Part 7 Beautifully Vulnerable

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MY ALARM GOES OFF AT 7:30 A.M. My mouth is dry, my head hurts and I am shaky. I stumble to the bathroom to ascertain the damage, although I do not need a mirror to know how horrible I must look from crying all night long. I did not sleep a wink. I move towards the living room and snap open the shades. The sun burns my eyes from the light. "Shit! That's not going to fly today." I look around at my empty condo and contemplate crawling back in bed, but today is the big meeting to select OC's next male artist. I cannot crawl back into bed even if I wanted to.

From the distance, I hear my phone vibrating on the end table next to the bed. Thinking it is Freddy, my adrenaline thrusts me into the bedroom like a rocket, only to be dropped back down with disappointment when I see it is not.

"Hi."

"What's wrong?" Stacy asks.

I take a deep breath and try not to cry. "I haven't been to sleep yet."

"What happened?"

The tears well up in my eyes like pools of blood. "I finally called it quits."

"Grab your clothes and come here. Tom and I will take care of everything."

I clear my throat and suck up the tears. "Stacy?"

"Yes, honey?"

"I relived it. I relived it and it was bad."

"Just get here as fast as you can, okay?"

I hang up the phone and look around my condo. Everything seems like an object out of someone else's life. I feel empty and disconnected inside. I tell myself I have to pull it together. I grab my purse, shades, a nice outfit for the big meeting today and head out the door.

The drive over the hill is more than I can bear. I cannot stop thinking about Freddy or push him out of my mind. I wanted to be with him so bad last night. What if I let him come home with me? Maybe he would have stayed. What if he just needed more time? Did I make the wrong decision? What am I going to do when I see him this morning?

I focus my eyes on the salon in amazement that I am already here. I walk into Chosen and remove my sunglasses. The cool air from the powerful air conditioner hits my puffy worn-out eyes like a slab of ice. Thankfully, the salon is not open for business yet.

Stacy immediately comes to my rescue. She wraps her arms around me and holds me tight.

I try to not cry, but it just starts happening.

Tom walks over and hands me a bottle of water. "Good morning sunshine. Here take this." He smiles and pulls me into him like the doting brother he has become. The sweetness of his gesture makes me cry even harder.

"I know," Tom says. "I'm here baby. I'm here."

We all walk to the back and sit.

Stacy hands me a box of tissues and keeps one herself. "So, what happened?"

I grab a tissue from the box. "He couldn't tell me what I wanted to hear. He couldn't tell me he loves me. Then he walked away and left me. He fucking left me."

Tom and Stacy glance at each other with a look I have become all too familiar with since my father's funeral.

Tom gets up and walks away.

Stacy leans towards me. "This is about more than Freddy. Isn't it?"

I nod my head yes. I grab another tissue and pull my shoulders back. "I'm okay. Don't worry. I don't need you to be worried."

"This morning you said you relived it. I assume you meant your father's funeral?"

I nod my head again and stare away.

"What exactly did you relive?" she asks.

"A bunch of stuff. You wouldn't understand."

Stacy looks down with an awkward hesitancy. "Brenda, I think you should go to Dr. Styles again."

I roll my eyes. "Why? Because I'm crying over a breakup? Jesus, can't I have a breakup without the sirens being pulled?"

"What makes you think you couldn't benefit from help with all of this? Why do you fight me on this?"

"I'm just tired of revisiting it and hashing it out. Every time I go through something major you seem to want to send me back to Dr. Styles. I just want to move past this and be normal."

Stacy gets up from her chair, comes to the foot of mine and kneels down. "You lost your father twice, Brenda. Most kids lose their parents only once. I hate myself every day that it was me who had to tell you." Stacy's eyes well up, which makes me feel even worse. I hate when she cries.

"Look," I say. "I'm sorry. I don't want you to feel bad. You've been great to me and given me everything."

"It's not about that. It's about a hole that you keep trying to fill. You tried to fill it with Freddy even though you know he's not a great guy."

I throw my head back. "Oh, God. Please stop saying he's not a great guy. You don't know him. If it wasn't for him that night I would have bled to death on my bathroom floor and you know that."

Stacy stands up and grabs one of the tissues from the box. "I don't know that I believe that. I know that you purposely sliced your arm open and he found you. I don't know that he saved you because I'm hoping you would have saved yourself."

Her comment, although wishful on her part, is not my truth. "I know that's what you want to believe, but I don't know that I would have. I wasn't myself. I was so far away. I was in so much pain I couldn't move. Do you understand what my father meant to me?"

"Listen," Stacy says. "I know you're very special. I know that your dad gave you a gift that I don't understand."

I gasp. "What? What do you know about that?"

Stacy grabs another tissue. "Your mother told me about it. I've been trying to act like I don't know, but I'm tired of pretending. You're special Brenda. You have telepathy."

My anger resurfaces at the mention of my mother and the nerve of her to mention anything like that to Stacy when she never mentioned it to me. "I'm surprised she noticed."

"She loved you very much, Brenda. I know you don't believe that and I know it's hard for you to forgive her, but..."

I roll my eyes. "I'm not going to go through all this again. You know how I feel about my mother. She shut me out and lied to me about all of this and I don't care what you tell me. I hate her for keeping me in the dark." I stand up and grab my purse. "I have a big meeting this morning. I need to go back home and get myself ready."

Stacy attempts to say something else, but Tom re-enters the room before she can. I am guessing he heard us fighting about my mother again and as usual, does something to intervene.

"You're not going anywhere with that face this morning." Tom grabs my purse and walks me away from Stacy and towards the hair sinks. "I'm doing your hair and makeup before you go so stop talking."

"That's okay," I say. "I got it, I'm okay."

Tom pushes me gently down to the chair. "I know you want to run, but I'm not letting you. What is today again?"

I stop and take a breath. "It doesn't matter because Freddy won. We're pitching his artist."

Tom turns the water and on and begins to rinse my hair. "Okay, well, whatever, but the day isn't going to stop for you. So, let's get you decked out and ready for that meeting and see what happens, okay?"

"Why? What does it matter," I say. "What's the point? It's done."

Tom shuts the water off and looks down at me. "Because it's never over until it's over. Understand?"

I say nothing. I do not agree with him, but I know better than to argue. "Thank you."

Tom smiles. "We have a lot of work to do on those eyes. So, here." He grabs two tea bags that have been soaking and hands them to me. "Why don't you just close your eyes and sit back. I got this."

I take a deep breath and give in. 

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