Authors: Danielle Allen
Back to Reality
Back to Life #2
Copyright © 2013 by Danielle Allen
All rights reserved.
No part of this book may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying, recording, or by an information storage and retrieval system - except by a reviewer who may quote brief passages in a review to be printed in a magazine or newspaper - without permission in writing from the publisher.
This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, businesses, places, events and incidents are either the products of the author’s imagination or used in a fictitious manner. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, or actual events is purely coincidental.
Cover Photo & Design: Niqko (www.BookNiqko.com)
Love brought her back to life.
Life brought her back to reality.
Dedicated to YOU.
Because without YOU, none of this would be possible.
I have a recurring nightmare.
… and then I crash, killing my passenger.
And my passenger is always one of two people.
The only two men I've ever loved.
It's always one of them.
It's always in the same nondescript dark colored sedan.
It's always pitch-
black outside, unnaturally dark. Not a star in the sky.
It’s always on a
back road in an unfamiliar area.
nd we are always the only car on the road.
There’s nothing and no one out there but us.
So I don't even know how it happens, because there’s never any warning.
Every time is like the first time.
Every time is all of a sudden.
e are having a conversation.
I stop at a stop sign
and I look over at him.
at me and says I love you.
I open my mo
uth to say it back because I do.
Regardless of which one it is, it’s true.
I love them both so much.
I am drunk off of the love they give me
; I’m drunk off of the love I feel for them.
And I plan to sa
y just that when out of nowhere, from a stopped position—BOOM!—we crash.
nd they are dead.
Emanuel or Tyree.
Emanuel and Tyree.
And it’s my fault.
I killed them.
And that knowledge kills me.
My breathing becomes
irregular and inconsistent making me lightheaded.
My throat becomes
raw from bawling and screaming tearfully.
My muscles become
tight from the tension of the panic attacks.
My heart breaks and shoots pain through my entire body.
And then numbness takes over.
nd I can’t feel anything anymore.
ack to reality.
Looking at the small puddle of tears on the off-white and brown speckled floor, I took a deep, rasping breath. My shaky hands shielded my face from everyone around me as my fingers pressed against my pounding forehead and my thumbs pushed the earbuds deeper into my ears. I could still hear voices swirling in the vicinity of me, but I couldn’t focus on anything but my breathing.
1, 2, 3, 4, 5 inhale, 5, 4, 3, 2, 1 exhale,
I internally coached myself through my breathing exercises. Every time my mind attempted to formulate a thought, the panic attack would wind itself back up. So I focused on the music and the puddle that collected between my 6-inch black Christian Louboutin pumps.
Losing myself in ‘To Build A Home,’ my chest tightened as the lyrics and the melody fused my misery with the sadness of the song. I didn’t want to feel better. I didn’t want to feel consoled. I wanted to hurt. I deserved to hurt. So I hit repeat on the song and the tears came harder, faster.
A loud commotion
broke through the fog of my mind. I didn’t have the energy to lift my head up, but over the music I heard the varying voices. The murmur of people quickly shifted from nonsensical noise to a loud buzz of activity. It was at that moment that I felt the hand deftly stroking my back in an attempt to console me. The room became almost unnaturally loud when an angry growl emanated through the lobby. I picked my head up, pulling my earbuds from my ears and wiping my face. The growl was so loud, it quieted the entire room. I rotated my head in the direction of the uproar when I heard his voice.
“What the hell are you doing here
, Sahara?” Bennett yelled from across the hospital waiting room.
Oh God, no. I can’t take this. Not right now,
I thought as I tensed up.
As we made eye contact, Bennett’s eyes narrowed.
The nurse in blue scrubs looked diminutive compared to his broad shoulders and football player physique. She put her hand in the middle of his chest to stop him from making his away across the waiting room. A second growl escaped his lips as I stood up.
Get out of my way,” Bennett shot at the nurse. She removed her hand from his chest and ran it through her short red hair. I couldn’t hear her response, but I did see her shoot glances at a few other hospital personnel who sat behind the registration desk. She took a step back from the opposing man in front of her and the lobby was void of all conversation as Bennett stormed over to me. I stood in preparation for the verbal confrontation he was bringing my way.
stopped a few feet away from me and roared, “Get out of here! Get the fu—”
“What you’re not going to do is disrespect her. Do I make myself clear?”
Emanuel explained menacingly, removing his hand from the small of my back and stepping between me and Bennett.
Under his hunter green and white shirt, Emanuel’s muscled flexed in anticipation of a fight. He loomed a couple of inches above the irate Bennett. It
was apparent that both men could hold their own if the situation escalated into a fight…and I prayed it wouldn’t come to that. But one look at Emanuel and it was obvious that he would win this fight. Whereas Emanuel’s face was hardened in protectiveness and aggression, Bennett’s contorted features were shadowed with pain.
Bennett thinks he’s losing his best friend… I know the feeling,
I thought, empathizing with his pain.
I’ve been there.
I grabbed Emanuel’s forearm in an attempt to calm his protective nature. It was slight
, but I felt his squared shoulders loosen a bit and the tension begin to ease from his body. Bennett looked from my hand to Emanuel and then he met my eyes. “Oh is this him Sahara? Is this the dude you were fucking while Ty was out of town?” Bennett asked with disdain.
“Is there a problem here?” a security officer asked as he jogged over to us. I looked around the busy waiting room and sighed. Everyone’s eyes were glue
d to us—ailing patients were deflecting pain long enough to concentrate on us, concerned loved ones were momentarily sidetracked from their grief by our spectacle.
There was a brief
hesitation as Emanuel and Bennett assessed each other and then the situation. Almost simultaneously both men said, “No officer.”
“You need to take this conversation outside if you can’t lower your voices. This is a hospital,”
the officer pointed out gruffly. He glared at the two of them in warning before he turned on his heel and marched to the registration desk.
the officer was far enough away that he couldn’t overhear, Bennett spoke in a quiet voice laced with malice. “You need to go.” He cut his eyes at Emanuel before he said, “And take your boyfriend with you. Now.” His lip curled in disgust as he took a step back.
I figured Ty told Bennett about what happened in Thomasville. I should’ve assumed Bennett would react in a hostile manner towards me if he was under the impression I deceived his best friend.
Regardless of how angry Bennett is with me, I’m not going to feed into his anger. I’m here to see Ty. Ty can explain that we made up to Bennett when he’s out of emergency surgery
, I thought to myself as I swallowed the lump in my throat.
“Bennett, how is—” I started, ignoring his accusation
and stepping around Emanuel.
Don’t you dare ask how he is! You did this! He’s in here because of you. So again, why are you even here? And did you bring this guy to throw salt in the wound? I knew he should’ve never gotten involved with you. I knew it. I knew it. But he thought he loved you. Fortunately, on his way back here from Thomasville he realized the truth: you were just a distraction. And better than that, he found a less drama filled distraction to occupy his time.”
insinuation of Ty’s exploits wasn’t lost on me. I flinched as his words pierced me.
If Bennett was looking for a way to hurt me, he found it,
I considered numbly. I felt Emanuel come up close behind me and I glanced over my shoulder at him. I gave him a short shake of the head to stop him from going after Bennett. To reassure him that I could handle the situation, I gave him a grim smile and then I turned back to Bennett.
ow is he?” I repeated emotionally. “The doctor’s won’t let me see him and won’t tell me anything. Just let me know how he is. Please.”
d be a lot better off if you and your date weren’t here. He’s done with you Sahara. Just leave.” Bennett shook his head at me before his eyes shifted to Emanuel. He gave Emanuel the same antagonistic stare before he looked back at me and said, “He’s spent his entire adult life following in his grandfather’s footsteps, building on his legacy. He was good…and the moment he started messing with you, everything started falling apart. He’s better off without you. He knows it and deep down, you know it too.”
Stop,” I croaked as I fought the tears that threatened to fall. “Just stop!” I backed into Emanuel’s chest and instantly felt more at ease. Emanuel’s hands grabbed at my shoulders to steady me. “Just tell me Bennett. Is he…okay?” I questioned nervously.
He has to be okay. He has to be. He was leaving the club early for me. If I would’ve fought harder to stay with him, he wouldn’t have been on the road at that time. If I wouldn’t have made him promise to come home right after the meeting, he wouldn’t have been involved in the five car pileup. If he hadn’t been speeding to get to me, he would’ve avoided the collision. Bennett is right; it is all my fault,
I silently chastised myself.
’s voice had an edge to it when he replied, “Is he okay? No, he isn’t okay. But I’m sure he’ll live. Just leave Sahara.” His sneakers squeaked on the polished floor as he spun to walk away.
Feeling defeated, I
turned and looked up at Emanuel with glassy eyes. I saw him clench his jaw before he made eye contact with me. Wrapping his arm around my shoulder, he silently guided me out of the hospital and into a waiting taxi.
I was in a daze and only came out of it when I heard Emanuel speak for the first time since the hospital. “
You’re home Sahara.” His voice was both soothing and sexy and I quickly snapped out of my stupor.
“Thank you Emanuel. I don’t think I would’ve made it there or back without you,” I whispered as I slipped out of my shoes and into the slippers I left by the hall console. I turned around to face him as he leaned against the front door.
“Are you okay?” Emanuel asked tentatively from his post at the door.
“I will be. I just need some rest.
It’s late… Oh wow, it’s almost 6am. When is your flight back to Thomasville?”
Emanuel shifted his weight and widened his legs. Inadvertently, my eyes traveled down the length of his muscular body and deep in my belly, desire and longing fluttered. Guiltily, I looked away, staring at the leather flooring.
Ty is in the hospital and I’m checking Emanuel out. I’m a horrible person,
I thought as my eyes filled with tears. When I calmed myself down enough to force myself to look into those stormy grey eyes, my entire body flushed.
“It’s in about twelve hours.
We both need rest. It’s been a long night,” he answered slowly.
It has been a long night. I went to Ty’s restaurant to make up with him and assure him nothing happened between me and Emanuel. Little did I know, Emanuel had flown to Richland for a 24 hour trip to tell me that he loves me and that he broke off his engagement for me. And before I could decide what I was going to do with that new tidbit of information, Ty was involved in a massive accident on the way home. Ty was on his way home early because I made him promise he would come home to continue to make up with me. Emanuel had a chance to get married and have a drama-free life with someone who loves him and I ruined that for him. And Ty…Ty is in the hospital…because of me. Like Bennett pointed out, he was fine before he met me. I ruined him,
I thought weepily as my eyes burned with unshed tears.
I cleared my throat before I inquired, “Where are you staying?”
“I have a room at the Four Seasons. Why? Do you want me to stay here with you?” He ran his hand through his black hair and we stared at each other without saying anything for a full minute. The air was thick with emotion as his eyes bore into mine with electrifying intensity. My knees became weak and I reached out to grab the wall to steady myself. I knew what he was asking me without him having to even open his mouth.
choose. Not now. Ty’s in the hospital. You just got out of an engagement. I can’t. I need to clear my head. And I can’t think straight when I’m around you. And it’s all too much. It’s like last time. I don’t know why this is happening. I just need time. I need to be alone,” I whispered, overwhelmed.
Emanuel pushed himself off of the door and took slow, deliberate steps toward me. I closed my eyes and remained frozen in my spot. Within seconds, I felt the heat of his body in front of me. I relished in his c
loseness, his scent, his heat. He wrapped his hands around my neck and used his thumbs to tilt my head upwards. He brought his forehead to mine and commanded, “Look at me.”
I immediately opened my eyes and
we gazed at each other. My emotions were all over the place and my heart was beating erratically.
“I understand. You don’t have to explain.
But I want to be here for you. We’ve wasted too many years being apart. Let me stay with you,” Emanuel breathed mere inches from my mouth.
I took a shaky breath as a tear escaped and traveled down my cheek and onto his thumb. “Thank you for understanding. Thank you for
always understanding. Thank you for coming here tonight. Thank you for always being here for me. But I need you to go. I can’t be around you right now. It’s too much. Please,” I murmured almost inaudibly as Emanuel licked his full lips. I was captivated and duly seduced by Emanuel.
“I meant what I said earlier. I love you Sahara. It’s always been you and it’ll always be you.” Emanuel spoke softly, but each word was punctuated with so much passion that I was rendered speechless.
My lips parted and small, breathy gusts of air
escaped my lips as I looked into his eyes and tried to formulate words. “I…I…can’t do this right now. Please go…you have to go. I need some space to think. You make me weak and I need you to go,” I choked out.
Emanuel sighed and hurt flashed in his eyes. “Don’t do this Sahara. Not after everything we’ve been through. Please. Don’t push me away,” he begged quietly, our noses rubbing against each other.
Taking a shaky breath, I responded, “I just need some time. Please Emanuel.”
“I wish there was more
I could do for you right now.” He paused and searched my eyes, willing me to change my mind. “But I guess all I can do is give you time and space,” he sighed again, rejection written all over his face.
“I’m sorry. I’m so sorry. For everything
. I’m so sorry,” I rasped weakly. I brought my hand to his chest and I felt his heart racing.
He removed his forehead from mine and studied my face.
When he saw that I wasn’t budging on my decision, he stroked my checks with this thumbs and nodded, “I guess I should go now. Just promise me you won’t run away again.”