Have you ever slept so much you forget what it feels like to be alive? That’s me right now. My ribs feel better after spending the night outside of a hospital bed but they still kill with every shaky breath I take.
Kallie was in full nurse mode when I woke up, she fed me my tablets, changed my sheets and even cut the crust off my toast. When she’s ready for it, that woman is gonna be one hot mama.
Al sat on the toilet whilst I gave her and Kal a running commentary of everything that happened with Antonio last night, both of them spending most of their time with their jaws wide open instead of actually helping me shower.
As the water splashed down over my necklace I couldn’t help the mixture of sadness and joy that Antonio always brought me as it washed over my skin. I know he needed to go, I know I couldn’t go with him, but none of this changed the fact that he was someone that brought something to my life no-one else could.
Although something else also became clear – it didn’t destroy me.
That meant something, something I wouldn’t accept until he left my life. Only one man had the ability to make me crumble, my man. The man I...
Clothes are for suckers so instead I slipped into my favourite pyjamas before attempting to get downstairs. It was a struggle but I got there. The fact I’m in Steve’s t-shirt didn’t escape Al but she made sure not to say anything, she’s good like that.
Grasping her stomach again I could see how tired she is.
“Babe, go over the house and take a nap. These Brandon things are killing you, you’ve only got like an hour until you have to leave for Jayce’s game. Go sleep.”
She nods. “Braxton hun, not Brandon. You sure you’re okay for a bit on your own? Tara said she’ll be by later anyway and I’m sure Josh will pop in before we leave too.”
I roll my eyes at her. “I’m fine, Chris wants to come by and Helena said she’ll call after I get off the phone from the shrink, I’m not going to be alone for long so you go.”
She nods, rising to her feet slowly when the pain relents, the giant bump almost pulling her over completely but I try not to laugh. “How’s it going anyway, with the therapist?”
Yep, that’s right, I Brianna Parker gave in and went to see a fucking therapist. Well, more like they came to see me as I lay in the hospital bed, but it still took everything in me to say yes to the support.
I’d realised when in there that I’d been through too much to do it alone anymore, the way I felt about myself wasn’t healthy. I’d been beaten, abused, neglected, abandoned and used more times than I can count through my life. I wasn’t dealing with it, I was just suppressing it. When I first saw them it was to get Al off my back but now I realise how much I need it.
I couldn’t do this anymore. If I wanted to get better I had to start moving forward, that started with looking back and rebuilding a path for myself from my past to my future.
“It’s actually good, it’s early days but I like her... except for that whole celibacy thing... not sure that’s going to stick.”
Al laughs, her baby girl jiggling with her. “Celibacy is a tried and tested method of self discovery. It won’t be forever-”
“She said a year Al, a year! Maybe more... Surely that’s unhealthy, people shouldn’t go that long without sex.”
Giving me that death glare she’s so fond of, I find myself pulling the blanket up like a shield to protect me from her raging hormones.
“Babe, you’ll survive. You need to break the relationship you have with sex, you can’t keep using it like a drug to feel better or give yourself worth. You’re so much more than that.”
Yeah, that’s what she said.
“Fine, but I’m not doing the no masturbation thing, that’s just wrong.”
Rolling her eyes at me she knows this is a war she can’t win, I have my limits. I walk to the back door and watch her waddle all the way home until she’s safely inside the house.
The minute I turn around the silence of this place hits me. The fear pouring in with it. This seems to be when it all smothers me all over again, the moment I’m alone. It’s then I know I need the help I’m too afraid to ask for.
Trying to ignore the voice in my head telling me to grab a bottle and chug it down I attempt to make a glass of water, my hand’s still fucked so I’m trying to knock the tap on with my elbow whilst balancing the glass in my left hand but failing epically.
*KNOCK KNOCK KNOCK*
Thank fuck, Christopher is early. I couldn’t stand this silence for another second.
*KNOCK KNOCK KNOCK*
Impatient little fucker. “I’m coming!”
I should probably get dressed but considering the two times he’s seen me lately I was either covered in blood or in a hospital gown I don’t think he’ll be judging.
*KNOCK KNOCK KNOCK*
“Jesus Christ Chris! I said I was com-”
That’s not Chris.
“Umm.. Steve, what are you doing here? You shouldn’t...”
His eyes travel over me and that bloody gorgeous smirk that makes my knees feel pathetically weak comes onto his face.
“You always did look good in my clothes Brie.”
Glancing down at the t-shirt that covers my body I start tugging on the hem, I don’t know why when it clearly won’t make it grow any bloody longer! Jesus Brie, this guy has seen you naked, I don’t think that’s going to help.
Stop looking at him like that Brie, remember to be strong. No matter how fuckable he is, he’s got a girl now.
“Steve. You shouldn’t be here.”
“It’s not my baby Brie.”
Wait. What the fuck?
I’d think he was telling some sick joke but his eyes tell me he’s dead fucking serious. “What do you mean it’s not your baby?”
He steps forward but I just take a step back, maintaining the distance as my heart starts to bounce around in my chest like it doesn’t know where it belongs. What’s going on?
Steve let’s his head drop, he was firing with adrenaline when he got here but whatever he’s been fighting off is obviously only now settling in for him.
His breathing becomes slightly more ragged as he tries to find the words. “Chrissy, the baby isn’t mine. The D.N.A. results, he’s not mine. He’s my fathers Brie.”
His... “Your father’s?... Fuck, you mean the baby is your brother?”
Steve’s head shoots up and I watch the moment the stab of pain splinters his heart as he nods at me. He may not have loved Chrissy, but that kind of betrayal isn’t something you can just get over, it’s going to fucking hurt him.
Rushing forward I raise my hands as high as I can without tearing anything or popping a rib and pull him into a hug, one he returns instantly as he crumbles into my body. God, I’ve missed this man.
“Steve I’m so sorry. I’m so sorry they did this to you.”
His face rests in the crook of my neck and I can feel his breath against my skin with each deep exhale. He’s trying to keep it together but I have no doubts this is killing him inside.
“It doesn’t matter Brie.”
“Yes it does.”
“It’s not important.”
“Yes it is.”
He chuckles against me but I can hear the sadness in it. Me and Steve have always been so much alike, so much so I know exactly what he’s trying to do right now. He’s trying to block it out, to tell himself he doesn’t give a fuck, but he can’t. He was willing to give up everything for that baby, now he’s finding out it was never his little boy to have.
No matter how he tries to mask it, he needs to come to terms with that loss.
“Brie..” Pulling himself back from my shoulder I wince with pain, my ribs barely holding out after standing for this long. “Shit, babe sit down.”
Steve helps me scoot over to the couch and we both sit down, his hand interlocking with my good one as he gives a once over of my injuries.
“I’m glad he’s dead.” He states matter of factly. I’m sure he would’ve preferred to do it but I’m glad he didn’t, it’s not who he is.
I can’t help but laugh though. “Me too.”
Steve leans over and runs his finger along my cheek bone before settling to take hold of my chin, tugging on it gently to part my lips before coming in closer.
Just as his lips are about to meet mine I place my fingers against them to stop him. The hurt that runs over his face is evident but I need to tell him before this goes to far. I don’t want to stop him but last night with Antonio showed me something, something he needs to know.
I move my hands so I’m holding his face against mine, our foreheads meeting in the most intimate moment we’ve shared since he held me in his arms whilst I slept. The way me and Steve fit together; physically, emotionally, spiritually – It’s always been like we were built with the other in mind. The realisation of what we have become isn’t lost on me, but it doesn’t change anything.
“Steve... we can’t do this... not right now...”
He tries to shake his head against me but my hold on him is strong, he can’t fight me.
“Brie, please. I’m so fucking sorry... You’re it for me. The second I found out that baby wasn’t mine I was on my way here, it was all that was in our way..”
I shake my head, trying to muster the courage to say the words and not give into the cries from my heart to just kiss this boy.
“Steve it wasn’t just the baby, it was me..”
“Brie, you’re fucking perfect. How were you in our way?”
I chuckle, giving in for a moment and placing a kiss on his cheek before returning my forehead to his. My lips didn’t want to leave his skin but a second longer and I wouldn’t have ever been able to stop.
“In my own way Steve. My life has been a string of one bad decision after another, masking trauma with a smile and half decent fuck, I can’t keep doing that. I’m in therapy and it’s actually fucking working, but I have so much work to do... I don’t love myself Steve, I don’t even like my self most of the time. I have to find a way to love me before I can offer anything to anyone else. I’m sorry... I just can’t do this right now.”
He knows I’m right, and if he truly cares about me he’ll give me that time, because honestly, I need it.
“What can I do? What do you need?” Everything in his voice screams sincerity. He cares so deeply for me, I have no doubts of that. I don’t trust people who say they care about me, words are so easy, it’s actions that prove your feelings.
“Space... time... I don’t know how much but I know I can’t have you close and stay this strong. I’m gonna need you to do it, I need you to do it for me this time.”
His breath is ragged, the way he’s keeping his eyes closed telling me he’s trying to fight his head with his heart.
“I’ll take the job Brie, I’ll go to Germany. I don’t want to be here, I don’t want to be a distraction or the reason you rush anything. When I needed you to make the tough call, you did it, you told me to pick him when I wasn’t strong enough to do it... I’m picking you this time. I’m always going to pick you.”
My heart shatters at those words. He’s picking me, right at the moment I need him too he’s picking me.
You can love someone, but still know you’re the wrong person for them in this moment.
I don’t know where it happened, maybe it was the night I stood in the rain outside his house, or maybe the night I cried laying on his chest in the hospital... Fuck, maybe it was the day he walked up to a glitter covered girl about to get on a pole with a smile so bright it could blind your soul.
I can’t be sure when, but at some point, somewhere along the line, I fell in love with this man.... Unfortunately, right now, I need to love me more.
“You’ll do amazing there, I know you will.”
Did he start crying first, or did I?
“I’m coming back for you Brie.”
Tilting his head so he’s facing me, I place the most delicate kiss on his lips. One I know will be my very last kiss for a while.
We just sit there, neither of us ready to part but both knowing this is how it has to be if either of us have any chance of being who we’re meant to be.
Eventually his arms wrap around me again, pulling me in close so we can just soak each other in.
“I’ve got you Brie. Whenever you need me, whenever you want me. I got you.”
I know absolutely, from my heart to my soul, he does.
Resting his head against mine we do what we always do when we need to part but can’t, we take three deep breaths.
On the final breath I let my eyes fall closed, his body heat leaving me until I feel frozen by the cold. The door closes, the bike leaves, but I remain unmoved.
Natural, the one thing it’s always been with Steve, natural. The things in nature that are meant to happen always do, no matter the odds; The big bang, black holes, the emergence of a caterpillar into a beautiful butterfly.
It’s time for me to go into the cocoon, because this beauty needs to fly.
Opening my eyes I take in the cream walls, the wine stained couch and the threadbare rugs. Everything in this house has a memory, a memory of me or a memory of Al, everything has been touched by joy and sadness. Sometimes in order to move on you have to accept these things for what they are – memories.
You can’t get better staying in the place that made you sick.
I can make this my home again, but not right now and not like this.
Walking up the stairs I take out my backpack from high school and put in the things I’ll need for now, I know Jayce will get the rest. Locking all the doors and windows I make my way to the back garden, taking a moment to stop at the top and look at the house that became my home the day Heather brought her daughter’s loud little friend home for her first sleepover.
Walking in through the back door of my best girls kitchen I can feel the tears starting to fall but I don’t stop, pushing through the pain as I climb the staircase to the room I can hear her pottering around in.
I haven’t been here since everything, even through my tears I can see how beautiful it is.
Pushing open the nursery door I’m first greeted by the picture May made them for Christmas, hanging proudly above the crib for all to see. She’ll be so happy.
My eyes falling on my best friend just causes all my walls to come crashing down, my bag falling from my shoulder to the floor as the shakes overtake my body.
“Can I stay here for a while?”
Al rushes forward, her arms extended as she pulls me over the bump into her arms.
“You can stay here forever.”
Letting everything flow out I find myself crashing to the floor with her in my arms, the both of us holding onto each other like we’re afraid the other will sail away on the river of tears.
“I need help Al.”
“Shhh Shhh,” She strokes my hair the same way Granny did when I was a little girl, the comfort of that great woman’s touch felt through my best friends hands. “We’ll get it for you Brie, we’ll get you everything you need.”
Through it all, no matter the guy or the situation, I know I found my soulmate when I was six years old, the one holding me now and the one that’s held me up always.
Eventually the tears dry, the sobs turn to laughter and the pain makes way for acceptance.
“Come on, let’s get some tea.”
Standing up I try to help her to her feet but she almost buckles all over again as another Braxton hicks contraction hits.
“Chick, are they supposed to be this painful?”
Breathing through the pain it takes her a second before she can talk again.
“I don’t know, the doctor said it’s completely normal but they hurt like a fucking bitch. Honestly I think they’re getting worse beca-”
The water hit the floor with such force most of it bounced back up and covered my own legs.
Holy fucking shit...
“Al?! Was that?!”
Looking down I can see it still pouring out of her, how much fucking liquid was in there?
“Aleah?! You upstairs?” Josh’s voice echoes up the stairs as we both just stare at each other in shock.
“Josh! Get the fuck up here!”
He races up the stairs and comes barrelling into the room just in time to catch Al before the next wave of pain hits.
“Oh crap, did she piss herself?”
Josh regrets the words the second he says them as Aleah digs her nails into his wrist whilst breathing through the pain and attempting to curse his dick into no man’s land.
“No she didn’t piss herself you fucking idiot! She’s in labour!”