The next night Reba walked into her bedroom after taking a long, hot shower. She sighed as she closed the door behind her and reached for the pajamas on her dresser. About the time her towel hit the floor, there was a knock on the door. Reba jumped, slamming her body against the door. She closed her eyes, holding her breath as she listened to Brock's voice. "Hey, Reba, I'm lighting a fire if you wanna sit in the living room for a while." She took a deep breath, shaking her head as she quickly slipped on her clothes.
"Yeah, that's fine. I'll be out in a minute." She sat down on her bed, her fingers tightly wrapped around her robe as she listened to his footsteps drift away from her door. She fell backwards onto the bed, her heart still racing. She felt tears coming to her eyes, and tried to blink them away, settling with keeping them at bay instead. She closed her eyes as her hands rubbed her temples. The only thing that had flashed through her mind was Jeremy and what he would have done had he been the one on the other side of the door. She opened her eyes, sitting up slowly. There had to be a way to get him out of her head.
Reba stared into the vanity mirror in front of her, and shook her head at the sight before her. All the kinks and stress her shower that had washed away was suddenly back with a vengeance. She fell to her side, curling into a ball. She didn't know if she wanted to leave her room anymore. She didn't know if fighting was worth it anymore. She didn't know anything, and it scared her to be so lost and out of control. She took a deep breath, closing her eyes tightly before opening them. She smiled when she saw another memory playing out in front of her. Ten year-old Cheyenne and five year-old Kyra stood in the door, worried expressions across their faces. Brock stood behind them, explaining that she wasn't feeling well, and that she'd have to sit out on today's hike.
Reba let out the breath she was holding, focusing harder on the memory. She watched as her little girls slowly moved closer to her, and smiled when their tiny voices echoed throughout the room. She closed her eyes again when she saw Brock smiling at her from the door way, and when she opened her eyes she remembered why she had to keep fighting. Her children needed her to be stronger than she had ever been before. They needed her to get better. Reba sat up, ignoring the image in the mirror as she walked towards the door. She hesitated before opening it slowly.
Brock sat on the couch, staring at the fire and trying to decide if it needed more wood. When he heard a floor board creak he turned his attention to the hallway. "Oh, hey, there you are. How was your shower?" Reba smiled at him telling him it was fine before moving towards the couch. Brock frowned, seeing the emotions flashing through her eyes. "What's wrong? Are you okay?"
"Oh, yeah, I'm just tired." Brock stared at her, waiting for the truth. Reba sighed, recognizing the expression on his face. She wrapped her arms around her body, looking away from him for a minute. "I was thinking about Jeremy…again." Reba kept her eyes away from Brock, not wanting to see his disappointment. Brock waited, continuing to watch her.
"What about him?" Reba glanced at Brock, shocked that he had responded so calmly. She stuttered for a moment before taking a deep breath. Brock waited patiently, letting her have the time she needed.
"I don't know, Brock." She let out a frustrated breath, running a hand through her wet hair. "I don't think I'm strong enough to beat this…to beat him." Reba sighed, tears brimming her eyes. Brock patted the couch next to him, and waited for Reba to join him before wrapping his arms around her.
"You're strong enough, Reba. Trust me, you are." Reba sighed, rolling her eyes as she wrapped her arms around him. Brock licked his lips, taking a brief moment to gather his thoughts. There had to be a way to help her understand how strong she was and how much she had accomplished. He pulled away from Reba, catching her eyes with his before she had the chance to look away. "May I tell you why I think you're strong enough?" Maybe saying it over and over would pound it into her self-conscious, helping her to see what everyone else saw every day?
Reba took a deep breath and nodded her head, praying that whatever he would say would chase away the uneasiness in her stomach and the anxiety in her head. Brock felt the need to hesitate, but fought past it as he stared into Reba's eyes, gaining her undivided attention instantly. "Look at everything you have overcome already. A cheating husband," He paused, a slight hitch in his voice from his own regret. "A divorce, his new wife always around," Another hitch demanded that Brock swallow the slight lump forming in his throat. He chased away the regrets floating in his mind, and put his full attention on the redhead before him. "Your daughter having a baby at seventeen, raising three…five if you count Van and Elizabeth, children practically on your own. If you can make it through all of those things then you can make it through anything. You're strong enough, Reba."
Reba sighed, her face falling slightly. Brock's eyes darted around her face as he prayed she wasn't going to fight him on this one. Her stubbornness couldn't get in the way this time, but if it did, he had to be alert and quick on the trigger of shooting away her doubts. "I didn't do those things on my own. I had you, Brock."
"And you still have me. I haven't gone anywhere." Brock reached out for her hand, and squeezed it gently. Reba gave him a small smile, acknowledging the comfort he was sending her way. She took a deep breath, still unsure if she believed as much as he did in how strong she was. Jeremy and what came with him was a lot to tackle, and she was so tiny and weak. Reba sighed, and from the way Brock squeezed her hand again she knew he could read her thoughts. "You're strong enough, Reba." Reba pulled her hand away, and brought her knees to her chin.
"I don't know, Brock. I want to believe you and to feel strong and attack this thing with confidence…but…it's so hard." Reba sighed, tears filling her eyes once again. Brock placed a gentle hand on her shoulder, causing her to turn her head in his direction.
"How about the things you did without me?" Reba raised an eyebrow, swallowing the lump in her throat. Brock nodded his head, taking a deep breath and letting it out slowly. "Yeah, like the fact that you're still fighting? You haven't given up and I know you aren't going to either. I don't think you know how to give up." Brock paused, noting the slight lift of the corners of her mouth. He was getting somewhere, and it encouraged him to continue with vigor. "You went to the police several times and to therapy."
Reba took a deep breath, and when she looked away, Brock felt his heart drop. Reba shook her head, staring at her toes and taking the hesitation from Brock to speak. "Yeah, and none of it worked. The police can't do anything and let's face it…me going to therapy is a big ol' joke. I should just quit going. It's not working." Brock sighed, feeling panic rise within him. He calmed his heartbeat as he reached for her hand, once again getting her full attention.
"It hasn't worked, yet, but it will. I know it will. These things…they just take time, Sweetheart. They just take time." Reba sighed, shaking her head, but she remained silent, his words slowly making their way past her stubborn wall. Brock took a deep breath, thinking quickly. "Besides all that…I've seen improvement. You let Cheyenne and Van move back into their house." He paused for a second when he saw her flinch. He knew how hard it was for her to let them go. "You let Jake stay the night at a friend's house, and you haven't had to make sure every door and every window are locked before going to bed either. Also, we've been here for a while now and you haven't stressed about not being able to talk with the kids once. I'd say that something to celebrate."
Reba took a deep breath, looking away from Brock. She couldn't help but feel guilty when he mentioned talking with the kids. She had texted Barbra Jean on the hour every hour since they'd arrived. "Oh, what about joking at the store when you bought that candy?" Reba snapped her head in his direction, her face full of remembrance.
"My candy!" She jumped to her feet, darting out of the living room and into the kitchen. Brock smiled, realizing he should have mention the candy minutes ago. It would have saved them a lot of stress and panic. His smile soon turned into a light chuckle when she started yelling from the kitchen. "Where'd you hide the candy!"
"You can have one a day, Reba." Brock took a deep breath, teasing her as he listened to the cabinets open and slam shut. He turned his stare onto the fire, his mind suddenly giving into the regrets he had chased away moments ago as the flames took him captive.
"I'm not a child, you butt! Now, give me my candy. AH-HA!" There was silence in the kitchen, and Brock glanced over his shoulder as he waited for Reba to continue yelling again. "I found them." She said as she appeared in the living room. "Want one?" She asked with a mouth full of chocolate. Brock shook his head, his silence worrying Reba. She sat next to him, studying his tense face. "Hey, what's wrong?" Brock licked his lips, shaking his head. "Oh, whatever. Brock Hart, you tell me what's wrong right now."
Brock sighed, scooting closer to the edge of the couch. "It's nothing, Reba. I was just thinking." Reba sighed, her candy suddenly being forgotten.
"Don't do this to me, Brock." She paused, her lips closing tightly together. "I hate when you shut me out like this. It makes me feel so alone and scared and…" She trailed off, shaking her head as she stood up to leave the room. Brock cleared his throat, calling out her name and apologizing. Reba shrugged her shoulders, her eyes glaring into his. "Yeah, well, sometimes sorry doesn't work. I need more than 'sorry'." She turned around again, taking a few steps away from him.
"I did this to you a lot, didn't I?" Reba stopped, but kept her back to him. She looked to the floor, playing with her fingers. "You say it scared you….and what?" Reba closed her eyes, not wanting to answer him. Brock stood up in her silence, his eyes burning fiercely into her back. "Did I ever make you feel unsafe?" Reba took in a sharp intake of breath, slowly turning around to face him. Brock's heart broke at the confirmation on her face.
Reba sighed, her arms crossing over her chest. "Not so much in an 'I'm gonna get hurt' way but more in an 'I could lose everything' sort of way. It was more emotional and mental than physical." Reba was quiet, but she had wanted to make it clear. She had never felt like Brock would hurt her or not fight for her, but she had felt him drifting away from her little by little. Brock took a deep breath, tears slipping from his eyes.
"I'm so sorry, Reba. I wouldn't have let anything ever happen to you, and I shouldn't have let you feel alone or scared. That's not what I was there for…It's not what I'm here for either." Brock paused, swallowing the lump in his throat. He stepped closer to Reba, taking a deep breath. "I'm supposed to be here to…to," Brock could see the tears forming in her eyes, and knew if she started crying he would lose it completely. He trailed off, letting his thought slowly die away, but when Reba stepped closer to him, he knew she wasn't going to let him stop now.
"What were you going to say, Brock? Here to…keep me safe, to protect me?" Brock sighed, closing his eyes as she read his mind so easily. He nodded his head, swallowing the lump in his throat. Reba followed his lead, licking her lips as she felt another lump begin forming in her throat.
"Yeah, but I didn't do that. I let you down… so many times." Brock shook his head, his head pounding from the growing regret and heartache. He fell to the couch, running a hand over his face as he stared into the fire. Reba sat next to him, her body tense and trembling. She put a comforting hand on his back, silently encouraging him to continue. Brock sighed, but kept his eyes away from her. "After the divorce I promised to never let anything or anyone hurt you again…but I failed…" Reba furrowed her eyebrows, shaking her head slightly.
"You never promised me that." Brock glanced at her, clearing his throat and relaxing a bit.
"Well, not to you, not out loud, but I did promise it." Reba shook her head, scooting closer to him and pulling him against her body. Brock crumbled against her, and allowed her to do the same once their backs hit the couch cushions.
"How did you plan on keeping such a promise, Brock? We were divorced. We weren't supposed to be friends, ya know." Brock smiled, letting the last of his tension and built-up remorse slip away. He glanced at her, smiling mischievously.
"Uh, Barbra Jean…I figured with the way she talked about you and how she kept coming around the house that I'd have a way to stay close to you…as a friend. I wouldn't lose you completely and therefore I'd get to keep my promise. Why else do you think I was so jealous of all those guys?" Reba scoffed, pushing him away from her and grabbing the bag of candy from in between them.
"Excuse me…there weren't that many guys, and how dare you force Barbra Jean into my life even more than you did with the affair." Reba smiled slightly, and Brock shrugged his shoulders.
"Well, life isn't always fair." Reba nodded her head, narrowing her eyes.
"Right…which is exactly why you aren't getting any candy!" Reba darted from the couch, running from the room when Brock began chasing her. An hour later, they were both standing at the end of the hallway, catching their breath.
"I can't believe you hit me with the bag of candy." Reba chuckled, shrugging her shoulders and saying life wasn't fair. Brock smiled as he shook his head. "Well, I think I better put the fire out and head to bed. You made breakfast the last two mornings. I should make it tomorrow. You can sleep in if you want." Reba nodded her head, but secretly she hated the idea. She hadn't been able to sleep at all the last few nights, and having to lie in bed from an extra hour or two would drive her insane.
"Okay, well, goodnight then." Brock told her goodnight before awkwardly walking back into the living room. Reba watched him for a minute before shrugging off the icky feeling suffocating her. They'd always hugged goodnight before, even when they were divorced and Brock was married to Barbra Jean. It had been a habit neither one had pushed to end. She sighed, praying he was only trying to respect her boundaries and not anything that would hurt her later.
Reba took a deep breath as she entered her bedroom, and tossed the bag of candy onto her dresser. She pulled back her comforter, sitting down on the cold sheets. She wasn't looking forward to not getting any sleep, and wished she knew why she wasn't able to, especially after two nights of no sleep what so ever.
Brock double checked the fireplace, making sure everything was safe before easing down the hallway. He sighed as he placed his ear against Reba's closed door. When he didn't hear any noise, he entered his room down the hall. Climbing into bed, he prayed he'd be able to fall asleep tonight. He'd tossed and turned every night, the feeling of needing something keeping him from getting comfortable. The king sized bed only added to his discomfort, and as he pulled the comforter over his shoulders, he knew he wouldn't be getting any sleep. He was suddenly wide awake and alert to every sound in the house and outside in the woods.
Reba took a deep breath, her body stretched out like a star. She stared at the ceiling; contemplating whether two mini candy bars could give her enough of a sugar rush to keep her up or not. When a couple hours drifted by, she realized the candy hadn't been the reason she was still fighting sleep. She sat up, a thought suddenly entering her mind. Easing to her bedroom door, she silently slipped into the hallway.
Brock rolled over, checking the time on his alarm clock. He shook his head, and ran his hands over his face. Only four more hours until the earliest he could start on breakfast. He took a deep breath, closing his eyes and counting sheep for the hundredth time that night. His attention perked when he heard a floorboard creak and then his bedroom door squeaking open as it swung towards the wall. He opened his eyes slowly when he heard Reba whisper his name. His eyes followed her body from her feet to her eyes, and he was mesmerized with the way the darkness outline her pale skin and red hair.
"Are you awake?" Her voice was quieter than the first time, and it took until she was turning away for him to realize that he hadn't answered her. He softly said yes, and when she glanced over her shoulder at him, he asked her what she needed. Reba took a deep breath, and he could tell how nervous she was as she hesitantly turned back around to face him. "Do you mind if I sleep with you tonight? I haven't been able to sleep at all, and I think it's from getting used to sharing a bed again. If you'd rather not that's fine…I just thought I'd ask…you know…to see if maybe that's why I'm not sleeping…" Brock smiled as he listened to her ramble on for a little longer before softly calling out her name.
"It's okay. I haven't been able to sleep either." He scooted over, lifting the blankets and waited patiently for her to climb in next to him. He moved over a little more, giving her more room. Reba sighed, rolling over to face him. Brock stared at her, waiting for her to fall asleep before he attempted to do so himself.
"This isn't gonna work." Brock frowned, hoping she wasn't going to get out of bed. He could feel his eyelids begging to close. "I didn't leave one big, empty bed to climb into an even bigger one. Do you mind sleeping closer?" Brock was shocked; scared that he could hurt her if he ended up too close. He nodded his head, inching closer to her. Reba sighed, rolling over and moving closer to Brock until her back was lightly pressed against his chest. "Perfect." She whispered as her eyelids closed and her body finally fell victim to sleep. Brock smiled, wrapping an arm around her waist. Reba placed her arm over his, their fingers entangling together out of habit. "Thank you." Brock closed his eyes and waited until her body fully relaxed before falling asleep.