Mind Lies excerpt!
I stand from the uncomfortable chair I’ve been sitting in. I move to fix my hair before I get closer to the bed, but then I remember it doesn’t matter.
Because if I wasn’t worth enough at my best, surely my messy hair, torn gown, and filthy body covered with dried blood—me at my worst—will change nothing.
“Don’t speak,” I interrupt, holding up my hand, voice raspy.
I watch his face fall. His weary eyes shut in pain. Not pain due to his injuries. Not pain due to four hours of surgery.
Pain due to heartache.
We’ve come full circle. Only this time the emotional pain doesn’t belong to Portia, who watched her best friend wander lost in her mind.
This time—it’s him.
Placing my hands on the bedrail at the foot of the hospital bed, I take in the man in front of me.
His clean-shaven jaw grew with stubble overnight.
Dark hair, not as long and shaggy as I like. Clearly he’s been back to the barber.
I follow the plains of his solid tattooed chest and the wisps of dark hair on his tanned arms, and only when I’m ready, only when I’m brave enough, do I finally meet his piercing blue eyes.
“You lied,” I strongly tell him, my voice deep and full of emotion. I softly raise my hand when I see he wants to speak again, but I know it hurts. I know the tube that was down his throat did some damage.
I continue, ignoring my blurry vision from tears that threaten to fall. “When I woke up in the hospital four months ago, I wanted one thing,” I pause, choking back my sob, “just one thing.”
“Jerri . . .”
I shake my head, eyes closing, tears falling free. I face him with all of it. Screw strong. I let him see it all: the hurt, the agony, and the heart-crushing pain that comes with not knowing.
The anguish that comes with not being wanted.
“You,” I whisper. “I just . . . wanted . . . you.”
Opening my eyes, I watch as the light leaves his. Any hope from waking, any wish he had to be alive, healthy, and happy when he had woken up is shattered.
Just like my heart.
“Do you have any idea what it’s like to wake up and not know who you are?” I ask him.
The selfish prick remains silent, but I press on. “Do you have any idea what it’s like to constantly dream of a man, to constantly ache for him, only to find out he’s not there? That he may very well be a product of your amnesia-filled mind?”
I don’t wait for him to answer before adding, angrily, “Do you have any idea what’s it’s like to yearn, sing, and beg the love of your life to come back to you? Only to find out he doesn’t want you?”
“I ca—” he rasps incoherently.
I speak louder.
“It’s death! It hurts so goddamn bad you want to curl up, fall asleep, and never wake up again.” I shake my head, ignoring the determination in his eyes. His hands remain clenched at his side, the restraints having been put on after surgery to ensure he didn’t remove the chest tube when he had woken up.
“I wanted you so badly, I didn’t sleep. Barely ate. I would fall asleep just so I could dream of you. Because no matter how amazing Portia and my friends have been, I only wanted you.”
I laugh at myself mockingly. “But you never came. I hoped, I dreamed, I prayed, and I even fucking sang, clearly making a fool of myself, because I was singing to someone who didn’t want to be found in the first place!”
Fed up, he talks back as much as his battered throat and gunshot-wounded chest will allow him. “You should not have shared our song,” he rasps. “That . . . was . . . ours.”
The convicting tone in his rugged voice does nothing to deter me.
We’ve been here before.
And,as always . . . “I was never enough for you, Locklin. I won’t ever be enough.”
“Not true,” he whispers in agony.
Shaking my head sadly, I tell him, “You’ve left me, over and over again. But while I was lying in that hospital bed, like you are now, you truly and utterly departed. I don’t mean enough for you to console, and I don’t matter enough for you to ever stay.
“I had so little, and I was so desperate I would have given anything for an answer, let alone to have you by my side.” I pause, unable to control the sobs that wrack my body.
“Come here, Lass.”
The whimper leaving me will be the last one. I vow right now that I will not let myself mourn after this.
This is it.
“I’ve never had the option of leaving you, Locklin. I always chose to hold on and never let go.” I nod. “But it’s time. What you’ve done in the past was forgivable. But this,” I wave my hand between the two of us, “this, what you did and how you left me, is not forgivable. There’s no coming back from here. Because for once in my life when I truly needed you the most, you left me behind.”
“No, Lass. Don’t say that.”
I ignore the sign of tears that cloud his beautiful blue eyes. I ignore his outstretched fingers reaching for mine. Instead, I wipe the tears from my cheeks with the back of my hand and move to his bedside.
He tilts his head to the side, and I give in to the urge, running my fingers through his silky, dark hair. His eyes close briefly, soaking up the affection.
“At one time, you meant everything to me. I would have gone to hell and back just for a fraction of your attention, your love.” Leaning down, I place a kiss on his chapped lips and recognize the feel of him, the smell.
“That time is gone.”
Pressing the piece of paper into his hand, I stand and imprint the shock on his face to memory. The agony, despair, and disbelief.
Everything I felt ten hours ago.
“My mind lied, Locklin. I thought the man in my memories was the love of my life. But that’s not true.” I shake my head in defeat and add on a whisper, “Because he never loved me back.”