The shirt had wrapped around me when I caught it slapping at my unscarred back and I winced at the pressure. Fuck!
I stared at the shirt for ten minutes before a head poked into the closet where I sat on the floor. Drake smiled at me. “Hi Daddy. You okay?”
I nodded. “Fine.”
“You don’t look fine.” He said with all the wisdom of his three-year-old self.
I sighed. “Dev and I fought over a shirt.”
Drake giggled as he sat down on my lap and wrapped his body around me, arms and legs trapping me and I didn’t even flinch. He hugged me with his whole body and I squeezed him back.
I sighed. “Da send you?” I asked.
Drake shook his head. “No, Mommy did. She said guests were arriving and you had to finish up soon.”
I nodded. “Tell her I’ll be out in a few minutes.”
Drake giggled again and pressed a kiss to my cheek and squeezed me tight then hopped up and scurried out the door off to find Dee to tell her what I said.
The shirt was flimsy armor against someone touching me. But without it I felt the panic welling up. I trusted Dev. I trusted my family. I didn’t trust Kai or Ryan, or Jin or all the people who didn’t understand what it meant to touch me.
I sighed and clutched the button down in my fist as I went into the bathroom to check my eyeliner. Tears smudged them regardless if I let them fall or not. The raccoon look was never good but it wasn’t too bad. I touched it up and made it thicker to cover the smearing. I didn’t feel like starting over.
The shirt sat on the sink ledge and I stared at it again. I reached for it several times before I groaned and walked out of the bathroom with jeans and a tight t-shirt my only protection against someone touching me. It wasn’t the scars I hid from everyone. It was the physical act of someone touching me where the worst pain of my life lived. The scars may be gone, but the emotional ones weren’t. Dev knew this. But he pushed. I could push back. But that made things worse. Dev was always straight with me. I trusted him. I would trust him in this.
When I walked out Vin was with Dev. They were talking. Turns out my latest alley played in a band back in his day. It wasn’t electric guitar but he and Dev actually got along well in terms of the music.
I stopped next to Dev and slid my arm around his waist and he looked at me. But Vin did more than that, he slapped my back in friendship. I bit back the yelp even though it hadn’t hurt. I froze and everything stopped for me. Every word they spoke I didn’t hear. I was focusing on nothing more than my breathing. Calming my heart. Thinking of nothing other than I could do it. I could get past the touch. I could calm down before anyone but Dev noticed.
Vin’s hand felt like white hot heat against my skin, and when he removed it I was left cold. He slipped off to speak with Ant who had just appeared in my kitchen from one of the back rooms. I didn’t have time to wonder if he’d shadow walked into my house or if he’d been lurking somewhere. Dev was pulling me down a hallway towards some unknown destination.
He looked at me with a level gaze. “You alright.”
I shook my head. It was all I could manage. My voice was still too far away. I felt every bit of panic from moments earlier. “You did it.” He said.
I looked down at the ground. Fear, shame, it didn’t really matter what I felt because Dev bent his knees so he could look up at me and when he met my eyes he stood up and I followed up back to look into his gorgeous blue eyes. I whispered, “I’m sorry.”
Dev smiled. “It’s just a shirt, Nox.”
I rolled my eyes and turned to lean against the wall. I couldn’t say anything. Anything I wanted to say would come out angry. He didn’t understand. He never would. He hadn’t been beaten his whole life and expected to get over it like it was nothing.
Dev sighed, he’d heard my thoughts, but he couldn’t get angry at me. If he did he knew I’d go off again. He pressed himself against me instead and pressed a tender kiss to my lips. “I’m sorry too, but…”
I pressed my lips to his to silence his but. I didn’t want to hear it. I didn’t want to fight. The kiss remained tender and soft and I hummed my enjoyment and Dev pulled away. “I got it. No fighting.” He sighed. “Can I say one more thing about it?”
I nodded but looked down. I got to see the same shirt on my rockstar as I wore. The perks of having a uniform shirt I guess. He always looked good in it. Dev chuckled but he didn’t say anything about my errant thoughts. “You can put a shirt on, I’m sorry.”
I looked up to see if he was serious and felt that surge of anger that he made a big deal about wearing it and now he was caving. Dev sighed. “You tried. I get it. Go put a shirt on.”
I shook my head. “No.” I pressed my lips against his again and whispered against his lips, “But if I start panicking you too bad better come rescue me.”
Dev nodded. “I’ll keep an extra listen out.” He started to say something again but I stopped him with a much more passionate kiss.
When we broke apart he laughed. “Alright. I’ll drop it.”
I smiled at him. “You know I’ll try anything once.” I slide past him leaving his mouth hanging open at the innuendo.