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I'll be posting installments every day until the end. I don't know how many days that will be because I am still writing this story. You can read it or not, share it or not, like it or not. It's up to you. Unlike me, you have a choice. I can't not write it.
As You Were
Copyright © 2013 by Melissa Lummis
Without limiting the rights under copyright reserved above, no part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in or introduced into a retrieval system, or transmitted, in any form, or by any means (electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording, or otherwise) without the prior written permission of the above author of this book.
This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, brands, media, and incidents are either the product of the author's imagination or are used fictitiously. The author acknowledges the trademarked status and trademark owners of various products referenced in this work of fiction, which have been used without permission. The publication/use of these trademarks is not authorized, associated with, or sponsored by the trademark owners.
I rested a hand on his chest and he turned to look at me in surprise. “Despite my exceedingly bad behavior, I’m glad you came.” I struggled not to cry, swallowing the tears with determination, despite the way the deck seemed to rock beneath. “I’m glad you told me.”
Erik’s face faltered between a smile and something painful. He lifted his hand to cover mine, and I was surprised to feel it tremble. “I mean it, Anne. I’ve always loved you. I was just too stupid to understand what I was feeling. After my mom left,” he cleared his throat, “I thought I’d stopped feeling, anything, but that wasn’t true. I can’t explain it because I really don’t understand it, but I somehow disengaged, distanced myself.”
“Kind of like how some people deal with pain,” I murmured.
We stared at each other for a long moment. The ceaseless crash of waves and the jingle and buzz of the far away boardwalk filling the silence. There were times in the past when Erik and I hadn’t talked for days, times when I wondered if I’d said or done something he didn’t like, but we’d never gone an entire year before. This past year had been full of confusing things: Jack’s betrayal, my own insecurities, how I’d turned my back on Gena. But the most confusing of all was why, after the initial phone call post-Gena incident, I hadn’t picked up the phone to call Erik. Or why he hadn’t called me.
“So what now?” I asked.
Erik dropped his chin to his chest. “I don’t know.”
I half-laughed, and then covered my mouth and swallowed a burp. “Ugh. I drank a lot.”
Erik brushed a stray strand of hair out of my eye. “Yeah. Let’s get you the Erik Hangover Miracle Cure and then tuck you in bed.”
I grabbed his hand, woozy panic filling my belly. “You’re not going to leave, are you? I’m sorry I was a jerk. I guess I’m still drunk but that’s not an excuse, although it makes sense…the crying…the laughing, the freakin’ mood swings from hell.”
I heard myself babbling but I couldn’t stop. Despite the rollercoaster of emotions, or maybe because of them, Erik’s presence was a comfort. Didn’t make sense to me, but I didn’t make sense to me often. Erik being here had opened up a lot of old baggage, and I’d certainly thrown our past around in my head and heart, made quite a mess.
“I’m not sure…“ Erik looked pain. He glanced toward the doorway, running his hand over his crew cut. “Uh,” he chuckled. “It’s not a good idea.”
I held out my hand. “The 7-11 is two blocks away, on the corner.” I didn’t think it was a good idea either, but the thought of him leaving and maybe never seeing him again made my stomach flip.
Erik nodded, took my hand, and led me through the suite and out of the house. We walked in silence, the first block dark, dotted with moonlight and the occasional light from a balcony. Laughter and music drifted with the wind blowing through the tree tops. For the 4th of July, there weren’t a lot of parties going on, but then again, Sylvie’s grandparents probably picked a quieter neighborhood.
I squinted at the bright street lights over the main road. If Erik left now, would I see him tomorrow? Or later today. I fished for my cell phone, but it wasn’t in any of my pockets. I huffed. Who cared what time it was? What did it matter? Erik was leaving and—
He squeezed my hand. “Hey. Earth to Annie. What’s going on in that head of yours?
“You’re not going to believe what Meredith did!”
End of Chapter 6
Continued in Installment 18...