I don’t know how long I was in the closet before Ryan opened the door and pulled me from the blankets. I had long since cried myself out the power had died down and I felt numb to it all.
“Come on, let’s eat. I have some grilled chicken and some roasted vegetables just the way you like it all.”
He pulled me to my feet even though I didn’t feel like moving. I walked with him and he helped me seat myself on a stool. I felt nothing.
I ate but tasted nothing.
I took a shower and Ryan was concerned. Concerned that he was calling Doc when I healed the scalded skin. “Never mind,” he said. “Nox you have to be more careful.”
“Why?” I said.
“You just need to. No one wants to see you hurt.”
“No one’s here, but you.” I said.
“I don’t want to see you hurt.” He amended.
“I’m going back to bed.”
Ryan didn’t follow right away but I knew he would be right outside the bedroom door.
I slept. I pushed myself into the dark room of my mind. I didn’t want to be found in my sleep. I didn’t want Alex to feel me pulling at him. I wanted to be alone.
There was nothing but darkness. Nothing but me in that darkness. And when I woke I was not rested but I had slept for four hours. Ryan was walking into the room. “We have a location for Valence. At least that’s what Sage says.”
I nodded and pulled out of bed. “Do I have time for a shower?”
“Yeah. Make it quick. Dom is already working on the recon as it’s in his territory. He’s not happy. He won’t wait long.”
I nodded and made my way to the shower and took a fast one. I made sure not to make the water too hot. I didn’t want to scare Ryan again.
When I walked out of the bathroom fully dressed sans eyeliner and shoes I found Alex sitting on the bed glaring at me.
“I don’t have time for this.” I said grabbing my shoes with a weave of air. I sat a foot away from Alex and pulled on my shoes. “We found where Valence is hiding.”
“You had time for a shower, you can spare a minute to talk to me.” Alex said quietly.
“What do you want me to say?” I asked.
“Nothing.” He said. “Just shut up for once.”
I wanted to get up and walk away but I stayed seated and listened – for once.
“First, thank you for having Sage find that footage. It worked to keep Quinn with us.” Alex admitted. “Second, I’m perfectly capable of taking care of my family.”
“Our family.” I corrected him.
“I don’t know Nox. I feel like an outsider here.”
My heart plummeted and the feeling of everything before hit me hard and I stood up. “I love you Alex. But I can’t fix that.”
“Sit down Nox.” Alex commanded and I wanted to disobey but there was so many reasons in my head not to. I sat back down. But with the action the tears fell and I turned away from Alex.
“Turning away doesn’t hide how you feel.” He said.
“Makes me feel less like I’m seeking pity.”
His voice was softer when he started again. “I can take care of my family. Of which you and the kids are a part of Nox. I’ve never had a family before so I want to take possession of it. Yes it’s our family but it’s mine. I thought about not coming back.”
The tears turned to the inability to breathe correctly. I fought with every fiber of my being not to sob. Alex moved to comfort me and I stood up and walked away. I didn’t leave but I didn’t want his comfort. This wasn’t about me.
“But then I thought about what it really means that we went through with that bond. Ant warned us that it would hurt. But I don’t think he meant that ache in my heart that was leaving the way I left. Mad at you. Worse yet what you’d do with that type of pain. Ryan showed me your magic proof closet. He told me what happened. I’m sorry I wasn’t here. I’m sorry I caused that sort of pain.”
I turned to look at Alex and knew my eyes were red and puffy. “Well I’ve learned through the years that life sucks. This is no different. I have a monster to go kill. You should join the kids.” I said turning back to the door.
But Alex was there before I could open it blocking the way. “I understand you’re mad. But you can’t go like this. Nox, the real reason I came back was because I realized how much I loved you and our family. How much even if we are arguing I want to see every second of it.”
He laughed. “I’m not going anywhere. Nox I promise, a real promise, pinky swear and everything,” he joked, “I will never run away from for more than a few hours. Like you did today when you couldn’t handle the bodyguard conversation. You came back. I promise I won’t do that you again.”
I took a deep breath and the ragged sobs still kept coming. Alex took a step towards me and when I didn’t move away he wrapped his arms around me. “The promise started moments after you left. I’ve never seen you so angry Nox. I was afraid you’d come back dead.”
“Passed out maybe, but no one was touching me in that rage.” I gasped out before wrapping my arms around Alex and the crying got worse. I wanted to say I was sorry. I hated fighting but all I could do was hold him tight. Everything from before was still piled up on me and Alex let me cry it out.
“I can’t live without you.” I mumbled against his skin.
“I can’t live without you.” Alex agreed. “We don’t have to anymore.”