Authors: Hilary Storm
She closes the door and I look at Luke glaring at me. I’m not quite sure how this conversation is going to go, but I’m prepared to stand behind how I feel about Kimber. It’s not like I fucked her just to fuck her. There’s a damn true connection there and as weird as it is for us, I’m sure he’ll have a more difficult time with it. I wait for him to say something while I walk to the cabinet with the alcohol. I have a feeling I’m going to need another drink.
“Is she hurting?” That’s not what I expected him to say. I was actually ready for him to slam me against the wall when I passed him, but he didn’t.
“She’s lost.” I pour a second glass and hand it to him. He takes it back quickly and sets the glass back on the table.
“I hate this shit. I don’t know how to fucking fix her. This situation is just a cluster fuck.” Luke grabs his hair in frustration and I wish I had an answer for him.
“They say time heals everything. Maybe she just needs some time. Let her spread her own wings and see where she lands. Then you can support her in the life she decides on.” I pour another half glass for the both of us and watch him process all of this. “Do you still love her or something?”
‘Yes I fucking love her. I can’t just turn this shit off.” He sits on the bar stool and sets both elbows on the bar to use to prop his head up. I can see that the turmoil he’s feeling is getting to him.
“Do you want her back?” That’s the simple question that means everything to the both of them right now. Looking at him, I’m not sure I can guess what his answer will be.
“Lilly is my life. I just don’t know how to fix this for Kimber. She got dealt the shittiest hand in this whole mess.” He’s not lying and I’ve gotta give it to him for caring enough about her to not just throw her out. Kimber made the right choice to leave him even though I can still see love there for both of them. I can imagine Luke’s love for Kimber is a whole lot different than his love for Lilly.
“She told me the two of you have been hooking up.” Shit, there it is. I feel a little better knowing where his head is before we had this conversation.
“Let’s pour one more and go out on the back deck.” He nods and holds out his glass for me to add more Gentleman to it. I let him lead the way and I fight the urge to open the door to check on her as we pass. That pull she has on me is strong, but I want to clear the air with Luke while I have the chance.
He sits first, then I lean up against the railing so I can face him as I say all of this.
“It’s more than just a hookup for me. She’s an amazing woman and from the second I met her, I was drawn to her. She fuckin’ introduced herself as Brie; damn I had no idea who she was. That first night she got to me, Luke. You know I would’ve never crossed you.”
“I’m not mad. I get it. Hell, I’m happy she’s trying to move on and living a little.”
“She’s had a rough life. I’ve enjoyed helping her get through these last few days and most of the time, I could get her to smile and be genuinely happy. There were just a few times that she kept coming back to you. She was worried that you’d find out about us.” He looks up at me as I talk so I continue. “It’s going to take her a while to find herself. We may just have to give her the space to do that.” He listens to me finish and takes back the last of his glass before he stands.
“You going to bed?” I’m curious about where he’s headed.
“Yep. I’m sleeping in her Jeep. I know she’ll be gone by morning. I’m not letting her leave this time without a goodbye.” I watch him open the glass, then walk quietly through the cabin until he’s going out the front door. I contemplate whether or not he’s right and finish my own glass of whiskey.
I kick off my boots at her door and open the door to a room filled with darkness. I let my eyes adjust to her under the covers on the other side of the bed, so I slide in behind her. She’s tense as I put my arms around her and pull her against me to cuddle. I’m fully clothed and it feels like she is too, but that’s not what this is about. This is about me showing her that I’m here for her. She’s not alone and I’m not all about the sex.
It takes her a few minutes to relax in my arms and I feel her move back into me just slightly as her whole body changes. I can feel her tears.
He held me as I let my tears fall down my cheek and then continued to hold me when he finally fell asleep. His breathing changed about an hour ago and I’ve been struggling with the thought of moving out of his arms I’m going to miss him, but I know I’ll be taking a piece of him with me.
I need to do this for me. Then one day, maybe I’ll meet him again and who knows where life will take us then. I slide out of bed and manage to do it without waking him up. I tip toe as the wood floors creak underneath my feet. It doesn’t take me long to gather my bag and walk out the door, leaving him behind me in the bed he made love to me in.
I close my eyes as I think about how alone I already feel walking away from him. I glance around the main living room expecting to see Luke on the couch or something, but he’s not there. I hope this doesn’t mean he left after he brought us here last night.
I quickly see that isn’t the case when I see his rental car next to my Jeep. I fight to get the last of my stuff from the front entry way so that I can make one trip. Closing the door behind me, I take a deep breath of the dark air and take a step toward my new life. Then I take another. Before long I’m almost to my Jeep. “Just get in and drive away. Start your new life right here Kimber.”
I open the door to my Jeep and practically have heart failure when Luke sits up and starts talking. “Maybe your new life has already started.”
“Shit, Luke. You scared the crap out of me. You’re lucky I have my arms full of bags or I would’ve kicked your ass.” He laughs at me. Alright, we both know I could never kick his ass, but I could sure fuck him up a bit, because I know he’d never hurt a woman.
The fighter in me still comes to surface pretty easily, even though I’ve worked like hell to suppress her since I left California.
“Where you headed in the middle of the night?”
“Why are you in my Jeep?” I’m not telling him where I’m going. He needs to let me do this.
“Because I’m not letting you go this time without a goodbye.”
“Damnit Luke. Get out of my Jeep!”
“You get in and talk to me, then I’ll go.” I throw my bags in the backseat of my Jeep, feeling as pissed off as I possibly can. Why is he doing this shit?
I get in the driver’s seat and slam the door. My breath is sporadic and my heart is beating like crazy and let’s not even talk about the chaos in my mind as I try to think about what he’s going to say.
“I want you happy, Kimber. If that means you seeing how things go with Cowboy, by all means please don’t leave because you’re worried that I’ll hate you both for it.” He turns to look at me as he talks and I can’t stand this. He’s making me crazy.
“No, let me finish. I’m sorry my life has caused you more heartache. Hell, my heart hurts too here. You deserve what I finally have and I can’t give that to you.” He pauses and turns to sit in the Jeep facing forward.
“Cowboy cares about you. I can see that when he talks about you. I just want you to know if that’s something you want to test out, you have my support.”
“Luke, I don’t need your support. Just like you don’t need mine. You don’t need me there in the background to worry about. You have the love of your life back and a baby on the way. You get to be there for your baby.” My eyes swell with tears even though I’ve tried to hold inside my pain about losing my baby.
“You will be there for yours one day, Kimber. Do you know how many times I’ve wished I was just ten minutes quicker getting to you that night?” I can hear the struggle in his voice as he starts to relive the night we met.
“It’s not your fault.” I can’t have him feeling guilty for that night.
“And it’s not yours. Just like neither of us can help how my past came back to change things.” I let his words sink in and see that I’m still in the same mindset I was in a few days ago. I have to separate myself from him, so we can both move on from this.
“I’m going to New York City like I told you. I promise to check in once I get situated.” He looks down at his hands and I begin to tell this man goodbye. “Luke. I’ll always have a place for you in my heart and because of that, I could never interfere with the life you deserve. Lilly is an amazing woman who loved you enough to keep you safe when her life was in danger. That right there lets me know you two are meant to be together. You will have the most gorgeous baby and will make a great father.” I swallow hard to finish. “You’ll get the band back together and do amazing things. Let me find me. I promise, I’ll be your number one fan in the background, but I can’t do that if I’m still hurting for what could’ve been.”
“I can respect that, but I need to know you’re ok. I need to you to answer my damn calls if I call.”
“I can do that. Now will you let me go? Go back home to Lilly, let me figure out where my home is.” He opens his door, walks around the front of my Jeep and opens mine. He holds out his arms, waiting for a hug and tears start to fall from my eyes again. Fuck. He wraps his arms around me and I listen to him talk while he holds me tight against his chest.
“This isn’t goodbye. If you need anything from me, call. I’ll have a fucking army there before you can blink.” I hear him and know instantly that he’s not exaggerating. They’d be there in full force if I ever gave a hint that I needed help. “Please drive safe. And for fuck’s sake. Let me know when you get there.”
“I will. I promise.” He holds me a few more seconds and the silence is deafening. My heart is pounding so hard as I push away, knowing I’m about to drive away from every ounce of support I have left in my life. The two men here with me tonight are both such strong personalities and both have taught me more about me than I could’ve ever imagined.
I take the step back and close the door. He stands in the same spot until I drive away. I don’t let myself look in the mirror, I refuse to let myself look back and it’s time I start living by that.
She left three weeks ago and I can’t stand the way I’ve felt since that day. I think about that night every day and wish I would’ve done more than just hold her that night. I should’ve told her how I feel, but I knew she was dealing with her own feelings.
I stop the diesel pump and place the nozzle back just when a Jeep full of women pull up next to me. They’re all looking at me and I have no desire to even give them a second look. “Why you so sad, Cowboy? Come over here and we’ll take care of you.”
I slam my truck door and start the engine again. They can’t get me out of this funk. There’s only one woman who can touch this.
I take my phone out and scroll to her name and almost call her, but I move to Holden’s name instead.
Aiden: I need a few days off.
Holden: Everything alright?
Aiden: Yep. I’m headed to NYC.
Holden: Shit. Well, tell her we said hello.
Aiden: WIll do.
Holden: Do you know where to go?
Aiden: Luke told me where to find her.
I turn right on the highway with nothing but my truck and a full tank of gas. If I need clothes, I’ll just have to buy them. I just need to see her and I can’t think of a better time than right now. I’ve barely been able to concentrate since she left.
I turn up my stereo and drive like a bat out of hell thinking about her. I’d love more than anything to get there and convince her to come back with me, but I’ll take the fact that she now lives in New York. I’m not afraid to make trips to see her. Hell, I just need to get us to the point where I can fucking call her and know she’ll actually answer.
I’ve been writing songs in every bit of my spare time since she left. I can’t help it. My fucking heart is chaos and it’s a way for me to say what I need to say when my hillbilly mouth can’t seem to say the right shit.
Talon heard me one day with my guitar and made me go the recording studio for a few hours. It was easy. My emotions were raw and real, so it was a great time to get me in there. We nailed one of the songs and he made me promise to come back for another round soon. I figure once I get this trip out of my system, I can go back in there with a clear head and do even better.
I’ve had the shittiest three weeks. I’ve also been on a few jobs that make me want to rethink my own path. What started out as a fun job working with all my friends on the road has now turned into dealing with a bunch of assholes and bitches who can’t even listen to the simplest instructions on how to keep themselves safe.
I touch my cheek where I took the hit tonight. Cock sucker was trying to hit one of the singers we were protecting. Truth is, he deserved it. I know he was fuckin’ that guy’s girl right before the show, because I had to stand watch while he did it. Hell, I had no idea she was taken, and who knows if he did either. What I did know is the second the pissed off fan hit my jaw, I was going to lay his ass out, then I was leaving the concert scene for awhile. It’s funny that the instant I decided to leave, I knew I was headed to New York.
I’m not even sure what my country ass is doing driving there, but it feels right.
Luke told me she has a big meeting with some big fighter prospect at a place called Grimaldi’s tomorrow night. If I drive all night, maybe I’ll make it in time to see her before she goes in.
It’s been three weeks since I started my Jeep and took off on my road trip that brought me here tonight. I’ve talked to Luke a few times, but I haven’t heard from Aiden. There have been many days that I’ve considered getting back in the Jeep and driving for days again just to spend some time with him. Or even calling him just to see if a late night phone conversation could make me smile again. When something happens, I wish I could call him and tell him, but I don’t.
Like tonight, I’m meeting a male fighter who heard I was in the area. He wants to pick my brain about bringing a few of the West Coast fighters to this area for some prime events. I take a cab just to make it easier and get there a few minutes early. I’m trying to remember how my father would treat a fighter, minus the part where he would make me work them from another angle. That is out. I’ll never date another fighter in my life for any reason, but I refuse to ever mix business with pleasure.
If this goes as well as I hope it does, it could mean a huge change for the few girls I’ve been working with. Of course, any deal I make will have them as an encore to the main events, and maybe one day my girls can do even better than that.
I walk slowly because my heels and this dress have me feeling a little off tonight. I think my gym time these past few days has changed my build and now this dress fits differently.
I give it one last pull on the hem, trying to cover my ass, then run my hands over my hair before I enter the door.
I get us a table by the front window and fidget with a menu until he arrives. He walks in with confidence and a walk that reminds me of Greg. I’m glad my years of working with pricks may come into play tonight.
I stand to greet him with a handshake only to have him open his arms and give me a hug. His hand slides down my back and he grips my ass before he pulls away. I internally struggle with how to handle that move, but he quickly sits down and starts talking.
“I’m anxious to get this started. I can see great success on this if we can manage to get a venue that doesn’t cost out the ass.” He places his napkin in his lap and I slowly sit to listen to him.
“I have ten up and coming male fighters that will be in the professional rink soon. I can tell by their drive. Plus, I’m their PR guy, so I’ll make sure of it.” The waiter comes up to the table and he stops talking long enough to order us both drinks and a pizza. I hate when a guy orders for me.
He starts talking again and I quickly decide that I’m not ready to deal with another asshole in my life. I love working with the fighters I have and if for some reason a male fighter comes along that is humble and wants to learn, I’ll be happy to work with him and hell, probably send him to Lou to get his training. But I’m in no way ready to deal with this shit on the daily.
He talks for what feels like an hour and I just listen. Every sentence validates my decision and I struggle dealing with his voice at this point.
I take a drink and set my arm on the table. He reaches across and grabs my hand, sending an instant spark of anger through my body. Who does he think he is? Better yet, who does he think I am? I rip my hand from his and stand to leave.
“This isn’t going to work out for me. Good luck, Mr. Peterson. I know you’ll do well, but I’m not playing games with you. If you ever want to truly talk business, then give me a call.” I lower my dress again then, work my way through the tables before I leave one hundred dollars with the hostess to pay for our dinner. I won’t put myself in a position where I owe anyone anything.
I step outside on the busy street and try to take a deep breath of fresh air. It’s not there. I’m in a big city again and I never ever realized that I missed that about Missouri. I start walking away from the front window just to escape any chance of him trying to stop me. Luckily, he doesn’t come out of the building while I’m watching behind me every few steps I take.
I hear music coming from a building ahead, so I follow the noise hoping to find a place to think about what happened tonight. As I get closer, the song ends and before I can get to the door, I hear the sound of an acoustic guitar begin to play.
The guy at the front door waves me through quickly and I step in about five feet before I come to a slamming halt. It’s Aiden. He’s the one playing guitar and he’s sitting on a stool on stage behind a mic. I look to the right of the stage and there’s a big sign that says ‘Amateur Night.’
He begins to sing and I can’t move a muscle.
“I hope you got your memories. That you can’t drown away. I pray that you're lonely... and it’s a hurt you can't escape.” I move closer as his voice quiets the bar and speaks directly to my heart.
“I hope your face is soaked with tears... and you can barely sleep. Cause’ if your heart ain't aching like mine, then it ain't mine to keep. So take it back. You can have it if you want it, the thing is full of cracks. Find you somebody else that can fix it. Get your life on track. Cause I'm steppin’ back.” Is this song about me? I sit in a chair at the back of the bar and watch him as he looks down the whole time he sings. I can feel every word he’s saying and I want to stop him and tell him I’m here, but I don’t dare interrupt what I’m hearing. I can’t believe he’s in New York. He starts the chorus and tears begin to slide down my face. I told myself I’d never cry over a guy again and here I am doing just that.
“Just so you know. It ain't easy lettin’ go. You're movin’ on and I'm hangin’ on to hope. My head keeps spinnin’ all the time. I can't drink you off my mind. And every word I ever said has got me choked. This is my grave. And here I lay.” I fight the urge to run to him and hold him. I’ve missed him like crazy and even though I tell myself I barely know him; I find myself fighting to know more. This song is killing me.