The S Word

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Guilt

“Nicky-”

A hand reaches for my jacket the moment I hit the floor. The voice sounds loud over the commotion that gathers around us, and Justin stares down at me in panic. His eyes survey me, trying to understand if I am hurt while my ex helps me to get back on my feet and off the road.

The people around us ask if I’m okay, but I don’t notice; I don’t care. My eyes search for her. For the dark ones that had the only purpose of intimidation and send me out of this world moments ago. My eyes search for Sarah, and I close my hands into fists as Justin pulls me closer to him.

“Are you okay?”

He asks, leaning down and staring into my eyes, but I don’t even pay attention. Not to him or the lady that hands him something while Justin lifts my hand. It’s then that I feel him putting a tissue over my palm, and it hurts.

That bitch got me to bleed. I’m going to kill her.

“Nicole,” Alexander’s voice sounds loud in the distance, and I search for him.

It’s then that I understand the agitation around us. The people waiting to cross the street are trying to see if I’m okay; the man I presume to be the driver as his car stays in the middle of the road, doors open, and engine on, stares at me with guilt in his eyes.

“Alex,” I call him turning around, and Alexander manages to pass everyone in the crowd.

“What happened?” He asks me, glancing worried at Justin.

His arms are around me the second he can reach my hand, and he is as pale as a ghost. His eyes let go of me to stare at Justin, and for the first time, the man I love doesn’t seem to want to rip my ex’s head off.

“Your friend pushed her on the road.”

Alexander’s eyes widen so much as his head snaps from me to Justin, and slowly, his arms tighten as I bury my face in his chest. My boyfriend mumbles apologetic words to the top of my head, not allowing me to move.

“Come on,” he says to Justin, wrapping his arm around me.

Justin follows without questioning Alexander, who nods for the younger to take the front seat, helping me to get on the one behind him. His eyes are so regretful it almost hurts to look at. 

He thinks it was his fault.

“Thank you,” Alexander mumbles, driving away, and Justin nods.

“I thought she would be around,” Justin confesses, glancing over his shoulder at me. “She is desperate now. So she probably follows Nicole whenever she steps out of the house. But it was very ballsy of her to do something in public. When I said Nicole wasn’t safe, I meant at a place where there weren’t people around; this shows how desperate this Sarah girl is.”

Alexander lifts his eyes from the road and stares at me quickly through the rearview mirror. I notice the blame in them; the gaze I love so much doesn’t seem able to stay on me for long. They share thoughts, small hints of her the rest of the drive as I remain silent in the backseat.

The lights from outside enter inside the car, gushing small circles on my legs while I fight back the tears. She was so close, and I didn’t react. I was weak and let her see the fear in my eyes. I was too scared of the hate I saw in her gaze to do anything else.

Alexander parks the car, helping me get out, and we walk to our apartment in silence. He shows Justin where the hallway cameras are, tell him how many security guards exist on the building, and even that no one passes by the main hall without being seen.

For someone who was so displeased with the other company, the two sure seem to be getting along now.

They come up with a plan; I leave them mumbling an excuse, and Alexander stares at me as I walk to our bedroom. I turn on the lights and step out the clothes I wore the entire day, noticing just now the small drops of blood on my knees.

My feet guide me to the shower as I wash away the itchy feeling of dirt off me. It’s as if I have been touched by something filthy. I let my legs give in and sit on the shower hugging myself and resting my forehead against my knees when the door to the bathroom opens, and Alexander walks inside.

“Gorgeous?” He calls between the fog peeking inside the shower, and his gaze falls on me.

He doesn’t even blink, crouching in front of me and cupping my face with his hands. It’s not as if he will notice the tears between the water stream, but he knows me. He sees the fury in my eyes as I see the pain in his.

“She was right there,” I whisper, and he sits on the wet floor, taking me in his arms.

My hands close in fists, grasping his shirt closer to me, and it’s only now I notice he didn’t take the time to undress.

“Alex, your clothes-”

“Don’t worry.”

I don’t know how long it passes as he stays with me, whispering words of love before helping me to get up. Alexander treats my wounds, a sad smile on his beautiful lips when I wince with pain from the ointment he slowly smears on my skin.

“You need to rest,” he says, lifting his eyes to mine. “We had a long day, and yours was harder than mine.”

“We were together the entire time; how is that possible?”

“I wasn’t almost run over by a car,” he whispers, gulping.

“Alex,” I call for him lifting his chin and locking our eyes on each other. Doing the one thing I know always makes him see what I see. “It’s not your fault.”

“Then why does it feel like it is?”

A long breath falls from my lips, and he lifts me taking me to the bed, whereas if I was made of glass, my boyfriend places me. He stares at me for a while. Nothing but sweet emotions and hurt mixed in his chocolate gaze as I brush away the string of hair that covers his eyes.

“Justin?”

“Went home,” he replies. “He is going to the police with all the info in the morning.”

Alexander takes one of his shirts from the drawer, not even searching for mine, and helps me to dress it before pulling the sheets so I can lay on the bed.

“I’m glad you called him,” he says, pulling the covers up and crouching next to me. “If he wasn’t there I-”

He doesn’t finish speaking, swallowing his words, and searching for my hand. Alexander intertwines our fingers for a while, and I can see the guilt eating him. I can see it, and I don’t like it. This man isn’t someone to shut up about what he feels, not with me.

We always speak our minds; even during the small fights, we always say how we feel. But this? The man that stares at our fingers as if they will soon break apart is making me worry.

“It wasn’t your fault.”

“It doesn’t matter; I brought her into our lives, Nicole, I-”

“You also did more for me than anyone else I have met.”

He lifts his eyes to mine before letting go of a breath and leaning forward. Alexander pecks my lips, pulling away and resting our foreheads together.

“Don’t feel guilty,” I say, staring into the deeps ends of his soul. “She will pay.”

“Sleep,” he replies, placing a soft kiss on top of my head. “I will come in a minute.”

Alexander brings me a cup of tea before going to the kitchen again. It doesn’t take me long to shut my eyes and drift to a state of relaxation. The long day, the fights, and almost getting myself killed was too much for me; with the help of the warm drink, my body shuts down just in minutes.

I sleep, not peacefully, as the headlights keep appearing. Even here, I can listen to the sound of the brakes, and when I wake up and open my eyes, grasping the sheets closer, I gulp. That bitch made me jumpy, and I hate it. I take a sip from the water on the bedside table and pick up my phone.

“Alex?”

I call for him, glancing at the empty space in the bed and thinking I only slept for half an hour. My body is heavy, and when the screen from my phone lights up, my heart sinks.

It’s 2 am, and Alexander isn’t in bed.

Maybe he fell asleep on the sofa or in front of his computer working?

I slowly get out of bed, wincing with pain from the sore muscles on my legs. I call for him again without any reply, and my heart beats faster. My stomach twists and I feel the pressure on my throat each time his name comes out of my lips, but there’s only silence.

He isn’t anywhere in the house, and when I walk into the kitchen, I find a note on the counter.

Needed a drink; I won’t take long

He left this, but he should have come back by now. It’s not safe for him as well; it’s not just me. Sure, I’m the one she wants dead, but who says she won’t hurt him?

I recheck my phone and send yet another text. When he doesn’t receive it, I call only to be greeted by his voicemail. My head spins, and I take a deep breath calling the one person I can right now. The one I never thought I would bother again so soon.

“Justin,” I plead as soon as he picks up, listening to his groggy voice.

“Nicky? Is there something wrong?”

My voice eludes me as I grasp all the control I can to say the one sentence that will alert the man.

“Alexander is missing.”

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