Finding Perseverance(17)

By: T. E. Black

“I didn’t mean for this to happen. Please believe when I say this wasn’t part of the plan.” Her words are a rush of mumbles that don’t make much sense.

“What are you talking about?”

My tone causes her to flinch, but I can’t focus on the fact that I’m scaring her. All I can focus on is her last sentence. I box her in against the door so that our chests are practically touching as I rest one hand above her head and cup her cheek with the other.

“What are you talking about? What plan? What wasn’t supposed to happen? You’re not making sense.”

A tear slips from her eye, drops from her beautiful chin, and then lands on my bare chest. The moment I wipe the next one away, she panics. Her body tenses and her eyes fill with regret. What does she have to regret? What the hell did she do?

“I-I …” She presses her lips together and refuses to meet my eyes.

“Talk to me. Tell me what’s going on, Lauren.”

A sob made of hysterics rakes over her body as she loses it. She buries her face in my chest while I rub her back in an attempt to calm her. I need to know what she’s done. Did she sell me out to the media? A sex tape? I can handle that. It isn’t the worst thing to happen.

“I set you up,” she sobs. “I’m so sorry. Mark and I … we set you up.”

My whole world stops.

“You did what?” I drop my arms and step back.

More sobs.

I take two more steps back, suddenly repulsed by her touch. I want to turn and punch something just to give myself something else to focus on.

“What the fuck have you done?” I still have no idea what she actually set me up for.

“We were never getting divorced.” My whole body flinches in shock. “I love you. I swear, it was all real. It was Mark’s idea …” She takes a deep breath. “He wanted his guy in your spot. He wanted me to get dirt on you. Something he could use to get you suspended from the league. But I love you. I couldn’t do it. I couldn’t once I found out how amazing you are. I know this is bad timing, but I’m afraid of what’s going to happen once I tell Mark. Our plan was to tell him, and I still want to. I think that, considering the circumstances, I need to tell him alone,” she says and then blows out a long breath. “I didn’t want him to throw this back at you when he found out. He’s going to try to do anything to make sure we’re against each other, and I don’t want that to happen. I love you, Rook.”

I turn my back on her, needing a moment to myself before I freak out. Although, the way my blood is boiling tells me the next thing she says is going to send me over the edge.

“We are getting divorced. I’m telling him how I feel about you … and you hopefully still feel about me. I plan to tell him during your fight, but I wanted to tell you first. I can’t keep this secret from you anymore. I fell in love with you.”

I glance over my shoulder at her. “You think I could love you after what you did?”

“I hoped you could,” she sobs again.

Stalking over to her, I grab her wrist roughly as I drag her across the room to the window overlooking the city.

“You see that, Lauren?” I seethe.

“I don’t know what you want me to look at,” she cries.

I release her wrist with a toss and point to the billboard with my face plastered on it.

“My face on the billboard. I worked all my life to get my face on that stupid sign. Then you and your screwed-up husband decide it’s a good idea to try to strip me of it, and in between doing so, you claim to fall in love? You think I’m going to believe a thing you say?”

She’s still sobbing when I grab her by the chin harshly, but not enough to actually hurt her. I make her look me dead in the eyes as I continue, “What the fuck was the plan for whatever you dug up? Sell it to the media? Do you really think I have any skeletons in my closet bad enough to actually strip me of my damn title? Why would you tell me this now—right before I’m about to go out there and fight for my title, Lauren?”

I stare at her in shock—mind blown by the way this woman thinks. What sane person would think it’s all right to derail someone’s life like this? What could possibly be wrong with her that she thinks she’s doing right by me?