Their Protector: An MC Outlaw Halloween Romance, page 126
“This kind of life just isn’t very fun when you have someone you love,” he said.
I looked at him, wondering if he was going to ask for more agonizing details about Sadie and me, but of course his focus was still on himself. Or maybe he shifted it back there, so as not to make me uncomfortable.
“Before I met Lacey, this is all I wanted to do. But it’s lost its luster. I don’t want to be with any of these girls, I don’t even want to look at them. I actually miss Lacey and our little man, can you believe it?”
“Yes,” I told him. “But don’t worry, I won’t call you a pussy like you just called me.”
We laughed, and I clapped him on the back to show him I was just kidding. I was sincerely happy for him, and I’m sure if I had a baby, I’d miss him too.
After that, we requested a Lyft and we both left. I wasn’t in the mood to party and obviously neither was Hanson.
When I got home, I changed into comfortable clothes. I decided I was in need of a good old fashioned read, rather than some stupid Internet thread full of bad news, or people fighting over what the bad news meant.
I found a book, a legal thriller, and sat down in my living room. I paged to where I’d left my bookmark. I read the same page four times without taking anything in. I closed the book and sighed. I leaned my head back against the couch and closed my eyes.
Sadie was on my mind. Her face flashed before me, and she was as beautiful as ever. Her gray eyes were unique, her smile curled in a delicate face, a face that I’d known for so long I couldn’t forget about her, even if I wanted to.
When we were at Blue Collar and she’d told me about the memory, it had been the first time that I’d hoped again. I had given up until then, but the way she’d looked at me when she’d told me about it awoke something in me.
And she had said that that wasn’t the first time, although it had been the one that stuck so far. If it happened before, it could happen again. More memories could come back, and they could last for real. This could actually be something.
I couldn’t stop ruminating about the fact that she’d also said that she’d forgotten the previous memories. What if something like that happened again? What if she remembered me to a point where I became something in her life again, only for her to forget me again?
I didn’t think I would be able to deal with that a second time. When she’d told me she couldn’t do this, after brunch, I should have listened. Maybe I couldn’t do it, either. My lingering doubts were one reason I hadn’t told Hanson just how deep things had gotten between Sadie and me. I didn’t want to look like a fool if everything fell apart again soon.
Logically, I knew I should leave it in the past. But her eyes, her face, when she’d told me, had looked the way she’d always looked when we were kids. The old Sadie had peeked through at me. The girl I’d fallen in love with back then wasn’t gone. I had the feeling she was hiding behind a curtain that had been drawn, and no one knew that it was all still there. Somewhere. So, emotionally, I couldn’t do what I knew I should.
Was it just wishful thinking that she could remember me now or at least not forget me again? Maybe. The doctor had told me that her memories might never return. It might not be hiding. Maybe it was just all gone, never to be found again. If that was the case, I was fine with it. I didn’t need her to remember me although that would sure be nice. What I needed, though, was for her to not forget me again.
But she was remembering things now. Something was still in there. Something she could access.
I shook my head, trying to get my thoughts straight. This woman was everywhere my mind wandered. I couldn’t think about anything else, and no matter how many times I told myself that it would be better to walk away, I knew that there was no way that I could.
The only reason I had done it the first time was because she’d asked me to. If that was what she wanted, that was what I would give her. But she had texted me to ask for dinner. I hadn’t pursued her. It had been all her.
That was something, right?
I picked up my phone and opened the texts from her again. I used to read over everything she had ever written or typed to me when we were kids, too. I was a romantic sap, hopelessly in love. Was I playing with fire?
I looked at the time. It was ten already. Quite late to be texting, but I couldn’t just leave it. A part of me figured I should have left it all alone. A bigger part urged me to tap on the screen, and a text took shape.
Do you want to have a drink with me tomorrow? Just to get to know each other.
I hit send, and my stomach was suddenly tight with nerves. What if she said no? What if it had all been just to figure out what she was thinking? But I couldn’t do this to myself.
I would wait until the morning for her reply. It might be too late now. Then, I would know. A whole night of waiting wasn’t as long as I’d waited for her until now, but it could be just as torturous.
My phoned beeped a moment later.
I’d love that. Time and place?
I smiled and replied. It was happening. She wanted to see me again.
The part of me that still had hope was glad it had won out. And I added even more hope to it— the hope that Sadie and I could have everything we used to have. It was beyond great, and even if she couldn’t remember it, I wanted to give it to her again.
I was excited and nervous to go out with him. This was a date. It wasn’t like the dinner the other night, which I had asked for to discuss what I wanted to do. This was just about spending time together, getting to know each other.
It felt like I had met someone new, and we were starting from scratch. Being with him wasn’t like being with someone new, though. It was comfortable, like flannel pajamas that had been worn so much the material was soft like the skin of a rose. I knew nothing about him, other than what went on in his professional football life, but being with him felt like coming home.
I had dressed up a little. Not much, because we were just meeting at a bar, but I had put on black pants, a blue blouse that everyone always told me made my eyes stand out, and I’d blown out my hair and brushed it until it was soft as silk.
Smokey makeup and subtle jewelry completed the look. I hadn’t dressed up and gone on a date for the longest time. There was once, just after I’d told Brian goodbye, that I’d thought I should try again.
It hadn’t worked. There was nothing more to say about that.
When Brian arrived, he looked great. He wore jeans that were faded and hung off his hips like he was doing them a favor. He wore a black, collared shirt with short sleeves and black shoes to go with it. He looked suave and confident.
When he saw me, a smile spread over his face, the kind of smile that made me feel like it was just for me.
He walked to me and kissed me on the cheek.
“You look even more beautiful than you always do,” he said.
I blushed. He led me to the bar, and we ordered drinks. When he paid and we both sipped our drinks, he looked at me.
“So, tell me about you,” he said. “What did you do after school?”
He was asking me like I was a stranger to him, someone intriguing that he wanted to get to know. It made me feel at ease. I had nothing to prove if he was getting to know me from scratch. I had no past reputation that I didn’t know about to live up to.
“Well,” I said. “I studied for a degree in business management because I didn’t know what I wanted to do with my life. It seemed safe.”
“When I started looking for jobs in that direction, I realized I didn’t like it. It’s still good to have a degree, of course, but I added onto that with a certificate in sports management and started coaching. That’s what I’ve loved from the start. Cheerleading.”
Brian nodded. I knew he knew that about me, but he didn’t once tell me that he knew, that it was old news.
“What about you?” I asked. “Aside from football, what hobbi
He thought about it for a moment.
“To be honest, I’ve been drowning myself in football. It’s a grueling schedule that we follow. But I like taking a timeout now and then, reading or drawing, that kind of thing. And going out to the theatre.”
I raised my eyebrows. A big, hot football player with refined taste? He was getting better and better.
We spent the night talking, getting to know each other. He asked me questions about my life since the accident without ever talking about it directly. Because he made such an effort to get to know me from scratch, I was scared to ask him things about him that I probably knew before. I was getting to know this guy, a stranger, and he indulged me, telling me everything I wanted to know.
He had two brothers that studied abroad, and he barely saw them. He was close with his mom. His dad passed away in our senior year. His life had been just like mine, hard and easy, and great and terrible, all at the same time.
When he asked me about my parents, it was timidly, as if he was hoping they weren’t mad at him. I assured him that they’re weren’t. I hadn’t told them I was seeing him because my mom would get her hopes up so much. She always wanted Brian and me to get back together, although she said she understand how that could feel difficult.
Brian and I were so alike in a lot of ways. I realized why I had been with him for so long, even though I couldn’t remember it. If he was anything like he was now, before, I would have fallen for him without thinking about it.
I felt myself falling for him now.
And I was terrified. When you lose your memories once, you’re terrified of losing them again. Or at least, I was. I didn’t want to forget Brian again. If I had known what I’d forgotten the first time, it was no wonder I was so angry all the time. I had lost the best thing that had ever happened to me, and I didn’t even know about it.
A part of me wanted to be able to fall into his arms. But a part of me held back, and that was the part I would listen to. Since the accident, I had been cautious, and I needed to stay that way. I had to guard my heart.
But Brian made it very easy for me to believe that I could fall for him and I would still be safe. Something about him made me feel different, the same way I’d felt when I’d seen him at the training center the first time.
I didn’t know what I was feeling, but I knew that I wanted more of it.
It was getting late, and the time came to decide if we were going to end it here or take it somewhere else. I didn’t want to say goodbye. I didn’t want to go home yet.
“I don’t mean to be forward,” Brian said when it got late. “But do you want to come to my place? No pressure.” He held up his hands up, palms toward me, harmless. “For a nightcap.”
How could I resist his sparkling eyes? His charming style.
He knew what he was asking of me.
We both knew it was a big step. He was pushing his luck. And me? I was going to close my eyes and jump.
I nodded and smiled at Brian letting him know I was on board. He smiled, too, looking relieved. Maybe he’d thought I would say no. Maybe I should have said no, but lately, everything with Brian felt right. I was calm about it. I wasn’t freaking out.
I had spent so much of the last couple of years freaking out, it was a new sensation.
Brian called a cab, and we got in. He hadn’t driven because we’d both been drinking. I sat in the cab, looking out at the city sliding by, the passing lights illuminating the interior of the car at intervals.
We drove across the bay and toward North Beach where we entered a rich neighborhood. When the cab stopped and we got out, I looked up at two tall gates, wrought iron, beautiful.
The gates opened slowly, and we walked through. I teetered on my high heels, the alcohol throwing me a little off balance. I felt light and airy, the alcohol buzzing in my veins. Every nerve ending felt alive, and I hadn’t felt this in tune with myself in a long time.
I stopped when we neared the house. “Mansion” was a better word. The house was colossal, beautiful, with lights against the walls and in the plants that lit up the place like it belonged on the cover of a magazine. We walked to the giant front door, and Brian pushed it open.
“You live here?” I asked, walking first into the foyer. It was all white marble flooring with gray veins, the walls painted a very light gray to match, and a staircase spiraled up against the curved wall.
“Yeah,” Brian said. “This is home.”
He gestured toward the left, and I walked through to a living room that was modern and classic, all at the same time. White leather couches with red throw pillows creating splashes of color, paintings of women in Latin-style dresses dancing or posing, a fireplace almost as tall as I was.
“It’s beautiful,” I said.
Brian walked toward the wet bar in the corner.
“What do you want to drink?” he asked.
I sat down on one of the couches, facing him.
“I don’t know,” I said. “Surprise me.”
He nodded and reached for a glass. I looked around.
“You’ve done really well for yourself,” I said. “You’re living your dream.”
Brian snapped his head up. “You remember that?” he asked.
I thought about it, realized I did, and nodded.
A grin spread across his face, and it was beautiful, like the sun rising, lighting up his features.
He brought me the drink he’d prepared, a Cosmopolitan, complete with the martini glass.
“Classy,” I said.
He sat down next to me. I sipped the alcohol. He sat close enough that the cushion dipped a little beneath me, but not so close that he was invading my personal space. It was generous of him. He seemed to understand that I struggled with personal space sometimes. Of course, he knew me. I had to keep remembering that.
Another memory came out of nowhere. It was simple and straightforward. A movie, cars on the screen, and Brian next to me just like he was now. His hand wrapped around mine, fingers intertwined.
He’d turned his head and smiled at me, the lighting of the movie blue on his face.
He looked at me now, and it was the same look. Adoration? Or something similar.
“Did we watch Fast Five?” I asked.
Brian’s eyes widened a little. “Yeah.”
I nodded, looking down at my drink. “I remember,” I whispered.
The atmosphere changed. It charged with something that was familiar and foreign, all at the same time. When I looked at him, his eyes were on me, full of promise. They flicked to my lips before going back to my eyes. I knew what he was thinking.
“I remember that, too,” I said.
“What?” he asked.
I leaned forward slowly, almost scared to lean into him in case he pulled away. I had been doing the rejecting for so long, I wasn’t sure I would be able to handle it.
He did the rest. He took the lead, the way I somehow knew Brian would, and closed the distance between us. His hand slid onto my cheek, his finger warm and calloused on my skin. His eyes searched mine for just a second before he kissed me.
When his lips touched mine, electricity danced on my skin, and it took my breath away. Somewhere at the back of my mind, it was achingly familiar, but I stopped trying to remember. I stopped holding onto the past and just let it go. This was happening now. Here. This was all that mattered.
I sighed against his lips. He drew his tongue along my bottom lip, and I opened my mouth for him, letting him in. The alcohol made me brave. He kissed me, his tongue exploring my mouth, and he tasted like whiskey and something different, something I knew.
Heat washed through my body and pooled between my legs, making me wet. I wanted him. So help me, I wanted him. I was getting hot for him, my nipples erect, my core tightening. I put my arms around Brian’s neck, and the kissing changed from careful to urgent.
He pulled me closer, pressing his body up again
As if Brian knew, he reached down and pulled up my shirt. I stopped kissing him and lifted my arms like a child so he could undress me. My heart hammered against my chest as he dropped the shirt on the floor, and I sat in front of him in my bra. I was scared, but I wanted him. I wanted Brian to claim me. Not only did I want him physically, but I also wanted to belong to him again.
“Are you okay with this?” he asked, and it meant everything to me that he did. I nodded.
He kissed me again. I did the same he did for me, pulling his shirt up and pulling it over his head. When he was topless, he reached behind my back and unclasped my bra, peeling it off my shoulders. I sat in front of him, my nipples erect in the chill of the room.
His eyes trailed down to them, and he looked at me, admiring me, as if he was committing the image of me to memory. Maybe he was. The idea of a memory had become very rare and precious to me.
When he touched me again, it was gentle and eager, all at the same time. He pulled me against him so my breasts were against his chest. I gasped. He guided me backward so I lay on my back on the couch. His hand kneaded my breast again before he moved down my stomach, tracing a circle around my belly button and headed toward my pants. He undid my pants and pushed his hand into my panties.
When his fingers dipped into my slit and he found my wetness, he groaned.
“God, you’re so ready for me,” he said in a voice that sounded like a growl filled with lust.
I swallowed and nodded. I was.
He ran his fingers over my clit, and I shuddered. I hadn’t been with anyone since the accident. It had been hard enough without getting so close to someone. And his fingers felt so much better on my clit than my own did.