Finding Perseverance(18)

By: T. E. Black

Instead of answering me, she tries to pull me back in and press her lips to mine. With cat-like reflexes, I shove her back a step and follow her movements as she stumbles. My body moves like lightning as I pin her against the wall and hold her hands to her side.

“Don’t you dare touch me!” I scream in her face. “You tricked me! You lied! You made me fuck a married woman! How the hell could you expect me to love you?”

Pushing off the wall, I back away slowly, trying my best not to go ballistic. That’s not me. I don’t go crazy on women no matter the case, and I don’t want to start now.

“You need to leave.”

Attempting to calm the storm brewing, I link my hands together above my head.

I need to breathe. I need to calm down.

“Rook …”

My eyes snap open as blood pounds furiously in my ears. My world tilts, and the anger I have only ever felt inside the cage bubbles. It’s lava under the surface, reaching and searching for the cracks in my restraint that will let it out. I take a deep breath, trying to force my muscles to relax. But she’s just standing there. The soul focus of my anger, the woman I thought I was in love with who has proven to be just another person trying to get something from me.

This isn’t working.

“I need you to get out of my room. Get the fuck out!” I shout before resuming my breathing technique.

“Please don’t do this—”

“Get out! I’m dead serious!”

A moment passes where she doesn’t speak, and I’m grateful. If she speaks again, I’m going to lose my shit and break everything in my path.

“I love you.” I hear before the clicking of the door.

When I open my eyes again, she’s gone, and Luke is standing in front of me. Funny, because I didn’t hear him come in. Although, everything is in slow motion, so my concept of time is shit. I also can’t take a deep breath past the iron tourniquet around my chest. I know I’m panting and likely shaking from a mixture of anger and panic, but I can’t focus enough to get my emotions under control.

“Rook. Can you hear me?” Luke snaps his fingers in front of my face, which makes me want to swing on him. It’s the concern in his eyes that stops me. Luke isn’t the bad guy. He knows what’s happening to me, just not why. “Remember when we went to that childrens hospital?”

I hear his words clear as day, but the pounding in my chest won’t let me answer him. So, I listen to the controlled way he speaks.

“I’ll never forget how that day changed you, man. I don’t think I ever saw you so humbled in your life, do you remember?” He keeps talking, and I let his voice become a voice over for my own memory.

Walking through a children's hospital is the most breathtaking yet beautiful thing I've ever experienced. It's a mix of emotions for a hardened man like me. Everywhere I look, a different feeling crashes into me like a freight train.

“You good?” Luke whispers with a nervous strain to his voice.

“How is this possible?” I mutter in disbelief.

“Huh? What are you talking about?”

“All these kids …” I pause. “There's so many of them.”

“The way you looked at all those sick kids made me respect you on another level, Rook. Anyone looking at you knew you loved those kids the moment you laid eyes on them.”

I nod my head in agreement, trying to take a deep breath.

“Just when I thought you seeing those kids was going to bring you to your knees, we saw the kid we went there to see.”

I flick my gaze to Luke who gives me a sympathetic smile. He knew this shit would throw me for a loop. Hell, he even tried to talk me out of coming here. It was no use, though. Hospital or not, I was meeting this kid. He deserved it. I can only imagine the countless hours he spent writing the article. Not to mention, he was twelve. He had to be smart as hell.

When I was twelve, I wasn't writing ten-page sports articles on my own damn blog. I was doing twelve-year-old shit—playing football with my friends, trying to stay up late without my mom knowing, and then there was Leigh, who was a completely different story.

The waiting room is covered in murals, and I can't help but smile. There is one of the white rabbit from Alice in Wonderland holding his ticking pocket watch in one hand and the other hand planted on his hip.