Chapter 42 - Knox
It was Christmas Eve. It had been almost two months since I last saw Snow. Since I last heard her voice. Since that heart of mine was pretty much ripped out of my chest.
I’d been tempted beyond belief so many times to try and call. To just send her a text, saying that I was thinking about her. But she made me agree to her terms, and I had to respect that and show her that I was willing to do whatever it took to get back into her good graces again.
But despite all that, it was safe to say that the past two months had been the closest thing to hell on earth I’d felt in my entire life. I confronted the ghosts that had been haunting me far too long. I’d walked through fire. I’d crawled on bloodied knees to get through some days. But I was here now. I’ve made it this far.
She said that we both needed space and time to think about what we really wanted. But she was wrong, because I already knew that night when I was standing in front of her that I needed her more than oxygen. That I loved her more than I loved myself. That losing her, would kill me inside. Because without her, there was nothing but darkness.
I’d made peace with myself. With my inner demons. I’d sought forgiveness, and found it. And ultimately, I found it within me to forgive myself.
Looking back on all the mistakes I made, I felt like the biggest fucking fool that had ever walked this earth. I had everything with Snow. Everything. And I walked away from it because of stupid plans and fears. I thought I had it all figured out. Graduate. Go overseas. Obtain my post-graduate qualification. Spend another two to three years gaining experience. Come back, walk into a prestigious highly-paid job. Climb the ladder. Then meet a girl, fall in love, and get married - not a day before I was thirty, though.
Funny how life happened sometimes. How you can make all the plans in the world, and sometimes it takes one person to change them all. How it only took one person to make you realize that love was a stronger force than fear.
I’d taken two months to sort out my life. I was ready for this. I was so ready to see her again and offer her all of the promises she’d always wanted, but I was too scared and stubborn to admit I wanted too. I only hoped that it wasn’t too late. That she still felt for me what I felt for her. Because it was time to end the nightmares and start a new dream, together. I was so damn ready for this...
I rang the doorbell. I knew turning up here, unexpected and unannounced, was taking a massive risk. But I simply couldn’t wait another hour. I didn’t want to wait another day before seeing her, because there had been too many days in my life without her in it.
A few seconds later, the door opened, and my heart pounded inside my chest, then fell to the pavement when Snow’s dad opened the door.
“Hi, Adam,” I said, stretching out a hand, unsure of the reception I was about to get.
“Knox?” Adam frowned, taking my hand, nearly crushing it. And that was a fair indication that the reception I was going to get this time, wasn’t quite going to be as warm as the previous one.
“Home for the holidays?” He asked, looking me up and down.
“Home for good, actually,” I smiled. It felt good saying it. I was exactly where I wanted and needed to be.
“Oh?” He looked surprised. “Quit your studies?”
“No - I’ve finished the coursework component. I’ll fly over a few times over the next couple of months to meet with my thesis supervisor, but I don’t need to be there for that.”
“Congratulations,” he nodded, looking partially-impressed.
“Thank you. But I’m sure you have an inkling why I’m here today,” I got straight to the point.
“Business with my daughter?” He sounded less-than-impressed.
“You could say so. I’m here to make her an offer,” I said fearlessly, knowing that I had business with him, as well.
“What kind of offer?” His eyes narrowed, and he looked at me with suspicion.
“Can I come in, please? Can I talk to you in private, actually?” I realized I was still standing outside on their doorstep.
“Of course. This way,” he led me to his study, and as we walked, my eyes darted into each hallway and room, hoping to catch a glimpse of her, because I was craving her like an addict.
We both took a seat, and he leaned forward across his desk.
“What kind of offer exactly are we talking about?” He got right down to business.
“The kind of offer where I offer her my soul in exchange for eternity,” I smiled.
His eyebrows shot right up.
“You want to propose to Mel?”
I nodded. “Yes.”
“Not happening,” Adam shot me right down. I wasn’t surprised, though. I hadn’t expected him to embrace the idea. It probably wasn’t part of the plans he had for Snow, either.
“Why not?” I asked fearlessly.
“She has six months left before she graduates. She’s twenty-two. She’s too young to get married, and she hasn’t seen you in months. Hold your horses here,” he sounded highly unimpressed.
“I can wait until after she graduates before we get married. If she says yes. Because I’m not sure about that part,” I admitted, and Adam smirked.
“Mel has a good head on her shoulders. Although I must say, I didn’t like it at all when she went over to London to visit you a few months ago after you dumped her,” he said unceremoniously.
“I didn’t dump her. I didn’t think it was the best idea to try and make a long-distance relationship work. But I was wrong.”
He looked extremely unimpressed again.
“And so - you’re back now?”
“Yes. Back for good.”
“What’s to say you’re not going to take off again, leaving her behind?” He challenged me.
“Won’t happen. If anything, I’d follow her to the ends of the earth.”
“You’ve broken her heart. I’ve been watching her these past few months, even though she hasn’t said much.”
“I may have broken her heart first, but I can assure you she went and broke mine the last time we saw each other, because she broke up with me, not the other way around,” I admitted, and his eyebrows shot up.
He smirked again. “So, what makes you think she’ll want to get engaged to you if she dumped you, then?”
“Because deep down inside, I’m pretty sure she loves me too. Because I’m ready to beg her, if need be. Because I’ll swear to make her smile. To give her exactly what she needs. Because I wasn’t ready before, but now I am.”
Adam sighed. “From where I’m sitting, you’ve fucked things up royally with Mel. I saw those grand bouquets of flowers a few weeks ago. You don’t send flowers like that, unless you’ve really fucked things up.”
There was a question in that blunt assessment for me; I was sure of it.
“Yes, I did,” I admitted the truth.
“From everything you’ve been telling me, I don’t think she’ll take you back. Out of all my girls, Mel perhaps is the most level-headed. Don’t tell the others I said this, though.”
I smiled, because from what I’d seen, I’d agree with that assessment, but then I frowned when it hit me that he said he didn’t think she’d want me back.
“Why not? Why don’t you think Mel would take me back? Did she... meet someone else?” I went ice-cold at those words. That would be my worst nightmare come true.
“No, she’s not seeing anyone as far as I’m aware. But she’s like her mother. Once she has an idea in her head, almost nothing will change her mind. And it sounds to me as though she’d made up her mind that she’s through with you. Mel is even-tempered. She is kind. She wouldn’t cut someone out of her life, unless she was well and truly done with them.”
Ouch. That fucking hurt.
“That said, I’m still grateful to you for saving her life. So here’s a deal, because I trust my daughter’s judgment.”
He looked like the devil as he said those words. My eyebrows rose.
“If she says yes, you can marry her. But not a day before she graduates. And not a day before you have a solid job, and you can prove to me that you can provide for her. Understood?”
“I can live with that,” I nodded my head, feeling like a weight had been lifted off my shoulders. “Thank you,” I added as an afterthought.
Adam smirked. “Don’t thank me yet. As I said, I don’t think for a second she’ll take you back. So good luck.”
Just then, his phone rang. He smiled as he answered.
“I was just talking about you. Are you on your way home?”
But that smile immediately disappeared off his face, and a giant frown took its place. And I immediately knew something was wrong...
“Mel? What’s wrong?”
I went cold. Ice-cold. I just fucking knew something wasn’t right...
“Shit! Hasn’t the back-up generator kicked in? There is one - it should kick in soon - after ten or fifteen minutes, I think. Are you okay, Mel? You don’t sound okay,” he sounded highly worried, and I jumped up from my chair.
“Where is she?” I mouthed, but he ignored me flat.
“I’ll call building management immediately. Hang on one second...” Adam said, then he held his hand over the speaker.
“She’s at the office. The power went out. She’s alone, and it’s dark, and she’s not handling it well right now,” he looked at me intently. “I’m going to call the company who manages the building and give them a giant piece of my fucking mind right now, because this is highly unacceptable. Can you go to the office and get Mel?”
“Of course,” I was already halfway across to the door.
“Don’t fuck this up, Knox. She’s fragile over what happened when she nearly drowned. If you make her more upset, I swear I will shoot first and ask questions later, understood?” He wasn’t kidding; of that, I was sure.
“She’s about to take the fire stairs because the elevators are not working. Get there as fast as you can.”
I ran out of there, not even listening to what else he had to say.
I broke the speed limit, ran a few red lights, and ignored a few stop signs. All I could think about was getting to Snow as fast as I could.
And after way too fucking long, I finally arrived, parking my car illegally right in front of the building in a towing zone.
My phone rang again, and it was my dad, of all people.
“Can’t talk now, Dad; I’ll call you back.” I was just about to hang up when he yelled at me.
“Adam called - he doesn’t have your number. She’s stuck in the fire stairwell. The door is jammed or locked.”
"Fuck - gotta go.”
I hung up on my dad and looked for signs indicating where the fire stairs were.
But then I heard a noise - it sounded like someone was hammering against a door, and then I knew exactly where she was.
I ran over to the door and tried to shove it open with force, but the handle wouldn’t budge. It was fucking locked. How on earth could something like this happen?
“Mel?” I shouted, wanting to make sure I’d found her, as I looked desperately around for something - anything that I could force the door open with.
“I’m stuck! I can’t get out!” Her voice was raw fear, and I cursed that fucking door standing between the woman I loved and me.
Then, my eye fell on a glass panel with a fire ax inside, right next to a big fire hose.
I yanked off my shirt and wrapped it around my fist, smashing my fist right through the glass. Fuck - it hurt, but it didn’t hurt nearly as much as my heart hurt at the thought of Snow being paralyzed with fear right now. She needed saving, and I’d be damned if I was going to let her down this time.
“Stand back! Get away from the door!” I shouted, angling for the handle with the ax.
She didn’t answer. I was going mad with worry. Was she okay?
“Stand back, Mel! I’m about to use a fire ax to break down the door,” I warned again, and this time she answered.
“I’m out of the way.”
I smashed that ax with full force against the door handle. Fuck - that hurt everywhere from my wrist right up to my shoulder blade. The handle broke off, but the fucking door was still shut. I dragged the ax over my shoulder and smashed it into the lock a second time, putting all of the force of my arms and shoulders behind it, and finally, the mechanism gave.
I sighed in relief, throwing the ax onto the ground, ripping that door right open.
And for the first time in two months, I was face to face with Snow again...