Chapter 15

Thanks for the awesome feedback, guys! I wasn't sure how their fight would go over with you guys, but I felt it was realistic for Jim to extreamly pissed at Mel. I'm glad you all love it. Enjoy!

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"Oh!" Melinda ran a hand over her face. "I did NOT screw your brother mutiple times behind your back! I kissed one guy! One time! I knew it was wrong, and I broke it off!"

"You shouldn't have kissed him to begin with!" Jim yelled. "If you're gonna be with me, then you have to BE with me!"

"I was with you!" Melinda shouted. "I am with you!"

"Well, forgive me Mel...but you sticking your tongue down some other guy's throat doesn't really look like you're with me, to me." Jim stated.

"I'm sorry, Jim." Melinda sighed. "I'm so sorry. That kiss though...it was as far as it would've went."

Jim was beginning to calm down. He hated being this angry with her, but seeing her kiss some other guy nearly destroyed him. He couldn't go down that road again.

"How do I know that, Mel?" Jim asked softly. "How do I know that you wouldn't have left here with him?"

"Because I'm in love with you," Melinda replied. "I could never crawl into someone else's bed if I weren't in love with them. That's why..."

"Why, what?" Jim asked softly.

Melinda felt tears sting her eyes. "I used...I used to do this type of thing, okay? I used to get really wasted and makeout with random strangers. Anything to erase the pain of what I was feeling. To erase the emptiness in my life. But I never...I never went that far with them. I couldn't....because I knew deep down there was someone else that gift was meant for. That someone else was you, Jim Clancy."

Jim was beginning to smile, but still needed to know one more thing. "Why couldn't you do it this time? You already gave yourself to me."

"After I kissed him...I realized that what that was....it was the old me. The me, that I never want anything to do with ever again. The screwed up, freak who cut her arms and drank and did anything to get rid of the pain. I couldn't be her anymore." Melinda took a deep breath. "I didn't need to be her anymore. I have you now."

Jim reached his hand out to hers, and she took it, there fingers entertwining. "Mel, I'm sorry..."

"It's okay," Melinda said, and than sighed. "It's not really okay. Comparing me to your slutty ex kinda broke my ego... but, I get it. You've been hurt alot. You've trusted people and given second chances, and they hurt you. I hurt you tonight."

"You did," Jim replied. "and I don't forgive you."

Melinda let go of his hand. "Jim, I made a mistake."

"Yeah, those are the same words that Nikki said to me. And look how that turned out," Jim replied, his voice hard.

"I am not Nikki," Melinda cried.

"I trusted you," Jim replied. "I trusted you to keep my heart safe. I told you how much they hurt me....I told you, how much Dan had to go through to get me to even talk to him again. It's like....the minute Caitlin pissed you off...instead of opening up to me, you ran. You ran from me, and back to your old way of life. How can I be sure you won't do that to me again?"

"Because I love you!" Melinda shouted.

"They're just words, Mel." Jim said softly. "They're empty words that don't mean anything to me....that don't show me anything! You want me to believe you love me, than start acting like you do."

"What can I do?" Melinda asked. "I'll do anything, Jim. I love you, I can't lose you."

"I love you, Melinda." Jim replied with a sad smile. "That's why this hurts so damn much. No matter how much I love you, I will not let you do this to me. You're either with me, or you're not. Make your choice. If I'm not what you want, than it'll break my heart, sure...but I can take it. I'll still be your friend. I'll always be your bestfriend. But I can't take THIS."

"Tell me what to do," Melinda repeated brokenly.

"I can't tell you what do do," Jim said softly. "Do what's in your heart."

"You're in my heart!" Melinda replied, tears in her eyes. "You are! I can't...."

Jim sighed, and pulls her into his arms, holding her against his chest. "Shh, breathe." He feels her shaking in his arms, gently rubs her back. "Just breathe, Mel."

"I can't lose you," Melinda cried. "I love you,"

"You can't lose me as what?" Jim gently asked her. "You can't lose your bestfriend or you can't lose your boyfriend? Which is it?"

"All of it," Melinda said softly. "Your the center of my whole freakin universe. You're the man that I'm in love with and if I lose that...I don't know that I could live. You're the air that I breathe."

Jim sighed. She was breaking his heart. He didn't like being so mean to her. He didn't want to leave her. He was trying to protect what was left of his heart.

"Melinda, am I what you want? Is this what you want?" Jim asked her.

Melinda pulled back to look into his eyes. "You are all I want. I know I hurt you, and I'm so sorry."

"I'll give you another chance, but you have to prove to me that you deserve it. You can't do this to me again. You can't keep running away and I can't keep chasing after you." Jim stated. "You're either with me, or you aren't."

"I'm with you," Melinda whispered. "Just give me a chance."

"Okay," Jim took her hand in his. "lets go home, huh?"

Melinda stopped, taking her hand out of his.

"What?" Jim asked with a frown. Was she already backing out on him?

"I've never had a home before," Melinda said softly.

"What about your mom? Before Clancy...?" Jim asked.

"That wasn't really my home," Melinda said. "I spent maybe four hours there a day at most. Some nights, I didn't come home at all. It depended which boyfriend of hers was there,"

"Melinda," Jim was looking at her with such compassion that it was making more tears stream down her face.

"I've never had a home before," Melinda repeated. "most times I had to beg her to even let me sleep there. It didn't exactly make her look all that attractive if her stupid kid was there." Melinda let out a small sob. "And then, I met you. You just...you let me stay with you. I didn't even have to beg you. In that instant, you became my home. And now, I could...I could lose that. All of that, because of my stupid mistakes!"

"Melinda," Jim stepped closer to her. "I would never throw you out. I could never do that to you."

"Why not?" Melinda cried. "It's what I deserve."

"Mel," Jim gently held her face in his hands. "I said alot of things earlier that I didn't mean. It hurt so bad to see you with that guy. It hurt even more that you just walked out on me, and didn't return my calls. I was so mad at you, baby. No matter how mad I was or may become at you...I would never turn you away. I love you."

Melinda just stared at him brokenly. "I don't deserve your love," She broke out of his grasp and ran out of the bar.

"Melinda," Jim sighed, fighting an inner battle with himself. If he went after her right now, he would be going against everything he'd just told her. But if he didn't go after her..."Damnit," Jim ran out of the bar, after Melinda.

Jim ran to the door and almost knocked Melinda over. "Mel?"

"Hey," Melinda said quietly.

"You came back," Jim said softly.

"I shouldn't have run out the way that I did. Yet again," Melinda frowned. "I love you, and I know I have to show that to you. I have alot to prove, and...well, me running away again doesn't show you how much I love you. It just shows you how scarred and weak I am."

Jim gently touched her face. "You're not weak. You came back,"

"You're right though," Melinda continued hurriedly. "I can't keep running away from you. I'm gonna try to let you in. I don't want to lose you. I know that I don't deserve you, but I want you anyway."

Jim quickly pulled her into his arms. "You do deserve me, Mel. It means alot that you came back. It shows me that you're serious. That you want me to trust you again. That you want to trust me."

Melinda clung to him. "I already trust you....I just don't know if I trust that your feelings will last forever. I've never put much stock in forever," She confided quietly.

Jim gently pulled back to look into her eyes. "Tell ya what, if you put your heart into forever, I'll put mine in, okay? We'll do this together."

"What if it doesn't work? What if you stop loving me one day?" Melinda asked.

"What if you do?" Jim countered.

"I won't," Melinda said firmly.

"Neither will I," Jim replied softly. "We just have to trust each other. Can you meet me half way?"

Melinda nodded. "I have to. My whole heart depends on it."

Jim leaned in and kissed her deeply, and than pulled back. "So...I'm the better kisser, right?"

Melinda smiled, he was her Jim again. "You always have been,"

Jim nodded. "I'm still mad at you though,"

"I know," Melinda replied. "I'm mad at me too."

"Well, as long as we're in agreement." Jim half-smiled. "C'mon, I'll take you home. And no matter what happens, you're always gonna have a home. You never have to feel like that again."

Melinda leaned into him. "I know, but thanks for saying it,"

Jim kissed the top of her head. "We'll figure the rest out in the morning. We'll make it work, someway, somehow. Cause, I'm not willing to lose you."

Melinda looked up at him, a tear rolling down her face. "Me neither,"