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Cursed ecstasy cursed se.., p.8
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       Cursed Ecstasy (Cursed Series), p.8

           t. h. snyder
 
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  “I’m sorry for being a bitch earlier. There’s just a lot on my mind and I’m not one to let others into my world. If you really want to be my friend,” I stop for a brief second and smile, “you’ll have to call me Etty and not Gretchen; it’s what my friends call me.”

  A smile spreads across his face and he pulls me into his embrace. He smells like clean laundry and musky cologne. My senses fill with his scent and I let my body melt into my new friend.

  “Thank you, Christian.”

  “For what?” he asks, pulling me tighter to his warm body.

  “Being a friend and coming back here. I guess I needed you more than I realized.”

  “I’ll be here for you as long as you’ll allow me; you just have to let me in.”

  Stepping away from him, I gaze up into his eyes once again. They’re filled with so much comfort. He returns a sincere look and I know that, somehow, this will all work out. Even if I only have my new stranger to lean on through all of this, I’ll be okay.

  “I really want to find Linc and see how Jo is before heading home. After all, if they’re here, I really don’t have much to go home to anyway.”

  “I’ve already checked to see where Linc’s room is so we can head on up there if you want. I won’t stay if you don’t need me to; just know that I’m here for you.”

  “You have no idea how much I appreciate this, Christian.”

  He takes the bag from my hands and reaches his other hand for mine. Escorting me out of the room, he leads me down the hall toward an elevator. Without letting go of me, he pushes the up arrow button and we enter the steel box.

  My nerves are beginning to get the best of me and a knot of panic starts to settle into the pit of my stomach. I pull my hand from Christian’s as I feel the clamminess of my palms.

  From the corner of my eye I can see him watching me.

  “Are you okay?”

  Nodding my head, I swallow the lump in my throat.

  “Yeah, I’m just nervous to see Linc. I don’t know how he’ll react. He’s been my rock since moving here and I don’t know what I’ll do if he doesn’t want to see me.”

  As the doors open, he grabs for my hand and leads me out into the hallway. Stopping just short of the elevator, he turns and backs me against the wall. Tilting my chin up to face him, he stares into my eyes.

  “I don’t know how strong your relationship is with Linc or exactly what’s gone down the past few hours. What I do know is that you are strong and you give off this impression that people are only out to get you. Talk to him, tell him what happened and how you’re feeling. If he’s as good of a friend as you make him out to be, I’m sure he’ll understand.”

  I allow his words to sink in and take a deep breath. Maybe he’s right. I’ll just talk to Linc and explain exactly what happened.

  “Okay,” I reply.

  Letting go of my chin, he takes a step back.

  “Good, now let’s go see Linc so that you can let go of all this anxiety you’re feeling.”

  Taking a step ahead of me, I follow closely behind him while walking through the halls leading to Linc’s room.

  Christian stops in front of a closed door and leans up against the wall.

  “I’ll be right out here if you need me.”

  I give him a half smile and turn the knob.

  Walking into the room, I hear the steady beat of the monitors and see my rock lying in his bed.

  He’s sleeping and I’d rather not wake him. Pulling a chair up alongside of him I take a seat and wait.

  Minutes go by but they feel more like hours. The anticipation of him seeing me in here makes me want to scream. I just want to shake him and have him yell at me. I’m not sure how that will make me feel any better, but it sounds good at the moment.

  Adjusting my position in the chair, the wooden leg screeches against the tile floor. My heart skips a beat and my eyes dart to Linc as his eyes open and he turns his head to face me. Linc blinks his eyes a few times and eventually focuses in on me.

  The look on my face must be of pure fear.

  “Etty, hell, how are you?” he asks in a groggy voice.

  My mouth drops open to the floor. He’s asking about me. Shouldn’t I be the one asking how he’s doing?

  He starts to move in his bed and the pain he’s feeling shows on his face. His dark hair is a mess, his deep brown eyes rimmed in red, and worry lines are forming along his forehead and scrunched brow.

  “Me? You’re asking about me, Linc? I think I should be more concerned with you right now.”

  “I’m fine, Etty, I just hurt my arm.”

  I roll my eyes at him and move to sit on the edge of his bed.

  “I’m so sorry about all of this, Linc. I had no idea that Rick would come looking for me. If I knew he would do something like this I never would have stayed with you. I’m so sorry, please forgive me.”

  He reaches his left arm to grab on to my hand.

  “Look, I get that you’re feeling a bit shitty right now. It’s not your fault and I don’t blame you. Get that out of your head right now. I’m just glad that you’re alright.”

  Shaking my head at him, the tears start to run down my face.

  “Thank you for being my rock, Linc. I love you like a brother. I don’t know what I would’ve done if you were to push me away. Everything that has happened over the past few hours is a blur to me. I just need to know that you and Jo are okay.”

  “I’ll never turn my back on you, Etty. You’re one of my girls and I’ll die protecting you and Jo. Don’t ever question that.”

  I let out a huge sigh of relief and squeeze his hand.

  “There’s so much to sort through. Have you heard anything about Jo yet?”

  He pulls his hand from mine and props his arm behind his head.

  “The nurse that came in to check on me a little bit ago said that she’s still recuperating from surgery in the ICU. I haven’t heard much more than that. I guess no news is good news…right?”

  Wringing my hands in my lap, I look away from him for a second. I know there isn’t much I can do, but I hate that there’s still so much unknown happening right here in front of us.

  “Etty, look at me.”

  My stare turns from the blank wall to him.

  “Not your fault, you got that?”

  I nod my head in his direction.

  “Yeah, I guess.”

  “Good, now tell me what the doctors said about your fall. Are you okay?”

  “I’m fine. It’s just a bump to my head—nothing that won’t take care of itself.”

  “I doubt that. Don’t be stupid, Etty. You fell down the stairs and your head was bleeding.”

  “I’m good, Linc, I promise.”

  “Take care of yourself, Etty. I’m sure they won’t let me out of here anytime soon and I can’t watch over you.”

  He stops for a second and looks around the room.

  “Have you talked to Dault or Steve since you got here?”

  Biting down on my lower lip, my nerves start to kick back into full gear.

  “I saw them for a bit, but right now Dault has made it perfectly clear that I’m the one to blame here. I don’t know that he’ll ever see past Rick hurting you and Jo. He hates me now more than ever.”

  A small laugh escapes his lips and a smile crosses his face.

  “Dault doesn’t hate you, Etty. He’s just being the bitch-ass punk he always is when things don’t go his way. Give him some time and he’ll be back to his asshole self in no time. You two have a connection and I know he won’t be able to stay mad at you for long.”

  “I don’t know, Linc; he’s more than pissed off at me.”

  “Forget about him for now; let me deal with him once I’m outta here. He cares about you, Etty, he just has a weird way of showing it. Just worry about you and taking care of that pretty head of yours. Why don’t you go home, get some rest, and relax? Come back here later tonight and we’ll talk some more. Maybe they’ll give me
some more details on Jo by then, too.”

  “Will you call me if anything changes?”

  “Of course. Get out of here so I can get some more sleep. These pain meds have me getting tired again.”

  Stepping off of the bed, I lean in and give my Linc a tight hug.

  “Thank you, Linc.”

  “I’ll always be here for you, no matter what.”

  I smile at him and let out a heavy breath before turning my back and leaving the room.

  Lost in Thought

  There’s so much I want to tell you. I wish you were here to help me through everything. I miss you every day and wish there was a way to bring you back to me.

  Since you’ve been gone, pain is all I’ve ever known. I may be strong, but the fight I’ve put up to be the man I am is crushing me.

  A man is someone that should be strong. He should hold the weight of the world on his shoulders while supporting the family he loves.

  I’m not a man, I’m a coward.

  The people that count on me the most are the ones I’ve let fall.

  Linc, my brother, needed me and where was I? Oh, that’s right, at a bar, drinking away my sorrows and looking for a quick lay. That’s my life—a worthless piece of shit that no one should depend on.

  Jo’s my best friend and the one person that has never judged me for the way I am. I’ve let her down, too. She’s hurting, and again, where was I to keep her safe? She deserves the world and thank god she has Linc to give it to her. I’m nothing but a burden that keeps her up at night worrying if I’ll make it home dead or alive.

  Etty is the one woman that my heart was beginning to ache for more and more each time I saw her. She’s the one I felt I could possibly let in and I pushed her away. There’s nothing more to say other than I don’t deserve the love she wanted to give me…if that’s really what she wanted. I should have given her the world, and instead, I put her through hell and back when she needed me the most.

  Mama, I’m sorry. I should have saved you, been a better son, and stayed out of trouble. It’s my fault you’re not here with me. If I was brave I could’ve stopped him and made sure that you would be safe forever, but instead, he took you from me and now I’m left alone.

  I want to be a better person—a man that others can fall back on and trust when they are in need.

  Her face is all I see; even when I wanted to despise her, she was all I wanted.

  The way she felt in my arms, the smell of her soft skin, and the passion we were able to ignite amongst one another, I’ve never felt that before.

  Will I be the man she needs?

  Will she give me the chance to love her as she should be loved?

  Will everyone I need in my life forgive me for the mistakes I’ve made and the pain I’ve caused?

  Lost in thought, all I want is to be a better man.

  Chapter 13

  Two Weeks Later

  “Let’s go, shit stain. We need to get out of the shop and to your therapy session,” I shout back to Linc’s office.

  I’ve been patiently waiting for him for the past half hour. What the hell is taking him so long?

  Poking his head out of the office, he looks down the hallway to me. “I’m coming. I just need to finish up this last statement and I’ll be out.”

  “Dude, whatever, I’m going out for a smoke and you’d better be ready to go when I’m done.”

  I shake my head and turn toward the new receptionist, Ashley. With her bright pink hair piled on top of her head and hazel eyes staring back at me, she smiles and lets out a loud laugh.

  “You two are something else, you know that, right?”

  “Yeah, we’re somethin’ alright. This place wouldn’t be Cursed Magic if we were normal...right?” I reply with a cocky smirk.

  She looks up at me with a look of confusion and then smiles again.

  “Just tell Linc to come out when he’s done. Oh, and let Steve and Cliff know we won’t be coming back. We need to get some stuff ready for when Jo gets home.”

  “Will do,” she replies before answering the phone.

  This chick has only been here covering for Etty and Jo for two weeks and already she’s getting used to The Linc and Dault Show we put on every day.

  With a wave of my hand I walk out of the shop and onto the sidewalk. Pulling a pack of cigarettes out of my pocket, I lean up against the old building and light up a smoke.

  The past two weeks have flown by so fast that it all feels like a dream speeding through in fast motion. The house is finally back to normal, Etty has decided to stay in Birmingham, Linc is out and trying to return to his normal life, and Jo should be released from the hospital any day now.

  Things seem to be going good for everyone else, but it’s me that has the trouble dealing with everything that has happened. I’ve learned that life is worth so much more than I ever thought. I’ve taken too much for granted, and in a short time I’ve realized that life is too important to disregard those that mean the most to me.

  I wish I could say that I have no regrets in life, but now, as I take a step back and reevaluate the way in which I’ve lived…there’s a lot of shit that I wish I could change.

  I’m trying to be a better man and let the monster I once was go away. I can still be a complete asshole to most and think that I’m the best at everything I do, but there’s an appreciation for my friends that I’d never taken into account before this huge mess hit us.

  For the past two weeks, I couldn’t ignore the guilt and regret I’ve been feeling. Since Linc was released from the hospital, all I’ve done is stick to his side. Morning, noon, and night I keep him in my sight. He may think I’m a pain in his ass, but it’s for his own good. I’m determined to show him that I won’t let anything like this happen again.

  Every appointment he’s scheduled, I’m there. I take him to his therapy sessions—watching as the physical therapist works to regain his range of motion and use of his hand. The gunshot wound did a real number on him, and with the nerve damage he suffered, Linc has been having a hard time keeping up with all the strength exercises.

  I know he’s frustrated and wants to get back to the ink gun, but he’s a long way off from returning to work.

  Steve, Cliff, and I have been doing the best we can to keep things in motion with the clients, but it’s not the same without Linc in his chair. He insists on coming in and working on the books while we’re there, but I can see the look on his face every time one of his regulars comes in. He wants to work, yet he can’t.

  Our worlds were turned upside down that night and there’s been a lot to move past. I’ve given up blaming Etty for all of this, and once the police were able to determine why Rick was there, I felt kinda bad for putting all of the heat on her.

  If only I could get up the nerve to say I’m sorry and find a way to get back to where we were before all of this happened.

  How the hell was I supposed to know that Michael was related to Rick or that Michael had a hidden stash of drugs and money in the fucking wall?

  Once everything was all uncovered, we all were in shock with the way things went down.

  Michael had more of a problem than Linc and I thought. Shit, if I had known what was hiding in our walls, I would’ve done something about it a lot sooner.

  Now he’s sitting in a cell, right where he belongs. With all the charges put against him, and the death of Rick weighing on his shoulders, he’ll be locked up long enough.

  Closure at its finest.

  We have the answers to the questions we needed, so now it’s time to heal, regroup, and move on.

  Etty and I haven’t spoken much since that night in the ER. In fact, I haven’t paid her much attention since she has a new shoe up her ass, one who doesn’t seem to be going away anytime soon.

  Every time I turn around that fucker is there….doesn’t he have a life of his own?

  I’m getting a little pissed with how Linc says it bothers me. I say that he’s full of shit and needs to mind his
own damn business.

  I don’t see a problem with Etty or her new friend; there’s enough shit in my own life to worry about…I don’t need hers. Hell, with everything going on between Linc, Jo, and Cursed Magic, I haven’t even had the time to bang a chick since that night at Jasmine and Sandra’s place.

  No matter how much I needed those two women, I know now that I can’t act like that again. It’s been eating at me every day and night since.

  No regrets, my ass.

  I want to be able to cope with my life like any other man. I shouldn’t need to stick my dick in a pussy to help me forget the pain of my past. So, to torture myself even more, I’m refraining from any sexual contact until I can get my shit together.

  It’s driving me insane, but it has to be done.

  Shit!

  Looking down at the burnt butt between my fingers, I realize the cigarette I lit never even made it to my lips. With a flick of my finger, I toss the empty filter out into the street and light up another butt.

  The door swings open to my right and Linc walks onto the sidewalk.

  “Let’s go, man, you’re gonna make me late,” he says, clapping me on the shoulder.

  “Yeah yeah, if we would have left when I called for you the first time there wouldn’t be an issue with us being late.”

  He turns his body toward mine and gives me a left hook to the chest.

  “What the fuck was that for?” I shout at him.

  “Nothing, man,” he says, moving toward my car. “Just get in and let’s go.”

  Flipping him the finger, I step down off the sidewalk and head to my car.

  For the past forty-five minutes, I’ve stood here waiting while Linc paces Jo’s apartment.

  “I think we’re all set; just about everything Jo will need is at our place.”

  “Shut up, Dault, I need to make sure.”

  He’s like a fucking nut searching around for a needle in a haystack. Looking throughout Jo’s empty apartment, I can’t image what the hell Linc is trying to find…it’s empty.

  “Dude, there’s nothing left.”

 
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