"Ma... Max... Max was my..." I whisper, softly.
Scott looks at me curiously, his fist clenched as if he was ready to murder somebody.
I rest my head on his shoulder, my hand clutching on the front of his T-shirt tightly, as if he'll leave me if I let go.
I whisper softly, "Before I tell you who Max is... I have to tell you all about Brandon."
I feel him looking down, at my head on his shoulder, and his hand around my waist tightens and he forces a deep breath out.
"Wasn't he your stupid ex-boyfriend?" He grits out.
"What about him?" He asks through an exhale.
I begin my story, "When I was 18, I went to see Nina at her dorm one day. She was a year older than me and lately she was distancing herself from all of us. Whenever we saw her, she was always looked sad or depressed. So I went to see her, to surprise her, wanting to cheer her up, from whatever problems she was facing."
I swallow audibly.
Noticing my discomfort, Scott runs his fingers through my hair in a soothing way and softly kisses my forehead. I lean into him, taking in the comfort he was providing with his small touches.
I love this guy.
I continue, whispering, "I made her, get rid of her day-old pajamas and pulled her out to a nearby Starbucks. I knew she didn't wanted to leave her room, but she... she couldn't say no to me. I was acting like a five-year old who couldn't get her way and forced her to get out of the room. I wish... I wish I hadn't done that! I wish I would've listened to her!" I whimper.
Scott looks down at me and kisses both of my cheeks and tucks my hair behind my ears. "It's okay, sweetheart. You did what you thought might cheer Nina up! Whatever happened later is not your fault."
I close my eyes and nod at him, slowly.
He smiles and kisses my forehead, lovingly.
I take a deep breath and rest my head back on his shoulder.
"While I was in the queue to order our drinks, I saw her talking to a guy. From her expression, I could see the anger pouring out of her as if she wanted to slap him. I've never seen Nina so angry. But she controlled it. I knew she would never create a big scene... she wasn't an attention seeker. When I returned back to her with our drinks, she told me go ahead and give her a minute as she was still talking to that guy."
I exhale slowly and smile softly at my foolishness, "I thought that guy was cute, you know. I never had a boyfriend before because my parents were kinda overprotective since you know... they were billionaires. And if my brother, Nate saw any guy flirting with me, he would have broken his arms and landed him in the hospital." I smile, remembering Nate's face.
"Nate was super protective of me and Nina. He saw himself as mine and Nina's bodyguard. Right from when he was seven-year old, he said to us and I quote, that, 'No other guy in the whole world could ever love you and Nina more than me.' He's the best brother a girl could ever have." I smile softly.
Scott chuckles and murmurs softly, "He sounds like a great guy."
I smile, "He is."
I quickly sober up and continue the story, "Anyway, the guy Nina was talking to was Brandon Mills. He was the captain of the soccer team. Every girl I knew had a crush on him. He was really popular. I wonder what he was doing talking to Nina. I mean, I know that my sister is beautiful but, Nina and I were kind of nerds back then... we really weren't that popular." I felt Scott stiffen at the mention of Brandon.
Get in line, Scott! I hate him too...
"The next day, I saw Brandon standing by my locker in all his blond hair, black eyes cocky self." I chuckle humourlessly and continue, "How naive I was... He asked me out and I immediately said yes. I didn't even had a second thought! I wasn't used to guys asking me out. Everyone was scared of Nate."
I take a second and continue, "Brandon was a sweet guy when he wanted to be. It wasn't until later I found out, it was all an act. He took me out on dates, made me feel pretty and ignored all the girls while he was with me."
I could hear Scott breathing slowly. Even his breath was comforting me.
"I... er... we only kissed a few times. I wasn't really comfortable taking it forward, you know... it was gonna be my first time." I say, my cheeks turning red.
"It's okay, babe..." He kissed my forehead and mumbles, "Go ahead."
I take a deep breath and continue, "A week later he asked me to be his girlfriend. I was so happy! When Nina and Nate found out, they freaked out. They tried to tell me that Brandon wasn't a good guy, but I didn't listen to anything they said. I thought my own sister was jealous of my relationship with Brandon when she was trying to protect me!" A sob burst out of me.
Scott immediately sat up and hugged me tightly, rubbing his hands over my back, murmuring sweet words.
I pull away and look down, playing with the collar of his shirt.
"We dated for four months and each time we were kissing, he tried to take it to the next level... but I couldn't do it. Each time I stopped him, saying I wasn't ready. He would just glare at me and walk away... making me feel bad and guilty."
I chuckle, humourlessly, "Finally during our fifth month, I thought I was ready... I thought maybe sleeping together wasn't that big of a deal. I mean, all my friends had done that... so why shouldn't I?"
I feel Scott stiffen.
I can't blame him. I would've had the same reaction if our places were exchanged.
I rub my hands over his chest, trying to relax his muscles.
"So... you did? You... er... slept with him?" He asks, hoarsely, trying to control his anger.
I nod once, tears flowing down my face. "Just once."
I sob, "The next morning when we woke up... I felt really weird. I wasn't comfortable. So... so I told him that I wasn't ready to do it again... that I needed some time... so he... he..." I cut off, sobbing.
"He what?" Scott asks, lifting my face up, with his hand over my chin while his other hand wiped my tears.
"He dumped me! He left me naked and alone in a hotel room and got out as fast as he could, leaving me feeling embarrassed and used!" I look down, embarrassed.
He curses out loud and fists his hand, his jaw clenched.
I place my hand over his cheek and caress it softly.
His eyes soften at my gesture and he takes a deep breath and commands, "Continue."
His eyes looks feral, as if he any time now he could turn into the Hulk.
I giggle softly at that thought.
"What?" He asks, softly, his face relaxing.
I shake my head, still smiling.
He raises his eyebrow and I sigh.
I whisper, running my fingers over his jaw line, "Your expression, just now, looked like you were Bruce Banner when he gets really angry and turns into Hulk." I blush at my silliness.
He chuckles, vibrations rumbling through his body into mine.
He leans forward and places his forehead against mine and whispers, "Only you could make me laugh, when I'm thinking of killing somebody."
I smile at his compliment, my cheeks warm.
"Go on, babe..." He murmurs.
I sigh and continue my story, "I wish my story ended there..." I shrug, "I finally realized what Nina and Nate were trying to tell me about Brandon, but it was too late..." The last line came out as a soft whisper.
I wasn't even sure Scott heard it, until he said, "Why was it too late?"
I close my eyes. Tears flowing down my cheek.
This is it, Nova...
This is where Scott'll leave you, once knowing the truth.
I pull away from him. I couldn't look him in the eyes when I say it. I get up from the lounger and walk towards the metal railing overlooking the streets below, and clutching it in my hands.
I feel him behind him. His warmness engulfing me even though we weren't touching.
I take a deep breath and whisper, "I got pregnant."
I hear him gasp out loud.
This is it...
We'll never be the same again...
Scott will leave you too...
"What?" I hear his faint voice.
I look down, at my hand clutched around the metal railing, ashamed.
I whisper in a low voice, with the silence around us, I was pretty sure he could hear everything.
"I got pregnant." I chuckle, humourlessly, "I was just 18! And worst part was the father of my baby was Brandon! I was really scared. I didn't know what to do... I... er... It was so... " I cut myself off.
I turn around and look at him, taking in his shocked eyes.
I look into his eyes and whisper softly, "I called Brandon and told him to meet me at the cafe next day and told him the truth. He didn't even blink. He just said, 'Get rid of it' and walked away."
I see Scott fist his hands, tightly and I'm sure from the death grip he had, his knuckles would've surely turned white.
"I didn't know what to do. I was so scared..." I run my fingers through my hair.
I took a deep breath and continue, "I called up my parents, Nate and Nina and told them I had to tell them something important. It was so hard. Probably the hardest thing I've done my whole life. Sitting in front of my parents and telling them what a disgrace I've been to the family."
Tears were flowing freely now. I couldn't help them.
"Dad and Nate looked like they wanted to murder Brandon, while Nina was supporting me the whole time, hugging me, calming me down even though I had been so horrible to her. My mum..." I smile, "She was the best. She noticed how sad and embarrassed I was. So the first thing she said after I told them the truth was, "I'm gonna be a Nana!'" I smile at the memory.
"My parents were so supportive. And at that time, Amy, my sister-in-law was also pregnant with Nate's baby. I thought... maybe... it wouldn't be too hard. Maybe I could live being a single mom. I had my family who loved me to death."
I lean my back against the railing and look sideways, wind blowing in my face.
I smile, softly, "Eight months later, when I saw this tiny red chubby little person in my arms, I wasn't that scared any more. I had created a person. This cute little peanut! I didn't even regret sleeping with Brandon then."
I look back at Scott and whisper, "My every fear of being a single mom vanished when I looked into Max's big brown eyes."
Scott sucks a deep breath, his eyes finally registering truth. "So... Max was your..."
I nod. "Daughter. Mackenzie Valentina Stark."
Scott looks at me, his eyes wide and lips slightly parted.
I smile. A real smile this time, "You should have seen her, Scott! She was this cutest little baby ever. Her rosy cheeks, chubby tummy and the way she would wobble instead of walking. She was everything, Scott. She was perfect."
A gut wrenching sob escapes me and I slide down, my back against the wall. "I miss her... I miss her so much... Why did she leave me?"
I hug my legs and sob, tears freely flowing down.
Scott was immediately by my side, lifting me up and placing me on his lap like I weigh nothing. He hugs me tightly. His chin on top of my head, while I cry into his chest.
He didn't say anything...
He didn't have to...
I take a deep breath and look up. Continuing my story, "For two and a half year, I took care of her. I started working for my mum. I was interested in fashion and she helped me make some money. She knew I wanted to take care of Max by myself. I wanted to be a perfect mom for her. I wanted her to have everything she wanted..."
"But then he showed up..." I say, grimacing.
"He?" Scott asks, tucking my hair behind my ear.
Scott inhales sharply.
"He came to my house one day, and started apologizing for leaving me alone to take care of the baby. He said he loved me and asked for a second chance."
I bite my lip until it starting drawing blood. Physical pain was still better than the emotional pain I was suffering right now.
"In those two years, while I was sleeping alone in my bed, I wondered whether my life was just this. Taking care of my baby, and living as a single mom. I wasn't even twenty yet. I longed for a connection with someone... someone who would love me as I am... someone who would say he loves me back, who makes me happy."
"I started blaming my own baby for not having a normal life! I thought maybe... if I wasn't a single mom... maybe I could've had those things. What kind of a mother does that?" I wail.
Scott places both of his hands on my cheeks, making me look into his eyes, "Hey! It's okay... It's all right... Don't cry. You were doing everything you could for Max. You were a good mom."
I place my hand over his and sob softly.
"So when Brandon came to me... I craved for a relationship... I wanted a family... I didn't wanna be lonely. So I gave him a second chance even though he didn't deserve it!"
I sniff, wiping my tears, "My parents were kinda disappointed in my decision, but they thought that if that would make me happy, they'll be able to live with it."
I look back in his eyes and whisper, "Brandon was horrible! I knew even though he asked me for a second chance, he was cheating on me the whole time. He didn't even try to be a good father. But... but I wanted a family. I wanted something normal. So I didn't confront him.... That only led to him bringing girls at my home and sleeping with them in my bedroom. My bedroom, Scott! Do you know how screwed up is that?!"
I place my hands over my eyes, crying at my own foolishness.
I take a deep breath and calm myself and continue, "Then one day, I was working late... someone had to pick up Max from daycare. So I called Nina, but she was busy... No option left, I called Brandon and surprisingly he agreed to pick her up."
That day starts flashing in front of my eyes.
The very same day when Max died...
"When I returned home in the evening, the house was empty. So I called Brandon to ask him, where he was. He told me that Max wanted to play in the park so he took her there."
I whimper, softly, trying to continue the story, "When I reached the park, I didn't see him or Max anywhere. I searched for him everywhere! Finally, I saw him against a tree making out with some random girl. I knew at that moment, that I can't handle him any more. It was better for Max to have no father, than to have Brandon as one. It didn't even hurt seeing him kissing someone else. I was over him. I didn't love him."
"I just went up to him and asked where Max was. I didn't even want to hear him apologize. I just wanted to take my baby and get away from him as soon as possible. He told me Max was playing ball with some other kid her age... He pointed to a small girl, standing in the park alone."
"I knew then... something was wrong. My heart was beating fast, I couldn't breathe... but I had to find Max... I had to find my baby!"
I whimper, bowing my head down. Scott leans forward and kisses me softly, lovingly.
I take in the comfort he was giving. His taste exploded in my tongue. He was everywhere. It was a good distraction.
But like every distraction, it had to end...
I pull away from him and smile softly.
"What happened to Max, Brownie?" He asks, softly.
I sigh and look down, tears threatening my eyes again.
"I ran and asked the kid where Max was, she told me that she had thrown the ball and Max had gone to fetch it. So I asked her, in which direction did the ball went and she... she pointed me to it..."
I look up at him and whisper, "The ball went out of the park, Scott... They were playing near the end of the park, where there was a back entrance..."
He leans forward and places his forehead with mine.
"I went out and saw Max in the middle of the road, her tiny hands clutching the ball. She turned around and saw me and she mouthed, Momma... and started walking towards me. I ran to her too... but... but before I could get to her... she... she..." I cry out loud.
"A truck hit her, Scott! I saw my own baby lying there in a pool of blood and I couldn't do anything. She was my everything, Scott and she... she..." I cut off.
It was hard to speak.
"It's okay, baby... it's okay... I'm here for you..." Scott whispers in my ear, hugging me.
"Someone called the ambulance, but she had lost a lot of blood. The doctors tried to save her... I waited three hours outside the operating room... and then the doctor came and just shook his head! My baby was gone... she was... she..." I cry out loud.
"Then Brandon came... You know what his first sentence was after I told him our baby died?" I ask, looking in his blue eyes.
He shakes his head.
I chuckle, humourlessly, "He said and I quote, 'Thank God, she died so soon... if she would've lived more years and then died, I would've gotten attached to her and I hate crying over some stupid chick.'"
Scott clenches his fist and curse out, "Son-of-a-bitch!"
I smile, "So I kicked him, in his misters. Thrice. Then Nina did the same, then Nate broke his arm and Dad sucker-punched him in his stomach and Mum slapped him twice. It felt good. He was lucky he was in a hospital."
"He deserved a lot worse than that..." Scott murmurs, his jaw clenched.
I run my fingers over his jaw line and his expression softens.
"That's when I recorded the song for the movie. I was gonna do it before, but I got pregnant so.... No one knew who sang it... So I just named the album Max... I wanted someone to at least know her name, you know... in some way." I shrug.
"After a month, I came here... everything in New York reminded me of Max. Everywhere I looked... I saw Max. I thought someone would come up to me and pinch me, and I'll wake up from this nightmare... but..." I cut off and shrug.
I pull away from Scott and walk away from him and mumble, "After everything I've told you... if you can't be with me any more... I understand. I know I'm not good enough for you... but I'll always love you. And I'm sorry for--"
I get interrupted as a hand covered the back of my neck and turns me around and a mouth covered mine claiming it in a possessive kiss.
His tongue plunges in my mouth, massaging it against mine.
He pulls back, abruptly and leans his forehead against mine and murmurs, "If you ever say my girlfriend, whom I love to death is not good enough for me... I'll spank you so hard, that every doubt will be thrown out of your sweet little brain. Got it?"
I blink up at him, "So... you still love me?" I ask, furrowing my brows.
He chuckles. And kisses my cheek, "More than love you, Brownie... You're my whole world."
My eyes moisten and I pout at him, "You're making it real hard not to cry!" I sniff.
He blinks twice, "I'm making you cry?" He points his index finger at him.
I shake my head, "It's happy tears, you goofball!"
He smiles and leans forwards, wrapping one hand around my waist pulling me closer.
"But I'm your goofball!" He smiles, his sexy half smirk.
I laugh, "You're my goofball!"
I leans forward and hug him tightly, "I love you, Ace..."
He kisses my hair and murmurs, "I love you too, sweetheart..."
I smile into his chest.
"Nina was right..." I mumble.
I look up at him and run my fingers through the hair which had fallen over his forehead, brushing it softly.
"After the whole Brandon fiasco, when I was leaving New York... she told me and I quote, 'Someday, someone's gonna walk into your life and make you realize why it never worked out with anyone else.' Hmm... I can still remember her face when she told me that. I hope she knew what it meant too."
"She will, soon. I know it." He states.
I sigh, "I hope so..."
"So..." He says casually, looking down at me.
"So?" I look up.
He bites his lower lip softly, and I swear my insides melt.
I smile, goofily, "Hey boyfriend."
"I love you." He says, his lips hovering over mine.
"Love you more..."