Crossroads

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Chapter 26

Chapter 26: Lincoln

“Our love was consuming, literally breathtaking, and so goddamn addicting. I know I’m still recovering from that drug, and I’m so close to relapsing at the sole thought of seeing her again.”

PRESENT

I still feel her.

It’s been almost a week and I can still feel her fingers on my chest, feel her breath on my skin, her dangerously delicious scent is still etched into my brain like I need it to survive.

I knew I’d fooled myself. I knew I wouldn’t be able to just forget her. How could I? But I thought I could at least just avoid her, ignore her when our paths would cross.

The events of last week show that I’m nowhere near forgetting about her, that I can’t just turn away from her when she’s in sight. Hell, even now I just want to chase her, want to hold her, kiss her… Fucking hell...

I’ve thought and spoken enough about my past to know that I was a huge fucking asshole back then. I treated her like shit, constantly, and in the end I hit her where it hurts the most when I said those words. They were a blatant lie, obviously. Mia has never been cold, but I had to say what I needed to so she would stop fighting. I honestly didn’t think she’d believe them so easily, but I guess that worked in my favor, if that’s what you can call it…

“Dr. Grey?” the familiar voice brings me out of my thoughts, and I look at Dr. Avian, notepad in her lap and hands folded on her knees. It’s the typical therapist pose, open body language but not open enough to shift the attention to herself, her whole posture is relaxed and content, and the feeling usually transfers to the atmosphere around us.

Dr. Avian is an excellent therapist. I left Dr. James back then, for obvious reasons, and it took me a while to find a therapist who was worth actually something, but Dr. Avian managed to convince me the second she shook my hand. Something about her just radiates sympathy and calm. I know she’s a luminary in her field, behavioral therapy is her strong suit and people usually stand in line to get treated by her. I was lucky enough since the hospital has connections no private person could establish, so here I am.

“Sorry,” I focus back on her, that familiar sympathy again sparkling in her eyes when she smiles at me. We are talking about my new patient, but I keep getting distracted. I’m not surprised when she throws the notepad on the table next to her and leans back on the chair, shooting a warm smile before she speaks, “Why don’t you tell me about last week?”

I’ve made the mistake of underestimating how much she picks up when we talk. It always feels like a natural conversation so I just let my words flow, but she’s trained for this, she knows every little habit I don’t even recognize myself. It’s mesmerizing, in a way, watching her work without looking like she does. It’s a talent.

“I saw her again.” I decide to cut the bullshit. I’ve learned a lot these past years, and I know that I can’t hide shit, so I might as well be open and use the little time we have each week.

“Saw who again?” she asks, almost nonchalantly.

“Mia.” One word, and my heart already collapses again.

That makes her widen her eyes for just a split second, and I can’t deny I’m somewhat proud that I actually manage to elicit a genuine reaction like that out of someone who usually seems to be in meticulous control of her emotions.

“Okay, and what happened?”

I heave a sigh, mustering up the courage to tell her all about this. She knows about what happened back then. Hell, this woman knows more about me than I do myself, probably. And even though she said my methods of doing so were wrong and insensitive, she also said it was better for both Mia and me to distance ourselves. She thinks what we had back then was codependency, each of us had something to gain from having the other in our life, and it would have just ended in chaos as soon as one of us couldn’t offer that something anymore one day.

I still feel like leaving was a huge fucking mistake, though.

“It was a disaster…” I mutter while running a hand through my hair, and she just shoots me another sympathetic look, urging me to continue.

And so I do just that. I tell her about Mia’s brother, about her friends, about how I just couldn’t stop looking at her the second I saw her, and about our encounter at the back of the bar… Just by saying the words do I feel Mia’s firm grip on my neck, and I remember all those times back then, all those times we got so lost in each other we could barely breathe. Because all we needed was us, our bodies, our heartbeats thundering in a synchronized rhythm.

“You say she seemed different to you? Different how?” she asks after I take a deep breath, trying to get my head out of that dangerous place Mia occupies in my heart.

“I don’t know. She seemed even stronger, somehow, if that’s possible… And she looked more alive. Reckless, almost. She always had this dangerous vibe about her, but that day, she looked like danger itself…”

“How do you feel about that?”

“About her new look?” I ask, and Dr. Avian just nods her head. “It’s…” I continue, “It’s stunning. She looked breathtaking. Always has, but this was even more intense. I swear, she literally stole my breath. And I can’t fucking stop thinking about her,” I groan as I get up form the way too comfortable armchair, feeling Dr. Avian’s eyes on me while I pace around the room. “How the hell am I supposed to stay away from her if I see her again? Fucking hell…”

I already feel the air being knocked out of my lungs from the shole memory of her, from that insane amount of pain in her eyes, even years later…

But I don’t want to be that man anymore. I’m not that man anymore. I’ve learned to control myself, to lock those fucking demons away, and so I take a deep breath, hold it in for as long as I can before I exhale again, letting the oxygen calm my raging heart. It works after a few minutes, and I am just about to take a seat again when Dr. Avian speaks again, “Lincoln…”

The use of my first name makes me look at her, she usually refers to my surname when she addresses me, “That was good. Come on, take a seat, we’ll talk this through.”

I do as she says, taking a seat before leaning back, rubbing my palms on my jeans. “What do I do?” I ask, but Dr. Avian just shoots me a smile.

“That’s a question you should answer yourself. But I’ll help you. I told you, we do this together, that’s why you’re here.”

And even though I do pay a lot of money for her to say these things and to help me out, I can’t help but feel like she is actually sincere about the desire to help me. She seems like a good person, and I just believe her when she says these things.

“Now. Our session is almost over, but I want you to think about how it made you feel when you saw her again. And I don’t mean the physical effect you already established. I mean go deeper. Explore your emotions, the ones that are prominent when you think of her. Write them into your diary and bring it with you next week. We’ll work this out, Dr. Grey.”

I just nod my head, not really knowing what else to say to her. I don’t think I need to think much about what I feel when I look at Mia. I’ve mulled over those emotions for a long time now, and I know what they are. I know what they mean.

And still, I can’t help but feel nervous at the prospect of diving so deep into this sea of emotion Mia created back then. Our love was consuming, literally breathtaking, and so goddamn addicting. I know I’m still recovering from that drug, and I’m so close to relapsing at the sole thought of seeing her again.

Maybe it’s my occupied mind, or maybe it’s just my overwhelmed being in general, but I don’t watch when I finally get out of Dr. Avian’s office, opening the front door of the medical center without really looking ahead, only to slam right into someone at the other side of it, throwing a few books and personal items to the ground.

“Fuck!”

I immediately recognize her voice, and I can’t help but stare when she dusts herself off before leaning down to pick up her belongings and throwing them back into her purse. “Can’t you watch?” she asks without looking up at me, but I’m just standing still, frozen in place from this blizzard called Mia Esperanza.

“Hey, I’m talking to…” she stops mid-sentence when she finally gets up, her eyes meeting mine in an instant. And as soon as they do, as soon as I get lost in those tortured blue irises, do I know that I, once again, fooled myself.

What I feel when I look at her is not rational, it’s not obvious, or reasonable. Thinking that just recollecting our memories over the past two years would’ve given me a clear picture of what I feel or felt for her, was reckless. Because I’m immediately pulled into the storm that is her existence, and it’s almost like I’m waking up from a two-year-slumber when I just take her in, let her appearance work its magic.

“Of fucking course…” she suddenly mutters, avoiding our gaze, and I immediately feel lost again, lost in this shallow space in my heart.

“Mia…” I somehow croak out the word, but she just shakes her head as she steps aside, giving me space to get out of the door frame.

And as I look at her, as I see the blazing fire in her eyes, I know that I still need to keep my distance. The pain is still written on her face when she looks at me, and fuck it hurts like hell to know that that’s what she sees in me. But Dr. Avian was right, we were toxic, and I cannot let myself dive into this if I don’t know how to deal with it. If I should even deal with it.

“Do you mind? I have an appointment,” she says, spitting venom with every single word.

I wonder how the hell I manage to get a reasonable thought into my brain right now, but I step out of the doorframe, giving her space to pass me and enter the building. She shoots me one last glance, and for just a split second I see that fire in her eyes dying down, see the vulnerability, the emotion.

But then she shakes her head and walks straight past me, the scent of vanilla and cigarettes invading my senses as I watch her rush through the hallway and up the stairs, disappearing from my line of sight as swiftly as she entered it.

What the fuck do I do?

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