Crossroads

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Chapter 4

Mia

“Lincoln is danger. Danger with a big, fat capital D, screaming at me to stay away from him.”

PAST

What the hell am I thinking.

As soon as he laid his eyes on me I just knew. I knew he had no idea who I was, and I simply cannot deny that it fucking hurt.

And still, for some reason, I felt like I owed him. I just had to take him home - far, far away from his own demons on that bridge.

That was probably the most spectacularly bad idea I have ever had.

But I couldn’t help myself. He looked so lost, the darkness in his eyes so blatantly obvious, that I felt like I had no other choice, just then. Because I couldn’t just leave him there. No decent human being would’ve done that.

“Here we are.” I say as if that wasn’t obvious after I parked the bike in the garage right next to my apartment complex.

He doesn’t say a word, which I’m not all too surprised about, to be honest. For some reason, he does not strike me like the kind of man that speaks a lot. Not anymore, at least.

I lead him through the oak wooden door, greeting the porter on my way in.

“Hey, George.”

“Hello, Mia. Do you want me to get that hellish machine of yours into the garage?” he waves at me as he answers, that amused but disapproving look on his face he always gets when I drive my Big Lady out of town.

“That won’t be necessary, but thank you. Enjoy your evening, please.” I shoot him a quick wink and beam at him as I answer.

“Okay then. Same to you, Mia... And companion.” His eyes move to the man next to me, and I can’t help but put on my best puppy face, hoping he will keep this quiet. I know how tightly he’s connected to my dad, and I definitely wouldn’t want my father to know about this.

My guest watches the interaction with a raised brow, and George just shakes his head with an expression on his face that could resemble my father’s.

“You’re trouble, Miss Mia.”

And I can’t help but grin at him, because boy oh boy isn’t that an understatement and a half.

“I’m neither going to deny nor confirm that statement, George. Good night.”

Shooting him one last wink I walk up the flight of winding stairs until I reach my apartment door. There is a weird atmosphere surrounding us as we enter the hallway, the sudden realization that I am in fact standing in my apartment with this exact man crashing down on me.

But as I turn to look at him I apprehend he must feel even more out of place than I do, and I can’t help but feel sorry for him. I don’t know what exactly happened to him that made him attempt to do what he was about to, but it must have been tough, if he went from the man I knew to the man standing in front of me, now. Or maybe the ghosts of his past are still haunting him. Who knows.

I lead him into the living room, throwing off my boots on the way there. He follows my notion as he walks right behind me, placing his sneakers neatly on the shoe rack next to the door.

“Come on. Have a seat.” I gesture to the armchair to my left, and he nods his head before taking a seat, his eyes studying me warily, almost like he’s trying to figure me out.

Good luck with that one, buddy.

“What’s your poison?” I ask as I walk towards the small bar I have installed here just a few months ago. I’m not a big drinker, at least not the strong stuff, but I like the style and the feeling of standing at a rustic counter with a nice glass of gin tonic in my hand.

“Vodka.” His voice is raw and raspy and filled with so much pain, that I almost just want to hug the misery out of him. But that’s not the right way to go at this, I’m pretty sure about that.

“You’re lucky I hate that stuff.” I try lighting the mood a bit as I grab the bottle of Goose vodka right behind me, and to my surprise he even shoots me a thin smile when I glance over to him.

After pouring him his drink and mixing myself a gin tonic, I make my way back over to him, handing him the glass as I sit down on the couch opposite to him.

Once again the mood shifts, and I feel the heavy weight on his shoulders as he sighs deeply, his eyes staring into the glass filled with translucent liquid. There’s a tension seeping off of him, almost like he’s thinking so hard, his body doesn’t know what to do with it, and it just makes me feel really goddamn sorry for him.

Because I can feel his pain, even though I have no idea what caused it. But I can’t imagine someone like him ending up on the ledge of a bridge without a proper reason for it.

“You must be loaded.” His blue eyes look around the room, studying it intently with a crease between his brows.

Of course he’d comment on that. It’s not like I just almost died in an attempt to stop him from jumping off a bridge.

“You don’t exactly look like a poor mouse, either.”

And it’s true, because I’m simply unable to stop looking at the way his clothes so perfectly fit his frame, almost like they were tailored just for him.

But he just laughs, a laugh that could also have been a scoff with the amount of derision in his voice when he speaks.

“Yeah. Sure.”

He downs his drink before running a hand through his thick hair. I can’t deny that usually I’d feel attacked if someone talked to me that way, but for some reason I decide to let it go. It’s good practice for my job later on, I guess.

“Want another?”

I’m pretty sure getting him drunk is not the best idea, but I definitely need a second drink to understand what on earth happened tonight before I can even try to start forming a plan on how to deal with it.

“Yeah.” He hands me his glass without even looking at me, and I can’t help but sigh as I get up and walk back to the bar. I can feel his eyes on me as I prepare the drinks, but as I look up to meet his gaze he immediately looks at his hands in his laps.

And then we just sit there, both of us sipping our drink but not speaking to each other, the tension in the air being almost palpable as I rest my head on the armrest of the couch, stretching out my legs before I cross them with a sigh.

I need to come up with a plan. I’m not a psychologist, yet. And everything I have learned until now does not help me at all with the situation at hand.

Fuck.

Believe me, I’ve had my fair share of misfortunes in life, one of them actually connects me to him. But I’ve never ever been at a point where I was even contemplating taking my life. Like I said, my parents have strong opinions on that, and I’m pretty sure my whole family would come haunting me if I did ever decide to do it.

Maybe I should call grams tomorrow. She seems to know everything about every aspect of life. It’s almost scary, sometimes.

Yeah, that’s what I’ll do.

“Can you shut up?”

His voice startles me, and I snap my eyes open as I turn my head to look at him, his eyes settling right on mine as our gazes lock.

“Excuse me?”

“You’re thinking awfully loud. I can’t hear my own thoughts.”

Jesus, this guy.

I can’t help but laugh as I sit up straight, downing my drink before slamming the glass on the couch table. And god am I thankful for all those training sessions dad and grammy gave me when I was younger, because I am so, so close to exploding right into his face, the tension of this evening giving me an ugly headache. But I learned to control my anger, my feelings, and my surroundings. And so I just take a deep breath before I look straight into his eyes, trying to get my point across as good as possible.

Good Lord, those eyes are still as intense as they were before.

“Look. I don’t know what’s going on in that pretty head of yours, but I’m giving you the chance to sleep on it. Just think about...”

“I’ve thought about it enough.” He interrupts me, his large frame now leaning forwards to face me directly. We’re only inches apart now, both of us bracing our elbows on our knees as we stare each other down.

“Did you, now?” I can’t help but raise my eyebrow at him.

“Yes. Not that it’s any of your business. You don’t even know my name.” His words are venomous, cold, and meant to cut right through me. I can literally see how he’s pushing me away, not wanting to let anyone into this head of his. He’s defensive, and I guess I understand that. It’s a good sign, though. It means he’s starting to regret his actions, his decisions.

“You’re right, it’s not.” Deciding there’s no use in diving into our shared past - which he clearly has forgotten - I get up from the couch, looking down at him as those precious blue eyes immediately find mine, obviously confused as hell. Because as much as I can take his rude behavior, I have a heart as well, and I do not intend on letting him break it, again.

“I’ll leave you to it, then. Bathroom is right next to the kitchen to your right, I have some spare toothbrushes in the cabinet beneath the sink. There’s blankets and pillows in the closet over there, and if you need anything else just knock on that door to your left. That’s my bedroom.”

Surprisingly he’s just looking at me with wide eyes, the atmosphere filled with tension again as I turn on my heels and walk towards my bedroom.

“Oh, and one more thing.” I say before spinning around to look at him.

“No drinking when I’m not there. Believe me, I know how much is in which bottle, and I will check each of them in the morning.”

And I’m not sure if I’m mistaken, but it almost looks like there’s actually a smirk playing on his lips as he looks at me, his eyes once again settling on mine as he nods his head.

“Got it, boss.” He responds, and I can’t help but roll my eyes before I step out of the tension and into the quiet comfort of my bedroom. I’m just about to close my door when I hear his dark voice again, the sound of it sending a shiver down my spine.

“Oh, and Mia?” His voice resonates through the room, the raspy and raw reverberation making me look at his handsome but so goddamn infuriating face, only to find him standing right behind me in the doorframe, his face only inches from mine.

I’m suddenly hyperaware of my surroundings, the scent of musk and lime filling my nostrils as he stares me down, making me lose myself in this ocean of emotion in his eyes. And I can literally feel his body heat, can feel the pain that’s lingering inside of him as he breathes deeply, his breath gently fanning my face as I hold onto the doorframe to keep myself upright.

“The name’s Lincoln.” And with that he just turns back around, leaving me breathless with a racing heart and a confused mind.

Because one thing becomes clear as day already.

Lincoln is danger. Danger with a big, fat capital D, screaming at me to stay away from him.

And even though the past should’ve taught me that already, I have a feeling that I’m about to make the same mistake, over and over again.

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