A changed name, a different country, a new life.
Carte blanche, right? Perhaps, and I might have enjoyed it under different circumstances. But the bottom line is- he won’t stop until I’m dead.
I’ve done my best to stay in the shadows. Laying low and only speaking when I absolutely need to. It worked well for me until Ryder walked into my life. Or more accurately, jogged.The dark and broody owner of Callaghan Securities invaded my reclusive bubble when I least expected it.
Knowing that my time spent avoiding people could be coming to an end, I have an important decision to make. Am I able to open up about my past? Let him in, let him help?
Or will I embrace the cold hearted bitch I have become and leave him behind like everything else in my shit life.
I was once a nice woman named Jayne O’Connor.
I’m not sure I know who that is anymore.
“You ruined my date,” he says fighting a smile.
I’m now fighting my own too.
“Handsome, you and I both know that hooker would have sucked your dick in the parking lot with, or without the dinner. So if your date was ruined, it was by your lack of attempt to console the girl after I did nothing other than state the fact we haven’t shared a bed together.”
He cocks his head to the side contemplating his next words.
“So, since my bed is now cold for the night are you offering to keep it warm?” he asks, a smirk ever present on his face.
“You had a warm and willing body at the restaurant Ryder, you should have kept it. However, the scent of her cheap perfume coming off your clothing is enough to make even me want to shower, so I would suggest if you warm a bed with that woman, let it be hers so you don’t need to replace your sheets and air out your household after she leaves. I have disinfectant in my cupboard that smells more pleasing than that.”
He’s quick to come back at me.
“I wasn’t with her for the perfume, but I’ll keep that in mind.”
His black eyes bore into mine, he’s trying to see if this conversation will make me jealous, but it’s not. If anything I feel more empowered that Ginger didn’t get invited back to his house for the night.
“You don’t bring them back to your house though, do you Ryder? You like your space, you like your privacy, and as much as you enjoy a night of mindless fucking, you’re not willing to be the bad guy that kicks them out of your bed at night. You’d rather be the one to leave, less trouble that way.”
I know I’m right, and I half expect him to deny it. To my surprise he doesn’t.
“You’re right. But the only reason you’re right is because you see in me a part of yourself, which tells me you do the exact same thing. Don’t you Elle?”
He asks it like a question but he already knows the answer. I suppose we’re on a roll with this conversation so fuck it, I’ll indulge.
“I’ve never been booted from a bed and I’ve never been left. I do the leaving, Ryder, and I also do the choosing. However, I never shit where I eat. That helps me avoid situations like what happened at the restaurant tonight. I don’t do the catty bitch routine, and as you noticed I don’t fight over men. So, I suggest in the future you take my advice and find your pussy in the next town over, otherwise poor Ginger might get the wrong idea when you run into your neighbors.”
Ryder has done his best to break my armor. It’s been a slow process but he’s reminded me what it’s like to feel again. I could never thank him enough for the toe curling and life altering experiences. He’s been my light in a hurricane-but even I know the sun can’t shine all the time. I have a big decision to make and it’s not as simple as just going left or right, forward or backward.
I’ve heard people say that when we hit a crossroad in life, the only difference is that one way is longer than the other. (Believe me when I say that these people are full of shit-don’t listen to them.) I’ve hit every fucking intersection from Canada to the USofA and no matter what direction I take, the distance is always the same. The reason for this is because it’s not about the distance, it’s about the outcome of the journey.
This journey of mine only leaves me two choices and neither satisfy me. Do I continue on my path towards retribution for my family? Or do I focus on the first man to crack my ice cold heart? He’s the only man who has ever made me feel safe at night; the first to truly accept all of me- scars included.
I’m at a crossroad and no matter which way I turn, I’m fucked.
Ryder or retribution?
This life of mine isn’t a fairytale- I know I can’t have both.
“You need to go, Ryder. You can’t stay here.”
He bends his legs and gets down to my level on the bed.
“If you think for one fucking second after everything we’ve been through and how much it fucking killed me to be away from you that I’m going to leave just because you say so? Well wake the fuck up beautiful because it’s not going to happen.
“I may have played along, I may have did what he asked, but that does not mean I didn’t lie awake in bed every goddamn night hating that I hurt you. Hating that you were there, alone, next to my own fucking house and I couldn’t come to you.
“I’m done! I’m done playing Elle! I had to do it until I got enough dirt on the bastard to get myself out of that mess, but here I am. And I’m not fucking leaving just because you’re too tired to put up with me. I told you I would help you, I told you I wouldn’t stop. This is me not stopping Elle. Even when I was in Chicago I was working on a way out of it. When I was home, I shipped Denny or someone else to Chicago to get me what I needed.
“I’m done! And I’m here. So please don’t be so damn stubborn for once and fucking keep me!”
His hands come up to grasp me on either side of my face, his only inches from mine.
“Why? Why can’t you Elle? Give me one good reason!”
How did I get here?
Of course I know the answer, but if those bastards Fate and Karma truly hold the cards then I wish I knew where the hell I went wrong.
There are no crossroads for me anymore. I’m kneeling on the floor at the hands of a monster. My choices along with my dignity are about to be taken and there’s little I can do for myself.
Trapped in a cage, the harsh bite of concrete under my knees is a cruel reminder of my past, a past that follows me wherever I go despite my best efforts to remain in the shadows. One thing for certain is that no matter what happens, no matter where this takes me or if I get out alive—Ryder will always fight for me.
I’m not on my own anymore. I have a strong man who loves me and Callaghan Security behind me.
Surrendering is not an option, and retribution may not be my answer.
This is a reckoning.
I will find the answers and survive long enough to reclaim what I lost. My intent is pure and if I’m worthy enough fate will grant me the one thing I may not deserve.