Crossroads

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Chapter 28

Chapter 28: Lincoln

“Just as I almost feel her lips against mine, as I feel the flames of her smoldering fire on my skin, I see this flicker of something familiar in her eyes. It’s that spark we had, that spark I knew still existed, that spark that proves that this, us, is still real.”

PRESENT

I’m beginning to think it’s not a coincidence that I’m running into Mia so often. And I can’t deny that I’m paying meticulous attention to my surroundings by now, always looking for the petite brunette with ocean blue eyes wherever I go.

It’s been a few days since our last encounter. I’m not ashamed to say that I waited on the other side of the road after I bumped into her, I just wanted to see what she was doing, where she was going… I couldn’t make out which doctor she went to, though. The building is enormous and they have about every specialist in existence in there.

She looked happy when she got out of the building, though, and I just hope that whatever she did had a positive outcome. Because I want her to be happy, I really do. I just don’t know if I’m the right person to give her that.

But then, then fate strikes again.

I’m just pacing down the hospital hallway, scribbling notes into the different patient files on my tablet, when I hear it.

“Oh my god, you’re such an insufferable asshole!” Her familiar laugh echoes through the hallway, and the sole sound of it has me standing still, my whole body almost magnetically steering toward her voice. I end up leaning against the wall next to the break room, still tapping away on the tablet so I don’t seem awkward as hell.

“Say what you want, I know I’m your favorite.” I think it’s Finn who’s speaking.

“You won’t be any longer if you keep pulling this shit, fucking hell…”

She sounds happy, even if her words might imply otherwise. There’s an almost carefree element to her tone, though I can’t identify if it’s actually carefree, or just utterly reckless.

“Hey, at least I got myself some, unlike you,” I widen my eyes at Finn’s word, suddenly feeling like I’m intruding a very intimate conversation.

“Oh my god, if you try to set me up with one of your gay friends again I will kill you.”

“Hey, I saw how you looked at Dr. Grumpy on your birthday! I’m still not too sure if he’s playing my field or not, but I definitely know he liked what he saw,” Finn laughs, and I swear I want to fucking disappear into thin air right now. I sometimes forget how much these people gossip. I also forgot they call me Dr. Grumpy. “And you liked it, too!” he suddenly adds, and that just gets my undivided attention, immediately.

There’s no answer for a minute, and I can only imagine how much Mia must hate her brother now. “Shut up. I didn’t,” she mutters, it’s almost impossible to hear her now.

“Oh my god!” he suddenly almost squeals, “Are you fucking blushing?! What the hell?!”

I get a few weird looks by the nurses walking past me, but I just can’t stop the bright grin on my face, just imagining that Mia might still feel the same thing I do fills my heart with hope.

“Ugh, fuck you! You call me here to bring you lunch and now you’re calling me out? How do I deserve that?”

“I didn’t know I was calling you out until you turned bloody crimson!” Finn laughs again, “You have the hots for my boss!”

“Shhh! What the hell, Finn? Shut up! I don’t have the hots for anyone. God, how old are you?”

“Speaking of age… Are you into older guys? You know Dr. Grumpy is in his thirties, right? I can get you Dr. Gooden’s number, he’s like fifty. You know I don’t kink shame. If you’re into that then we…”

“For fuck’s sake... I’m going!” her words make me look up, and I almost run into a nurse in an attempt not to be caught by Mia while I’m spying on her and her brother. God, what the fuck am I doing?

“Oh come on, Mia!” Finn calls out, but I quickly hide beneath the nurse counter in the hallway, acting as if I needed to write something down when I watch her walk away, flipping the bird at her laughing brother.

And I just stand there for a minute, watching how she walks away with so much goddamn purpose one might think she owned the whole damn hospital. “She’s a hottie, huh?” I turn around to see Dr. Tannon, self-proclaimed hospital playboy, standing right next to me, his eyes glued to Mia as she stalks away.

Maybe it’s his degrading way of speaking about women, or maybe it’s just the fact that I simply cannot stay away, but I suddenly feel the extreme urge to go after her, to talk to her.

It doesn’t take long until my muscles cooperate with my brain, and in a matter of seconds I’m running after her, following her around the corner right as she steps into the elevator. I pick up the pace, and somehow actually manage to slide in with her, almost bumping into the other guy that’s in here. “Sorry,” I hold up a hand to apologize to the man, who just shakes his head at me.

I ignore him though, my attention is immediately focused on the woman right next to him, her ocean blue eyes shooting straight fire when they meet mine. “Hi,” I manage to say.

She doesn’t respond, though. She just looks at me for a minute while the elevator stops on different floors, sending more people in than out, and after a short while we’re being pushed in a corner, Mia’s back pressed against the wall while I’m bracing my hands against it, basically caging her in.

I can’t help but watch how her puls quickens, her carotid dancing on her neck while she takes deep breaths, her familiar scent clouding my senses as I breathe in deeply, trying to savor it as good as I can. My own heart beats a violent rhythm, one that is definitely neither healthy nor rational. But I get the feeling that rational is not a word I should use when talking about Mia. Because everything about her is surreal, irrational, and utterly magical. She’s the epitome of temptation, the Mona Lisa in between pointless doodles of the untalented.

“Can I help you?” she asks, her arms crossed in front of her chest as she looks up at me, unimpressed as hell.

I look at her for a moment, really look at her, and I realize she looks so much older suddenly. It’s been two years and yet she looks like half a decade had passed since I last saw her. She always looked older than she was, but something about her now gives off this dangerous mature vibe, one I have never seen like this before.

“Can we talk?” I ignore all the people looking at us or chatting in the background, my tunnel vision is solely focused on this beauty in front of me.

“I don’t think so,” her gaze is unwavering when she answers, and I once again come to the realization that this woman possesses strength I have never witnessed before, her whole posture oozes confidence right now.

“Please, Mia. I just want to know how you’re doing.”

“I’m doing fine, thanks for asking.”

I have to suppress a sigh from this conversation. I couldn’t expect it to go easily. That much I knew before, but I didn’t think it’d be so fucking hard to get anywhere. But I know Mia is a stubborn ass woman who does what she thinks is right with fiery conviction, and I simply should’ve known better.

“Is that all?” she asks again, suddenly moving, apparently trying to get out of my cage.

“No, no it isn’t,” I retort, and she raises an eyebrow when I lean closer, not wanting to let her go, but I continue before she can speak again, “Five minutes, Mia. That’s all I’m asking. Five minutes of your time.”

It’s really goddamn stupid to even go there, to go there and not expect to be pulled into her sublime spell again, but I can’t help myself.

“Will you leave me alone after that?”

And this is the moment I realize that Mia Esperanza might be one strong ass woman, but she’s still a human being. Because I can see that she’s overwhelmed, that the last thing she wants to do right now is having to talk to me, even if she acts like it wasn’t a big deal, after all.

“Promise,” I nod my head. Because as much as I know that she wants to be anywhere else but with me, I just need to talk to her. I’m an addict, craving my next shot.

“Yeah,” she scoffs, “as if that meant anything…” she mutters, and even though it’s absolutely justified, I can’t help but feel attacked by her words. I did break a lot of promises back then, but I had my reasons. Reasons I can’t really explain to her without causing another heavy storm.

The elevator arrives on the ground floor and Mia instantly ducks between my arms and sprints out, going straight for the entrance. Admittedly, I was hoping to talk to her in a more private setting, but I take what I can get.

I follow her outside until she stops in front of the large tree at the corner of the hospital, probably wanting to hide from her brother or any other spectators.

“Alright,” she lifts her arm to glance at her watch, “Five minutes.”

“Mia…” I can’t help but sigh. I didn’t think she’d take it so literally.

“No, you don’t get to complain now. I agreed to give you five minutes of my time, which is much more than I can spare at the moment, so please, use it,” she glances back at her watch, “Four minutes and thirty seconds left.”

She’s absolutely serious about this. Hell…

“How have you been doing?” I suddenly have no idea what exactly to ask. I didn’t really think this far ahead. My brain is fried as soon as she’s in sight.

“I told you. I’m fine.”

“Good. That’s good… Um… What were you doing here?”

Her eyes meet mine again for a moment when she answers, “I was visiting my brother. You already knew him though, didn’t you?”

“I did.”

“Good, good. That means at least one Esperanza is worthy of your attention, huh?”

“Mia, you know that’s not what happened…”

“Then what happened, Link? Because I still don’t fucking get it! I still don’t fucking get what I did that made you do that?! Why you… Ugh, you know what? Forget it. I’m over this. I meant what I said. Just stay the fuck away from me…” She ducks under a branch to get away, but I catch her wrist in time, something within me just screams not to let her go.

“Please, Mia. Just listen to me,” I’m not above begging by now. I just want to be close to her.

“Give me one good reason why I should do that. Because I can’t find one. I don’t want to hear your excuses or explanations or whatever the fuck it is you think you owe me.” And just like that, she’s suddenly only inches away from me again, releasing her hand from my grasp and then cupping my chin as she pulls me down, our eyes immediately meeting like magnets. It looks like she wants to say something, but decides against it.

I know it’s incredibly stupid, irresponsible, and irrational. But I said it before: Nothing about Mia is rational or normal. I guess that’s why I can’t stop myself from circling my arm around her waist, our bodies smashing together with a quiet thud as I steady her with my hand on her lower back. She’s obviously surprised by the action, her eyes wide when she looks up at me, a waltz of caution, desire, and flaming hot fire dancing in her irises, basically begging me to listen to her warning, to stay away from her.

But I can’t. I’m not strong enough to, honestly. And so I place my other hand on her cheek, bracing both of us for the impact that’s about to shatter our worlds. I lean down, and I feel her breath on my skin, feel her thundering heart against my chest when our lips are only inches away, my hand shaking from the intensity of this situation.

Just as I almost feel her lips against mine, as I feel the flames of her smoldering fire on my skin, I see this flicker of something familiar in her eyes. It’s that spark we had, that spark I knew still existed, that spark that proves that this, us, is still real. We are still real, always have been. But I don’t even get the chance to succumb to her because the second we’re about to collide, my goddamn beeper goes off, reminding me of the job I was supposed to be doing right now.

She immediately jumps back, that spark leaving her eyes in an instant as she takes a few breaths while I shut the damn thing off, “Shit…” I mutter as I glance at the display, realizing I have to get back up to check on a patient.

“You said it yourself...” she suddenly says again, and I can only look at her, utterly speechless at the fact that her voice sounds so goddamn casual now, “We’re not good. Stop chasing something you destroyed on your own.”

And then she walks away, not once looking back.

But as I watch her walk away for the last second I can spare, I realize that I have to do something. Because I can’t fight this anymore. I can’t stay away from her, and I won’t.

I will get her back. Even if it’s the worst fucking idea I ever had...

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