Secret Regrets (Living For Today #2)

BOOK: Secret Regrets (Living For Today #2)
6.41Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

 

 

Secret Regrets

Living for Today #2

by Megan C. Smith

Blue Tulip Publishing

 

This is a work of fiction. Names, places, characters, and events are fictitious in every regard. Any similarities to actual events and persons, living or dead, are purely coincidental. Any trademarks, service marks, product names, or named features are assumed to be the property of their respective owners, and are used only for reference. There is no implied endorsement if any of these terms are used. Except for review purposes, the reproduction of this book in whole or part, electronically or mechanically, constitutes a copyright violation.

 

SECRET REGRETS

Copyright © 2015 MEGAN C. SMITH

ISBN: 978-1-942246-35-0

Cover Art by P.S. Cover Design

PROLOGUE

 

F
IGHT OR
F
LIGHT.
T
HAT INSTINCTUAL
MECHANISM
designed to save us, to make the decision to fight your fear or flee from it. When the demons of your past are back from hell, beating on your door, ready to claim you, are you going to fight or flight?

Me? I’m a runner. I am running as fast as I can to the point my muscles are screaming in agony, feeling like someone has lit them on fire. But, despite my best efforts, no matter how fast I run, how much I push through, the monster always seems to catch me.

CHAPTER ONE

 

L
OUD
SCREAMING
STARTLED ME AWAKE.
Q
UICKLY
sitting up and looking around, I searched to find the person being tortured and terrorized. Yet, I was tucked safely in my bed and could see the slate-grey walls, the abstract photos of sunflowers that Bryant had hung on the wall. He knew they were my favorite.

As I lay underneath my down comforter in our big king-sized sleigh bed, my eyes caught on Bryant standing beside me, gasping for air as if he’d just finished a marathon. His chiseled chest glistened with sweat as he rested his weight on his knees, trying to pull in air. Standing up to his full six-foot stature, he ran his hand through his short brown hair and brought his soulful eyes to meet mine.

Looking into their depths, I could see the fear and worry flitting across his handsome face as the caramel color of his eyes became overtaken by the black of his pupils.

“What’s wrong? Who was screaming?” I asked, completely perplexed at what had awakened me.

“Rose. Honey.
You
were screaming. You scared the ever-loving shit out of me! I was watching some TV when your scream made my heart seize. I came racing up the stairs as fast as I could.” Bryant breathlessly answered.

Well, crap, nightmares were back. I wasn’t sure if I was relieved my brain had let me forget them the instant I’d awakened or not. Regardless, I was really hoping that Bryant would never have to deal with the consequences of that night — the terrors that haunted me to this day.

Bryant’s eyes continued searching mine, apparently for an answer, as my brain scrambled in its fuzzy state to come up with something to release me from his prying gaze.

“Just a nightmare. No worries. That damn horror movie you made me watch the other night. You know how I get with scary stuff!” I tried with a halfhearted smile to relive the tension filling the room.

He reached his hand up to my face.

As my cheek pressed against his calloused palm, I let out a sigh. How long could I keep this secret from him? Truly, I had hoped forever. I didn’t want him to find out what Darren had stolen from me, knowing it would change everything between us.

He leaned toward me, lips pursed.

I felt the lingering effects of the nightmare as my body trembled; it wasn’t ready to be intimate with Bryant. I swung my legs off the bed, and ducked out from under his reach, letting out a cough to help with my excuse to dodge his lips that I typically adored and devoured.

“I’m going to run downstairs and get a glass of water. Why don’t you hop in the shower now so we can snuggle up when I get back,” I tossed over my shoulder as Bryant stood there watching me walk away.

Downstairs, I slipped into the guest bathroom. Looking in the mirror, I recognized the flushed cheeks and dilated pupils — the reflection of a terrified girl staring back at me that I seemed incapable of escaping. My hand reached down and turned the silver faucet handle, letting the cold water flow out. I splashed some on my face, hoping to cool my cheeks and help my heart rate return to a more normal rhythm. Knowing my time was limited, I pulled myself together and got back to my bedroom.

Quickly I made my way back to my bed, the sound of the shower still running dominated the room, and the steam seeped out of the en suite bathroom, filling the air. The vapors swirled along the soft plush caret, making me feel as if I was walking on clouds back to my big sleigh bed I shared with Bryant. I climbed under the down comforter, and shifted my pillows to allow myself to comfortably sit up a minute as I reached for my phone to type out a quick text.

 

R:
Hey Les – wanna grab lunch tomorrow? I need a therapy session with my best friend!

 

The bathroom door was cracked open enough to let a stream of light seep into the bedroom, keeping the separation from awake and asleep tangible. Bryant’s off-tune voice singing “Kiss Me Softly” drifted out, helping to soothe me further, letting me get lost in the memories of reconnecting with him over the last few months. My phone vibrated in my hand, and I saw a reply from my best friend, Leslie.

 

L:
Of course, you know I’ve always got time for you.
Plus,
we’ve
got some wedding
stuff to sort out! See you at noon.
You pick the place!

 

I locked my phone, and set it back on the nightstand just as the shower shut off. Not wanting to resume the interrogation, I quickly lay down and shifted to my side, pulling the comforter up to my chin to encapsulate me. The light switch clicked off, dousing the room in darkness. I felt the fear attempt to grab hold of me again. As the bed dipped to Bryant’s side, I breathed a sigh of relief when two strong arms wrapped around me, pulling me in to his warm body. Desperately needing to soothe my soul, I dragged in a deep breath, Bryant’s woodsy smell filling my nose, helping my brain relax completely so I could attempt to drift off to sleep again, this time with my hero to protect me from the monsters that haunted my subconscious.

“I love you, Rose,” Bryant softly whispered in my ear, sadness lingering in his tone as he placed a kiss on my neck.

I could tell by the tone of his voice he knew that he was being kept in the dark, and it was hurting him. Hurting him hurt me. It sucked.

I felt I owed him so much more, so I rolled over, looked into his eyes, struggling to find the courage to tell him about my nightmare. While I didn’t remember the one I had just had, the real version was a scar that would never heal, a memory that would never leave me. The nerves balled in my throat, choking me and preventing me from speaking aloud. His chocolate brown eyes met mine as I searched them for the strength I needed. He looked at me lovingly with adoration, unaware of my inner demons. I was his. From day one, Bryant had thought me to be an innocent. We had been through so much over the course of our relationship I just wasn’t confident we could survive any more obstacles in our path.

“I love you too, Bryant. Always and forever.” I placed three sweet kisses on his lips. Our tradition. Three kisses every time. One for the past, one for today, and one for the future.

Rolling back over, I could feel the terrors of my past latching back onto me, inescapable. I would never be free of the past, it seemed, as much as my heart begged to move on and enjoy my bliss. My phone buzzed on the nightstand beside me. Bryant let out a sigh as he sank further into the bed and drifted to sleep. I swiped the phone to check it real fast and found a text from a blocked number.

 

COMING FOR A VISIT, SEE YOU SOON.

CHAPTER TWO

 

T
HE NEXT MORNING
I
WOKE UP
to an empty bed that mirrored the feelings running through me. I had been struggling with telling Bryant for a few months now, and I knew I needed to, but when push came to shove, I just couldn’t get the words to come out of my mouth. He knew me too well, though, and obviously suspected I was hiding something.

My phone alarm sounded to tell me it was time to begin my day. Stretching out my muscles, I was nicely swaddled in the blue cotton sheets on our bed. I snuck a leg out from under the covers, the shock of the chilly air waking me up in a flash. I knew I couldn’t put off getting up any longer, so I swung my legs to the ground. My toes sunk into the plush carpet as I stretched my arms above my head to release the tension in my back.

The bathroom door creaked, and Bryant’s tall muscular frame filled the doorway, already dressed in his pressed black slacks and white paramedic uniform.

“Morning.”

Smiling in response, hoping to instill some confidence and reassurance in him that I wasn’t even feeling myself, I replied, “Morning, hun.”

“Coffee is down there. I made it an hour ago, so if you want any, you better get moving. I gotta get to work, so I’ll see you later.” His voice lacking emotion cut through me as he headed toward me, my stomach turning to ice when he moved to place the usual kiss on my cheek.

Attempting to catch his lips, I turned my head.

“Rose, let’s just not do this. It’s too early, and I really have to go.” Bryant instead placed a kiss on my forehead, leaving no confusion with his attitude toward me at the moment, and he left.

As the engine of his truck turned over, I was shook from my wayward thoughts. The teardrop chilled my cheek on its downward trek. Wiping it quickly, I gave myself a mental pep talk and stood to go get a mug of the coffee he had made. It was time for me to get ready to go to my interview at the local elementary school.

After spending what felt like hours in my closet, I emerged with a nice knee-length dress, which had a matching sweater to go with it, and my black ballet flats. I laid the outfit out on my bed. It seemed to project what I was trying to say best: respectable, educated, and desperately in need of a job. I had been out of school a few months now and was ready to put my elementary education degree to use at a school before everything I learned seep out of my brain. More importantly, I needed the distraction from my life, and starting to teach in a few weeks would be the perfect cure.

Showering quickly, I had just enough time to blow dry my hair and put on some light makeup before I was scooping up my keys and heading out to my new car. I missed my truck so much, but after rolling about six times down the old back road, it had to be taken to a salvage yard to be used for parts.

Hopping in my grey Buick Enclave, I laughed, remembering watching Bryant search on every safety website for the highest rated vehicle. When he asked the guy at the dealership if they could swap the regular seatbelt for a five-point harness, I’d had to smack him back into reality. The salesman had just laughed, no doubt thinking it all a joke, but I knew better. Bryant had come too close to losing me last year for his sanity, and he’d do everything within his power to prevent that nightmare.

I pulled my car into Ingram Elementary, taking note how quaint the brick school looked. It was painted a cream color with red on the trim. A large Mustang mural was displayed on a blank wall, celebrating it as the school mascot. On the little sign out front, they had a list of the upcoming dates for registering new students and the start of school. It seemed like a perfect place to come to work each day and was said to be one of the better-rated schools for the district.

The door closed softly behind me as I walked into the office. An eccentrically dressed older woman was sitting at a red desk, filing her nails, chatting loudly with someone I assumed was hidden in an office behind her. I smoothed my hands over my dress and put on the biggest smile I could, closing the distance between us in a few short strides.

BOOK: Secret Regrets (Living For Today #2)
6.41Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

Other books

Wannabe in My Gang? by Bernard O’Mahoney
A Season in Gemini, Intro by Victoria Danann
The Tequila Worm by Viola Canales
Trapped with the Blizzard by Huxley, Adele
The Spinoza Problem by Irvin D. Yalom
The Moon Worshippers by Aitor Echevarria
Biggins by Christopher Biggins
Dead Silence by Randy Wayne White