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Ryan’s POV

My drunken state seems to evaporate in one instant as I watch Ella’s small, fragile body hit the wall leaving her in a crouching position in evident agony. Rushing over, I carefully hold her until Cooper shows up with ice. And then I see red, the root of the incident being Max’s action brings out a fury within me that I cannot contain any longer. Without warning, I turn to him wrapping my hands around his neck as I walk him to the wall trapping him against it. “What the fuck did you do to her?” I barely recognize my own voice who sounds as deranged as I mentally am right now. He fights back, my feet are too slow to prevent him from pinning me against the wall. “You showed up drunk! You hurt her first. You’re a fucking asshole!” Max’s words echo in the flat. More profanities are exchanged between us in a fight to figure out who’s more at fault. Though I know my actions were wrong, I cannot tolerate the idea of him causing her physical damage. From the corner of my eye, I can see Cooper shielding Ella who’s now standing by the couch. Max’s punch makes contact with my jaw in that moment of distraction. Without skipping a beat, I hit him back, unsettling him enough to be able to wrap my hands on his neck holding him against the wall again. His knee goes up to my lower abdomen but I managed to move backward avoiding the actual blow. All I can think of is the pain in Ella’s eyes as my hands are tightening on his neck. The blood drained from his face realizing the force that’s overtaking my body paralyzing him there. His body wiggles underneath my touch, his hands are trying to push me back to no avail. His throat produces wailing sounds, his eyes are popping out of their sockets.

“Stop, please, Ryan. Stop,” Ella’s loving touch is felt on my arm and she becomes my main focus again as I let go to welcome her in my arms. A piercing hissing sound comes out of her when I squeeze her body tightly. “I’m sorry, baby. We should go to the hospital,” my voice is back to normal. “No! It’s not that serious I’ll be fine.” I’m not sure if she’s trying to convince me or herself, regardless, she can’t hide the tremolo in her voice. “Don’t be stubborn!” I say, harshly. “I’m not! We have bigger issues to deal with right now than some bruises on my body! You got drunk! You and Max fought… I… I don’t even know…” her eyes are fearful, sad, and furious all at once.

A lump grows in my throat while knots twist in my stomach wondering if she might be thinking of leaving me. It always comes back to the same fear whenever I fuck up. The instinct that pushed me to buy beer and drink it in a hurry on my way home clouded my judgment. Now that the effects have mostly vanished I can’t help hating myself. The bile rises in my throat making me rush to the bathroom where I empty my system from all substances. A minute later, a cold cloth is pressed against my neck in a gesture fueled by love. Ella’s hands gently undress me, ordering me to shower. The hot water glides on my skin, my eyes are closed, my brain gives me flashbacks of the events that took place tonight. To my despair she left me alone in here, I can’t blame her but I desperately need her touch. A pair of sweatpants and a shirt are sitting on the counter for me when I exit the shower. Brushing my teeth gives me time to build the courage to go back to the living room where I hope to find her.

My heart skips a beat when I see her in a fetal position, a pillow propped under her head, on the couch, her body looks even smaller; I notice she has an ice pack on her shoulder. Her brown eyes look into mine her hand beckons me to join her, I sigh my relief. With a gentle touch, I caress the side of her torso. “Careful, my hip hurts as well.” The words came in a small voice filled with exhaustion. What did I do to deserve someone as understanding as her? Someone willing to give me a chance to explain myself because that’s what she’s doing by laying her waiting for the right moment. Her cold digits reach for mine lacing through them while her thumb brushes back and forth over mine putting my mind at ease.

“Ryan? Can we talk?” I almost forgot about Max and Cooper being in the room with us and I look at her bodyguard who’s sitting on the sofa by the opposite wall. “I’m sorry Max. I can’t say I’m not still mad at you for pushing her but you’re right, I shouldn’t have been drinking. I know it’ll take time but if you can stay loyal to Ella; I would like to find a way to rebuild a friendship with you,” I rub my eyes with the hand that isn’t holding Ella’s, sighing. “I expected you to fire me. But if Ella can forgive me too, I want to move past what happened tonight,” Max’s eyebrows raise in surprise. We both know Ella’s kind heart will find a way to condone his action even if it takes her some time to do so. For now, she looks in his direction and nods, briefly.

Cooper’s muscular frame moves into view between us, he’s looking rough, tired. “I hate to be that guy but where do we go from here? We can’t sing kumbaya and forget everything. Ry, you got drunk, man. I’m scared for you,” My dedicated bodyguard, who’s more like a brother at this point, says. “Ryan will go back to square one, he needs to help himself if he wants us around,” Ella’s voice is now strong sending a warning for me to get it together and I love her for it, though she’s willing to show some mercy, she’s also making sure I treat myself right so I can in return be the man she deserves. I bring her hand up to my lips leaving a tender kiss against the soft skin. Reaching for my phone on the coffee table, I then make my way to the bedroom to call Mitch bracing myself for his advice, I know it’ll be a good one but somehow I can’t handle the idea of going to rehab though I know I can’t ignore what happened.

Might be continued.
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