad that marches to a different tune.

Dad walks to the end of the garage, and I can’t help but laugh when he reaches the large SUV and then quickly turns around again, obviously checking if mom is coming or not.

“Dad!” I whisper, “What have you...” but I can’t finish my sentence, because as I reach the SUV myself, I see what dad was looking at.

“Oh, no... The midlife crisis has finally come,” I groan, but dad just shoots me a fake-appalled look, his hand flat on his chest as he leans back with wide eyes.

“Ouch. I thought you’d like it! You have one yourself...” he almost pouts as he looks at the extremely expensive looking Harley Davidson hidden behind the SUV.

“Yeah, but dad... I’ve had one since I turned eighteen. You’re not exactly eighteen anymore...”

“Wow. Is that what I get for giving you my good looks?”

“It’s what you get for basically copying yourself into a much cooler, younger female version,” I wink at him.

“Hey, I’m cool!” he suddenly calls out, and I can’t help but laugh again.

“Yes, you are,” I answer honestly, “but you’re also my dad. I kind of still need you for a few more years, I don’t know if that will happen when you get on this thing.”

“You do know your grandma still drives one of those things, right?”

“I do. But really, she’s grandma...”

My grandma is one of, if not the most badass woman I have ever met. My whole family consists of strong, independent women, but she really goes next level. She’s eighty-two and still takes grandpa on roadtrips for weeks.

“True...” dad finally concurs, “I want to try, though. You want to go for a ride next Tuesday?”

“Isn’t that the day mom visits gramps?”

“That is exactly the day,” he grins at me.

“Dad, I don’t like this. You know she will kill you, like literally kill you, when she finds this thing.”

“I am aware,” he sounds almost scared when he pats the seat of the bike, “which is why she won’t.”

I’m impressed by his confidence, honestly. I’d be scared shitless if I was him. While my father and brothers are overprotective, my mom worries a lot, especially about dad. She just can’t help herself, and I totally understand that. Everyone can see how much they love each other, and somewhere deep inside I know that dad will not actually pull through with this Harley thing, because in the end he lives to make mom happy.

“Good luck with that, old man... Good luck with that.”

We spend the next hour catching up and just having some time for ourselves as the three of us, which is a welcomed change, to be honest. With five brothers it’s hard to find your voice, even though both mom and dad made sure I was heard. Still, I think I needed this time with my parents.

And as I stand in front of my car, hugging both of them goodbye, I feel so much better already, knowing that my parents will always be by my side. No matter what happens, I can count on them, and I will forever be grateful for that.

I roll down the window when I reach Dr. James’ house, trying to get some fresh air as I look at the building, my fingers tapping on the steering wheel while I take in the old front. It looks cozy, personal, with dark green window shutters and ivy vines trailing over the bricks. The perfect place for a therapist, in my opinion. Dr. James was a recommendation from a friend of mine, who already went through therapy with him, and only spoke highly of his skills. I hope she was right about his abilities.

And as I look at this house, as I study the bronze enamel sign with the name Dr. Henry James on it, I can’t stop my mind from wandering back to the first time I met Lincoln. The real first time. The time he either doesn’t remember or just doesn’t show that he does. He was so different, back then. Three years ago. He was fun, lighthearted and full of life. Yes, he was arrogant, and a little cocky, too. But he always had a good heart, I could tell that immediately. I might have only been an eighteen year old girl crushing on this hot doctor, but still. I noticed him, watched how he went through life with so much love in his heart, it’s painful to see how life has treated him since then.

I still remember how I had to catch my breath the second I laid eyes on him, his laugh reverberating around the white hospital walls while he shook the coal black hair on his head. I don’t know what it was, but he just pulled me in. And then, when he started talking to me, it got even worse...

“Mia?” his voice rips me out of my reverie, and I quickly shake my head in an attempt to find my grasp on reality.

The large copper door clicks behind him as he walks towards me, a shy smile on his face that takes my breath away, even more so when I see this particular sparkle in his eyes. It’s a sparkle I have last seen years ago, and I can’t help but feel hopeful at the sight of it. He looks better, his cheeks filled with color and the bags under his eyes seem to get lighter as well.

I watch how he circles the car, with long, determined strides he makes his way to the passenger side of my expensive Audi, courtesy of my dad for my twenty-first birthday. Yes, I did say we aren’t spoiled...

“Hey.”

He plops into the passenger seat, and I can’t help but smile back at him when he leans back on the headrest.

“Hi. How was it today?” I ask, suddenly noticing the way his eyes search my face for every single inch of it.

“Good,” he whispers, “It was good.”

His hand suddenly finds my own, and he intertwines our fingers, letting them dance and battle with each other as he still just looks at me, obviously intent of finding something, anything within me.

“That’s good.”

“It is.”

I’m suddenly very glad about the open window, the temperature in the car having risen with such a sudden force, that I find it hard to take a proper breath.

Ever since that night it has gotten harder and harder not to touch him, not to do what we really shouldn’t. I can’t help but notice the way he looks at me all the time, hungry and passionate and so, so heated. I also realized I steered closer to him, with every day that passes. Stealing touches, glances, at every possible chance, blurring lines in the most dangerous way possible.

But I can’t help myself. Lincoln is pure poison, raw temptation, waiting patiently for me to give in, to finally let myself feel.

His hand on my face startles me out of my thoughts, and I immediately see that look on his face again. That look filled with so much desire, I might just burst from the sole sight of it. And then, when he speaks, his voice raspy and so fucking dark that I almost can’t hear him, I know he speaks the truth.

“Mia... We need to talk.”

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