Threw a stone into a mirror that cracked all alone
Wrecked my balancing acts
All the circus
Like a tightrope on a Ferris wheel
There’s no refuge, only beams of steel
That break me into pieces
And I miss you, the way you were
Turn the light on so my eyes can see
Help me hold on ’til the night recedes
Del Sol Valley
Fallon's P.O.V. continued
I know after reading the previous two chapters, you are expecting this chapter to be a resounding hallelujah happy ending of my quest for love ending with me and Bear kissing in a sunset, before embarking into our happily ever after, while totally ignoring that by now you should know me much better than that and also know the fact that for my family things normally go the Cameron way. Always expect the unexpected. There will be sensitive topics discussed later. You have been warned.
I arrived back home from Chase’s, filled with warm, fuzzy feelings of love and togetherness, found Bear in the home office on a call that just wouldn’t end. I could tell it was business and important but was too wrapped up in my own thoughts to pay much attention.
I wasn’t famous for my patience, so unnerved I gestured him several times that I had to talk to him, but he just kept pointing at the phone in his hand, shaking his head, then eventually turned away from me, leaving me to look at his backside. Luckily, I was too much in a lovey-dovey mood to be pissed off at that kinda rude gesture, plus that man’s backside wasn’t really an insult to peruse and it gave me time to find the right words for my big revelation.
When the call was finally over, I proudly told him I wanted to do away with the two bedrooms and share one of them, preferably mine, since it was a little bigger, but naturally redecorating it to a more neutral level to accommodate his masculine taste, and all he said was “ok.”
Instantly pissed, hurt and upset at his lackluster reaction I laid into him about blowing me off after such a life-altering decision of me jumping in with both feet like I never had before in my life, suggesting us to be 100% official, boyfriend and girlfriend. The real deal. Exclusive. Just him and me forever. Well, forever-ish at least. That clearly deserved more than an ‘ok’!
He just stared at me with an emotionless face, which pissed me off even more. When I demanded a verbal reaction, he said in his deep voice.
“I thought we already were.”
BAM! Right between the eyes.
“Well, yes, but …” I stuttered; the wind completely taken out of my sails.
He had done it again. Thrown me off as only very few people could. And if I were mortal and needed to breathe, I would have been rendered breathless by what came next.
“Have you been with another man? Is that where you were all this time? I hope it was worth it, you missed a very important client appointment I trusted you with, which was what I was trying to fix on that call just now! I agreed to let you have your liberties, because you are young and such a free spirit, and I know how you are Fallon, but I thought we both understood there are boundaries. I placed great trust and faith in you, letting you in, but the company cannot suffer whenever you get into one of your moods! And I assumed we were exclusive anyway.”
I read in his eyes not the special look I always saw in my brother’s eyes when he spotted Hailey, the look I wanted so badly now, but a question, mixed with suppressed anger and distrust. Against my usual instincts I too suppressed the feelings boiling up in me, those of retaliation, dishing out the kind of hurt and rejection I felt right now, but I didn’t, knowing instinctively if I were to do what I normally did, come out swinging no matter the consequences, it would be a fight and Bear wasn’t the man to roll over like that. He’d stand his ground, if cornered so would I, and there was nowhere but downhill for this to go, it could well be the kiss of death for us, and strangely, I didn’t want that. So, very much unlike me, I stayed calm and explained myself instead of exploding.
“I went to see Blythe and Chase. The only other men I have been seeing are family, Bear, my brother Chase, my brother-in-law Jensen, my nephew Connor and a male dog, Charlie, if you want to be exact. I have been nothing but faithful to you. And I am sorry about the appointment. I forgot. Won’t happen again.” I heard myself say words that I don’t think I ever said to anyone before.
Defiant to the end was usually my way. I’d always gone down guns blazing, even if I obviously was in the wrong and against better knowledge. I just couldn’t help myself. Until today. First time for everything.
Bear looked at me for a moment, came over to me, pulled me tight, then whispered in my ear.
When he let go, with a kiss on my cheek, he just left the room. I followed him to the kitchen, hating the submissive aftertaste so unusual to me. If THIS was what it took to be in a committed relationship, I wasn’t sure I was the right girl for it. No way I could keep this shit up long term. Heads would be rolling before I could help it.
Watching him make coffee peaceful as a lamb was too much for me and the frustration boiled out of me, I had already reached my limit of being able to keep calm.
“Is that all you have to say?! Do you not get what it takes for me to say those things to you, calmly, when I want to flip my shit and start throwing things? It is ginormously huge, the main event, for me to say I want to be yours and yours alone?! To give up my last bit of freedom by giving up my room? For you. For us? I may be nothing to anyone, but for me this is a grand gesture!”
Without turning around, he said.
WTF?! I felt my insides reach lava temperature levels for anger at his stoic calmness.
“Then why aren’t you happier? Or happy at all – period?” I demanded.
This was when he turned around and for the second time that day, I had one of those flash-like feelings of a realization that wasn’t new but had gone unacknowledged until then when I heard him say what he said next in his no nonsense way.
“Happy about what, Fallon? There should never have been two rooms to begin with. You shouldn’t just disappear without telling me where you are going or how long when you claim you want to run this company with me. You forget that I know you better than most, I’ve worked for your sister and her family for many years. For years I have watched you uncensored, seen what you do, how you live your life. I know how quickly you tire of things – especially of your men. I know I am nothing like what you are used to. But I did think I saw something in your eyes, felt something between us, something real, and was under the impression you moving in with me meant you felt the same way all along. Now, I am wondering if this is history repeating itself and I am about to get the boot. Wondering, if I made a mistake.”
Okay, so up to this moment in time everyone in my family had already told me I was nuts for the two rooms and everyone seemed to love to remind me of my wild past, which to me at this point felt like ancient history, even though it had only been months since my sudden change of pace. But hearing this served up so bluntly by him hurt more than I ever felt hurt before, except the day when my grandparents died. I got up in his face now.
“I said I was sorry, what else you want from me? You apparently knew I wasn’t the chaste kind, nor the run-to-the-altar-and-pop-out-kids-before-I-am-25 type … so why did you bother with me in the first place if you can’t get over it? I am trying here, Bear, it’s a process, not a switch I can flip. And I can’t undo the past, reminding me of it helps nothing. For the record, if you were about to get the boot, as you call it, you would KNOW, I’d be very clear about that and most certainly wouldn’t stand here talking my mouth into a fray to make you understand! I explained where I was, I apologized, I don’t get why you are so pissy.”
Bear took a sip of his coffee, then sat down his cup, before bringing his face inches from mine with an expression I couldn’t decipher until he said
“Because I made the same mistake you did. I allowed myself to care. I fell for you. And now I love you, for better or worse. Like you, I normally don’t do love and relationships. We are so much more alike than you realize. I know you and I are not the typical protagonists from the romance movies and a relationship in my business is not the soundest decision either, it’s dangerous, me dating you puts you in danger, but you being what you are, invincible and practically unkillable, I felt it was safe enough. I can deal with you being complicated, but I won’t be with a woman who isn’t 100% committed. I am glad you came to the conclusion on your own, but I will say this just so we both know it is out there on the table: you are either 100% in – or you are out. There is no gray zone, not for me and not for the company. We are a package deal. You can’t have one without the other.”
“Why are you so cold and mean? I have said nothing, but nice things and you have been giving me the third degree since I came home. I just told you I am fully committed to you and the company. Okay, you need to hear it more clearly? Fine. Here goes: Theodore Barrett, ever since you and I became serious, I have not gone near another man I wasn’t related to; let alone fucked anyone other than you. You know why? Not because I am such an angel in disguise, which we both know would be total bullshit, but because I don’t WANT another man anymore. Only you! How is that for committed!? I missed one frigging appointment, an oversight, I didn’t mean to be gone so long, but somehow ended up on some sort of soul-searching mission and came back home having confirmed what I already knew, which is, once more, the startling truth that I want you and only you and want you to want me like my brother wants his wife, like my dad wants my mom. Like that! What else do you want from me now? Get me fitted for a chastity belt? Watch me staple my pussy shut?! Or maybe you want me to go down on one knee and ask you to marry me here in the kitchen? Or screw that, go big or stay home, right?! How about I’d port us straight to Vegas to tie the knot right there? Would that be committed enough? Say the word and I’d fucking do it, just to prove how fucking committed I actually am to you!” I barked at Bear.
I was exaggerating and bluffing, but I also didn’t back down from a challenge, even if that would land me in the frigging haven of matrimony, if only to make him frigging realize I was dead-serious! And then he could FINALLY look at me the way Chase looked at Hailey! Goddamn it! By now I was so desperate to see that look in his eyes, I’d do ANYTHING for it.
Bear’s face showed that he wasn’t impressed by my exaggeration, nor was taking it seriously, as he passed me by now. Or tried to. I held him back, shoving him into a wall, right under a photo of us grinning happily, which seemed like irony now.
A mortal woman would have never been able to do this to a man like him, his nickname Bear wasn’t just a play on his last name, but he was built solid, heavy and strong like a bear. But I was a Vampire. No matter the mortal, I would always be stronger. Bear got the hint, walking away from this fight was no longer an option. So, facing me, he said something I will never forget.
“No need for such theatrics. It wouldn’t work anyway. I can’t marry you, even if I was crazy enough to take you up on this dramatic performance.”
“Oh, and why not? You think I wouldn’t have the balls?!” I challenged. Oh, watch me!
“No, because I am already married.”
A large bucket of ice water was poured over me, followed by another one filled with lava. I literally froze in place; I couldn’t have moved now if there had been a raging fire behind me. It took seconds that felt like days until the world continued turning for me.
“What? You can’t be serious. You are lying. This isn’t funny. Why would you have never told me?” I muttered the first words that came to mind, as I was trying to talk myself off the proverbial ledge by telling myself he probably meant married to his work, even though something told me that just wasn’t it.
“Because you never asked. Maybe I should have just told you anyway, but you never seemed too keen on knowing much about me, you never asked ANYTHING about me, except my real name, once, and I told you the truth. I would have told you anything you would have wanted to know, but you never asked. You don’t know where I was born, my past, not even my birthday or my age, nothing, cos you never asked me, Fallon. To me that just meant you didn’t care. And I have never been the type to bore anyone by oversharing. Especially not a woman like you, for fear it would have sent you running. To be perfectly straight with you, I never expected the topic of marriage to ever come up between us, so I saw no need to wake sleeping dogs.” the bitter tone in his words cut about as deep as the realization that he was right. I never asked anything, and I never cared to know. And had he mentioned a wife, you best believe I’d have been gone as gone can get. I felt like the worst person in the universe. Still, the pain of him being taken by another woman hurt even more. WTF?!
“Overshare? I have been dating a married man for a year and you didn’t think to maybe mention that sometime while making me into your side-chick!? Nah, you are not pinning that on me too. I get it, I suck as a girlfriend, but not THAT. Oh no!” I pushed back.
“We haven’t had a relationship for a year, Fallon. At best it’s been a few months that I would count. Before that I was one of many, a toy. Don’t forget that being observant is my bread and butter.”
“A wife? Do you love her?”
“I used to, a long time ago, but I don’t anymore. My love has grown cold with her hatred for me. I made mistakes. One of those cost me my family. Many years ago. And I told you I love you now.”
“Family? There are more? You mean … don’t say you have kids? Oh my God!” I mumbled into the sound of my entire world crumbling around me.
“I don’t understand. Either you do or you don’t. Or do you mean someone else turned out to be the father?”
“No, I mean they are dead. Because of me. My wife never forgave me. I am not sure I have forgiven myself. So, I left, her, my old home, my old life. A long time ago. For the first few years I tried to send her money, but she refused to accept it.”
“Why would your kids’ death be your fault? I mean, mortals die all the time, right? No wait, I shouldn’t have said that. I am sorry. But … I don’t see how …”
“You know how I taught you – and everyone – to always doublecheck the cars before you get in them, every single time you stopped somewhere, because the armored cars do not have the same type of obvious quick release in the trunks like normal cars do?”
“Oh no … ” the forthcoming horror started to dawn on me.
“Yes. I worked for a security firm back then, I was just one of the guards making a decent living for me and my family. My boy was 6, my little girl 4 when they decided daddy works too much, even though mommy keeps trying to tell him so, which only makes them fight, and daddy leave, slamming doors. So they snuck into the trunk of my car to go to work with daddy. Unfortunately, was that a stakeout on the outskirts of Oasis Springs, meaning, I sat in the desert heat for almost an entire day, laser-focused on work and pissed at my wife, I didn’t answer my cell phone, even though she kept calling, I didn’t even listen to her frantic voicemails about our children being missing all day till long after the fact. By the time I got home, police and FBI were everywhere, I finally opened the trunk … it was too late. My beautiful children had perished in the most harrowing way, only a few feet behind me, because they didn’t know there were hidden handles to pull to release the trunk from inside. All because I rushed out from another fight with my wife about me working too much and took off instead of doing the routine check. Had I, my children would be alive and probably be in high school now. They sure were smart kids. And my wife wouldn’t have been through a hell she didn’t deserve, neither would I. The FBI investigation determined it wasn’t my fault, just an unfortunate freak accident, but my wife and I sure didn’t agree. It killed us as a couple, she and I died on that day along with our babies. We weren’t the same we used to be. Eventually I left, needed a fresh start. And she needed me gone. I owed her that much.”
Bear looked nothing like the strong, unmovable force, but he looked broken and brittle, tears were running down his face. Even I couldn’t help but fight the tears when I pulled him into a tight embrace now, as he cried into my shoulder, while I felt helpless and guilty for bringing this up now, but also for never asking him about himself before. I wasn’t normally the type anyone would go to to be consoled. I sucked at it. Because normally I shut everything out and didn’t care. But I did now. So that was how this felt. In other words, caring hurts. Great.
Bear tried to pull away from me now, but I didn’t let him, kept holding on tight, so instead he succumbed to my unusual clinginess and mumbled.
“Sorry about that.” his deep voice resounded the tears.
“Don’t be.” I said in a voice unfamiliar to me, sniffling away the tears.
Even Bear noticed, I could tell by the sound of his voice.
“You’ve changed. You seem different somehow.” he said, and I nodded into his strong shoulder.
“That’s what I’ve been trying to tell you. Disgusting, isn’t it? Seriously now, Bear, I realized a few things today. Important things, actually, and I think it was worth missing that fucking meeting for. As my brother put it, my wild days should be behind me, and I should start adulting now. And the things he didn’t say but has been living out for me all along, the stuff I didn’t know I was subconsciously absorbing like a sponge. It all surfaced today, hitting me like a freight truck. The way he loves his wife. The way he looks at her. I want to be the person someone could love like that.”
“Smart man, your brother.” Bear smiled faintly, even though his eyes still reflected the sadness he shared with me, as we both released each other from the embrace, straightened up, as he wiped the tears from my face, then his own, but as his eyes met mine there was something else in them. Hope.
I realized I really had changed. I didn’t mean to. But instead of thinking how all this inconvenienced me like I normally would, I was wondering what I could say or do to comfort him, feed that hope I saw in his eyes. And Bear could probably sense that, as he pulled me into another embrace – normally we both weren’t exactly the huggiest people – then whispered into my ear.
“Just stay. Now and always. I’ll try my best to make it worth your while, if you promise to not give up. That is all I need, Fallon.”
Like in a sappy movie scene, all the memories and images of the happy couples in my life, who had weathered rough times together flashed before me.
“I won’t give up on you. And I will stay.” I mumbled, then added “Fuck it Bear, I actually love you. Like – really fucking love you hard. I didn’t mean to, but I do and I can’t stop.”
As scary as this revelation felt, watching the vibrations of him chuckling made it worth it.
“I love you too, Fallon, like I no longer believed I could.”
2 thoughts on “Chapter 381) Tightrope”
Oh my goodness! What a deep revelation. Poor Bear and his estranged wife. That’s so terribly sad. And it hurt Fallon too, to know he went through something as awful as that. All she wanted to do was make it better, knowing she couldn’t really do anything but love him and then she realized she did love him, very very much. And she got upset and scared. ❤️ On the other hand, he was so afraid she would just up and quit him. I understand why. I’m glad they are both on the same page now and have no more secrets.
Perhaps he’ll file for divorce now even though he and Fallon haven’t seriously talked about forever. Bear and his wife have been apart for a very long time it seems. Still something as traumatic as that doesn’t just go away with time. It will always hurt. Fallon made him love again which was something he was trying to push back down I think, because he wasn’t sure he trusted her when she missed the meeting. So her little revelations of wanted to be exclusive were not met with much enthusiasm. *sigh*. Great chapter.
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Wow… what a mistake to read this during a coffee break at work. The lump in my throat is making my eyes water. That’s my story.
What a great chapter.
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