‘Hurry up, man.’ Tom, my sparring partner today is impatient as hell and throwing me a look that is supposed to hurry me up. I straighten on the street and glare him down, I am back on form lately and I will put him on his ass again if he keeps this up. I shove him in the shoulder towards the restaurant door and catch Charlie laughing at us. He’s my trainer and at six foot seven, built like a giant brick shit house , I am not too keen on any reprimanding from him in public. He’s one of the few guys who can match me in a ring and he isn’t against trying hard to punch me out. I’m lucky I have speed and agility on my side.
‘That was a good session, Arry. Keep it up and a championship will be yours my boy.’ Charlie pats me on the back as we enter the building and the young female Maitre D rushes towards us with menu’s grinning wildly. Tom scoots forward to deal with her, seeing a possible fuck buddy, as I turn to my main man. I spend so much time with him lately that we should be sick of seeing each other.
‘I figured that focusing all my energy into beating the shit out of people, was better than letting myself drown in self pity.’ I smile at him coolly, he knows how I have been these past weeks and he nods with a fatherly smile. He’s twenty years older than me, but the guy has a seriously mean body and a demeanour that screams ‘I will fuck you up.’ No one knows how much of a softie he really is, how much I respect him and how lately, he has become an ear for my problems.
The small brunette is pointing into the back of the busy room at tables up near the back and Tom leads the way. We follow closely, stomachs rumbling, completely starving from an excessively energetic session and I feel good about how I’m doing with my training lately. I have focused everything on just doing that and nothing else. Taking a time out from Carrero Corp, taking time out of my own head and expelling all the shit that keeps messing me up – physically.
‘Is my princess ready to go?’
The familiar sweet voice hits me like a sucker punch as we walk down the centre walkway of the room. I would recognise her voice anywhere, and it’s like being hit with a thousand spiky pins all at once, over every single part of my body. It’s been haunting me for weeks, she’s never out of my head, or my dreams, always there in the shadows of my mind, every second. That laugh, her cute giggle, carefree and pure, and I am rendered completely incapable for a moment, turning impulsively to see the familiar small blonde head, with her back to me, leaving a table with a guy that is a shit sight to see. My breath catches in my throat and I literally can’t move, immobile with a mix of pain, and just longing to see her.
I know who he is. I’ve seen him with her from afar. The guy who replaced me, who swooped in and caught her when I let her go, my careless abandonment of the most precious thing I ever had. She doesn’t know how many times I stood outside her apartment and lost the courage to just go in and see her. How many times I caught sight of her coming out and left, afraid, ashamed. Unable to just tell her how much of a mistake I made. How I feel about her.
My stomach twists in my gut and the words are out almost impulsively.
‘Sophie?’ I sound pathetic, unsure and I’m aware I’m standing still, in the middle of the aisle while my mates shake their head at me and wander off. Charlie throws me that look…’Good luck’, he knows who she is, he’s met her many a time on social occasions, he knows she’s the reason my life fell to shit. Is still falling to shit.
Sophie pauses for a second, I see her tense and I can’t stop the way my eyes devour every little piece of her. Her small compact body, dressed in a pale printed dress that’s cute, a woollen cardigan and flat shoes, she looks like Sophie of old like this, and it is just crushing what’s left of my soul. Her hair back to blonde and looking every bit like the girl I dream about every night. I can’t breathe.
This is agony.
The blonde guy with her, the guy I saw her with at her building, the guy Jake told me is the man she’s serious with. He has her hand in his, they turn together and I have to hold onto every part of my self control to not just rip them apart and shove him half way across the room. I hate that he’s touching her, that he gets to be with her. I hate that he’s with her at all.
‘Hi.’ She says softly, surprise in her face; so perfect, a voice that can both wound me to the core and yet fill a part of me at the same time, those blue eyes that have been missing in my life, burn my soul with just one contact and I have to swallow hard to control how much it hurts. She looks like everything I miss. No girl has ever compared to how she looks, how beautiful she is, how she makes me feel. I was a fool to ever lose her, I deserve this bull shit right here. I deserve to feel this way. I deserve for this to hurt like crazy when I look at the innocence of her face, the fear in the depths of those mesmerising eyes. I put it there.
I never deserved you, baby.
She smiles past me, I guess at Charlie as he moves to our table, recognising him, and just long for her to look back at me, to bask in her attention for just a second, to remember what it feels like to connect with her in anyway. To have her undivided attention again. I can almost taste how badly I want that.
God I miss her so much – this is excruciating.
I thought I had felt pain these past weeks, missing her, seeing her from afar, but this – right here. It’s worse than hell. Having her look at me like this; closed up, hidden behind the Sophie self defence system that is clearly on show, while lover boy slides his arm around her protectively. I want to throat punch him so bad right now.
Get your hands off her.
I try to not visually react.
‘How have you been?’ I clear my throat, its like trying to dislodge nails, I am having such a hard time acting normally. I don’t even know why I am doing this to myself. I guess I just want something to hold onto…a new memory of her, so they never fade. It’s all I have left.
I can’t tear my eyes from her in this moment, I just want to imprint every detail of her to my mind. She’s the light that is missing in my dark life.
‘I’m good, just getting on, and you know?… School.’ She answers warily, holding in everything of her that tells me what she’s thinking. Icing me out. I can almost see her trying to avoid looking at me, all the old tells are there. The ones I spent years helping remove. She’s back to guarded, afraid, seeing me as a threat, and it twists the knife harder.
I really did lose her and fuck it all up. I hate seeing her this withdrawn, quiet and distant. She hasn’t been that girl to me for a long time…. It brings back a million memories of just exactly what I have lost.
I miss you…so much
‘Hi, I’m Christian, Sophie’s told me about you being childhood besties, and I have to say I am an admirer of your fighting skills Arrick. I see you had another knockout victory two weeks back, against Tiger Marse.’ The blonde guy holds his hand out to me, pulling my eyes from her as he leans out to me. Hand waving in front of me expectantly and I really bite down on the urge to break his fingers and ram them up his own ass. I can barely keep my heart rate under control, my breathing as this courses through me.
I see her watching me pensively, and give in, trying not to make her hate me anymore than she does. I take his hand and shake, applying more pressure than I should because I really , really, want to hurt him right now. Every part of my body is tense and poised to take the fucker down and just beat the shit out of him. Take all this pain I am feeling and expel it on someone worthy…the guy who gets her.
Because he’s not me.
‘Thanks. Nice to meet you, Christian.’ I hesitate at what else to say, trying to play cool, be a gentleman, I know it’s what she will want; when I just want to pick him up by the throat and warn him about what I will do to him if he ever hurts her.
The way I did.
I’m distracted by Tom calling on me impatiently and turn to throw him a cold glare. A little ‘back the fuck off.’ frown, he needs to just leave me alone right now.
I turn back and can’t stop myself just looking her over again, like a bee to honey. I can’t stop taking in just how good she looks, how in her absence she has grown even more beautiful – I didn’t think that was possible. I clench my hands to calm the internal shaking and longing, there is so much I want to say to her. I just want to pull her to me, away from him and just hold onto her with everything in me.
I finally get that saying, ‘regret is a killer’, because this bites like a mother fucker.
‘You look good Soph’s. You always were more beautiful as a blonde. I like this on you, the sweet girl look…. It’s more you.’ It’s out impulsively, this need in me to verbalise just how amazing she looks, standing here, watching me quietly. I don’t care if her boyfriend doesn’t like it…I’ll break his nose if he has a problem with it. I want to tell her she looks beautiful.
‘Thanks. You too. I mean… You look good.’ She looks away shyly, inhales slowly and I can tell she wants me to go, leave her alone. Another stabbing pain, another wound at her hands when she doesn’t even mean it. I hope she knows somewhere, deep down, that this isn’t what I wanted with us.
Tom calls me again and I feel like I might lose my shit with him. I don’t want to go , I want to stay here and just remember every piece of her…I don’t know if I will ever see her again. He has no idea how big a deal this is, to have her finally talk to me, after months of silent hell. How many times i have just tried to will her to call me.
I turn and gesture two minutes, glaring again and see Charlie shove him in the arm, lean in to say something and I hope to god he’s threatening him…I sure as hell will be taking this out on his face soon enough.
I look back and see her shuffling uncomfortably, my heart sinks. She wants to go, I should let her. Stop dragging this out, even if I would have her stand here all day. I’m making this awkward for her, making her upset and that’s the last thing I want.
‘I need to go Soph’s; Are you going to Leila’s party?’ Still clinging to hope I will see her again. this isn’t enough, it will never be enough. I don’t want a future where I don’t see her. It’s not bearable.
‘We sure will be, won’t we sweetheart? Can‘t wait to meet Daniel, and of course, Leila; her parents have told me she is the family fireball.’ The guy squeezes her shoulder, I can’t bear it and look away before I physically hurt him. I should go before I do literally punch him out. I never knew it could feel this way…. seeing her with someone. There are no words to describe this agony or the levels of hatred and aggression coursing through me.
‘Guess I’ll see you both there then.’ I catch her eye, simmering my anger expertly, trying so hard to just save that face in my head.
‘Guess you will.’ The quick smile doesn’t reach her eyes. She can’t look at me , no matter how much I will her too, beg inside to have my moment with her. To find that connection somewhere between us and know it’s still there. I want it so badly I can taste it.
It isn’t….she has closed the door. I took years getting in…and one stupid second of one bad choice, I lost all of it. I am a severed limb now, she doesn’t need me anymore. I doubt there’s any love left. That realisation breaks the last ounces inside of me that had hope.
I need to let her go. Even if it kills me to do so.
‘I better go before they start kicking off and eating the tablecloths.’ I turn and motion to Tom that I am coming, I really just need a second to get my head straight, without those tropical blues torturing me softly. Pull myself together.
‘I suppose, bye, then.’ Her soft angelic tone draws me back, winds me with just how much this sucks. Saying goodbye…it was never meant to be this way. I was never meant to lose her. She’s my perfect girl, my beautiful angelic, sweet, perfect girl.
My face aches with the tingles over taking my body, emotion hitting me hard, clenching my teeth so much I may crack a crown, and I know I won’t be able to hold it together for much longer. I will literally rip her out of his arms and wrap myself around her, to keep her close, to never break my hold on her ever again.
I am so in love with you, Soph’s.
He pulls her away, like he controls her and I have to stand my ground and not react. I want to swing a kick at his face for pulling her. No one manhandles her that way. She isn’t a possession or a fucking puppy, she is the centre of everything and he shouldn’t’ be hauling her. I grit my teeth when he smiles and waves at me, cursing inwardly and clenching every muscle. Willing myself to behave. Soph’s just looks away and allows him to lead her away.
I hate this…panic rising inside of me, feet itching to follow her…always follow her, like I should have done that night. I hate that I never, I regret it with every fibre in my body.
I would never make the same mistake again. One chance Sophie…I would grab it with both hands and hold on to you with everything I have.
She throws back a look that catches me in the eye, and the heart, in the same second and it’s the last blow. Crushing pain, as the sweetest, most amazing girl I have ever known, ever loved….walks away in the arms of someone who was lucky enough to catch her. I swear he better make her happy, he better treat her like the princess she is, or I will personally fuck him up. She deserves the world, someone who will look after her in every way. Protect her. Cherish her. Understand her, and what she needs.
I watch them leave, unable to tear myself away till long after they leave the restaurant, her face lingering in my head, I can’t bear the pain. It draws every ounce of my energy and just saps any chance of a better mood completely out of me. I turn and walk to my table emptily, completely deflated, no longer hungry. Unable to think about anything else anymore and this undying urge to just go back to the training ring and beat seven shades of shit out of Tom.