Authors: Silla Webb
My brow quirks up at her statement, but I don’t see any need to reply. “Didn’t mean to wake you. Couldn’t sleep, so I went for a drive.”
“Your drives always seem to bring you here.” She whispers, smilin’ to herself and she tugs the small throw blanket closer to her body.
“Does that bother ya?” The question falls from my lips quickly and as soon as the words are spoken I wish I could take them back. I don’t need to hear her response just in case it’s what I really want to hear. “Never mind, please don’t answer that.” I dismiss quickly.
I stare up at the night sky, exhalin’ a trembling breath and watch as the mist of air expels from my lips. I don’t look at Savannah, I can’t. My heart is so full of resentment, anger and heartache that I need to gain a clarity of the situation. I need to lay my ghosts to rest, which is the only reason I’m leavin’ tonight. I didn’t come to Savannah’s to say goodbye, because in time when my head is clear and I feel like she’s ready, I’ll come back for her. I just pray to God that she’ll forgive me for not explainin’ myself before leavin’.
“You’re quiet tonight. Are ya okay?” Her soft fingertips lightly graze my forearm and I inhale sharply at the feel of her skin touchin’ mine.
“Yeah, sweetheart.” I lie. I ain’t close to bein’ fine, but I refuse to be honest about how I’m feelin’ right now. Savannah has enough to deal with, fightin’ with Josh over the divorce, and battlin’ her own inner turmoil and demons. “How ya been today?”
“Eh, I’ve been better. My mind doesn’t seem to want to shut down. It’s been on auto-loop since yesterday, and all I see is years of an uphill battle that I’m not prepared for.” Her body shakes in distress, so she curls her small frame around my waist just as she does most nights. Exhalin’ roughly, she looks up at me behind soft doe eyes and asks, “Luke, when are the insecurities gonna pass? When will I ever feel as if I’m in control again?”
I wish I had a way of answering that, because I ask myself the very same questions each and every day. Savannah’s loss may not be comparable to mine, but she’s still suffered a heartache that’s consumin’ her to the core of her existence. She feels defenseless, which is the very reason I have to put some distance between us, giving her time to find her strength without depending on me. I can’t help but feel responsible for her co-dependency. After all, I have been stalkin’ out her porch for the last few months. I should have kept her at arms-length, only being the strength she needed when she asked for it. But I had to play the hero. I let that overwhelmin’ need to protect her strew me away from what was happening right before my eyes.
I let myself fall, while pickin’ her up.
I should have never let that happen.
I want to tell her that I’ll be her strength until she finds her own, but I won’t make promises I can’t keep.
When I don’t respond to her answer, she shrugs her shoulders as she continues her thoughts. “I’m just tired. I can’t sleep most nights. I’m scared all hours of the day. I just want my life back. But the sad reality of it all is I don’t remember a time in my life when I was content. I remember happy moments, but never a time where I felt completely free and content. I’ve been shattered for far too long.” She wipes her face with the sleeve of her arm.
This is what I love about her. She ain’t ashamed to bare her soul, puttin’ her heartache on full display for only me to see. She’s beautiful even when her eyes are puffy and tears stain her soft cheeks. She ain’t embarrassed of revealing the broken pieces that she tries so hard to hide. Part of me wants to believe that she has a weakness with me, but I can’t think like that. I just wish I could mend the seams of her broken heart, healing her of the hell she’s been dragged through.
“Savannah, you’re killin’ yourself with worry, sweetheart. You gotta crawl away from the darkness and put the past behind you. Promise me you’ll start sleepin’.”
She offers me a weak, crooked smile before relaxin’ into my chest, releasing a heavy sigh. “I’ll try.”
“And Josh? Are you plannin’ to visit him?”
She shrugs and her tears come relentlessly. “I don’t know what to do. I’m so terrified of him.”
“Sweetheart, he can’t hurt you any longer. I think you need to go see him, Sav. He ain’t expectin’ you to come, he’s only tryin’ to control you by evoking the fear he knows you’re consumed with.” I tilt her face towards mine and look deep into her green eyes. “Prove him wrong. Show him that strength he thinks he stripped from you. It’s there, Sav. I know you can feel it, because I can see it. You’re just too scared to realize it.” She stares up at me with humble, yet broken eyes and I can’t resist but to press a kiss to her forehead, savorin’ the feel of her skin against my lips.
“Maybe you’re right.” She whispers. Tightenin’ her arms around my waist, she buries her face in my chest and inhales deeply before blowing out a breathy sigh. “Thank you, Luke. You’re always here holdin’ my hand, just when I need you the most.”
This makes leavin’ even harder. I know the moment she wakes up tomorrow mornin’ and finds the swing empty, she’ll be disappointed and hurt. I hate the thought of adding to her pain, but it’s best for both of us. My mind can’t process any thoughts right now. Dealin’ with my feelings for Savannah while trying to suppress the hauntin’ memories of my past is enough to drive me insane. I’m torn. I know I shouldn’t leave her right now, not when she’s so lost within herself. But her life is too chaotic to add me into the mix of things. The only way she’s gonna find the strength to move forward is if she’s forced to stand on her own two feet.
I scrub my hand against my face roughly, trying to erase the frustration that I can feel pricklin’ around my eyes before Savannah notices the change in my mood.
“Do you need to talk, Luke? You seem so far away.” She smiles weakly, restin’ her chin on my chest as she hugs her legs tighter to her body.
“I’m fine, sweetheart. Don’t worry ‘bout me.”
She shrugs, “I’m here if you need me.” She doesn’t understand the words she just spoke ain’t the words I’m hearin’. I hear a promise in her voice, even if she doesn’t intend it to be there. Maybe it’s just wishful thinkin’.
“You need to sleep, sweetheart.” She releases a defeated sigh softly and I wrap my arm around her tighter, just wantin’ to feel her body close to mine. “Remember what I said, Sav. Think about goin’ to see Josh. You can do it. I have my faith in ya.” A single tear rolls onto the back of my hand and I reach up erasin’ the sorrow from her face. She never speaks a word, just smiles weakly.
The weepin’ tears cease as moments pass and the peaceful sway of the swing rocks her to sleep in my arms. This is the battle. The internal war I’m wagin’ is fierce and I can’t find the strength to do what I intended when I showed up here. So I allow myself this time, a brief moment of enjoyin’ the cool, fall night air, the beauty of the twinkling stars in the sky, and the feel of the woman I’m so head over heels for in my arms. When the cool air nips at my skin, I pull Savannah in my arms and carry her inside to the couch. Pressin’ a single kiss to the top of her head, I inhale her sweet, intoxicating scent that I wish I could wrap myself in one last time.
My taut muscles scream in protest as I stretch my arms high above my head, arching my back like a cat. My Kindle slides off my chest, landing in the floor with a thud and I glance around the living room in a confused like state
. I don’t remember falling asleep on the couch
. Searching my memory, I pinch the bridge of my nose, shaking my head in an attempt to clear the foggy mess of thoughts. The memory of strong arms embracing me, the warmth of his breath as he breathed me in blankets over me.
Pouncing up to my feet, I pad to the front door, twisting the bottom lock, and pull the door opened. The porch swing sits idle, barely swaying against the fall morning breeze.
I won’t lie to myself and say I don’t feel a twinge of disappointment when I’m not greeted by Luke’s baby blues this morning. In fact, searching through my memory, on every occasion he’s ever spent the night watching over me from outside, he’s always there the next morning when I wake up. Waking up on the couch Wednesday morning only to find the swing empty when I walked outside with a cup of hot coffee for Luke was unsettling. I quickly pushed the swell of emotions down into the pit of my stomach, not allowing doubt to rear it’s ugly head. That was three days ago, and I haven’t heard a word from Luke since.
Turning back inside, I grab my phone from my purse checking to see if he’s called or at the very least sent me a text, but come up empty. Hesitantly, I dial his number and when the voicemail prompt answers instead, I press end on the screen quickly.
I won’t allow this to hurt. I won’t crumble.
Shaking the negative thoughts that crawl into my mind, I jog up the stairs to wake the kids. It’s a beautiful Saturday morning and a day with my babies is just what I need. Braden wakes with ease, climbing from the bed the moment he hears me enter the room and stomps off toward the bathroom. Brailee…attempting to wake the dead would be an easier task. I pull on her arms, tickle her ribs and the arch of her feet. I yank her ankles to the edge of the bed, yet she’s dead to the world. Drool dribbles down her chin, evidence of her zombie-like sleep. Braden returns from the bathroom approaching the bed with a ninja-like grace. Drawing his arm from behind his back, he pumps the squirt bottle, spraying cold water directly in Brailee’s face.
He’s such a no non-sense kid.
Brailee springs straight up in the bed, her jaw open wide in shock as she wipes to cold water from her face. Pants of panicked breathing laced with fury rush from her lungs followed by an overly dramatic shrill of anger. “You little brat! I’ll get you back!!” She yells, lurching off the bed and begins to chase Braden through the hallway and down the stairs. Little moments like these save my sanity. I let the twins run out of breath while I start breakfast, then we get ready for a long day at the ball field.
“Hey Evans, stop runnin’ every dang play up the center! You’re gettin’ your QB crushed, man!” Colton yells over the fence in the direction of the coach.
Kyle turns around, shooting a deadpan glare at Colton and says, “He can hold his own, Weston.” Colton laughs boisterously, to which Kyle then says, “Maybe we should get them pom poms outta Heidi Jo’s hands and suit her up. See if she can do any better.” He sneers with a cocky grin.
“It ain’t the player, it’s the coach. And by the way, my kid could dance circles around yours out there bellyachin’ around. Should we get his momma for him?” Colton chuckles and Kyle tosses a water bottle at him, laughing at his jib.
Colton walks around the fence, joining his old high school football buddy on the sideline as the team calls a time out. The team huddles together listening to Kyle explain the next play as Colton has scribbled it out on the dry erase board. Breaking their huddle, they rush back out to the field lining up for the play. Tyler, Kyle’s son calls “
” just as the center snaps the ball. He steps forward, then blitzes the nose guard rolling to the right where the defense has left a gaping hole.
The crowd of fans cheer and hoot spurring little Tyler Evans on as he digs his heels into the dirt roughly chugging down the field, then nose dives across the goal line for the first touchdown of the game. These kids have been pushing and shoving each other up and down the field for three full quarters, and finally our team – the Williamstown Wildcats have scored. These little boys have to be exhausted, I’m winded just watching them. How Ryleigh is sleeping through all of the commotion is beyond me. But she’s resting peacefully in her stroller with the umbrella shielding the warm sun from her view.
Colton’s grin is unbreakable. I’m sure he misses the Friday night lights. He winks back at Carly Jo as we sit on the sideline together watching the game. Her cheeks flush a bright red, as she grins back at him. Is it okay to be just a teensy tiny bit jealous of these two? I tell myself that love doesn’t exist, but it’s so hard to believe when I witness it every time I look at Carly and Colton.
“Momma, I’m bored! When can we go home?” Braden whines, stompin’ his foot in the dirt.
“Little man, it won’t be much longer, I promise. The game is almost over. Sit down and watch Sissy and Heidi Jo cheer.” Scrunching his face up, he kicks gravel as he mumbles under his breath in frustration. Braden hates sports, so having to attend Brailee’s cheer practices and games is pure torture. Picking up his Tonka trucks, he heads towards the dirt pile near the playground to play. Yeah, there is a dirt pile near the playground – we’re country folks…ain’t nothin’ more fun to a pack of boys than dirt and trucks.
“I meant to text ya last night and tell ya we’re cookin’ out tonight, but got sidetracked with a fussy Ryleigh.” Carly says, leaning into me.
“Poor baby, not sleepin’ well?”
“I’m worried she might have colic. Dr. Dizon said we may need to change the milk she’s on. Let’s hope not.” Carly says, worry filling her eyes. She had attempted to breast feed Ryleigh, but by the fourth day she called me in a panic because her nipples were dry and cracked. I told her that was common if Ryleigh wasn’t latching on well. She said Ryleigh was often fussy when she fed, so she was sure that must be the issue. I instructed her to reposition Ryleigh until she was feeding properly and to use a moisturizing ointment until her breast healed. Still unsure of my medical advice, Colton and I persuaded her that is was important for Ryleigh to get her momma’s milk since it was filled with the best nutrients. Reluctantly, Carly listened…for three more days. On day seven, her nipples were bleeding profusely and she simply couldn’t manage the pain from her swollen breast and the restless nights with a crying newborn.
“Some babies just have sensitive tummies, Carly. She’ll be okay.”
She shrugs, dismissing her concern. “So back to dinner, are ya in?”
“Yep. The kids wouldn’t pass up a weekend with Heidi Jo, you know this.”
The timer on the scoreboard ticks backwards from one minute to zero quickly. Roaring screams filter into the air as the players stop mid-motion, ripping their helmets off their heads. The cheerleaders file the sideline yelling their victory cheer as the Players line up to shake hands, showing their good sportsmanship. Noticing the game is finally over, Braden races over to me, Tonka trucks in hand, prepared to blow this Popsicle stand.
Once we arrive at Carly and Colton’s we jump into preparing everything for Colton to toss on the grill while the kids play out in the backyard.
“Burgers ready for the grill?” Colton asks when he steps through the back door.
“Just a minute, baby. Almost done.” Carly calls over her shoulder. “Oh hey, did you call Luke? I can’t believe he missed the girls’ first game.”
Colton eyes me suspiciously. “No, ain’t talked to him in a few days.”
“That’s strange. Savannah call him and tell him we’re cookin’ out.” Carly says over her shoulder. I open my mouth to speak but the words hitch in my throat. My eyes flutter nervously as I try to gain my composure, but I’m not exactly sure what it is that I’m feeling. Rejection? Abandonment?
“Uhm, I called him earlier this morning before the game. His number just goes to voicemail.” I cast my eyes downward, not wanting Colton to read the storm of emotions that wash over my eyes. I wish I could slip my veil in place once more, but it shattered, leaving me naked for the world to see.
“Colton, damn it I swear to God, if you lied to me about makin’ shit right with him, I’ll permanently hang your balls up in my damn office as Home frickin’ Interior, right on display for everyone to see.” Carly shouts across the kitchen throwing a balled up dish cloth at him.
“Carly Jo, I told ya, it’s behind us. Now drop it.” He warns her, his brow cocked up high.
“Wait, what happened?” I ask curiously. Luke seemed miles away when I talked to him late Wednesday night. Did it have something to do with Colton?
“Nothin’, just frickin’ drop it.” Colton spits in Carly’s direction, refusing to look my way.
“Ahh, you know Colton, Savannah. He’s gotta sharp tongue.” She spits, glaring at Colton. “So, when did you talk to Luke last, Colton?”
Colton scrubs his hand over his unshaven face, shaking his head angrily. “Darlin’, we done discussed this.”
“Why are y’all handlin’ me with frickin’ kid gloves?” I burst out, not realizing the bitter tone in my voice. “Seriously, I’m not gonna fall apart. Sure, everything is shit right now, but if something’s happened, just say it.” Looking from Colton to Carly I can tell something went down, they’re both just being tight lipped about it.
“I pissed him off, Savannah. Stuck my nose where it didn’t belong. But it’s over with now. Everything’s fine.”
“So where’s Luke?”
“He’s ‘round, I’m sure.” Colton nods reassuringly.
I don’t argue any further. Pissed as I may be, what’s the point in it? Luke has no obligations with me, and whatever happened between he and Colton is their business. But I can’t help but wonder if their disagreement and Luke’s sudden disappearance had anything to do with me.
A thick tension lingers in the air for the remainder of the evening. I realize I’m not much company as I stare off blankly at the wall, lost in muddled thoughts. I try to bury it all down in the back of my mind, but the worry refuses to be dismissed. Carly carries on a one-sided conversation and mindlessly I hmm or nod just to appease her. But as usual, I carry my emotions openly for everyone to see. Once everyone has eaten and I’ve helped Carly clean the kitchen back up, I load the kids into the SUV and head home.
Sweet! Another sleepless night. Screw you insomnia! Screw you! After the twins passed out while I read their bedtime story, I crept down the stairs quietly. Snatching the package of Oreos from the cabinet, I pour a small glass of milk then make my way into the living room. I flick the TV onto
but mute the volume so I can hear my surroundings clearly. Picking up my kindle I open
by Katheryn Kiden, so I can finish the last few chapters. This book is twisted and depraved. I clutched the cushion of the couch each time the malice villain would claim another victim to harm, then once she was revealed I quickly decided I needed a Tara in my life. You know, a psycho ruthless bitch who gets her kicks while torturing those whose sins need cleansing. I could give her a nice – yet very specific little list – by little, I mean two…I’m sure she could accommodate them nicely, in a very sadistic manner.