Fueled (Page 3)
I barely make it to the toilet, stumbling and falling to my knees as I empty the nonexistent contents of my stomach into the bowl. My body shakes violently as I do what I can to expunge every trace of him from my body even if those traces are only in my mind. I slide down to lean back against the tiled wainscot wall, the cool of the marble welcome against my heated skin. My hand trembles as I wipe my mouth with the back of it. I lean my head back, closing my eyes, and try to shove the memories back into hiding to no avail.
Spiderman. Batman. Superman. Ironman.
What the hell happened? I haven’t had that dream in over fifteen years. Why now? Why did—oh fuck! Oh fuck! Rylee. Rylee saw that. Rylee was witness to the nightmare that I’ve never confessed to. The nightmare full of things that absolutely no one knows about. Did I say anything? Did she hear something? No, no, no! She can’t find out.
She can’t be here.
Shame washes through me and lodges in my throat, forcing me to breathe deep to prevent from getting sick again. If she knows the things I did—the things he made me do, the things I did without a struggle—then she’ll know what kind of person I am. She’ll know how horrible and dirty and unworthy I am. Why loving somebody, accepting love from somebody is not possible for me. Ever.
The deep-seated fear that lives just under the surface inside of me—over someone finding out the truth—bubbles up, sputters over the edge.
Oh fuck, not again. My stomach riots violently, and when I’m finished dry heaving, I flush the toilet and force myself up. I stumble to the sink and with shaking hands squeeze a heaping glob of toothpaste on my toothbrush and scrub my mouth aggressively. I close my eyes, willing the feelings away while trying to remember the feel of Rylee’s hands―instead of any of the numerous women I’ve used unabashedly over the years to try and smother the horror in my mind—to take the memory away.
To use pleasure to bury the pain.
“Fuck!” It doesn’t work so I scrub my teeth until I can taste the coppery hint of blood from my gums. I drop my toothbrush with a clatter on the counter and cup some of the water in my hands to splash onto my face. I focus on Rylee’s feet through the mirror’s reflection as she enters the bathroom. I take a deep breath. I can’t let her see me like this. She’s too smart—has too much experience with this kind of shit—and I’m not ready for the skeletons in my closet to be exposed and gone through with a fine-tooth comb.
I don’t think I’ll ever be.
I scrub my face with the towel, unsure of what to do. When I drop it, I look up to her. God, she is so incredibly fucking beautiful. She takes my breath away. Bare legs sticking out beneath my rumpled t-shirt, smudged eyeliner, hair tangled from sleep, and a crease in her cheek from the pillow do nothing to lessen her attraction. For some reason, it almost heightens it. Makes her seem so innocent, so untouchable. I don’t deserve her. She is so much more than someone like me is worthy of. She’s just too close right now, closer than I’ve ever let anyone get. And it terrifies me. I’ve never let someone this far in because that means secrets are shared and pasts are discovered.
And because it means you need. I’ve only ever needed myself—needing others only results in pain. In abandonment. In unspeakable horrors. And yet, I need Rylee right now. Every cell in my body wants to walk over, pull her against me, and cling to her right now. Use the warmth of her soft skin and the sound of her quiet sighs to alleviate the pressure expanding in my chest. To lose myself in her so I can find myself again—even if just for a minute. And for that reason alone, she needs to leave. As much as I want to, I can’t…I just can’t do this to her. To me. To my carefully constructed life and way of coping.
Alone is better. Alone, I know what to expect. I can map out situations and mitigate problems ahead of time. Fuck! How am I going to do this? How am I going to push away the one woman I’ve ever really thought of letting in?
Better to lose her now then when she bolts after finding out the truth.
I take a fortifying breath in preparation and meet her eyes. So many emotions swarm in her violet irises, and yet it’s the pity that sets me off, that allows me to grab on to it and use it as my piss-poor excuse for what I’m about to do. I’ve seen that look so many times over my life and nothing irritates me more. I’m not a charity case. I don’t need anyone’s damn pity.
Especially not hers.
She says my name in that telephone sex rasp of a voice she has, and I almost cave. “Don’t, Rylee. You need to leave.”
“Colton?” Her eyes search mine, asking so many questions and yet none pass through her lips.
“Go, Rylee. I don’t want you here.” She blanches at my statement. My eyes trace down her face, and I watch her bottom lip tremble. I bite the inside of my lip as my stomach churns and feels like I’m going to be sick again.
“I just want to help…”
I wince inwardly at the break in her voice, hating myself for the pain I know I’m about to cause her. She’s just so goddamn stubborn that I know she’s not going to leave this without a fight. She takes a step toward me, and I grind my teeth in reaction. If she touches me—if I feel her fingertips on my skin—I’ll cave.
“Get out!” I roar, her eyes snap up to meet mine, disbelief flashing in them, but I also sense her resolve to comfort me. “Get the fuck out, Rylee! I don’t want you here! Don’t need you here!”
Her eyes widen as she clenches her jaw to prevent her lip from quivering. “You don’t mean that.”