I twisted my hands in my lap and stared at the white wall in front of me. I never would have thought I’d be here. Not in a lifetime did I think I’d be one of ‘those’ people. Sitting in a sterile room, the nausea closed in on me as quickly as the tears fell down my face.
“Haven, can you tell me how long it’s been?” The plump woman in front of me asked, pushing her oversized glasses back up her nose.
“Um, well, about six weeks I think,” I answered hollowly, fighting back against the urge to drop my shoulders and hang my head.
“Not long then. I commend you for doing this. It takes a lot of guts to do what you’ve done. Not everyone can see through the denial and admit they can’t do it alone.” Her soft, supposedly calming voice felt like a judgement, no matter how many times I told myself it wasn’t. I cringed at my paranoia and shifted in my seat.
He asked me to do this. I have to do this. I can’t let him down. I can’t be a failure at this too.
I reminded myself, for what I was sure was the hundredth time since I rolled out of bed that morning; I was doing this for Jude. For me… it was what was best for me. I nodded at my silent pep talk and focused back on the woman talking and gesturing with her hands.
“So, I’ll see you back here for your next appointment and we’ll get that course of action started,” she finished up.
Robotically, I stood, shook her hand and wandered out of the building to my car. I started it but just sat. I focused on calming my unsteady hands and the cold sweat broken out on my skin. Two months have passed since I saw Jude. Two months and I was still broken. In fact, I was so far past humpty-dumpty that I was damn sure there would never be hope for me being put back together again.
Once I gained control of myself, I drove over to the other side of town, purposely going the long way so I wouldn’t have to pass his garage. Jude made himself very clear when we stopped fooling around, and while I wanted to be in his life in any aspect, it hurt less to cut all ties. At least, I thought it did… until I started to slip again. I felt it coming, the waves of want crashing over me. The cold rush through my bloodstream and the screaming powerlessness at the craving.
No matter how much time went gone by, I still wanted him—no needed him. The air was staler than it used to be, a bitter reminder of what I’d lost. Just the thought of seeing him made every suppressed emotion rush to the surface and crash over me like the high tide of the ocean current.
Saliva rushed into my mouth and the tangy taste that always hit me once I’d gotten what I needed flooded my taste buds. My heart picked up speed and my eyes slid closed as I pulled my car over to the side of the road. It was a feeling only somebody with my history would understand.
I took several long deep breaths in and out, holding onto the steering wheel with a white knuckled grip until it passed. A loud knock at the window had me jumping out of my skin. My hand went to my mouth and a startled noise came from my throat before I realized who it was.
“What the hell is wrong with you?” I grouched at Trip when I wound the window down. “You can’t go around scaring people like that. You’ll get shived or some shit.”
Trip didn’t say a word, just stood there looking at my face with suspicion. His eyes seared through me while his mouth sat in a hard, straight line, made more serious by the twin snakebite piercings in his lips. Finally, he spoke, although harshly. “The fucking hell, Haven.” His sharp tone startling, it was my turn to stare openmouthed. I quickly registered that I was sitting in my car on the side of the road a few meters from my sister-in-law Scarlett’s tattoo parlor, where Trip, my second eldest brother worked. I hadn’t even realized I’d gotten that close. In fact, I was a little relieved I hadn’t ended up all the way there before that particular episode had hit me. It would have lead to a series of questions I didn’t want to answer.
“Sorry, I umm. I… Why are you at my window?” My defenses kicked in and I played it cool trying to turn the tables on him so he’d be less suspicious. “You often go around scaring women?” I forced a fake laugh. I’d practiced that laugh a lot over the years. I knew I had it honed to a fine art.
“Why’re you sitting in your car? Here?” he asked, crossing his tattooed arms over his chest. My youngest big brother could look menacing when he wanted to, and at that moment, he had the big-brother stance perfected. “What’s wrong, Haven?” His brow furrowed and he scanned my face looking for signs of emotion. I quickly pulled up my walls and schooled my features into indifference.