Crossroads

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Chapter 21

Chapter 21: Lincoln

“It’s astounding, really, how the weight of this day instantly washes away as soon as I touch him, how the compelling chemistry between us creates a potion that simply obliterates any trace of anxiety in my soul.”

PAST

I feel light. For the first time in forever, I don’t feel like a heavy boulder is resting on my shoulders.

These past few weeks have been amazing, to say the least. It feels like we opened up a completely new connection to each other, like we simply became one.

And I can’t stop looking at her. I can’t stop watching her, with every little thing she does. I also can’t stop touching her, it seems like we invited a whole new level of desire into our lives when we made love, that first night. And honestly, that’s what it was. We made love. Because I’m in love with Mia. Loving her is refreshing, intense, and consuming as hell. She’s on my mind all day, even when she’s with me. It’s like she’s taken over my sanity.

Just now do I watch as she prepares breakfast, only wearing one of my shirts as she sways her hips to the music, fork in her mouth while she wiggles the pan.

My hands sneak around her stomach as I press her back against my chest, watching how she flips the bacon with interest, my chin resting on her shoulder.

“What kind of music do you like?” she suddenly asks, licking her finger after getting some of the bacon on it, and I can’t deny that it does something extremely dangerous to me.

The question also catches me off guard, to be honest. I don’t remember the last time I actively listened to music, it’s usually just Mia’s music in the apartment, and before that… God, everything from the time before I went to that bridge seems so foggy now.

“Uh… I liked MC Hammer.” I admit, and Mia immediately laughs out loud, the sound making my heart pick up a beat or two.

“MC Hammer?” she keeps on giggling as she turns off the stove and then turns around, her arms circling around my waist as she looks up at me, “I did not expect that.”

“Really?”

“Really.”

“Well, what did you expect?” I raise an eyebrow at her.

She removes one of her hands from my back to dramatically tap her chin, acting as if she’s thinking intensely. “Hmm… I was thinking along the lines of… Pink Floyd, or maybe U2?”

“U2?!” I retort with wide eyes, “You think I listen to U2?”

But she just laughs again and shrugs, like she didn’t just insult me on a deep level. “Yeah, why not?”

“Because of… Everything?!” I scoff, and she circles her arms around my neck before getting on her toes and pressing a quick kiss on my lips, the taste of bacon still lingering on them.

“Did I offend you, Dr. Grey?”

Fuck, it just does something to me when she calls me that.

“Maybe a bit, Miss Esperanza.” I grin at her.

“Aww, I’m sorry. Well, not really…” She winks before turning around, grabbing a strip of bacon from the pan before shoving it in her mouth, half of it still hanging from her lips. I immediately bend forward, biting off the rest of the piece, though it doesn’t come off completely, and it just ends in both of us laughing while my lips crash against her own. The piece finally comes off, but we just end up chewing and kissing at the same time, the greasy taste of bacon invading my senses as I pick her up, her arms immediately wrapping around my neck while we both swallow the meat.

“Mhhmm..” she moans into our kiss, and I can’t help but smirk when I lower her on the kitchen table, her legs now wrapped around mine as I tower over her, absolutely intent on kissing every last drop of grease off her lips.

“Babe…” she whispers. It just does something to me when she calls me that. We haven’t had that talk, yet. The talk about what we are, where we stand, what the future holds… Hell, I haven’t even told her about the new job I’ll start next month.

I guess that’s why I can’t stop touching her, can’t stop kissing her like there’s no tomorrow. When she calls me names like this it just assures me, it makes me think that we can actually pull this off.

“Link…” Her hand suddenly covers my mouth, and although I see how much she wants this, too, I pull back. “We need to eat. We both need to get going soon…” she whispers, and I can’t help but sigh. Because she’s right. I have therapy, and a meeting with the new hospital after that, while Mia visits her brother.

“You’re right… Though I can’t say I like it.”

She smiles as she sits up straight, her thumb brushing beneath my bottom lip and then slipping into her mouth, tasting the grease our session left all over our lips. “Me neither. We can continue this later.” And then she just winks before she jumps off the table, almost shoving me backward in the process.

It’s really goddamn hard not to attack her all the time, but we actually manage to eat our breakfast in comfortable silence, the atmosphere around us still filling with tension as we just sit there, making conversation along the way.

“Have you considered telling your brother about us?” I don’t know where this is coming from, to be honest, the question just leaves my mouth. I mean, of course, I’ve thought about that fact. About how open we will be. George’s threat is still in the back of my mind, he might be an old man, but I’m sure he has connections that can, in the end, hurt me. Whatever way that is.

“Uhm…” she starts, fiddling with the bacon on her plate, absolutely avoiding my gaze. “I don’t know. Do you want me to?” she swallows when she asks, and I can tell she doesn’t want to. I don’t know why, but I can just tell.

“You don’t have to.” To be honest, I don’t really know if I want her to tell people. I mean… I know I told her I loved her, that first night. I’m pretty sure she was asleep though, and being the coward I am I haven’t come around to actually saying it when she’s awake. But I guess I don’t know what she thinks, especially when she doesn’t want to tell her family about us.

I mean I get it. The age gap alone will stir up some trouble, but I couldn’t give a damn about stuff like that. Mia is not your typical twenty-one-year-old. She’s more mature than most people I’ve seen my age, and she knows what she wants.

“It’s just… I don’t know how they will react, honestly. You know how they are…”

No, I don’t. Is what I almost say, given I have never met her family. I only know what she tells me about them, and I know her brothers and her father are protective of her, so I get that she’s hesitant. “I just mean,” she speaks again, “I don’t want them to think anything they shouldn’t…”

And that, right there, hurts even more. Because of course the thought crossed my mind. Depending on how much we tell them about how we met, and how this all transpired, they would never see me as a suitable man for their daughter, rightfully so. I mean, look at me. I still live in her apartment, I’m still dependent on her. I still wake up screaming or crying some nights. I’m a mess, and that won’t change for a long, long time. Of course I’m not worthy of her love.

“Link, I just mean…”

“No, I get what you mean,” I shoot her a smile. She shouldn’t have to defend herself. She shouldn’t have to worry about me, right now. It’s what she always does, anyway. “Really, it’s all good,” I reassure her when I notice that she doesn’t properly believe me.

“Maybe I can talk to Finn today about this. He’s not as bad as the others, and he might know how to approach this…”

“Mia, you don’t have to do that. Take care of whatever it is you have to do today, and we can think about this another time.”

She just nods her head, obviously not knowing what else to say or do, really. Not that I can blame her, I also just finish my coffee in silence before I take care of the dishes, while Mia goes to change in the bedroom. I join her a few minutes later, and she’s just slipping into some jeans, a black top hugging her petite figure. I noticed she wears a lot of black, or generally dark colors, and it just suits her so fucking well. She looks badass, everything about her has this dark aura, except for those fucking blue orbits. They just uproot your whole soul with one single glance, it’s mesmerizing, really.

“Stop gawking, Dr. Grey,” she suddenly warns me, and I can’t help but smirk when her fingers close the button of her jeans before she walks over me, her arms sliding around my waist while those blue eyes gaze up at me.

“You can’t really blame me…” It’s true. I mean how couldn’t I look at her all day?

“True,” she chuckles, “But I can blame you for distracting me. You better get dressed…” Her fingers climb over my bare chest until she reaches my chin, taking it between her thumb and index to tilt my head downward, looking straight at her. “Because I need to get going.”

And just like that she presses a swift kiss on my lips before releasing her arms from around me, slapping my ass as she walks out of the room. I simply laugh while I shake my head, watching how she walks into the hallway, throwing me another amused glance as she gets into her boots.

I quickly get dressed as well, throwing on a grey shirt and some jeans before I stumble into the hallway where Mia just leans against the door, arms crossed in front of her chest. “Took you long enough.”

She laughs when I just stretch out my tongue and slip into my sneakers, following her out of the apartment and down the stairs. George shoots us a weird look when he sees us walking down the stairwell, he smiles brightly at Mia but as soon as she turns the corner he has this look in his eyes, the one that tells me he’s not pleased with what he sees. I quickly shake it off though and make my way down into the garage. Mia wanted to take the car today so she offered to drive me to Dr. James, and I would just walk back. It fits well since I want to surprise her once I get the paperwork from the hospital later today, showing her that I did work on my future, finally.

We arrive at Dr. James’ a few minutes later, Mia’s hand resting on my thigh after she parks the car. “You call me if you need anything, right?”

I know she means well, I know she’s just looking out for me, but I can’t help but feel like a burden, again… “I will,” I answer, “Same goes for you.” I feel the need to add it, knowing that her grandpa hasn’t been well over the past weeks.

She nods her head, a thin smile on her lips as she replies, “I will. Promise.”

And then she kisses me like we’ve done it all our lives, just like that. It’s swift but intense, and I feel how she wants to pull back, but I just need to feel her again, need this reassurance like I need the air to breathe. I cup the back of her head and pull her closer again, chasing her lips and her tongue with all that I have. She obliges, luckily, and soon enough I almost have her on my lap, the only obstacle preventing that being the seatbelt wrapped around her torso.

I so badly want to get it off of her, but it seems like she reads my mind because suddenly she pulls back, her forehead resting against mine. “You should get going, Link…”

And when I nod my head, releasing our connection, I look at her again, and I see this sparkle in her eyes. That sparkle that screams her emotions at me, that tells me what she’s thinking, feeling. I almost think I see this one particular emotion in them, but I can’t let myself go there, yet. I can’t assume things if I have no reassurance. I’m walking on thin ice as is, and I definitely need to work on my self-preservation techniques.

“Okay,” I whisper the words before brushing my lips against hers again, and this time it feels more than just a goodbye-kiss. It’s something different, almost like it’s the last kiss we will ever share, though I don’t know why, and I can’t deny that it scares the shit out of me. I almost don’t want to leave the car, this sudden feeling of dread swimming in the pit of my stomach has me panicking.

But again, I don’t want to worry her. And so I just shoot her a quick smile before I open the door. This time she’s the one who grabs my hand, though, the second my foot touches the ground. “Lincoln…” Her voice is quiet, but I can see it, hear it. She feels it, too. And she doesn’t even need to ask before I lean toward her again, this time devouring her like it was the last thing I’ll ever do, and I swear I wish it was. Because she’s delicious, exhilarating, calming, all at the same time. Her tongue urgently explores my mouth, like she was trying to find the meaning of life in it, and I return the favor with equal fervor, my fingers raking through her hair and holding on for dear life…

We’re both breathless when she pulls back again, this time much more reluctantly than before. “Okay, you have to go now, really…” it almost sounds like a warning, and as much as I’d love to find out what happens if I stay, I just nod my head. “Yeah… I’ll see you later, I…” I almost say the words again, and I think she knows it, I think she reads them on my face, but both of us don’t say anything. “I’ll text you when I’m home.”

With that I get out of the car, closing the door behind me as I walk to the building, shooting one last glance at the woman I love in that car. And I can’t help but think that something is horribly, horribly wrong.

But I suppress the feeling, I just hold her gaze for another few minutes before she drives away, giving me the signal to get the hell inside.

Therapy is the same as usual. Again, Dr. James insists on me moving out, he even gets more urgent about it the more I tell him about Mia and our relationship, or whatever it is. And again, I tell him that I’m on it, that I’m getting a job and looking for apartments.

And it goes very well, too, because the talk I have after that, the one with the head of pediatric surgery at the hospital close by, ends up with me signing an open-ended employment contract, which would announce me as an attending next year. It’s much faster than it usually works, but apparently they need the staff, and so I, for once, am lucky.

She even tells me I could move into the apartment complex close to the hospital if I were to live far away. I obviously don’t fill her in on my current living arrangement, but instead thankfully accept the pamphlets with contact information regarding those apartments, and make my way out of the hospital. And as I round the corridor toward the hospital exit, I can’t help but think that this went way too well. It seems too good to be true, frankly.

But maybe, just maybe, my life can get back on track. And maybe I can work all of that out.

“Dr. Grey.” A male voice resonates right behind me as I leave the rotating doors of the hospital, and I turn around to face a very tall man with hazel hair and green eyes, wearing a leather jacket and a look on his face that is about ready to kill me.

“Sorry, do I know you?” I furrow my brows. He looks somewhat familiar, though I can’t place him, at all.

“You don’t. I know you, though.” He takes a step toward me, basically pushing me toward the black Range Rover that’s parked in front of the entrance. The stranger reaches around me and opens the door so that I’m standing right at the entrance, his eyes still hunting me down. “Get in. We need to talk.”

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