The Savage One by BL Mute

 

 

Lucas’s hands frame my face, forcing my eyes to his. My eyes scan the room in sheer panic. “You have to stay calm! Dr. Kelly said stress isn’t good for the baby!” The words start off sounding as if they are off in the distance, but by midsentence, they along with a hardy dose of reality knock the wind from my chest.

Suddenly, every word that was on the tip of my tongue dies, the fight in my body leaves, and all of the pain in my shoulder from the gunshot and aching in my chest from the thought of Teddy really being gone leaves. It just evaporates into the room without a trace.

Lucas’s pleas resemble an old TV as they fade away into muffled white noise in the background, replaced by the sounds of my own heartbeat. My muscles turn to stone, and every tear in my eyes dries, but it only lasts for a moment.

“No. This can’t…” I stare into the distance, trying to come up with anything that makes sense. “This can’t be real,” I whisper.

Lucas sucks in a deep breath, then sits on the bed next to me. “Charlie, it’s going to be okay. We will figure this all out.”

Every emotion comes slamming back into my body. “I’m pregnant?” My lip quivers as my voice cracks.

Lucas nods. “Only a few weeks. Doc said the hormones in your blood are low, but they’re more elevated than normal. There is no explanation other than a pregnancy.”

Every word he says goes in one ear, then slips out the other like a thief in the night stealing my every whim.

“Teddy is gone.” I don’t pose it as a question because I don’t need to. As much as I want to forget, I can’t. His blue eyes dance into my vision and demand my attention, only they aren’t happy or admiring. They’re cold. They’re dead. And it was my fault.

Teddy is dead because of me.

“Hey.” Lucas’s hand brushes my cheek, wiping a tear that escaped.

My eyes follow his arm all the way to his shoulder, then to his neck, and finally land on his face. “I’m pregnant.”

Lucas nods again, but I wasn’t asking a question. “You have options, Charlie.”

I push his hand away, cringing at the pain that vibrates through my shoulder. “How could you expect me to kill my child? To kill Teddy’s child?” I scream, letting my voice come back in full force. I have never had a problem scolding Lucas, and in this instance, it just seems natural.

He stands from the bed and backs up a few feet, holding up his hands. “That isn’t what I meant. I just didn’t want you to feel overwhelmed thinking—”

“Get out!” I scream again, pointing to the door. “Get out!”

He opens his mouth to talk but snaps it shut in almost the same instant. He shakes his head with a huff and leaves the room.

Once he’s out of sight, a heavy weight comes over my chest. I slide my hand to my belly slowly. I’m not sure what I’m expecting. It’s not like there will be some magnificent bump this soon, but I just feel the need to touch it. To hold myself and try and tell myself everything will be okay when I know that’s the furthest thing from the truth.

Teddy is gone and he left me with… this… I grip my stomach. “How am I supposed to do this?” I ask myself.

“Not alone, that’s for sure.” I look up and see Dr. Kelly standing in the doorway.

Tears well from within and emerge at the very moment my stare meets his. His eyes are a soft hazel. Nothing extraordinary, but they stand out in a way that is reassuring. I guess being a doctor, they come in handy. “I don’t know if I can do this.” I glance down in an attempt to slow the flow of emotions.

He steps further into the room, setting my chart at the end of my bed. He reaches for my chin, pulling my head up. “You can and you will if it’s what you want. Don’t underestimate yourself, Charlotte.” Without another thought, he uses his thumb to gently untuck my bottom lip.

His words and actions scream Teddy, and all it does is make me angry. Angry with myself because I know I should hate him, and maybe I did for a minute, but now? Now knowing I’m carrying his child—our child—I can’t bring myself to think of any ill thoughts.

Maybe it’s the shock or remnants of adrenaline coursing through me, but right now I just want to remember the good Teddy. Not the monster.

“I don’t even know how to take care of a baby,” I admit pathetically.

Dr. Kelly smiles sadly. “You have eight months to learn. Right now, I just want you to rest and let the medicine do its job.”

I glance to my shoulder where there is thick white gauze, then to my other arm where an IV is pumping medicine into me through my hand. “What exactly happened? I remember feeling fire in my arm, but nothing after that.” I leave out all of the memories of Teddy’s cold, lifeless eyes on me because I can’t even bring myself to talk about it.

“You weren’t hit anywhere major. Not being there myself, it is hard to say, but from what I got, Teddy shot Cameron’s hand in hopes of protecting you. When the bullet hit Cameron’s hand, not only did it make him jerk in another direction, but his finger tightened on the trigger. Your shoulder is nothing more than a flesh wound. The bullet grazed you rather good but didn’t penetrate. The hit you took to your head is what had you unconscious.”

I reach for the back of my head and run my fingers over the tender spot with a wince.

“The soreness will go away soon. I’ve been monitoring you for a few days and—”

“A few days?” I shriek. “How long have I been out?”

He pats my knee, trying to calm me down. “When you came in and I figured out the concussion wasn’t serious, I thought it would be best to keep you sedated. Try and let your body heal a bit. I knew when you’d wake up you wouldn’t want to sit still.”

I let out a deep breath. He’s right. “When can I go home?” At this point, all I want to do is crawl into bed and sleep my life away. I don’t want to be bothered with all of the issues I’m expected to handle or feel the pain.

“You’re able to go today. I caught Lucas on his way out and told him. He said he would call Carl to come get you. I’m going to send you home with some antibiotics and painkillers, but you’re more than welcome to call if you need anything.” He smiles again, lighter this time. Less sad.

“Will any of that hurt the baby? The medicine?”

He shakes his head as he removes the IV from my hand. “All of it is safe. The only thing you need to watch out for is naproxen and the other obvious things like alcohol and drugs.”

“Charlotte! I’m glad to see you awake.” Carl smiles from the doorway, grabbing Dr. Kelly’s and my attention.

“Carl.” Dr. Kelly nods, then turns back to me. “I’ll leave you to it. A nurse will bring in your discharge paperwork in a few.” He pats my knee, then stands and leaves the room.

He and Carl shake hands on his way out, and Carl comes to my side. “Are you ready to fly this coop?”

I nod. “I just want to lie in my own bed and wallow for a few days. My heart can’t take this, Carl.”

He pulls me into a hug and lets me sob softly for a moment. “As much as I want to give you exactly what you want, I can’t. Cameron is still out there somewhere, and the first place he’ll look is the house.”

I pull away and look up to him. “Where am I supposed to go, then?”

“I have a cabin on the outskirts of town. It’s far enough away I know people won’t see any of us coming or going, but still close enough so we won’t have to drive forever for necessities, like doctor appointments.”

I hold back a cry. My reality has just shifted, and now I can’t even go home to the one place I feel most comfortable. The one place that still has pieces of Teddy.

“I know it isn’t ideal, but we just have to make it work for now.”

I know he’s right, but it doesn’t make me feel any better. “Just get me out of here.”

He gives me a quick nod, then grabs a clear plastic bag from the stand next to my bed. Inside I can see the fabric of my dress from that night. His eyes lock onto mine, and I know he’s asking if I want to put it on without saying the words, but I don’t, and I don’t have to say it for him to understand.

He slips his jacket down his arms and wraps it around my shoulders carefully as I stand, and we exit the room.

I stare at myself in the mirror. I’ve had a week, seven whole days to try and come to terms with Teddy being gone and being pregnant. Neither still seems real. I feel I’ve been in a weird limbo between reality and fiction, and I can’t even tell which is which anymore.

I lift my plaid shirt and inspect my stomach in the mirror. I’m not expecting to see a huge difference or anything, but I assume I’m at least supposed to feel different in some way. I get nauseous now, but that’s it. It seems aside from the constant urge to puke, the only other thing that fills my mind is sadness, loneliness, devastation. All of the same things I felt the first time I lost Teddy, but now it’s different. Now he isn’t coming back.

He’s really gone.

A soft knock sounds out from the other side of the door. “Flower? Are you ready?”

I pull my shirt down and walk to the door before pulling it open. Lucas stares at me from the other side of the threshold, and it stirs something in me. Something I don’t feel when I’m alone.

Alone, I’m completely numb. Maybe numb isn’t the right word. I’m just… dead inside. A ball of the worst emotions. But when he’s around, I feel a glint of hope. I’ll never admit it though. How could I? What would people say? I just don’t want to be alone. Not right now.

“As ready as I can be.”

He wraps his arm around my shoulders, and I wince. The pain isn’t as bad now, but it is still there, and in a way, I don’t hate it. It reminds me I’m actually alive. He ushers me out of my room, through the living room, then out the front door to the car.

I slide into the middle, and Lucas follows, sandwiching me between him and Julius.

“We got you today, okay?” Julius grabs my knee and gives me a gentle squeeze.

I look into his eyes and try to think of something to say, but nothing comes to mind. Most of the time every time my mouth opens, the tears become inevitable.

“You don’t have to say anything.” He smiles sadly. It is the same old routine, and he already knows what me speaking will lead to.

I grab his hand and lace his fingers with mine, then lay my head on his shoulder as Carl takes off.

The world outside passes by in a fog. Buildings and landscapes merge together, making it to where I don’t even notice where we are when we pull up. When Carl pulls through the arched gate, my heartbeat picks up. Every time I’ve been here, it was to bury someone I loved.

First, my mom. Although she and I never had the greatest connection, it still pained me to see how badly it hurt my dad. I lost something that day too. My dad left a piece of himself with her. The next trip was to say my goodbyes to my father. At that moment, I never imagined having to go through anything more painful, but here I am. Saying my final goodbyes to yet another man I love. Loved.

He goes slowly down the narrow road, then stops in front of a white stone crypt that towers high into the sky. A single cross sits at its highest point, casting a shadow onto us. Iron bars cover the big windows, almost blocking the beautifully red stained glass.

I grip my hands together as Lucas steps out, then suck in a breath and follow him.

“Remember, it’s just us. Nothing huge, just us,” he remarks as I step next to him.

Carl and Julius exit the car, then flank Lucas’s sides as I walk in front of them, taking the lead. I knew that Cedric had reserved this crypt for family. The bricks are elegantly placed, and the door is a heavy wood. Iron bars enforce the sides, and a pair of wings are etched into the grain at about eye level. It is heavy but welcoming. I push through, pausing at the sounds of a brittle hinge creaking, but I appreciate the break in silence as I slowly walk inside. My footsteps echo through the space, creating an eerie feel, but I don’t let them stop. I keep going until I reach Teddy’s tomb.

An angel sits on her knees, slumped over the top, weeping. Her wings stretch across her back, giving the illusion she is protecting what I know lies within. Teddy’s body. On the other side of the room, a similar tomb sits directly across from Teddy’s. Cedric Hale is etched into its stone in the same graceful scroll that Teddy’s has.

Along the back of the wall, six golden plates lie flat with three of them reading Julius, Lucas, and Carl with no dates as the other three stay blank. “Is this where all of you will be laid to rest?” I ask, doing my best to hide my straining voice.

“Yes,” Carl says.

“What are the three empty ones below each of yours?”

“They’re for our lovers. The women we fall in love with,” Julius answers.

My heart pangs realizing there isn’t one for me. For Teddy’s lover. Maybe it’s stupid, but it just hurts. I gave so much to Teddy. At least I feel I did.

“You’ll be laid with him, when the time comes,” Lucas remarks, seeing tears fall to my cheeks.

I just give him a nod before stepping closer and running my fingers over Teddy’s name. This is it. This is real. “I’m going to miss you more than I should. I love you… No, I loved you again, probably more than I should have. It isn’t fair you get to leave this world without an apology for what you did. None of this is fair, and I hate you for it, but I promise to be the best mother to our baby. I promise to tell them about you and keep your memory alive, and I promise to raise them better. To make them better than you.” I stop to suck in a breath through my cries. “Goodbye, Theodore.”

It takes everything in me not to run, to get away from the suffocating air inside, but I turn away with as much grace as I can and walk out of the crypt, leaving the boys behind. I make it to the steps before I completely collapse. Sobs rack my body, and every single memory Teddy and I had assaults my mind.

I can hear footsteps, but I ignore them. Suddenly, black shoes peek into my line of vision. After a moment, Lucas sits beside me and pulls me into him. “Let it out, Flower. It’s okay.”

He repeats the same words over and over while combing his fingers through my hair and softly rocking me.

And just like that, we’re back in our old routine. I cry while he comforts me, and I don’t ask him to stop. I need this as much as I know it isn’t right.