Hi all! I'm sorry for the long, very long, break! I hope in time I can make it up to ya! Now I'm not going to promise you consistent updates weekly or even every two weeks. I'll try, which is all I can promise right now. Another thing is I have uploaded this story to Wattpad under the name of Deflowered. So if any of you have read or possibly come across it, I am the user. That should be the only other place that it exists. I hope you all enjoy this chapter. It's not as edited as the prior chapters have been but as of right now this is all I have to upload. Thanks everyone for even continuing to read it!
In times of loss, I've cried. I've escaped to the woods behind my house or secluded myself in my garden and weeded. There is something therapeutic about busying your hands. That afternoon, I walked the streets of Seattle. I couldn't go home right away. I tried. I stood in our hallway and hoped that Adam would find me there and my decision would be made. I would just have to go in. But I couldn't face him yet and I needed time to think alone. We had so much conflict yesterday; I didn't have the strength for it again today. A city breeze refreshed my motivation to wander and to relish the beautiful lights of the living so different than the stars yet similar…inspiring with their tangible life.
The bustle of the city graced me with a comfort of noise and movement so my mind never fully concentrated on what just happened with Christian. Those pained and angry gray eyes will forever be etched into memory as our last visit and all I could feel was loss. My heart didn't feel full because of it. I failed to make him understand that if things were different, I'd most likely smother him in love or that at the very basic core he is capable to love someone and can do it again. Feeling an ache at the thought of him married to someone else made me release an exasperated breath. It was ironic that I felt that way and I shed a lone tear in acknowledgement of how Christian must feel about Adam and I. And Adam….the man hell-bent on reminding me that I'm too forgiving and too accepting while he overlooks all my mistakes in the process. What I naturally feel towards everyone, he only feels towards me. I hadn't really noticed this until yesterday, until he was more upset with Christian than me. And how he justified our relationship with my naivety and faith. As I walked through Denny's Park, I sat myself on a park bench and watched the trees feather in the wind that carried yesterday's memories with it.
"Hey." Adam grumbled from the kitchen as he dropped his keys and wallet onto the island. His back still turned, I was grateful that it gave me time to clear the tears from my cheeks. Seeking some safety in Mawmaw's rag quilt I tucked it tighter around my waist before answering.
"Hi. Can you come here for a minute and sit with me?" He turned and frowned when he saw me, my eyes outlined in red and my bottom lip slightly quivering.
"What's wrong?" Shaking my head, I tried my best to restrain my tears. It felt almost offensive to be the one upset as I prepared to tell him how much I hurt our marriage and him.
"Just come sit please." I pleaded as I patted the space next to me. Pulling his jacket off, he started his walk towards me and I grabbed my mug of coffee to warm my hands. Even in a perfect seventy-two degree apartment and snuggled under a quilt, I felt cold. Adam gently removed the mug from my hands and pressed my cheek so that I looked at him.
It's all I could feel when I looked at him. It felt like anxiety and pain gardened to a perfect plant to make me nauseous every time I tasted it.
"Ana, what's going on?" Out of habit I pressed my thumb into the creases of his forehead to which he closed his eyes and sighed in relief. It had been so long since we had such an intimate moment. I hated I had to ruin it.
"I think I have feelings for someone else." I whispered shakily and our moment disappeared about as quickly as it formed.
"What?" He snapped as he pulled his hands away.
"What kind of feelings?" He asked with a look of shock.
"I don't know. I care about him." I shrugged. There wasn't one word that encompassed my feelings I had for Christian but at the core of it, I cared. I cared a lot.
"Who? Is it someone from church?" I pleadingly looked at him knowing that this confession would change everything.
"Christian." I breathed. As he processed the information, I watched the vein in his neck appear and his jaw tighten. Not once had I witnessed him so visibly angry…with me.
Moving inches away from me, it felt more like miles. The lack of words killed me. Only his sharp breaths filled the room as I watched his hands burn through his jeans.
"My boss Ana!?" He questioned with restraint as he stood and paced the floor. The echo of pain shook my entire core. His hurt was a quiet storm, but had the intensity of that eerie silence before a tornado.
"What happened? I want details. All of it. Don't spare a damn thing like I know you want to." Adam was right. I already decided I'd be honest about most of it besides Christian's confession. Those words were a private proclamation meant only for my ears and that I'd preserve since I could offer Christian no solace otherwise. Starting with the day Adam forgot our lunch, I worked my way through the past three months with minimal tears. With shaking fingers, I endured the memories of holding Christian's hand in mine, the touch of his skin against my fingers, and the intimacy of which I had never felt with another man besides my husband, and God.
"Damn it Ana."
"You can't do this."
"Adam, I know I can't." Shaking his head, he approached the couch
"No, you can't give love away like that. You can't save everyone. Men like him, they prey on women like you."
"I know I can't." I defended with more bitterness than I originally planned but the feeling that my naivety once again controlled our circumstances sent a subtle twinge of anger through me. Honestly, for him to minimize my feelings towards Christian was more of a blow than actually having them. If anything I needed him to talk through them with me not immediately dismiss the validity of them.
"I kissed him back." I blurted and then quickly regretted it. Our arguments hardly ever escalated to immature retorts like mine. Taking my face in my hands, I felt the rivulets of tears seep through my parted fingers as I cried for what I said. But underneath all my guilt lay all the hurt of the past months combined, the many conversations ended by his final word, how I so easily caved to appease the greater good of my marriage without knowing that very action damaged it all. Minutes of his silence passed with only the sounds of my short recovering sobs echoing around us. I couldn't look at him. I was so afraid of the expression I'd see if I did.
"I don't believe you." He finally choked out and the palpable pain constricted my chest.
"You are not the Ana I married." He added which in that moment felt like the greatest insult he could throw at me and not because I didn't agree with him. I did to a certain extent. But because I knew for him, he disliked this 'new' me. It was meant as an insult. And where do we go from here? Do I revert back to the wife he once so deeply loved and adored? To save my marriage now, I would have to sacrifice more than a move across state, across a gravel road to a paved one; I'd sacrifice the plants grown from the soil of my soul. The city planted new seeds, growing new plants, and new flowers but they were still grown from the same soil. I was still me. So what did that say about us?
"I'm okay with how I've changed but I'm still here. I wish that you could see that, could like me.. Chr-" I stopped myself but Adam was quick to interject.
"Say it." He goaded while I watched his jaw clench. Seeing him so angry only fueled my own. It was like years of restraint just snapped and I stood to put distance between us. What I had to say could lash through miles of buildings.
"Fine." With a hand on my hip, I gripped it tighter trying to keep all of my emotions reigned in and composed enough to speak.
"Christian likes me for whatever I am." Adam scoffed and it only further instigated my rage.
"Ana, he doesn't even know you! He likes you because you feed his ego and because you genuinely believe it, so do they."
"That's not true! You don't even know me anymore! You don't even care to!" I screamed as my hands flew up in frustration.
"I have come home to you for six years. I have known you my entire life."
"Yeah." I nodded sarcastically agreeing with him. "What else do you need to know about me right? My entire life and being can be summed up by what you've been present for. That's what defines me to you!"
"And Home? What home Adam? This one. It's a place where we both exist practically miles apart. We're just living parallel now."
"So this is about the move? Again? We have to talk about this again? You agreed Ana! I gave you the choice."
"What was I going to do? Say no? Why do you think I gave you an out in college? At least I knew you and I were different. I gave you that time to know that if you were coming back to me, you understood what I wanted how my dreams weren't as big as yours."
"Obviously that changed."
"Yes. A lot has changed Adam including you." What quickly turned into a yelling match went on for an hour of a scoreboard of hurt the past years. All of our church's teachings and marriage retreats flew straight out of our floor to ceiling windows. My current mistakes mixed with his covering an array of topics from his lack of effort with the fertility clinic to my effort of connecting more with Christian than him. I could feel the boil of my blood and the thickening of the tension between us as our anger filled remarks tainted the room. Our voices merged to create violent waves of noise constant crashing, reforming, and crashing. Somehow we had both crossed the room and made our way towards each other, my hands shaking and his fists clenched. Never in our marriage had we argued like this with such uninhibited emotions and words. Our faith didn't guide us or pressure us to restrain ourselves. Our eyes and voices were wild with crazed feeling and pain.
They say you never know how much you love something until it's gone. Well I believe that you also never know how to fight for something until you're forced to. Being static in your comfort zone seemed to be the downfall for us both. Chicago just opened our eyes to it.
"So, I don't pay attention to you every day and you run to someone else?"
"Stop." I could feel the tongue-lashing as he stepped closer, his rage suddenly morphing the entire room.
"Exactly how did he make you feel Ana when he kissed you? Did it turn you on?" Mortified by his question and feeling my heart up it's pace as he stalked towards me, I could only shake my head.
"Don't talk to me like that."
"Isn't this what you want?" He growled and I backed into the couch falling into a seated position as he towered over me. The protruding veins in his arms pulsed as I sat positioned between them feeling the heat of his breathe attack my forehead.
"Back off Adam." I warned as I held his glare straightening my shoulders and lifting my chin. Trying to maintain a level head, I almost shivered at the way he looked at me. With darker and clouded blue eyes, he kept my stare for a long tense minute before taking my lips in a hungry embrace. The pressure of which he bruised my lips heated my body more than I expected it to. His hand snaked behind my back pressing my breasts to his chest and I gasped at the contact. So hard his body felt against mine, the fabrics of layer nothing but a mere initiate of the touch as I felt it contort to the hard peaks of my breasts.
"Adam." I uttered breathlessly in between kisses as his hands moved to my cotton shorts. They didn't seek permission and his mouth roamed every inch of exposed skin. My skin felt chilled as he slid down the thin straps of my camisole and his mouth caught my uncovered nipples and I felt the distinct sharp mixture of bittersweet pleasure as his teeth enclosed the sensitive bud. As the heat enflamed to a scorching flood of pleasure, I groaned in pure ecstasy as I felt Adam drive into me. I felt the rough fabric of his jeans brush the underside of my thighs with every unrelenting thrust. I couldn't quiet my screams, I was overwhelmed completely and utterly consumed by everything. I felt his tongue glide against my collarbone and his hands curve possessively around my backside as he drove deeper. He didn't linger on any particular body part nor did he disguise his need as anything romantic. He was using me for his pleasure and for some reason I enjoyed each and every breathless moment of it.
As he moved to my side on the couch, I quietly stood up. He offered no reassurance or explanation as I walked to our bathroom. Tears stained my cheeks as I turned the faucet on allowing warm water to fill the empty white expanse. Sated yet confused with what just happened, I sunk into the blanket of water and draped myself in its fluid warmth. Closing my eyes, I let every ounce of anger seep from my body into the water, water I could drain and never see again. The idea of such release, such relief, made me sink lower into the tub. I recalled every detail of the argument; most of it heated ramblings and dramatic retorts. Just the memory of it made me cringe but the heaviness of the weight I felt earlier dissipated.
"Can I join you?" I heard Adam ask from the doorway. Offering a weak smile, he responded by stripping his clothing and placing the papers he held on the floor. The water shifted as I felt his legs wrap around me and his arms pull my back to meet his chest.
"I'm sorry." He breathed into my hair, nuzzling his nose against my temple.
"Please don't apologize, I feel so terrible as it is."
"There are things I need to apologize for Ana." I closed my eyes and listened to the rhythmic beat of his heart as his fingers trailed lightly down my arms.
"I'm sorry for not being here for you. It wasn't that I didn't want to spend time with you. I love you, I want to spend every waking minute with you but I also want to give you everything I feel you deserve. I just realized I could never work enough hours for what I feel that is."
"Adam…" I exhaled in frustration.
"I know, I know." He retorted as he released an exasperated breath onto my shoulder. "You don't need much. You're my simple girl."
"Don't make it sound so horrible." I replied nudging him playfully with a shoulder and then smiling at what felt like something close to normal between us.
"I've missed this." The water lapped against my skin as he pulled me tighter into him.
"How…" He questioned with such pain I felt the sharp ache in my chest in response. "How did it happen?" Earlier we were too heated to discuss it so openly and so honestly. Taking a deep breath, I drew courage from his embrace and from my faith knowing we could never move forward if I lied and kept us still.
"I think at first it was just us changing." I began shakily but so grateful for our positions. Having to see his face as I spoke about this would just break my heart.
"And with us changing, I wasn't quite sure how to talk to you anymore. How we were communicating just wasn't the same. Then at some point, it just became easier to talk to Christian than you." Turning so quickly that the water threatened the barriers of the bathtub, I cupped Adam's face.
"I hate that. I don't like feeling so disconnected from you. You are my best friend and my husband. I'll crawl the entire earth to find my way back to you." Closing his eyes and pulling me close, so tight I struggled to catch my breath for a couple of seconds. It was our impasse. My forehead knitted against his and my lips feathered over his soft pout, we both just became lost. Touching butterfly kisses to my face we both met each other with the same teary-eyed expressions of reverie…of love. He stood taking my lips in a deeper kiss as I was carried out of the bathroom and into our bedroom. I met the bed with a graceful descent feeling heated breath on my collarbone and then I felt him everywhere. Much softer and with more love than earlier, we reconnected in the most beautiful way God created us to.
We both woke to a dark room, as I woke to a desperate hunger and Adam disappeared into the bathroom. I threw on my robe and tightened the silk belt as I performed a mental check of groceries and what kind of meal I could cook from them. Pulling salmon from the fridge, I applied a simple seasoning and preheated the oven. I wasn't quite sure where Adam and I were at after today; although, I knew it would take time but the unknown created a havoc of anxiety. And so my question wasn't graceful or sure, it was hesitant and fearful when Adam walked into the kitchen with papers in hand.
"What do we do now?"
Setting the papers down on the island he rounded the square countertop and snaked his arms around my waist.
"We're moving home." I stiffened at the statement.
"What?" Keeping his voice soft, he explained.
"Ana, my boss kissed you…he wants you. I will not continue to work for him; I wouldn't think you would expect me to. It's embarrassing enough." Cringing at the position I put him in, I apologized softly.
"I know, Ana. Here." He spoke even warmer as he moved the papers in front of us. Scanning the papers, I turned towards him and kissed him sweetly.
"This is only ten minutes of research but they are also the closest photography programs near Montesano. I'm sorry for not being supportive earlier. It had nothing to do with me not wanting bigger things for you. It was just a change, different from the plans we had already made. It just felt like more proof we were drifting."
"I get it." I reassured him as his blue eyes searched mine almost for forgiveness, which was a swift change from this morning. "Thank you. I love you."
Sharing a meal and then a couch, we watched a movie and devoured popcorn with rediscovered intimacy. I laughed more than I had since the move as he found the ticklish spots of my feet and then his fingers moved to the unbearable spot beneath my chin. As my breathing calmed and my cheeks relaxed from their forced positions, I smiled at Adam through the parted spaces of my hair covering my face.
"I love you Anastasia Steele."
"I love you." I replied pressing a kiss to his chin and in a snap moment, I felt my body pulled from the couch and the view of the room turned upside down.
"Let's get to bed."
"Adam!" Throwing me on the bed, I playfully smacked him as we crawled beneath the covers. I laid my head on his bare chest hearing the beat of his heart, strong, steady, and mine.
"I'm quitting tomorrow and I want us out of here as soon as we can manage it."
"I'll start packing in the morning." I replied quickly praying that the anxiety I felt about leaving only related to the city but I knew better. Christian was the first thing to enter my mind and he was my last lingering thought before I fell asleep.
The ringtone from my cell phone pulled me from the prior days memories and I fished around in my purse to find it.
"Hey, where are you?" Adam asked with a distracted tone.
"I went for a walk and now I'm just sitting." I replied trying to sound more upbeat than I was but my exhaustion with everything claimed my voice. Adam remained silent as if he knew why I needed the escape.
"I saw Christian." I admitted hesitantly.
"Did you tell him good-bye?" Shocked at the lack of anger, I stumbled with my answer for a moment.
"Yes." He exhaled in relief while I stared at my nails all of which were ragged from my teeth.
"I know I told you I wouldn't but-"
"It's okay Ana." He interrupted and I curled my legs up onto the bench. Another sigh of exasperation and he finally spoke again.
"Are you ready to go home?" I knew he was referring to my closure with the city and Christian. Looking around at the skyscrapers, the bustle of people walking the sidewalks, and all the shops and small restaurants that decorated the streets, I nodded to myself before answering.
"Yes, I'm ready." The audible release of his anxiety made me smile.
"You were worried?"
"I know how much you love those Cronuts." Laughing as I stood, I gathered my things.
"I'll steal a recipe."
"Ana, let's be serious here, you'd never steal." We bantered playfully while I walked home until I heard the doorbell ring.
"I'll let you answer that but I'll be home soon."
"K. I love you!"
"I love you too."
A sense of calm washed over me as I made my way home. I'd pray for Christian and cherish our short time together but Adam was my husband with God and our family as witnesses. It was as solid and unbreakable to me as a promise could get. We were going home.
The elevator door opened and I stilled as I noticed the door ajar until I remembered it was probably just Adam moving boxes to the truck he rented.
"Adam" I yelled as I pushed open the door.
Why are no lights on?
I felt the wall for the switch to the hall lamp but it didn't turn on. It was then I noticed the base shattered on the floor. Immediately I could envision it, Adam bumping the table while carrying a box out. I figured he was still downstairs loading the rental car.
"Babe!" I tried once more just in case I assumed wrong before stepping over the broken glass in search for the broom. Lights from the buildings vaguely lit the living room and my eyes adjusted to the darkness. Reaching for another light switch I stopped as I saw another lamp on the floor. Its base was wood with a squared bottom while the length was decorated with beautiful curves. I was thankful I didn't have another mess to clean. Picking it up when I noticed the dark red stain on one of the corners, the shade fell and rolled along the floor, my eyes following its trail.
Rolling. Red. Stained Red.
The thud of the lamp dropping to the floor didn't register. Blood pulsed through my head while my chest constricted to the point I thought my ribs might shatter. I stopped breathing. The ivory shade was now red and thick with the pool of blood it journeyed into. I'm certain my hands shook violently. Every step felt heavier than the last but I knew I ran. I sprinted to Adam's lifeless body in the kitchen. No words could ever describe the suffocating terror of finding him. I felt the snapping of veins to my heart, it's sole purpose felt no longer viable.
"Adam!" Placing my quivering fingers at his neck, I closed my eyes and prayed. I prayed harder than I ever had.
Besides my harsh and loud sobs, I felt and heard nothing.
Broken, my skin paled to an unhealthy color with the trauma, and the very tangible feel of my soul leaving my body to join his left me empty. Somehow my fingers unbuttoned his plaid shirt and bared his ashy pallor skin. I moved my ear to his heart and my cheek to his chest and waited.
I'd wait forever.