What you read is copyrighted and owned by me so if you share please be sure to tag me. It is also subject to change and may be different in the published version.... so without further ado..... I give you Chapter One!
Fight or Flight. That 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 a flight? I am a runner. I tried to run as fast as I can to the point my muscles are screaming in agony, feeling like someone 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.
Loud screaming startled me awake. I quickly sat up looking around to find the person being tortured and terrorized. I was tucked safely in my bed, I could see the slate grey walls, the abstract photos of sunflowers Bryant hung knowing they are my favorite, lying underneath by down comforter in our big king sized sleigh bed. My eyes caught on Bryant standing beside the bed gasping for air as if he’d just finished a marathon. His chest glistening 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 as he brought his eyes to meet mine. Looking into their depths, I could see the fear and worry flitting across his handsome chiseled 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 awoke 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’m not sure if I’m relieved I forget them the instant I wake up or not. Regardless, I was really hoping that Bryant would never have to deal with the consequences of that night. With the terrors that haunted me to this day. Bryant’s eyes continued searching mine for an answer as my brain scrambled in it’s 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 half hearted smile to relive the tension the room was filling with.
Bryant reached his hand up to my face, leaning into it I let out a sigh. How long could I keep this secret from him? I had hoped forever. I didn’t want him to find out what Darren stole from me, it will change everything between us. Leaning towards me for a kiss, I felt the lingering effects of the nightmare as my body trembled, it wasn’t ready to be intimate with Bryant. Swinging my legs off the bed I 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 stepped 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. Reaching down I turned on the cold water and splashed 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.
Stepping in the room the sound of the shower as it was still running dominated the room, with the steam seeping out of the en suite bathroom and filling the room. The vapors swirling 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. Climbing under the down comforter I 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!
Looking back at the bathroom door, it was cracked open enough to let a stream of light seep into the bedroom keeping the separation from awake and asleep tangible. Bryant 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 got some wedding stuff to sort out! See you at noon you pick the place!
Locking my phone I set it back on the nightstand just as the shower shut off. Not wanting to resume the interrogation, I quickly lie down and shift 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, two strong arms wrapped around me, pulling me in to Bryant’s warm body. Dragging in a deep breathe, Bryant’s woodsy smell filled 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 he was being kept in the dark and it was hurting him. Hurting him, hurt me. It sucked.
Rolling over I looked into his eyes searching for 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 out loud. Searching his eyes he looked at me lovingly with adoration, I was his. From day one, Bryant 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 into 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 to find a text from a blocked number.
COMING FOR A VISIT, SEE YOU SOON.