Chapter 35

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"I know the demons didn't just vanish - they'll live with me forever, but I know how to fight them now."


I knew I was in for one hell of a ride, even before Mia told me about her father's shady past.

Because let's be real here, anyone who ever laid eyes on that man knew that he was dangerous. And that exact fact was the reason I didn't want to know more about this - I am here for Mia, not for anyone else.

"Okay, Mia. I really can't wait to hear what you have to say about this situation," her father says, arms crossed in front of his chest as he raises an eyebrow, obviously unimpressed as hell.

Mia looks up at me for a moment, and I see the hesitation in her eyes. I know she's scared of telling the whole story - but I have to admit; I am not. I know what I've been through, now. I know the demons didn't just vanish - they'll live with me forever, but I know how to fight them now. I know how to live with them.

"Well," she sighs, shooting me one last smile before looking at her parents opposite to us, "It's a long story."

"Good thing we have all day then," her father retorts. Hazel places a hand on her husband's shoulders, and it's almost magical how quickly he relaxes, heaving a sigh as he looks at Mia's mother before nodding his head.

"Okay, I'm just gonna make this short, but you have to listen to me, Dad. Please. Listen before you... Do anything."

He just narrows his eyes, urging his daughter to continue. Mia's grandmother shoots me a questioning look, and I don't fail to notice the amusement in her eyes when she rests her head on her hands, elbows on the table when she watches us.

"Well. Um... Two years ago, shortly after my birthday, I met Lincoln..."

I instantly squeeze her hand, raising my eyebrow questioningly. I meant what I said when I talked to her about honesty. The part where she knew me beforehand is not exactly unimportant to this story. Mia looks up at me though, unimpressed as hell before she shakes her head.

"Yeah, okay. I met Lincoln when I was eighteen."

"I'm sorry, you what?" her dad instantly chimes in, and I get the feeling this is why she didn't want to tell that part of the story.

"Calm down, Dad. Listen - remember?" she says while sitting up straight, "I met him at that internship in the hospital all those years ago. He didn't know that though, he didn't even remember me when I met him again."

That makes everyone's eyes widen, and I suddenly understand even more why she didn't exactly serve that part of our complicated past on a silver platter. I still feel like a fucking asshole about everything that went down all those years ago.

"He didn't remember you?" Mia's grandma asks, wide eyes and a hint of a smirk playing on her lips.

"I didn't," I respond, "As Mia explained, she was eighteen back then - I was in the middle of my M.D. and not really focused on anything else."

My gaze falls on Mia, who now looks up at me and shoots me a kind smile. I still can't fathom how I ever forgot her, she's literally all I see wherever I go now.

"Anyways, that's not exactly what this is about," Mia breaks the silence, facing her father again. "I met him three years later, and he wasn't exactly in the best place, then."

"What exactly does that mean?" Noah asks, eyeing me warily, and I know the question is directed at me.

I told Mia I wanted to tell her parents about all of it, and it's true that I learned to deal with it and be open about it all. That doesn't mean it's not painful to relive it, though.

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