This pandemic threw my body, mental stability and almost every creative bone in my body for a loop! I can gladly say I'm back and will not leave again. (Just to clarify I have not contracted this virus but people dear to my heart have. If you need support, even through this online webpage please let me know)
And the story goes on...
"And that's the last of it," Gavin sighs, spreading our loot between the two vehicles, "You did well ladies. Mr H. might just have a heart attack."
My throat goes dry and I was ready to express my concern when Charice beat me to the punch, "He'll have a heart attack because mom just spent all that money on things she may or may not need."
"Half of my trunk isn't even Adira's stuff," Gavin mentions leaning against his truck.
"You all let me worry about Victor," Chelsea says settling in her seat pulling out a compact mirror and lip gloss, "I've got his kryptonite right here." She pops her lips and Gavin and I erupt in laughter, just as Charice grunts in discontempt.
On the drive back Charice and I continue speaking about every and any thing that came to mind. It was relieving to have a friend to talk to. By the time we pulled into the garage we had just finished a 5 minute karaoke set and were laughing at the lack of vocal ability.
"I mean you weren't that bad, in fact I think you were trying to be worse to not make me feel bad."
I smiled over at her, at how quickly we'd worked ourselves into a friendship of familiarity. Before I can weasel my way out of this she hushes me with a hand to the face, "Save your lies Chesterfield."
The formality and faux-anger made my spine tickle, leading to a soft laugh escaping my lips. She helps me to my feet and only when I'm firm on my feet do I notice Emerson by the door. Cody is directly behind him, pushing past to head straight for the trunk, after giving my shoulder a gentle squeeze.
Emerson stays in place smiling at my lingering laughter until it ties my stomach in knots. Palms sweaty. Chest heaving. But this is all normal, a regular response to being in the presence of Emerson Hunt, at least for me. The more I thought about it the crazier it seems that he was my boyfriend.
By the looks of it he's thinking the same thing
I catch him looking at me as if I was some famous work of art. If he breathed too heavy I'd surely break, he seemed to think. It makes me smile. This redirects his focus, doing the usual scan of my body, settling on my hips, his brows furrowed with concern.
Two large steps and he's immediately before me, both our bodies braced against the car door. My heart rate accelerates. In my mind, the voice scurries to a corner, cheeks red hiding a smile behind small hands. I stare up at him, because that's all I can really do. He was still looking over me, which gives me the perfect excuse to stare shamelessly at him.
My adoration of his physique is one I should be ashamed to admit, but who wouldn't like that? His hair was a curly mess on his head, outgrowing the normally neat lines that shaped it- the beard followed suit. On his shoulder, curving down and around his back was the start of a tattoo I knew about but had yet seen. Sudden images of his hand grazing and pulling at my thigh- no! I pinch my eyes close and shake the thoughts from my head.
I look up at him and he's smiling my way, reaching forward to move some hair from my face, "You're hurt."
"I've been hurt for days Emerson," I press my chin against his chest as he gives me a stare that expresses just how unamused he was by my banter.
"You should be getting better though," He settles more comfortably against my body.
"I-I am, just ss-sslowly," I cursed myself for stammering.
He smiles and reaches to cup my cheeks, fingers wrapping in my hair just beyond the back of my ear. His thumbs easily stroked my cheekbones just as he applied pressure behind my ear. The result is a wave of relief that eases the tension in my neck and shoulders. Somewhere along this fondling my eyes had fluttered close, my focus shifted from speaking with him to trying not to melt like putty in his hands.
He rubs my scalp a couple of times more, reaching upwards to my temples then the center of my forehead. He moves with the effortlessness of the wind targeting areas of distress and undoing them instantly. When I opened my eyes he was already locked in. Hazel blue eyes shimmered my way and his hands lower to my waist. Without a second thought I leaned in closer until our noses touched, he smiles before pulling my chin up so our lips could finally rest against each other.
Whatever stress remained in my body leaked out, starting at my head all the way down my spine to my hips, knees and toes. He was my antidote. The air of light that trickled down- transcending inwards to my mental space somehow where even the voice gave a sigh of relief- led to a craving for more. Without thinking I reached upwards to pull on the sides of his shirt forcing him to take the additional step that would leave absolutely no space between us.
By now I must have melted in his hold and truthfully I'd usually be much more concerned by the PDA- and my fear of it. He shared no such fear. In fact after kissing me several times, he proceeds to nibble on my bottom lip before pulling away slightly and kissing his way down to the space where my neck and shoulder met.
"Mmm I missed you," He all but growls.
The admission makes me smile, "You did?"
When he pulled away I noticed that the vehicles were empty and the garage closed. He takes me by the waist and starts supporting me as we went inside, "Of course I did," he continues in disbelief.
I blushed trying not to think too much about the moment we shared, "I missed you too."
He smiles and walks me over to the kitchen, the comfort meeting spot of this household. I was settling in the chair next to Charice, like I always do, when Chance asks how I was feeling.
"Okay," I shrugged, "I think I need to stay off my feet for a while though."
"Took the words right out of my mouth," He says with a smile, "Did you enjoy the mall?"
I nodded happily, "It was really nice! I got everything I needed."
"And then some," Charice adds, making me want to punch her.
"Really?" The excitement in Emerson's tone made me feel less guilty about my pleasure purchases, "What did you get?"
"Well after SO much debating," Charice took the mic, "I convinced her to buy one fancy journal and some brush pens, a couple music score books, and a new laptop."
I feared looking up at him for the latter purchase, "That's it?"
My head whips over in his direction, "It's a laptop."
"Which brand did you get?" Cody asks intrigued, "Knowing Charice she probably got the 'cutest' one."
Charice throws a grape in his direction, sticking her tongue at him, "I tried to get her to purchase some accessories but she was adamant."
"It comes with a case and a sticker," I mumbled, fiddling my thumbs while focusing a little too much on my aches and pains.
"Don't worry Em, I'm working on her," Charice throws an arm over my shoulder with a beautiful smile. Their beauty was one to be admired, the otherworldliness of it all made me nervous, "We got up to car-karaoke."
"Yikes," Anthony walks in wearing a suit, "You sat through her swaking?" Everyone agrees or shares a laugh but Charice surprisingly ignores the insult and rushes into his arms.
She missed him. He was surprised at first, but soon settles in her comfort, whispering something that makes her laugh against his shoulder. Just like Victor and Chelsea did. As if reading the want in my eyes, Emerson squeezes my hand to get me to focus on him. His eyes held a conversation that I knew nothing about. I felt it. I recognized the jittery feeling of light that the voice in my head gave me.
Maybe he has his own version of me
I choose to ignore the possibility, resting my head against his shoulder, eyelids heavy. I want to sit there in peace for a moment, but then in the depth of my mind I see those eyes. The fire. The wicked smile, expectant of my naivety, thrilled by my fear. The snow was ice, freezing further at the lack of heat my body projected.
A sharp inhale forces my eyes open. Emerson feels my anxiety enough to take my hand in his own, "You okay?"
My immediate reaction is to tell him the truth. To ask for answers, one's I knew he wouldn't be able to give right now. I fought this urge and shook my head, "I'm fine."
He knows I'm lying but doesn't push any further. My stomach ties itself in knots and I was going to say something else when Justine walks in. She greets everyone with-what has been the first sight of genuine joy I've seen her express- a smile and hugs all around. Charice settles with a nod smile, and so does Emerson.
Cody was ready to cut the building tension with a joke when Chelsea rushed in with an announcement: "It's the third Thursday of the month!"
The groaning is universal, "Do we have to?" Gavin whines like a child, his accent coarse as his eyes seemed to double in size. He strangely drew irresistible. I shake the thought from my mind, a guilt washing over my skin as I felt Emerson's thumb stroking my shoulder absentmindedly.
"Yes," Chelsea was adamant, "It'll be Adira's first one, so it's extra special."
"My first what?" I ask with reservations.
"Your first family movie night," Chelsea chirps, rushing over to me, "And as our guest, you'll get to pick the movie."
Insecurity soaks me and I reject the offer immediately, "No no, whatever you choose will be fine."
"Adira please," Cody begs me, "If I have to sit through another sappy rom-com I'm going to jump off the roof."
There are grumbles of agreement and I smiled, "You should pick it then."
Just as the debate would start a familiar ache echoes from my lower body. It went into my hips and swam down the fallopian. My back suddenly goes straight as I try to figure out if my suspicions were true. What was the date? I pull out my phone. The 24th.
Shit. Shit. Shit.
I jumped to my feet and grabbed Charice by the shoulder, and with an unimaginable amount of strength dragged her to the living room, "What's going on?"
Her eyes widened, "Is it here?"
I nodded, "I think so. Charice, I can't-" I took a deep breath, relax, "I'm an actual monster when this happens." At some point, I got tested for endometriosis due to the severity of the pain. Along with the pain came my terrible coping mechanism and unpredictable mood swings. My appetite all but vanishes- which will be a problem when paired with all the medication I have to take. In fact, this was the only time my father would actively avoid me. A week of peace, once a month, featured with migraines, emotional breakdowns, stomach aches, bloating and every other ache you could fathom.
"Chance probably has something you can take for the pain," She attempts to ease my worry, a sense of understanding settling in her perfect eyes, "You don't have to sit through a movie later if it gets bad."
"No no," Considering all this family has done on my behalf the least I can do is sit through a movie, "I'll be fine. Would you mind helping me up the stairs so I can get-"
"Let's go," She throws my arm over her shoulder and gently grabs my waist to help ease the pressure I put on my legs, "And just so you know, you don't have to feel embarrassed to tell Emerson about this stuff...he grew up with me and mom, he's witnessed his fair amount of monsters."
I coughed a laugh and nodded with red cheeks, "Thanks. It was just instinct to grab a friend."
She goes still for a moment before casting a smile so wide I saw it without ever looking her way, "I get it.I was like that with Anthony at first too."
Hearing their story gave me a weird sense of...hope. It helped to convince me that Emerson was different from any other guy I've dated, that he truly cared about me, "What about now?" We neared my bedroom and she threw herself in one of the chairs in the corner while I rummaged for supplies amidst all the bags.
She laughs as I start to head for the bathroom, "Now he keeps track of it on his phone."
Later that afternoon Chance handed me a week's worth of prescription pain relievers and anti-inflammatory pills. I thanked him profusely, deciding not to ask how he knew I'd need them. Charice must have shared the information to save me the time. In my bedroom I lined up all the medication I was required to take, the ointments and bandages, crutches and wraps. It would all get better soon.
I placed the new containers in the medicine cabinet stashing two pills just in case during this movie they become a necessity. After Chelsea's announcement that the movie was to be promptly at 9 PM, I adhered to Emerson's advice which called for a nap. I didn't think I was as tired but once my head hit the pillow and I played a few mindless games on my phone I was asleep. Once awake, I took a shower and slid into my new pajama set, the black bottoms littered with dog paw prints. Chester gave his approval by rubbing endlessly against my legs, smiling up at the long pants in delight.
I ruffled his hair and kissed the top of his head, "Like them bud?"
He stepped into my arms and I decided to hold him for just a second longer. The stooped position did no justice to my legs and hips, something that my clever pup picks up on. So without reservation he forces himself forward, tilting me backward until I was seated on the carpeted floor, back against the wall and my baby in my arms. I smile into his white fur, running my fingers up and down his torso while he settles against my shoulder.
"Hmm, I need to give you a bath," I think to myself, and he tenses against me, "Don't give me that look, you know what happens if you don't get one."
He grumbles again and I laugh in his fur, ready to mention the last fit he's had just as someone knocks on my door. Now how would I get up? Maybe if Chester hoists me forward and I hold that position while he pushes me from-
Or you can as the person at the door to help , the voice in my mind giggles at my strategizing, It's probably Emerson anyhow
True, "Come in," Emerson walks in wearing the most casual outfit I've seen him in yet. It was amazing how even wearing the plaid pajama pants and loose v-neck, his body was still so...visible. He was built for action, muscles rippling with each breath he took. Now, his hazel eyes looked at me cuddled up with Chester on the ground with humored confusion.
"Am I interrupting something?" The baritone.
I gulped and shook my head, "No, but I'd appreciate your help standing up."
He steps over my legs and reaches down to take my hands. Chester moves out of the way in time for Emerson to pull with ease. The collision into his chest should have hurt, but I was greeted with a cushioned comfort, I could've stayed there forever. Seeming to read my mind, Emerson lifts me off my feet ready to carry me down to the family theatre in the basement.
"I didn't ask you to carry me," I grumble on his chest and he huffs about to leave, "Wait, I...I left something in the bathroom." I began climbing from his arms to grab everything I needed to survive two and a half hours of whatever horror movie Cody chose out of spite.
Emerson's arm tightens, preventing me from leaving his embrace. Carefully, he walks us into the huge bathroom and Charice's words come to mind, you don't have to feel embarrassed to tell Emerson about this stuff'. So I bit my bottom lip, resisting every urge in my body that told me to hide, to feel embarrassed about something natural. Or maybe it wasn't that I was embarrassed, after all I didn't do anything wrong.
It's intimate. That's why you're nervous. Showing him even this much is a step closer to intimacy to admitting that you want to be with him
'I've already admitted to-'
To stay with him she reminds me of the difference- the difference between staying and showing. You've got to decide if you're serious about the relationship you want with Emerson. And there's nothing that he and I can do more to convince you. It's ultimately your decision
That was all she had to say, "What did you need here?" Emerson's voice interrupted my self-scolding. I eye the clear pouch with pads, tampons and pain killers that sat on the edge of the porcelain sink.
I felt the word on the tip of my tongue 'Nevermind'. But within me, something sparks and lights a fire, one that refuses to suppress. One that dared to love. To step into intimacy. So I looked up to Emerson and pointed to the pouch. He notices what's inside and without hesitation reaches to grab it with the little freedom he had. I took it from him, cheeks and neck red and hot, as we left the room to head to the theatre.
I planned on letting it go unaddressed when he beat me, "Are you sure you want to sit through a movie?" Concern soaked his tone as he neared the first set of stairs. There was no delay in his breathing or strain in his muscles, what was he? Superhuman?
I nodded to his question, "I'll be fine."
He hums in deep thought, but doesn't say anything for a while, "How bad does it get? I know mom and Charice aren't...their best during times like these."
I laughed against him, "It gets bad, but Chance gave me pills for the pain."
Another hum while he nods, turning to head further down, "Were you afraid to tell me?"
How does he read me this well? It was unnerving, "Not afraid necessarily," I sigh against his chest, "I'm just," I think through how to even finish the thought, "I don't want to mess this up."
To this he halts, looking down at me with curiosity and anger in the depths of his eyes, "How would your period mess this up?"
I took a deep breath, "It's not my period. Just...who I become," A monster was a dramatism of my mood swings and fits but it was a lot to handle all at once, "I don't want to push you awa-"
"Adira, I'm not going anywhere," He slowly continued down the lighted stairway that I had yet to see, "That much you can count on."
The spark inside my chest sizzles against my clavicle and my throat tightens. He wasn't one to beat around the bush, he's made at least that clear to me. As if my subconscious wished to remind me of a memory o f his words from only a couple days ago come to mind 'With me you're always safe.' "H-how do you know that though?"
"How do I know that I'm not going anywhere?" His question was for clarification and I'm glad he asked. I realized that's not what I wanted to ask.
"How do you know it's...me?" I feared the answer, the weight of it.
He hums and thinks through presenting an answer, "I know it's you, only you. Because for the months where I couldn't even be around you outside of my dreams," He always reminded me of our humble...bizarre beginnings, "I wished to stay asleep for an eternity to just hear you breathing."
He opens the door leading to what can only be described as a man-cave-arcade-theatre room. The floors were wooden leading to carpets as we transitioned from the bar station and pinball machine to the huge tv and couches set up. There was a popcorn machine running in one corner and the buttery smell made my stomach growl but there was a serious conversation happening, and considering our solitude there was no better time than now.
"So you don't think it will burn out?" I ask honestly, "Like the attraction?"
His eyes jumped, anger at bay, "Of course not," I'm lowered into one side of a pair of adjoining leather seats. He slides into the one directly left, no separation between our seats, "Babe, think about it," He recounts our history, "We've only started getting physically intimate yesterday. I've known you for 7 months and yesterday was the first intentional act of intimacy we shared and even before that I was committed to being in a relationship with you."
He had a point there. There's nothing more for us to say. You have to make the decision now. Even he sees it.
"Okay," I sighed and rested my head on his shoulder, "I'm sorry we keep having this conversation."
"Hey I'll have it a million moe times if you need it," He kisses my cheek before dashing over to the popcorn machine, "Want some?"
"Yes please," I smiled and just as he was heading back the crowd barged in. The air in Cody's step made me aware of his excitement, Chelsea and Gavin wore different expressions.
After everyone's situated the movie starts, lights dimmed but not off even though the latter would result in a greater experience. Probably Emerson's doing. I smiled up at him as the thriller began, suddenly forgetting how much I hated horror movies until the first jump scare. Charice screeched as I buried my face in Emerson's shoulder, clutching onto his arm for dear life. He was unmoved by what was on the screen, eating his popcorn, even humming a tune.
It was irritating.
Tension builds on screen and in my gut, muscles clenching and releasing as my legs tremble. Deciding I needed a break I pulled away from Emerson to ask for directions to the bathroom. I took my pouch and headed there closing the door just as Chelsea's shriek pierced the air. By the time I finished it was time for intermission, something that Chelsea always insisted upon, so that no one would miss important details.
I headed over to grab a bottle of water for my pain medication when Charice cornered me by the bar, "How you feeling love?"
I shrugged my gut rumbling at the pain that was at bay, " Okay, but I think it's about to get worse," I try to change the subject, based on the sympathy in her eyes, "Liking the movie?" I ask as I swallow the pills. The instant irritation in her eyes almost makes me spit out my water.
"Little do they know the war they've started," She hums gently, "Next month, she's picking the sappiest movie she can think of. I can feel it."
I laughed and was going to give suggestions when we're instructed to take our seats back. I settle in my spot and Emerson pulls me close, reaching over to place my legs across his lap and rub my stomach. I was confused but overjoyed at the action and chose not to question it, beginning to find a spot of comfort. The spark in my chest urged me to throw caution to the wind, giving me to the best position to work with.
Risky, but true.
So with a gulp and leap of faith I moved his right arm, opening up his body to me then jumped entirely into his lap. His right arm naturally wraps around me, cradling me in his embrace, but I needed to be soothed, so I perched myself up, chest now in line with his face due to his slouching. There were no complaints.
"Rub my tummy," I beg against his ear, turning outwards to face the screen.
He huffed a laugh but complied nonetheless. Eventually I sank lower, until my head rested against his shoulder, his hand graciously persistent.
"You can go to sleep," He mentions after my third yawn in a row, "I'll bring you to bed after this is done."
"No, I want to see how it ends," I complain, taking more popcorn.
"Okay," he smiles at my stubbornness, leaning against my hair as I refocus. Five minutes later I was asleep.
Flashes of lightning give some source of light in what looks like my old room. There's a wooden crib, painted pink and white and the window is open. In it I lay crying at a gas build up by my ribs, and others in my stomach. No one attended to me so my wails got louder. Soon the overhead light flips on and an angel comes to my rescue. For a minute her beauty distracted me from the pain. Her hair was a halo, black and thick, and she smiled wide and full.
"It's okay baby," She sings, lifting me from the crib. The gas shifts upwards, to my chest. I wailed louder, "Alright alright, mama's here."
She pats my back softly and I feel as the gas rearranges itself in obedience to celestial comfort. I cuddle into her shoulder no longer in pain and she hums a song as she rocks me to and fro. She walks me over to a rocking chair in the corner and I smile up at her. Her face lights up.
"Oh my perfect, perfect baby," She laughs down at me, "Look at you." I giggled reaching upward with open palms.
"If only she'd stay asleep," A voice I'd never forget growls from the door. The harshness of his tone, the way it cut our moment in half. My mother's arms go cold, face tight as she glares over at the open door.
"She's a baby Frank, this is what she does," She snaps at him, fire in her eyes daring him to say anything further.
"Listen," His tone softened, "I'm sorry about what I said earlier-"
"You mean when you called me a dog?" She didn't beat around the bush, "You can be as sorry as you want it won't change the fact that-"
"Wy the fuck won't you listen to what I'm saying!?" With this exclamation a crash sounds and her arms tighten around me. HIs voice was soft, "I-Is she okay?"
"I don't know," They both look down at me, "She has a cut on her elbow the glass must've-"
"Shit shit shit," He sings to himself as my mother springs into action, "What should we do now?"
"You mean considering that we can't go back to the emergency room considering how many times we've-"
"Damn it Ebs why can't you let shit go-"
"Let it go?! You're a constant danger to my daughter and mysel-"
"She's my daughter too!"
A growl slices the air in half, "Get away!" The room goes dark and I'm suddenly alone, on the ground. I wail at the top of my lungs, swaddled in a cream blanket laying in the snow. I wasn't alone anymore.
There a few feet away, inching closer by the second was a pair of fiery eyes. Canines the size of my hands, a sinister smile as it relishes in the sound of my pain. Abandonment freezes my blood and soon I don't have the willpower to even yell. Then it sniffs at my baby feet, up my knees to my gut where it stops, smile persistent as its jaw opens to swallow me whole. A flash of lightning reveals a human face just beyond the wolfish exterior.
A face that...that looks a lot like my...father?!
I gasp awake, drenched in sweat. I was in my room with one lamp on, Chester asleep by my feet.
It was just a nightmare.
I try to convince myself, but then a wolf howls a little beyond my window. I didn't sleep for the rest of the night.
What's up with Adira's Dream? Response to Trauma? A memory? Both? And what do we think about having Emerson's point of view? Too soon?
Anonymous: I hope you enjoyed this chapter.
Anonymous: You're too sweet. Tell me what you think?
Banyana: Your sympathy is heartwarming. Adira's reservations are definitely valid but...As I tried to portray in this chapter...she's definitely starting to break that wall down.
Lis E: Your comments are always so insightful and your guesses on who Stephanie is were impressive, to say the least. Any thoughts here? I know I've been gone for a while :(
Anonymous: I'm really glad that Emerson is your favorite I'll be sure to include more Emerson Adira moments in the upcoming chapters.