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A few days later

The snow is coming down heavily outside leaving a beautiful white blanket across the streets of Montreal. Surprisingly, Max and Cooper are hanging in the apartment without their girlfriends. Love snuck up on our loyal bodyguards when they least expected it. However, both of their girlfriends had to work which led them here where they came to play video games with my husband while I study next to them.

Cake has been on my mind all day but checking the pantry and refrigerator I realize we’re out of eggs for me to bake one. Sighing, I stand by the table for a minute trying to find an alternative. “What’s up, baby?” Ryan asks when he sees the expression on my face as he walks in to fill his glass of juice. He quickly offers to go to the store to get eggs for me when I tell him the predicament I’m in. Within minutes, he’s dressed to brave the storm and makes his way to the corner store that’s only two blocks away.

Once all the ingredients, minus the eggs, have been set on the counter, I join Max and Cooper waiting for Ryan. Time flies before I look at the clock realizing he’s been gone for over thirty minutes which makes no sense even in this stormy weather. Cooper offers to go look for him when the doorknob finally rattles. My feet take me there to find out what took so long.

One look at him leaves me frozen, my throat closes, my body is shaking. In that glance, I’m able to see the pain in his eyes though they’re glossy from the substance in his veins. His distress envelops me pulling me down a dark path, one we hadn’t been on in a long time. He waves the eggs with one hand while taking a big bottle of beer out of his coat with the other. My whole world is shaken, I can’t comprehend what just happened.

I’m still standing there unable to find words after he got rid of the winter apparels and walks slowly, stumbling, until his muscular body is flush with mine. Max, who I never heard coming, suddenly grabs the eggs out of Ryan’s hands before going for the booze only to have Ryan push him away. My body finally decides to function again letting me crumble to the floor where tears silently stream down my face as I stare up at his face that’s torn. The anguish in his green eyes seems to grow deeper when he looks down seeing the torment in mine. In an instant, his muscular arms scoop me up and with the help of Cooper steadying him from behind, he brings me to the couch.

“Ella, don’t cry. I can’t…” he slurs the words. Max cuts him off going into a fit yelling, demanding what happened, asking why he’s hurting me. Neither Max nor Cooper have ever witnessed Ryan being drunk before. They knew about his past but he was sober when he hired them. The motive behind my bodyguard’s anger is obvious, he wants to protect me; though his actions are increasing the tension in the room when Ryan leaves me to get on his feet ready to pounce. I must find a way to stop what’s about to happen, quickly. With a brief signal, I encourage Cooper to contain Max while I reach for Ryan’s hand. His fingers are cold against my skin when he turns to me to run them on my arms. My tears have dried but my heart is still bleeding from the picture being painted in front of me. The man that I love, the one who loves me back is suffering and I don’t know what caused his heartache.

“Babe, how about you sit down while I bake the cake?” My tactic in distracting him from the situation seems to work when he listens, sitting down only to backfire when he insists I join him instead of baking. The real goal was for me to hide the bottle that he left 2 feet behind on the floor. His strong arms force me to sit on his lap, sideways. My brain scatters trying to find a way to tell the boys to discreetly get to it without Ryan knowing.

Drunk Ryan usually has one thing in mind when he’s in the same room as me and tonight is no exception, his rough hands slide under my shirt touching my skin. I quickly stop them from reaching my breasts and he smirks, playfully. He forgets what he was after when his phone rings in his pocket and struggles to get to it. I beat him to it answering the call.

His mother frantically asks if Ryan is home, he remains silent forcing me to lie telling her he’s in the shower. She then explains that Alex was found. Dead. The pieces of the puzzle fall into place when she goes on to tell me she called Ryan a while ago when he was at the store. He said he would call her back when he’d get home but he didn’t. Because he’s drunk out of his mind still trying to run his hands on me even if he’s able to hear his mother on speakerphone. Though they suspected drug overdose, foul play was listed on the coroner’s report that was released a few minutes ago. Promising his mom he’ll get back to her tomorrow saying he was exhausted when he got here, another lie to cover up for him. I wasn’t ready for her to know he slipped.

“I need to take a piss,” he announces, standing up. Remembering the bottle, I ran to it only to have his arms around me trying to get it back. Max and Cooper were quick on their feet joining us. One of his big hands holds the bottle while both of mine pull back, struggling under his strength, even drunk. Instinctively, Max tries to help me by jumping in and also pulling on the bottle. In a raging motion, Ryan’s hand lets go to grip Max’s shirt who, in turn, pushes me back probably trying to prevent me from being stuck in the middle. The movement causes me to fall backward with my shoulder hitting the wall in a loud, painful banging sound. Ryan’s hands let go of Max to tend to me. He desperately asks if I’m okay while enveloping me in his arms. The pain spreads from my shoulder, all the way down to my left hip who also made contact with the wall. Within minutes, Cooper hands him a towel filled with ice that’s then applied to my shoulder. That’s when Ryan turns to Max, I brace myself, fearing his reaction to the pain my bodyguard caused by mistake.
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