Authors: Lindsay Paige
Tags: #Sanity Series
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Making Me Sane
Copyright © 2016 by Lindsay Paige
All rights reserved.
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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, bands, and/or restaurants 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.
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glance around the room, sort of feeling proud of myself. I’ve been working in the community relations department with a company and tonight is the product of the first time I was able to lead on a project. It’s a fundraiser for one of our clients and the public was invited, of course. There are lots of people here. More than I imagined there would be, so I guess I did a good job. My eyes fall on a tall man with blond hair and hazel eyes. My heart stops when I realize he’s watching me.
Oh, dear god.
What is Trace doing here?
God, he’s still gorgeous. My heart starts beating again as I soak in how he seems even more handsome than before. That familiar urge to seek comfort in his arms is overwhelming, and it takes everything in me to not walk toward him. It’s like no time has passed at all, when a little over a year has.
The panic attack hits me as he starts walking my way. Oh, no. No, no, no. He doesn’t need to come to me. I don’t want to see him. I can’t face him. I turn and do what any not quite sane person would do.
I make a run for it.
A brisk walk, really.
Crap. I force myself to stop and turn to my boss.
“Everything okay?” she asks.
I glance around to see Trace getting closer and closer. All I can do is shake my head. I have the best boss in the world. She’s been so understanding about my anxiety and I’m hoping for some of that right now.
“You’ve done well tonight. Head home early, okay? I’ll check in with you Monday.”
With that, I hurry on my way. I push through the swinging door that opens to the hallway which will lead me to the parking lot. I took a cab because my car is in the shop. The sound of hurried footsteps are too close behind me and I don’t feel good about my odds of escaping. Trace grabs my arm and whirls me to face him.
He looks so good and calm and here I am, chest heaving with too-fast breathing, cheeks flushed, hands clammy, and sweat beginning to bead around the edges of my forehead.
“Please, stop and let’s talk.”
“No.” Pride surges through me at how firm I sound.
“Brittany,” he starts, but I have zero interest in whatever he has to say.
“Just let me go.” I try to pull my arm out of his grasp, but it’s useless with his strong grip.
“No. You’re not running away from me until we’ve had a chance to talk.” He’s suddenly pissed and anger is laced in his words. He’s also worried, but I don’t care. I don’t care about anything right now, except getting away. “Britt.”
I squeeze my eyes closed, cringing at seeing the pain in his gaze, my name a plea on his lips. “Please,” I whisper. Tears pool in my eyes, threatening to fall over.
“I’ll get you out of here, I promise, just let me come with you.”
God, he’s bargaining with me now? Since he broke up with me, I’ve managed to not run into Trace. Why now? I can’t be here anymore, but I don’t want to be with Trace either. The need to escape is stronger.
“I hate you,” I whisper as I nod my agreement.
“I love you,” he replies, sliding his hand down to mine, interlocking our fingers, and leading me away from my nightmares like the stupid knight in shining armor that he is. The thing is, though, his armor is discolored, dented, merely a disguise because he’s actually my nightmare. He fools everyone, sometimes even me, but when I’m thinking clearly, I remember he’s the worst thing to ever happen to me.
And like an idiot, I’m allowing him to lead me away again.
Only this time, I know it’s not toward a happy ending.
“I’m only saying yes so I don’t have to wait for a cab,” I add, hoping it hurts him. I’m so bad at this.
“Yes is yes; I don’t care why.”
Maybe punching him in the throat will be better.
When we’re in his car, I close my eyes and rest my head against the door. There’s so much fury in me. Why do we need to talk? We aren’t together anymore, haven’t been in a long time, and he can tell me he loves me all he wants, but we aren’t getting back together because he doesn’t mean it. When I needed him the most, he left me. He can go to hell for all I care.
Just as soon as he drops me off.
Without opening my eyes, I spout off my address, then look at him to see his glance of surprise. I feel a little power at how he didn’t know I moved. He knew where Rebecca and I were living because I told him prior to the breakup. He ran from me and I ran from our past together. In very rare moments, I realize I can’t blame him entirely. I just never thought that when I needed him the most, he would bolt.
“I do still love you,” he says quietly. “I never stopped.”
My mind can’t take any more assaults and shuts down completely.
My body, my mind, my senses are all numb and I relinquish control to allow it to take over. This moment...it’s almost like a sweet serenity, such peaceful nothingness. No pain, no anxiety, and no loneliness. That’s a gift worth having to sacrifice the positive emotions I seldom experience to start with.
I stare out the window for the rest of the short drive. Without waiting on him, I get out of the car the moment he’s parked. Hopefully, he’ll do us both a favor and leave. But I’ve never had any luck and it damn sure isn’t starting today.
Inside, he comes to stand next to me while I wait impatiently for the elevator to arrive.
“Please leave,” I whisper.
Son of a bitch!
. The doors slide open and I step inside, the stupid knight following me like a lost puppy. I slam my finger into the round number six. I push too hard and wince from the pain in my finger. The silence is awkward and my stress levels continue to rise. In turn, so does my anxiety. Why is he here? After a little over a year, what could he possibly want from me? Why would he think I’d want to hear anything he has to say? I don’t even want to hear him tell me he loves me.
The doors open. With a grateful breath, I step out and hurry to my apartment with Trace on my heels. I push it forward once I unlock the deadbolt. Seeing a figure rise from my couch, the glow from the lamp shining on him, I stop in my tracks.
“Quinn.” Oh, thank god! My boyfriend is here. Normally, I would be annoyed when he’d surprise me because my anxiety just can’t handle it, but today, I love him for it.