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Never been loved, p.7
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       Never Been Loved, p.7

           C.M. Kars

  “Great. You’re taking orders from my mom now. Nice.” I clear my throat, wonder if I can just shuffle towards the door and she’d take the hint. Yeah, right. “I don’t want you here, Aly. I need you to leave. Now.”

  The words come out with a negative percentage of authority. My voice is low and weak, and she knows that that means. We all do. I’m a fucking pushover at this point. Weak and useless.

  Without so much as a hello to Matty, Aly just walks in with her stupid, loud goddamn heels, clack clack clacking all over the damn place, sending spears of agony through my ears and brain. She drops her bag on the kitchen counter with a loud thunk, and starts opening cupboards and the fridge, looking for something to eat.

  I can’t deal with this right now, I don’t want to.

  Mumbling to Aly that I don’t feel good, I head for the door. I have some candy in my pockets, and I can just sit out in the hall until I feel better. This is a good plan.

  Once out in the hall, I sit my ass down, back to the wall, staring at the opposite patch of wall like it has all the answers I’ll ever need. The drab grey colour seems to swirl before my eyes, as cold sweat drips down the sides of my temples. I’m shaking and helpless to stop it. With trembling fingers, I fumble open a few Jolly Ranchers and stick them all in my mouth, telling my gag reflex to shut the fuck up as I suck on the much needed sugar.

  I go to a different place when I have a low.

  I don’t know where it is, or how long I’m going be there, but whatever happens in the here and now, I’m oblivious to. Matty’s told me I can sometimes yell at him, which is common for some diabetics – becoming aggressive when a low hits. But I never remember what I say, or what I do.

  It’s like my brain goes into survival mode, hunkering down and saving the energy I need to keep me alive, to suck up all the sugar it’s going to need for survival. Maybe that’s why I feel like I’m dreaming, just a bunch of chemical soup mixing in my skull.

  I’m a little kid again, and I’m chasing Jules through the park near our house. We’ve given Eddie the slip and we can hear him yelling our names to come back. We don’t listen. Now I’m eighteen again, and I’ve just stepped out of the doctor’s office after being diagnosed. I’m alone. All alone.

  And then she’s there, and I don’t want her to see me like this. I don’t want her to see me go to pieces.

  “Hunter? It’s Sera, remember?”

  Her beautiful features get blurred out by my weakening vision. That’s what happens from all the sugar spikes. It fucks up your eyes, enough that I could be blind by the time I’m forty or fifty. I think of Sera holding my hand as I stumble in the perpetual darkness that’ll become my life. I reach for her hand, and hold it in both of mine.

  And I can’t keep it together. I let her see what it’s doing to me, this disease, if only for a split second. I’m hoping I don’t remember any of this.

  “Hunter, look at me. Do you need an ambulance?” Her voice is melodic, like a song. Soothing, calming. I like it. I want to tell her to keep talking to me, to tell me anything she wants because it feels like it’s the only thing that’s real right now.

  “I’m calling an ambulance, you need help.”

  “No ambulances,” I mutter, unable to push more sound into my voice. “You can take me to the hospital.” I will her to understand, to get what I mean even if I can’t say it.

  I watch her green eyes flash with something like worry and pain. “Where are your keys?”

  S’ all I needed to hear. The world has faded out, and I’ve gone somewhere else.

  Chapter 7

  I have the dizzying moment where my eyes pop open and I recognize nothing. Am I dead? Is this heaven or hell? An obnoxious beeping sound comes from my left, but I’m too tired to move. Bed. I’m on a bed. Motherfucker, I’m attached to something. Looking down at my left arm, yeah, I got an IV stuck up my veins. Shit. I’m at the hospital.

  Jesus Christ. How long have I been out?

  My mind blanks as I try to dig up some sort of memory of the last few... hours? Minutes? Seconds? A face swims up out of the dregs, blurry around the edges but there’s no mistaking her.

  Fucking shit, Sera saw me. She saw me?

  Matty? Where’s the kid?!

  “Nurse!” I yell, trying to sit up, but my body’s stonewalling me, refusing to move when I try to make it move. Fucking shit, really?

  “NURSE!” I holler again, managing to get myself somewhat seated upright, yanking hard on my arms to try and support my weight.

  Oh, Christ, she’s here, Sera’s here, coming towards my bed, ignoring all the other patients. And thank Christ, she has the kid, and I’m hollering like a goddamn animal. I stare at her, wishing she didn’t have to see me like this, so weak and helpless, completely battered after such a horrible low. And there goes the I.V., snaking its way front, back, spitting at everyone around me.

  “Matty!” I yell. I feel like my bones have been pulverized, and I’m breathing fast like I’ve sprinted up ten flights of stairs. Thank God he’s here, thank Christ Sera looked after him.

  I wind my hand around his little body, my palm settling over his ribcage until the steady thump, thump, thump of his heart loosens my muscles enough that I can relax a little into the joke of a bed.

  I can’t help the sound of my voice, how utterly defeated and terrified I sound when I tell Matty that he scared me. Jules’ kid just giggles and smiles like I’ve gone and made a farting joke.

  I don’t understand how he can smile and joke around.

  I let the nurse try to put in my I.V. again, barely glancing at her, acutely aware that Sera is standing by my hospital bedside and that is not the place I want her to be.

  A girl like that doesn’t deserve a man who’s lying down on a hospital bed, while she looks after his nephew. A woman like that needs to be wined and dined, to be given diamonds and jewels. A woman like Sera needs to be rewarded for even the sliver of kindness she’s shown my nephew. I’m sure he wasn’t the best of company, but I didn’t miss the little guy holding her hand as he walked closer to my bedside.

  Shit, she’s stolen his heart

  “I scared you?” Matty says, that fucking smile on his face. It feels like a slap since I’m not the one that put it there. “I think you scared Sera! She’s super strong, Daddy. I’ve never seen anyone able to hold you up before!”

  Oh, man. I get a vision, please don’t let it be a memory, of Sera somehow managing to carry me in her arms like you would a baby. I’d snap her spine in two if she ever tried that. Maybe the kid doesn’t know what he’s talking about.

  Nope, there it is, the wisps of a memory tickling my awareness. All right, that’s not too awful, being pressed up against her back, as she fronted my weight and dragged my sorry ass to my car.

  Shame burns hot in my throat. Sera should never have seen me like that. She should have never seen me like that. She saved my life, I should be saying thank you, fucking kissing the ground she walks on, but I can’t. Whether it’s because my body’s exhausted or because I’m being a dick, I’m not too sure.

  I look at her, really look at her.

  The gorgeous green eyes, the brown hair tied back in a loose ponytail, wisps flying about her face.

  And the glasses. Never thought I’d dig a woman with glasses – I can just imagine all sorts of fun things to do that would necessitate me having to take them off her.

  Jesus Christ, I’m on a hospital bed.

  I bite down hard on my back molars and stare at her, until she looks so uncomfortable she starts to speak. That’s what I do, I make her uncomfortable. Just another sign that I shouldn’t go after a woman like her. She’s not for me.

  “How long are you in here for?” Her voice has gone raspy, and instead of attitude she sounds genuinely concerned. I don’t know what to do with that. I open my mouth to say something intelligent or something that doesn’t make me sound like a total dick when she continues, “because if you’re going to be in here for a couple of days,
I can have Matty stay with me for the weekend. I could even call in sick Monday, if you need me to.”

  No. No fucking way. Who is this chick? Nobody’s that compassionate or sweet. No one. And now I’m glaring like she’s gone and mutated right in front of me or something. Damn it.

  “Or, you know, you can try finding a babysitter for him from your hospital bed, if you prefer,” she says, flashing her teeth at me. There it is, not enough blood to my brain, but enough to make me hard at the bit of steel she just showed me.

  I want Sera, and I can’t have her. She turns to leave, giving me the perfect view of her perfect ass, and I know I have to use my brain now.

  “Wait.” Sera gives me the full-front of her face, and my heartbeat goes out of whack from just that look. Shit. “I don’t know you, understand? I’m not going to leave him with just anybody. Especially a stranger. I’m a diabetic, not a crack-pot.”

  Crack-pot? Really? In her eyes, man, you probably just lost ten IQ points.

  My vision starts coming in more clearer now as I watch her cross her arms under her breasts, hiding her shirt. I wonder what it said. Guess I should’ve been paying attention. Well, I’m paying attention now. I look quickly down, she’s wearing Converse, non-designer jeans and a custom made shirt. I take in her glasses, hair pulled back, sexy green eyes, again.

  Yeah, I want her.

  Sera’s mouth twists and she puts her weight on one leg, cocking out a hip. It’s really hard trying not to stare at the curve perfectly outlined from her jeans, or how very much my hands would look fucking great right there, if she’d ever let me hold her close.

  “Or you could let him stay with the Duchess of the Flies? Since that’s your only other option.”

  Duchess of the Flies? Did she just call Mom that? Is she here? Vaguely, I remember Mom trying to shake me awake – the smell of her perfume somehow has stayed behind in my unconsciousness. Or did I dream that, too?

  Holy fuck, I’m seriously into this woman. I better be careful before I ask her to have my biological children.

  Matty giggles after he’s settled himself on my bed. The thing’s hardly big enough for me, but the kid manages to squeeze his minuscule ass on a sliver of mattress, pressed up against my hip.

  I can’t believe he got the joke. I mean, I’m sure when I was four, there was no way I was that smart.

  “Look, your body has taken a beating. I’m trying to offer you some help. I’ll give you my cell number so you can call Matty every fifteen minutes if you’re up to it. I don’t know what it’s worth, but I swear I won’t do anything to hurt him. Looks like he’s the only one that laughs at my jokes.” She grins at me. I’m probably staring like an idiot.

  She’s going to kill me with her sweetness.

  I settle more deeply onto my pillow, letting out a pent up breath, and letting my gritty eyes slide closed. She’s placed a scrap of paper in my hand; I open my eyes. When I’m done with my pity party, I look at Matty, knowing she’s the only one able to help me right now. And I’m also thinking she deserves a proper thank you once I can get the hell out of here and back on my own two feet. Jesus.

  “You’re going to be good for Sera, right?” I ask, putting a palm on the kid’s leg.

  Matty bounces on the bed, legs swinging. “Promise!”

  I get a wet kiss on my cheek for my effort and more giggles. Those giggles are going to be the death of me, I swear it.

  “Can we watch Peter Pan tonight, Sera?” Matty asks her. I watch him swivel his head towards her; I’m completely forgotten. I think I should be pissed at that, but I don’t have the energy for it. Better that the kid goes with Sera than my mother. She won’t watch after him anyway, and the kid hates going there. I can’t deal with another tantrum.

  It’s not like I don’t know where Sera lives. I’ll bust down the door if I have to. But first, I need to sleep. The beeping on my left, measuring my stupid heart rate turns hypnotic, and I feel my eyelids shutting closed, only for me to open them more slowly.

  “I’ve got something better for you.” she says, hand out, waiting for him to grab it.

  I struggle to look menacing when all Sera needs to do is tuck me in and I’m out for the count.

  “Buddy, cover your ears first. I gotta say something to Sera,” I say, mustering up my depleted energy and trying to convince myself to use it.

  Matty stops when he gets to her, face bleached of colour when he turns to look at me. I’m pole-axed again by his looks, how very much he looks like Jules, and how she used to look at me like that when I told her there were ghosts in her room all that time ago. “You’re going to tell her bad words?”

  Sera bursts out laughing, arms crossing over her belly as she bends at the waist. Eyes screwed tight, mouth wide open enough that I can see her tonsils, just belting out her laughter and I swear I feel more alive because of it. She even leans down, still laughing, and hugs Matty close to her body.

  “You are the best person I have ever met,” she says, and tells him to cover his ears. Christ, she’d make an excellent mom. Did I really just think that? Yes, I did. Shit.

  I lunge for her wrist, wrapping my numb fingers around the delicate joint, hoping I’m not squeezing too hard.

  The reality of my situation is shitty, but I’m not stupid, no matter how much the spikes in sugar have caused damage to my brain or whatever. Christ, I really need Sera to be whatever she is, whatever she’s showing me right now. The sweetness, the affection for Matty, the attitude. I need her to be all of that, I need her to be real for me. Because if she isn’t, I may just be giving my nephew away to some psycho bitch that’ll make Aly look fucking stable.

  I drag her closer to the bed, watch her shuffle closer to me, until there’s only a few inches between us. I need her to be good, or else these words are going to be more like a vow instead of a meagre warning.

  “You hurt him, and I will make pain look like a fleeting memory. If he says he’s tired, check his sugar. His glucometer and Iron Man pack is at my place. You have to-”

  She pulls on my grip, but I won’t let go.

  “He’s diabetic too?”

  Yeah, sweetheart. Want to give him back to me? More than you signed up for, isn’t it?

  I want her to give Matty back, I want her to erase whatever stupid things I’ve got floating in my head that are making her out to be perfect. I want her to fall short of whatever ideal I have in my head so I know that when I see her again, I’m not missing out on anything.

  But I also need her to be exactly who I think she is so that I know women like her exist, and there might be some hope left in the world for me and Matty.

  “I know how to use one. My mom’s a diabetic. I know what to do. I don’t have any junk at my house if you’re worried about him downing that.”

  Jesus Christ, no. Sera...she knows about us? What it’s like, how we are? I swallow convulsively a few times, shaking my head. I can’t believe my luck.

  “I don’t want you in this. Fuck. I don’t want you in this at all.”

  Sera doesn’t deserve this. She deserves a healthy kid, and a healthy man where her only worries in life are what book I’m going to buy her next.

  “You’ll be rid of me as soon as you get out. Better start concentrating on getting better then, right?”

  Good job, man, you made her think she’s got some sort of contagious disease that you don’t want the kid near. Real smooth.

  “Watch him,” I snarl, trying to sit up, pissed off that I’m not saying the right things. I let go of her wrist and watch her move closer to me, like she wants to help arrange me on the bed. I need to be an asshole, and I need to be one right now. The truth is, I’d let her rule my entire life in a heartbeat.

  “I’ll watch him. Swear to God.” Those dark green eyes are blazing with something I think might be called sincerity.

  “Swear on your life,” I say, not sure where the words come from. I figure she’s taking something important from me and I need her to even up the score.
  She deep breathes, but gives me the words. “I swear, Hunter. Everything’s going be fine. Promise. Rest easy. You’ll see him in a couple of days. We’re going to OD on movies and maybe some pizza.”

  Another Sera-grin for me. It’s better than all the normal sugar levels in the past ten years.

  “See you soon. Matty? Come say bye.”

  Matty skips over, hands free from his ears and I get slobbered on again. The kid waves good bye as I watch Sera tug him out of Monitored Care.

  And then I’m alone, just like it feels I always have been.

  I’m a moron, but Sera is driving me crazy. Maybe I’m going crazy, the constant sugar lows and highs have finally screwed up my brain and thinking processes. This is not rational behaviour. I’m pounding at her door, and I hear whatever conversation that was going on in her apartment turn to complete silence.

  Sera told me she was having friends over when I called. Christ, I know this. I just can’t help the level of pissed off that I’m throwing off at her closed door. I’m surprised I’m not breaking it down by a sheer force of will.

  How fucking dare they have fun, eat, drink beers and wine or whatever the fuck, and Jules’ kid’s in there, and she’s in there, laughing at a stupid joke, smiling at everyone but me. And now I’m the reason that her apartment has gone deathly quiet, as if they know I’m about to kill all the fun.

  The door opens, too fucking slowly, and Sera’s there, staring at my feet. I look down to make sure that yeah, I did take my pants from the hospital and put them on the right side out. Her hair’s a curtain in front of her face. I have the insane need to see her face, to see her eyes. To make her look at me like I’m more than the guy she left behind at the hospital.

  Shit. I’m so screwed.

  “I thought you were supposed to stay the night.”

  I bite my tongue until I taste blood. What, now I’m ruining your party, princess? Sera still won’t look at me; I find myself grinding my teeth.

  Look at me, Sera. Tell me I didn’t ruin your night. Tell me you took care of Matty, tell me you are who exactly you seem to be.

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