Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Chapter 124-What Now?

I knocked lightly on the door before entering Ceula’s hospital room. Ashley was sitting on the bed telling her mother about her day at school and Trey sat beside the bed holding Ceula’s hand. Their family, our family, was complete again. It had been three days since we’d gotten her back. She didn’t remember a lot of what happened just that she’d been taken after she dropped Ashley off from school. Marisol apparently had kept her compelled most of the time because she said her memory was fuzzy on a lot of things. She was extremely dehydrated, had low iron, and of course blood loss, the only bright spot, if you could call it that, was that those newbies of Marisol didn’t use Ceula for anything more than a feeding source.

“Hey Grammy,” Ashley said smiling at me.

“Hi sweetheart,” I replied walking over to give both her and Ceula kisses.

Trey got up to bring a second chair over. “They’re releasing her tomorrow,” he informed me.

“Yes and I’m ready to go home and sleep in my own bed.”

On the surface Ceula seemed to be recovering okay, but I still worried. Ashley had stayed nights with us because Trey didn’t want to leave her side. He’d told me she’d been having nightmares, but when she’d wake she’d have forgotten them that quickly. That was troubling news to hear. Carter was going to run more tests on her. He’d already done a CT that showed nothing. He suspected that whatever was causing her nightmares then instant memory loss was related to her time with Marisol. Considering Mulo had already messed with her head before, anything Marisol could have done might have conflicted and caused some damage we couldn’t see. We were all nervous about her memories of David coming back. Marcus regained his memories of his previous life and he wasn’t compromised like she is now. I was supposed to protect her and I failed. For a second time, I allowed her to fall into the hands of a monster.

“I’m sure the hospital is ready to kick you out to stop the constant flow of visitors to your room,” I joked, pushing away those upsetting thoughts. She gave me a weak smile in return.

All of the family had converged on the hospital once Mulo and I returned. Since then, there was someone here, other than Trey, every day. I leaned forward to smooth her bangs to the side. She was looking better. There were still dark circles under her eyes and bruising showing on her face and around her neck from the repeated biting. Her arms were the same way and it broke my heart to see her like that. It reminded me of finding her after David had worked her over so badly. The anger I had at Marisol for putting her through this made me wish I could kill her all over again. She needed to suffer, to know the pain and terror she’d inflicted on me and my children. Knowing that Ceula still had a long road to recovery made me think Marisol got off to easy by me killing her so quickly.

I stayed and talked to them for a while longer until the nurse walked in with her discharge papers.

“I love you kiddo.”

“Love you too Mom,” she replied, hugging me tighter. “And none of this is your fault,” she whispered in my ear. I pulled back and looked at her. “I know you’re blaming yourself, but you shouldn’t.”

“She’s right,” Trey said. “I know I said some pretty mean things to you and I apologize for that. I was just so angry and scared…”

“Wait, you said mean things to my mom?” Ceula cut in.

“Ooh, Daddy’s in trouble,” Ashley giggled.

“No, he didn’t,” I answered. “He just needed to vent his frustrations,” I smiled over at my son-in-law.

I hated to think anything good came from Marisol’s time in my life, but I doubted I’d have the family I had now if not for her interference. Through all the horrible I’d endured, I was thankful for each of the children I had surrounding me.

When I walked into the house, I heard Finley and Marcus talking in the living room. I still had no idea where things stood with us. With Ceula being home, our focus had been on her. Making sure she was alright and helping to take care of Ashley. Marcus had been by my side being the great guy he always was, at least when people were around. At night, after everyone was in bed, he’d spend hours working out or be locked away in his office. I’d go to sleep alone and wake up alone.

“Thanks Daddy!” I heard Finley say excitedly before she darted up the stairs just as I was heading into the foyer.

I walked into the living room and saw Marcus cuddling with Gracie. “What was that all about?”

“She wanted to use the beach house to host her graduation party. Since it’s vacant right now I told her that was fine.”

“Oh.” In a few weeks, Finley would be graduating and then preparing to move cross country for school. That idea still saddened me, but I couldn’t hold her back. She was growing up and it was my job to support her no matter how scared I was to let her go.

“How’s Ceula?”

“Good,” I replied walking over to get Graham. “She was being discharged when I left.”

“That’s good,” he replied before heading upstairs.

The rest of the day was much like the others. We talked about things that only concerned the kids. Ceula called once she got home. Before dinner, Marcus and I went over to take her some food so she wouldn’t have to worry about cooking. We didn’t stay long because we didn’t want Finley too overwhelmed with the babies. After dinner we got the babies down for the night and Marcus headed downstairs.

I drew myself a bath and thought about how I wanted to broach the subject we’d been avoiding the last few days. Of all the visitors Ceula had gotten, Mulo hadn’t been one of them. He’d sent flowers and a teddy bear for Ashley, but I’d not seen or heard from him since he’d dropped us off at the hospital. Relaxing back in the tub, I tried to let the soothing lavender scent and warm water wash away my worries. My fingers traced the outline of my lips as I remembered the kiss we’d shared on his balcony.

Was that his way of saying goodbye? We’d talked about him leaving, giving me the space I needed for the sake of my marriage, but at times he’d been intent on fighting it. Mulo had finally become the man I’d wanted him to be years ago. Finally he seemed ready to commit, to put my needs ahead of his own for once. But it was too late. He knew that. That’s all that kiss was, his goodbye. It had to be. With everything going on I couldn’t ask him why.

“No! I don’t need the why. I can’t keep thinking about the what-ifs,” I said scolding myself for my wandering thoughts. I loved Mulo, there was no denying that, but I belonged with Marcus.

Pulling the drain on the tub, I stepped out and dressed quickly. Just like I couldn’t dwell on the what-ifs, I couldn’t keep living in the unknown. I loved Marcus and I knew I’d pushed his limits, but a part of me still believed or at least hoped there was still a way for us.

Marcus was sitting at his computer; pictures of houses were on the screen. “Are we moving?”

He exited out of the browser before turning to face me. “Just me.” His voice was devoid of any emotion like when we talked on the phone.

It was unsettling, how unnaturally calm he was these days. I missed the anger, at least then I knew he cared, that he was still invested, but now…it was like he’d checked out. A lump formed in my throat at that thought and I felt the sting in my eyes as I fought back the tears.

“We…were you going to tell me or…” my voice cracked as my emotions got the better of me.

Marcus got up from the chair and I hoped it was to comfort me, but instead he stood there, crossing his arms, unaffected. “Maybe we should talk about this later,” he said. He tried to keep that same calmness, but I detected a hint of waiver in his voice.

“When later?” I screamed at him. “Every conversation we’ve had since I got back as been superficial. So when, when will we have time to talk about you leaving me Marcus? On your way out the door?”

His jaw clenched as he fought to not be affected by my words. I could see he was still trying to remain detached to sever his feelings. He didn’t get to do it that way. I wasn’t perfect, in fact I was well aware of how much I’d fucked up, but I never imagined he’d make plans to leave me in such a way. To keep secrets and make plans without at least talking to me. I couldn’t believe he’d blindside me like this.

“You told me you’d wait. When I called you, you promised me you’d wait. I thought…I thought we’d talk, that we’d fix this but you’re running away!”

“There’s nothing to fix Amari!” he screamed back at me. “What in the hell do you expect from me? I’ve been understanding, and tried and tried to wrap my head around you and him but I can’t and I fucking shouldn’t have to!”

The tears I’d tried to hold in broke loose as I was faced with his anger and frustration. Those feelings that he’d been trying to bury were still there under the surface and I’d managed to release them. I could take his anger better than his indifference, but as I looked at him I saw more than that. I knew this thing with Mulo wasn’t easy on Marcus, that it pained him, but looking at him I saw just how deeply it cut.

“You’re right,” I said, my own anger draining from me leaving only heartbreak in its place. “I know I have no right to ask this of you, but there’s been so much. Always! Just one thing after the next and…I have done wrong. I admit that…I…please Marcus,” I begged hoping that the part of him that still loved me would hear my sincerity.

The frown on his face softened as he ran his hands through his hair. He looked at me and just started shaking his head. “For once I agree with you,” he said and I was hopeful that I’d gotten through to him until he continued. “You don’t have a right to ask anything else of me.”

The finality of those words ripped my heart out and set it ablaze. I drew in a stuttered breath, fighting to not let the despair consume me. This was really it, the end of my marriage. I thought about the babies and how that would work. Having to see him still but not be with him. A sob escaped at the thought. I wouldn’t be able to do it.

Marcus started for the door. “You lied,” I whispered.

He stopped and turned back. “What?”

“You lied to me,” I said louder this time, some of the anger from before returning now. I wasn’t willing to give up on us as easily as he was. He fought his way back into my life, refusing to give up even when I pushed him away. I wasn’t going to let him walk away so easily now.

“What did I ever lie to you about?” he snapped.

“Third time’s a charm, sound familiar? When you asked me to marry you, you shot down my fears, you promised me it would be different this time. That you were different and that you had no plans of leaving me or our family ever again. YOU LIED!” I screamed poking him in the chest.

Marcus stared down at me. His brows drawn together in a deep V. His nostrils flaring out as he took deep breaths, fighting to not be drawn back in to this argument.

“You are different Marcus, because the man I knew would never give up so easily!”

A smile tugged at his lips and the fact that he was smiling scared me more than anything.

“Easy? What part of this has been easy exactly?” he asked, his voice returning to that calm indifference from before. “The part where my wife spent two months with the person I hate most in this world? Or the part where she tells me that she still loves him despite all the shit he’s done to her and our family? Was that the easy part Amari? No? Well, let’s continue to see if we can get to the easy part.” He got angrier as he spoke. All the feelings he'd been trying to keep to himself came bubbling to the surface.

“It has to be the part where my wife tells me she was close to fucking that man, but she managed not to, but not because of the vows she made or anything logical like that. Nope, it’s because fucking Mulo knew how bad it would be on you if he let you cross that line! Have I gotten to the fucking easy part yet Amari?” he yelled. “I have put up with you loving that...that man since our first marriage. You even went so far as to make vows to him during our wedding! So easy? No Amari, loving you has been the hardest goddamned thing I've ever done.”

Each word he spoke shook me to my core. Each angry syllable was like a choke-hold strangling me making it hard to breath. I shrank back, feeling ashamed to be in his presence as he unleashed his well-deserved tirade upon me. My god I was a horrible person! How could I have honestly expected him to stay? I was a fool. A selfish, blind fool. I could finally see things through Marcus' eyes. I looked at the man in front of me. Angry and broken. I’d done that to him. He was a good man. He loved me, he'd been willing to stand by me no matter what and I took that for granted. Tears pooled in the bottom of his eyes and I rushed forward needing, wanting to do something, anything to make it better.

To right the wrongs I’d done to him, but he pushed me away. My apology stuck in my throat, not that I thought it’d make a difference at his point. Eveyone has their limits and Marcus was well past his.

“I’ll stay until after Finley graduates. That’ll give us time to figure out a schedule.” My crying made it hard to speak so I just nodded my understanding.
Continue Reading: "Chapter 124-What Now?"

Saturday, April 4, 2015

Chapter 123-Free At Last

“Hello Love.”

Mulo stood in the doorway waiting for me. He was shirtless and the button on his pants was undone. I was temporarily surprised to see him only half-dressed this late in the morning.

“How soon can we leave?” I asked thrusting the paper at him. “She sent a singing telegram! Like this is all some sort of joke! That bitch needs to die!” The anger and frustration I’d felt after that performance had only grown.

I heard movement on the steps and moments later a scantily dressed blonde came walking down. I watched as she walked over and gave Mulo a kiss.

“Call me,” she said before throwing a quick glance at me then walking out the door.

A few moments later a second blonde, dressed in even less clothing, came down the stairs. She frowned at me before also giving him a kiss then waving goodbye. I guess I was interrupting, but they’d have to get over it.

“You sure know how to keep busy,” I said unable to mask the annoyance in my voice.

Mulo gave me his signature smirk. “Now Love, you don’t go to bed alone, why should I? You know,” he said taking a step towards me, “that if you want to be the one warming my bed at night, all you have to do is say so.”

I took a deep breath and swallowed back my retort. I was married. I didn’t care who he slept with. Or at least I shouldn’t. I needed to remember why I was here. I walked into the kitchen and poured myself a glass of juice.

“So, how soon can we leave?” I asked again, forcing my misplaced feelings of jealousy aside.

Mulo took a look at the paper. “An hour, maybe two, I’ll need to make a call. You don’t have to go. Now that I know where she is, I can handle it.”

“What? No!” I yelled slamming the glass on the counter. “I want to be there. I need to be there. I need to watch that meddling, hateful bitch take her last breath!” I started pacing. How could he even think I wouldn’t see this through to the end after everything Marisol had put me through?

“I know you want to be there, but…”

“No buts Mulo!”

“But,” he said again interrupting me. “What if something goes wrong? You have children that need you.”

Continue Reading: "Chapter 123-Free At Last"