“Do you have a way to get in touch with Clint?”
“Well Hello to you too”
“Do you? I need to talk to him”
“What’s wrong Madison? Where’s Cameron?”
“He’s with my mom. Lizzy do you have the information yes or no?
“I don’t have his number but his mom still lives in the same place and I know he’s in town.
“Good” Madison said and whirled around headed back out the door.
“Wait! What’s wrong?” Lizzy said grabbing her arm stopping her escape
“I don’t want to talk about it right now” Madison said looking away from her cousin’s concerned gaze before she busted in a mass of tears
“Madison you’re not leaving until you tell me what is wrong. I know it has something to do with Cameron and I want to know what it is and I want to know right now.
“My baby is dying and I can’t do anything about it. The only person who can is the one person who doesn’t know he exists.”
Tugging on her arm Lizzy closed the front door and pulled her back inside the house and pushed her down onto the couch.
Trying to rise from the couch she said irritably, “I don’t have time for this right now, I’ll tell you later. I need to find Clint.”
“And what exactly do you plan on telling him now that you refused to tell him a year ago.”
“Look I had my reasons for not telling him about Cam and I will probably deal with that for the rest of my life but I don’t have time for this right now.”
“Look you need to stop, rest for a while and eat something before you go hell bent on your mission. You look exhausted.” She said taking the disheveled appearance. A pair of well worn jeans that desperately needed an iron and a belt to hold them up on her declining frame, a faded old t-shirt that had definitely seen better days, her usually shiny eyes, now dull from lack of sleep and dark circles rimming underneath. Her normally coiffed short style was laid flat to her head showcasing lack of care.
“I don’t give a damn how I look. I am not trying to impress him I just need him to be there for his son. I could care less what Clint Ambrose thinks of me.
If only that were true, Lizzy thought to herself but was smart enough to keep the thought logged in her mouth. Her cousin although clearly not at her best would still swing at a moment’s notice and she was in no mood to fight a woman who would use her to pound out her frustrations.
“I’m not saying that you do, but what I am saying is first off have you even thought about what you’re going to say? Second you are not going to be any good to Cam if you don’t take care of yourself. You’ve lost weight so I know you’re not eating , you look like shit so I know you’re not sleeping and we don’t even want to talk about your attire. I love you so I am being honest with you.”
Madison’s dark eyes flashed and her body tensed up at the words and opened her mouth to tell her cousin exactly what she thought of her opinion. When her cousin halted her words with a few of her own.
“I don’t care about what reasons you have for not telling Clint about Cameron and I don’t really care what you say to him when you decide to tell him but I do care about you and your son and I will not sit here and let you destroy yourself by not taking care of yourself. There is some food in there on the stove, you can take a shower and sleep in the guest room for while then when you get up, we will find something for you to wear, do something to your hair and then you can go to find Clint. Trust me you will feel better, and have a clear head to deal with what may come.”
“Cam…” she said in a broken voice.
“Is with Aunt Michelle who had no problem raising two kids and will have no problem handling her precious grandchild, so stop worrying.
Tears began to fill Madison’s eyes and she dropped her head in her hands. Shoulders shaking she silently cried until Lizzy pulled her into her arms then the dam on her emotions broke and became heartbreaking sobs….
“My baby, oh Lizzy what am I going to do about my baby. He’s so little and so precious and he’s hurting and I can’t help him. This is my entire fault.”
“Hush now; this is not your fault. You cannot control this you simply have to live it and survive it. God takes care of the rest.”
She let out a hysterical laugh/ cry at the thought. “God is punishing me. This is my fault. You guys told me not to leave and to tell Clint because he deserved to know but I knew everything and I left anyway and now the one person I hoped to never see again I need to save my son’s life. And the worst part of it is, he could refuse to come and my son would die or he could come save my son then decide to take him away from me in which case I will probably die.”
“What is it mama use to say, don’t borrow trouble. Deal with what you have in front of you and let everything take care of itself.”
Totally ignoring the comment she continued to talk, “We both know how Clint’s is or at least how he was. He was the nicest guy you wanted to meet but do not cross him. I know he hates me and it will multiply by the time he finds out about Cam and how I deliberately kept him a secret.”
“You didn’t know you were pregnant when you left here.”
“No I didn’t but Clint won’t care. He will say after I found out I could have came back or at least got in touch with him to let him know but I didn’t and he will never forgive me and he will be right.” She shrugged as if it didn’t matter to her when in truth it scared her to death.
“He needs a bone marrow transplant and a sibling or a parent is the best option and I don’t match so it will have to be Clint. He has to say yes, he has to.”
“You said you think he might want to take Cam from you, why do you think that?
“Clint always wanted kids and he will not take it too kindly that I kept Cam from him” She said softly picturing the soft smile on Clint’s face with he told her how he wanted a family of his own one day. She shook her head trying to clear the images that seemed to get stronger everyday with clarity.
“What will you do if he goes that route?
“Fight it of course but as long as my son is healthy I will be ok, although being separated from him may kill me.
“Well we are not going to worry about right now, go clean yourself up and lay down for a while , later we’ll figure out what we need to do.
“Yes, we. I will help you as much as I can. Of course when you talk to Clint you will go all alone but I will help with what I can.
“Go to bed, we’ll talk later
Madison was physically drained and filled with despair and regret. Cameron was only ten months old and he was the most precious gift in her life. It didn’t matter that he was the product of a spring fling; she loved him as much as she hated his father. She wanted nothing more than to trade her life for her son’s but it wasn’t that simple. They had been back and forth to the doctor and to specialist after specialist until they had depleted all other options. When the test finally came back and she wasn’t a close enough match she felt sick at her stomach because she knew what she would have to do. She dreaded every waking moment of it but she refused for her son to pay for her mistakes. Her cousin was right she hadn’t been eating because once she thought of food she would get sick, sleeping became nonsexist. She wanted to spend every waking moment with Cam, see his smile, hear him talk; she didn’t want to miss anything. She drove the hour and fifteen minutes from Jacksonville to get to Savannah so she could feel the love from her family and hopefully gain enough strength to face Clint. She shook off her clothes and laid across the bed her strength depleted just at the thought. At one point in time Clint could have been the world to her but reality showed up just in time and with it Madison left. She couldn’t take the hurt that was thrust upon her. Granted she kept telling herself that it was her own fault she let it go that far that she was the stupid one for thinking she was different and falling in love instead of keeping it in lust. Nevertheless, Clint was one good-looking brother. Tall, chocolate brown skin, ripped muscles everywhere, low cut hair, smooth-shaven face and hazel-green eyes and a beautiful smile that could stop traffic. He was in the reserve when they met through a friend and hit it off instantly. Of course things are never by the watch and things heated up quickly and in no time they were burning up the sheets. It wasn’t until she was in way over her head and they were at a bar-b-q that she overheard him bragging to his friends. Devastated was an understatement, she was pissed. She quickly left the party without even acknowledging to him that she heard him and never looked back. She changed her number, and left town. As she told Lizzy it wasn’t until three months afterwards did she find out that she was carrying and she was still feeling the sting of the humiliation to suck up her pride and call him and tell him. She eventually found out that he went active and was deployed overseas. She wouldn’t admit how she felt about him in a combat zone because she had no room for other emotions in her heart except those that concerned her son. Her last thought before she went to sleep was what was she going to say to Clint and how would he respond.
Madison braced herself as she walked up the path leading to where Clint was staying. His mom had lived in the same house for twenty years and didn’t see any point in moving. A ranch style brick house with a once car garage. A large porch covered with extended rocking chairs and hanging ferns. Anyone walking up could see the love and patience put into the neatly trimmed bushes and flower beds that surrounded the walkway. Of course at the moment Madison’s concern weren’t the flowers in the yard but yet the butterflies in her stomach. She refused to think that it was nervousness due to seeing Clint for the first time in almost two years but with the probability of telling him and him blowing a gasket. Lizzy had informed her that he was now permanently stationed at Ft. Stewart so he could be close to his mom who has diabetes and who also suffered a stroke last year. She didn’t want to add to the drama that was already in his life but this had to be done. Her baby’s life was held in the balance and she refused to sit by and do nothing pride be damned. Figuring she had thought to herself long enough on the porch she took at much needed breath and rang the doorbell. She heard a male voice say something but couldn’t quite understand it but she felt the return of her nervousness with a vengeance and took in another shaky breath just as the front door opened and she came face to face with Clint Ambrose the father of her son and realized as he looked at her that she sorely miscalculated her reaction to him.
“Madison?” Is that you?”
Madison was never so happy that she let her cousin convince her to fix herself up a little. Thanks to her she had on clean pressed clothes, jeans still but fitting and not wrinkled and her short pixie cut was styled.
“Yea it’s me, how’ve you been Clint?”
“I’m good” he said with a bewildered look on his face thinking he must have been dreaming. Coming out of his musing he stepped aside and opened the door wider, “Come on in”
Madison preferred not to but she knew short of blurting out what she had to say right here on the porch she had no choice. She stepped in the air cooled house and was immediately surrounded by the friendly atmosphere. She took in the comfortable furnishings and family portraits and knew that the person who assembled this room didn’t do with an artist’s touch but with love and family in mind and it showed. She felt unnerved as Clint closed the door behind him and stood with his arms crossed observing her. She wondered what he saw in her countenance, and then quickly put that thought aside. There was absolutely no time for such thoughts, she hated him remember not to mention he was bound to hate her after she said what she came to say if he didn’t already. “I heard you’re about your mom’s stroke last year, I hope she is doing better.” She said for lack of something better to say. She didn’t want to just blurt it out and figured she needed to put some finesse to her words. What she needed was more time, but time was running out and the day of reckoning had come.
He continued to assess her with those catlike eyes that always use to hypnotize her before he commented.”She’s in the living room, go and see her for yourself.”
She walked slowly into the family room and saw his mother reclining in her chair watching Law and Order. “She cleared her throat “Hey Mrs. Ambrose how are you?”
Muting the television, she smiled, “Hey Ms. Madison how are you doing?”
“I’m doing okay; I just stopped in to see how you were doing” okay not completely the truth but it sounded appropriate.
“Oh an old bird like me I’m doing just fine. How is your mama…?” She hesitated a minute looked at Madison then back to Clint and continued… “And everything? Everyone alright?”
Madison had a sinking feeling in her stomach but managed not crumple into tears. She knew. She knew and she hadn’t told Clint. Why?
She must have had that question on her face because she gave an almost imperceptible shake of her head. Thankfully Clint was intent on watching her than looking at his mom which urged her to hurry up and answer her question. “Their fine” she said with only a slight quiver in her voice before she recovered and cleared her throat.
“You make sure to tell them to come by and see me” Mrs. Ambrose said
“Yes ma’am” she said meaning every bit of it. But knowing that once Clint found out the choice would be taken from her.
She turned her head to find Clint still looking at her like she was a mirage and knowing in her heart of hearts she couldn’t prolong the inevitable much longer and wanting to get it over with.
“Can we go somewhere and talk?” she said.
“Sure” he said grabbing his keys off the table and telling his mom that he would be back in a while. Madison had already decided she was not going to go anywhere in the car same with him. She didn’t know how he would react to her news and she didn’t like the idea of being stranded somewhere if he decided to kick her out of his car during or afterward her confession.
“Where you want to go? You want to go and get something to eat?” he asked
“No this isn’t a conversation for the public” she said softly trying not to cower under the power of his gaze. Man he still looked good.
He stopped when he heard her words and looked into her eyes seeking what she was hiding. It was clear to see that she had been crying and had not been sleeping well. Although she lightly wore makeup nothing could hide the sadness in her eyes. Something inside him clenched but he quickly pushed it aside knowing somewhere in the back of his mind that he wasn’t going to like what she had to say. He looked her over from head to toe and couldn’t help but to like what he saw. She was short in statue but made up for it with curves for days that could make a man weep for joy. She used to wield that power over him with just a quick glimpse of her smile or the swipe of her tongue across her full lips. They had so little time but so much fun, which brought the unanswered question to the surface before he could catch himself.
“Why did you leave? I looked for you but it was like you disappeared into thin air or something.”
She couldn’t lie to herself and say that she didn’t know that question was coming but she was truthful enough to admit that she didn’t expect him to sounds so anguished about it. She briefly found herself thinking maybe he actually had cared but caught herself before her imagination got the better of her and she made a fool out of herself again. What was done was done and there was nothing that could be done about it. She was nothing but a slice to him and that was it. If he felt anything it was because she walked away from him and not the other way around.
“I asked you a question Madison, don’t you think I deserve an answer after all this time.”
“It doesn’t matter why I left Clint. It’s over now and there’s no turning back” She said looking off in the distance.
“The least you could do is look at me when you tell me that I don’t matter”
At the bite in his words her head snapped up and centered on his face meeting him square in the eye.
“Did I say that you didn’t matter? Did I? No I didn’t I said it doesn’t matter anymore. It’s the past. So don’t put words in my mouth.” The nerve of him telling her that he didn’t matter to her when clearly it was the other way around. She once loved him with everything she had and in one conversation with his boys he threw it away and her along with it. Of course he didn’t know that and she had no plans to tell him whatsoever. All she planned on doing was telling him about Cameron and leaving as quick as her car would take her.
Clint was fuming inside but on the outside the perfect shade of cool. He couldn’t believe the nerve of this little pint size woman coming back into his life like a storm and scrambling his brain after two years of nothing. Didn’t she know that looked for her that he missed her like hell and finally tried to use other women to forget her to no avail he might add. Finally accepting the fact that he had lost her he changed from reserve to active status and was immediately deployed to Iraq and had only six months prior returned to the states. He could tell she was hiding something and whatever it was was big and he was hard pressed not to apply pressure until she told him but he could tell the way her eyes were flashing that he had pissed her off. Good. The last thing he needed was her looking sad and lonely and him wanting to comfort her. He kept looking at her knowing with a thrill of his own knowing he was bothering her with the way he looked at her. He could tell by the pulse in her neck that was rapidly fluttering and the way she nervously gripped and released her hands.
“Look I didn’t come here to argue with you over past as I said it’s done. I just have something to say and then I will be on my way.”
She threw a fierce look at him but started to open her mouth, then closed it. She had no idea how she was going to say this. There was no nice or polite way to tell somebody that you had their baby but decided they didn’t need to know and now that same child of theirs is sick and that is the only reason they were being told.
“It can’t be that hard to say. You never before had a problem telling me what you thought or how you felt about something, why is this any different? We use to talk about everything, what happened to that?”
“Clint a lot has happened in the last two years since you, and things never stay the same.”
Clint stifled the brush of jealousy that he felt at the thought of her and another man. The thought of any man touching her as he did made him want to seriously hurt somebody.
“Changed how much?” he asked looking at her hand briefly for a ring of any kind that would signify an attachment, but didn’t see one.
“I have a son Clint. How is that for change?” she said trying to take the heat out of her voice. She was nervous and when she got nervous she got irritable and snappy.
“A son” he said softly feeling his jealousy level escalate. Reigning in his temper he asked how old the child was.
“Eleven months old” she said her voice breaking just a little before she checked it. This was not the time to fall apart. She was sure there would be plenty of time for that later.
He heard her voice break but forced himself to stand still. He needed his wits about himself right now and he wouldn’t have that if he was playing captain Kirk. He heard himself ask, “What’s his name?”
Now this was the hard part. This is what she drove over an hour for. This is the moment she swore would never happen and the moment she dreaded more than anything.
“Cameron Maurice Ambrose”
Clint didn’t react. He stood perfectly still and just looked at her. She knew he heard her, but yet he didn’t react. She could almost see his mind calculating the dates and saw the moment it became clear. Involuntarily she took a cautious step back. She didn’t think he would hurt her physically anyway but when pushed to the limit one never knows.
“My Son?” he asked softly daring her to deny it. She had named her son after him and never told him.
She wasn’t fooled. She knew him good enough to know that the softer and calmer his voice got the madder he was. She didn’t blame him, she knew he had every right to be but she refused to quit now Cameron needed him.
“Yes” She said determined to look him in the face and take whatever he dished out.
“What’s wrong? Why tell me now opposed to oh I don’t know two years ago when you first found out you were pregnant?” He said with mock sarcasm proving to her just how upset he really was. She briefly thought that she would feel so much better if he would yell or scream or something. She would definitely be less paranoid.
Before she could open her mouth, he continued talking clearly cutting off any answers she meant to give him. “Is that why you left me, because you didn’t want my baby?”
“No!” she said not believing that he actually believed that. He had to be completely stupid not to know that she fell for him hook line and sinker.
“I didn’t even know I was pregnant until months after I left.”
“Then how do you know he’s my son.” He asked his voice rising in degrees
His words hit their mark, because she recoiled as if he slapped her. All consuming rage, and humiliation hit her full force and she couldn’t stop the word that flew out of her mouth, “Of course how could I forget I’m such a slut, how could I ever forget. Well at least I served my purpose for you.”
He walked up on her at her words, and clipped out from clenched teeth, “Did I say you were a slut? If anyone knows as well as I do when I had you, you were far from a slut. In fact if I remember correctly you were a virgin the first time you gave yourself to me. And if I am correct I bet no one has touched since me.
She was smart enough to keep her own counsel.
“So I ask you again, is he mine?” he and just as softly as before and slowly.
She backed up again, not comfortable in close proximity of his body. Too many memories. She took out her key chain that had a picture of Cam on it and thrust it at Clint’s face.
“You tell me is he yours” she said knowing he was looking at a carbon copy of himself, from the thick curly hair that he now wears close to his head to the hazel-green eyes and dimples. Her son looked absolutely nothing like her and everything like his father. There was no way in hell he could deny him.
He studied the picture of his son smiling and drooling. His son. The same punch to the gut occurred that he felt when he opened his mother’s door to Madison a little while ago but much more intense. He absentmindedly ran his long fingers over the picture before bringing his gaze back to Madison who had that forlorn look in her eyes again like she was on the verge of tears.
“Why didn’t you tell me, before now? You can’t tell me you didn’t know how to get in touch with me.”
“No I’m not going to say that, I just made the choice not to tell you.”
“Don’t I have a say so, he’s mine too Madison.” His anger showing vividly in his eyes.
“I know that Clint but at the time what you wanted didn’t matter much to me, in fact it still doesn’t. In truth I’m not here for you or me this is for Cameron.”
“What’s wrong with my son?”
Here it comes, the waterworks. She knew that nothing she did would be able to stop them once they started and she didn’t want to breakdown, here outside in front of Clint.”
“He... H...” She cleared her throat over the massive lump and tried again.
“He has l…”
“He has what? Come on Maddie tell me” he said trying to coax the truth out of her. The nickname he used for her just slipped out as normal. His anger deflated in the face of her distress.
She took a deep breath and tried again, “He has leukemia. Clint my baby has leukemia and there is nothing I can do about it. He’s such a happy baby always smiling hardly ever cries and he could possibly die and there is nothing I can do. We just found out not to long ago.” She said tears flowing in waves down her face to no avail.
“Come here” he said grabbing hold her arm pulling her towards him, feeling his eyes leaking as well.
She pushed away from him trying in vain to get away. She knew if he comforted her that she would never stop crying, but at the same time didn’t want him to let her go.
“Don’t fight me on this Madison, come here” He said tightening his hold on her body as he pulled her flush against him. Obviously unable to fight anymore she held onto to him as tight as he held onto her and cried her heart out until he had to lift her up and carry her over to the back porch and sat down with her in his lap. He held onto her as if she was the most precious gift to him and stayed that way until her sobs subsided. After she regained some semblance of order back to her appearance he asked the question that was burning in his mind.
“So what is it Madison? What do you need from me? You obviously didn’t come to me just to tell me about him.
Head throbbing, eyes puffy make up completely ruined she looked at him and told him the rest.
“They want to do a bone marrow transplant on him but I don’t match enough and you are the other option before they go to outside donors. He needs you” She said. I need you she thought with rude clarity but thankfully kept that thought to herself.
Too bad she couldn’t keep her feelings from showing on her face, he thought to himself. If he was still good at reading her as he use to be he knew she needed him too. Though he refused to dwell on that prospect right now, no matter how much that pleased him.
“Where is he?”
“At my mom’s”
“Come on let’s go”
“Where are we going?”
“Where do you think we’re going, I want to see my son, now”
She wisely kept her mouth shut as they drove to her mom’s house. He refused to allow her to drive by herself saying that she wasn’t in the condition to be driving, when in truth she suspected he didn’t trust her to come back after she left his sight again. And again she didn’t blame him because he had every right to feel that way, because in truth if it wasn’t for Cameron she wouldn’t come back. Clint was as dangerous now as he was two years ago. He was dangerous to her heart and peace of mind and she needed to desperately remember that at all times.
He was in love for the second time in his life and he only received a smile. Is that all it took? He walked into Mrs. Knight‘s house and saw his son for the first time and fell in love. He picked him up and received a beautiful four toothed smile. He knew without a doubt that his life had been changed forever. He spared a glance at Madison who for all purposes had closed herself off from him. The only time in the last hour that she showed any type of outward emotion was when she herself looked at their son. When he would call out her name her whole face would light up but other than that she was most reserved and almost subdued. After she changed his clothes and fed him, she handed him back to me and walked out of the room, with tears in her eyes hoping he didn’t see but of course he did. He noticed everything about her and maybe that was the problem.
After Cameron drifted back to sleep, Clint walked outside and sat down on the porch beside Madison, who had taken off her shoes and sat with her back against the rail and her legs drawn up to her chest looking lost as never before. It was at that moment that he realized that he still loved her. Never stopped loving her. He still didn’t know what was the real reason behind her leaving him but he knew that whatever it was that they could figure it out. He didn’t know how he was going to manage that feat though because even if he was right and she still cared about him it would be a chilly day in hell before she would admit it especially to him. So he knew he would have to bide his time.
“So how do you want to do this?” He asked not bothering to look at her from fear of seeing more tears in her eyes.
“I’m here, and you’re in Florida. I’m assuming his doctor is in Florida as well.” He continued.
“Yea for right now, but they may move him to Atlanta to the children’s hospital”
“Okay I’ll take leave and go back with you guys when you leave and then we’ll go from there.”
She looked at him for the first time since he came outside. His face was impassive so she had no idea what he was thinking but she didn’t expect him to agree so quick. This of course made her feel worse for the wear. She blew out a weary breath “Clint, I’m sorry. I didn’t want to disrupt your life but I had no other choice.”
“Madison you had a choice two years ago and you chose not to tell me my son existed so let’s just leave it at that.” He said sounding tired.
She remained quiet. She couldn’t dispute what he said so she chose to say nothing.
“Do you have room for me at your place?” he asked
“Yes” Although I wish I didn’t she thought to herself
“Good” because he didn’t plan on staying away from his son another minute and she needed to know that upfront. They sat outside for a while longer both lost in their own thoughts and misery until being separated from Cameron was too much then they both went back into to the house together under a silent truce.
After spending the next few days back and forth between her mother’s and his mother’s they got on the road and headed toward Jacksonville. It was worth the daily stress of being with him everyday just to see Mrs. Ambrose’s face light up when she saw her grandson. Once again guilt bombarded Madison in essence of what all she deprived them of or at least his mom anyway. She couldn’t afford to soften towards Clint. It was already sobering that she was noticing things that she shouldn’t notice like how his jeans hung on his hips moving in sequence with his long strides, or the way his t shirts stretched across his taut chest causing a rippling effect. It was downright sickening, the way she noticed him and the move of his body. Let’ not mention his military uniform and what thoughts those conjured. She also didn’t want to think about the softness and love in his gaze when he looked at their son. It made her think of the time they were together and wonder if he ever looked at her that way. Thankfully by the time her mind wondered that far she was thoroughly disgusted with herself and able to pull herself together. But in the back of her mind she knew the damage had already been done. What in world was she going to do?
It was obvious to Clint when they pulled up at her house that she definitely didn’t need him financially. The house wasn’t overly large or expensively furnished but it suited her and his son. It was a four bedroom, two bath brick house. It had a moderate kitchen, a large spacious living room with its chocolate, beige and black collection. There were a few abstract paintings on the wall that brought the room to life as well as the family portraits of Cameron that covered the walls. She had a covered porch section on her back deck that she remolded with a tin roof and plush carpet and comfortable mix match furniture which added to the ambience of the house, her comfort room as she called it. And to top it off with a nice finished deck that was enclosed as the rest of the house in a privy fence. She gave him a tour of the house showing him the guest bedroom that he would occupy. The walls were a butter cream with a queen size bed that was covered with an assorted blue and green comforter set. There was also a sitting area that was designed with two oversized deep chairs that screamed comfort and a coffee table. She didn’t hesitate to tell him that she picked it up at a garage sell and knew it was a steal. She showed him the fourth bedroom/ her office that allowed her to work her consultant job from home as if she were in the office. Lastly she showed him Cameron’s room that was decorated with an animal/sport theme print. On the floor there was carpet as well as foam alphabet letters that she told him they played on during the day. She pointed to her closed door to note her bedroom but didn’t offer him a tour and he left it at that the last thing he needed was to think of anything else other than their son right now. He would have plenty of time for later to convince her that she belonged with him. After feeding him and giving him his medicine she put Cameron down for a nap, turned on the baby monitor, clipped it to her hip and quietly left the room. His room and the office were on the opposite sides of the house so after they put him down he removed himself for a while to give her some space. He knew that this was new and that it would take some getting used to.
Madison was exhausted but wired at the same time. She felt as if she was having an outer body experience and didn’t know how to rejoin herself. She walked mummy like towards the kitchen and took out something to cook. She was all cried out and there was no time to feel sorry for herself her baby needed her to be strong right now and if that meant going to battle with the devil himself she was game. The ride here was a strain to say the least. Cameron was asleep most of the time, leaving her and Clint among themselves. He offered to drive but she refused, needing something to do with her hands and sitting on the passenger side was not going to cut it for her. She figured he wasn’t overly comfortable with her driving, since on more than one occasion he offered to drive after inquiring about the speed limit. She smiled at the thought of making him nervous. Shaking her head she recalled several times how he tried to draw her into conversation starting with why she left. Which of course she refused to answer. Why was it such a big deal? What would talking about it change? Nothing it still would have happened and Cameron would still be here so she simply refused. Frustrated with her lack of response he became quiet and she turned on some old school music and sung herself into her own private space. For a brief moment she forgot about her baby being sick, she forgot that she was riding next to Clint who for all purposes was being real cool and understanding about not being told about his son which made her only feel worse and she forgot that she hated him and thought back to the time in her life when she still loved him. Dangerous Territory. Yes she knew it was dangerous but that’s where she wondered too. She set the alarm in the house and busied herself making smothered chicken breast, cream potatoes, green beans and rolls. She briefly hoped Clint’s eating habits hadn’t changed much because she hadn’t had time or the inclination to go the grocery store and if so he was either going to be hungry, stuck eating what she cooked, or forced to go and get take out for himself.
“Something smells good” Clint said from the doorway
She didn’t bother turning around and kept mixing in her ingredients to her potatoes and stirring her green beans. But she did manage to say thanks. She thought briefly about her previously thought and then asked her question.
“Has anything changed about your eating habits since the last time I cooked for you? Any preferences or allergies I need to know about?” Still she didn’t turn around
“You could look at me when you ask me something Maddie, I’m won’t bite you.” Not unless you ask me too anyway!
She turned around slowly and looked at him and waited, when he didn’t immediately answer she lifted an eyebrow in questioning and said, “Well?”
Shaking his head he said to clear it of the images she answered her, “No I still eat anything and I have no allergies that I’m aware of.”
She turned about around and turned the food on low to simmer and was about to walk out of the kitchen when Cameron’s soft cries came through the monitor. She moved to go to him when Clint held up his hand and said, “No, I got him.” She looked at him as he was already moving and shook her head and let him go; following behind him but instead of going into Cameron’s room with him she disappeared into her room across the hall and closed her door symbolically shutting out the hurt and the pain. She was no longer the only one granted those sacred smiles, no longer the only one to come to rescue and in sight of all that was going on it hurt like hell and she had no one to blame but herself. Again she asked herself how in the world she would survive this.
After a very quiet and strained dinner, she cleaned up and disappeared outside on her porch. She needed to feel the cool air blowing against her skin, hear the sounds of nature to cleanse her naked soul. Clint volunteered to bath Cam and give him his nightly medicine and she was too drained to argue. She pulled out the things he would need and left father and son to their own devices. Father and Son indeed. She needed time to regroup. Today was the last day she would shed tears; she could not afford to go on like a basket case at every whim falling apart. She took in a deep breath and closed her eyes, trying to center herself on the positive and press forward, it took her a minute and she was almost there until she felt a strong hands rest on her shoulders. Her eyes snapped open and her body tensed up. He lifted her chin with his large hands tilting her face towards him,
“What’s wrong, Maddie?”
“Madison, my name is Madison” she said clinched teeth, shaking off his hands in frustration. He used that technique all the time softening her with the endearment knowing she would be putty in his hands if he applied the right pressure.
He shrugged nonchalantly and said, “I prefer Maddie.”
“Clint...” she said her patience already stretched thin
“What? It’s not a big deal.”
“You act like nothing happened”
“As far as I know nothing did happen, unless you care to enlighten me.
“Well then, Maddie it is.”
“Dammit Clint, you can stop with the act ok.”
“What act? You jump down my throat because I’m concerned about you, like I’ve done something wrong.”
“Look we’re not in Ga anymore and I’m not that stupid, gullible virgin you met before. You’re here for Cameron’s sake and nothing else. Keep that in mind.”
She had really worked herself up, now. She was breathing hard, arms tightly crossed across her chest, her voice was rising. She knew she needed to calm down. She shouldn’t let him get to her, but she couldn’t help it. She didn’t need him trying to play Mr. Fix it. And she definitely didn’t need to find herself tumbling in bed with him again. She wouldn’t survive a second time around. She could safely say that she got the best part of their arrangement when she left. Her son. He was her joy and she needed to remember that. He needed her to keep a cool head. He needed both of them and she had to keep her head and get along. She kept her back to Clint who for all purposes had not moved from his previous spot at her back and reigned in her temper. After she was sure she could act like an adult she turned towards him.
“Look we have to get along for our son so let’s do that. Tomorrow will start a day of many that will stretch us to the limit until Cameron is in the clear. If you match then they will go through the process of lab work on you and Cameron and that in itself is going to take its toll on him. If they proceed with the surgery and everything goes smooth he still will be under strict orders for the next year and a half due to the probability of infection. So we need to keep it level around here. The last thing we need to do is put stress on him while we are together, he may not know you very well but he will know if I’m upset and that can’t happen so let’s try to make the best of this. There is a lot unsaid and most of it needs to stay that way. The past is what it is and I’m over it. Let’s just agree to be friends and move forward.” She completed then took a breath. In truth she only believed half of what she said to him but it needed to be said. Hopefully they could come to some sort of truce to avoid getting in each other’s way.
Clint looked at her for a moment, silent and observant. A technique he used with his soldiers when he was weighing their words for the truth. He knew she was right and he could almost see the invisible barrier she was placing around herself. Unfortunately for her, it would serve no purpose for what he had in mind but he didn’t think she was ready to hear that yet. He took a step towards her invading her space and only mildly surprised that she didn’t back up. She did however show confusion in her eyes and only to late did she recognize his intent when her eyes widened. He lowered his head and captured her lips in a soft, slow caress that lasted not nearly long enough before he lifted his head and looked into her eyes before saying,
“I couldn’t agree more” then turned around and walked the house and into his room, shutting the door ending the conversation.
“Why did life have to be so cruel?” she thought. Over the past two years Madison had kept herself in check with her emotions with the burning hatred she felt for Clint and the necessity to stay as far away from him as possible. She refused to think that her hatred could be something else, like love. She refused to think that she could have made a mistake in walking away. Her family always said she made rash decisions when she was high on emotions and truth be told those few months with Clint he had her nose wide open. She couldn’t tell you up from down unless it involved Clint. But now she was older and a lot more in the present and she didn’t take anything at face value. She still remembered the day she met Clint, the smile on his face, the sizzling look in his eyes and she knew she was lost. She was no match for him; he was three years older, experienced and ready for whatever she dished out. The only problem is she wasn’t ready. He courted her saying all the right things, listening to her, seeming to be genuinely concerned and interested about her and she was game. She gave him everything she had and she thought he returned the gesture but she guessed not. How could she have been more wrong about him? Of course he never physically said the words but she felt it in the way he caressed her body, lavished her lips and moved with her into oblivion. Was it just great sex? You know how woman especially young woman confuse sex and love, was that true in her case? She didn’t know, but what she did know was that she couldn’t afford to fall in his trap again. The first time she was able to leave with her pride intact, this time the rules would be different, and the playing field level. This time she couldn’t disappear without trace without putting Cameron dangerously in the middle. Shaking her head, she refused to even think about putting her baby through that. But why did he kiss her? And what really pissed her off, why did she enjoy it? She should have slapped his face. She could have. He gave her ample opportunity. Why didn’t she? She knew answer before she finished the thought. It was Clint that’s why. And although she had one hell of a temper that was a little more dramatic than she cared to be, not to mention didn’t she just say they needed to be friends. Of course Clint did always do what he wanted and damned the consequences. Well at least he gave her fair warning for what he had in mind. She would not be so susceptible the next time. Next time she would be ready.
“How is it going?” Lizzy asked when she called.
“We’re making it.” She mumbled. She didn’t want to think about the kiss or the tension that lingered in the air. Two weeks had passed and nothing untoward had happened and she didn’t want to admit she was irritated because it hadn’t or irritated because she wanted something to happen. Every since that kiss she has been on guard. Cautious and suspicious at every move Clint made in her vicinity. And that alone pissed her off; she knew he did that to her on purpose. She hadn’t had sex or some much as a caress from a man in over two years and the first time he kisses her she gets all hot and bothered. Talk about disgusted.
“What’s that mean?”Lizzy said bringing her back to the present.
“It means we spend as much time together with Cameron as we have to then we try to stay out of each other’s way.” Or at least that is what Madison was doing or tries to do but Cameron seems to have other ideas. When she walks out of the room he cries for her, and of course Clint doesn’t take the hint to leave and hovers over her until she calms Cam down. Then once he tried to leave and Cameron cried for him. It was definitely a long night. They both ended up falling asleep in Cameron’s room. Madison with Cameron in her arms, and Clint on the floor beside them. It wasn’t until she felt Clint gently shake her that she woke up and crawled into her own bed. Of course sleep evaded her, especially after seeing the heat in Clint’s eyes as he took in her disheveled appearance. He of course looked good enough to eat and she quickly disappeared before she acted on her thoughts. It was easy to remember the nights in his arms and the many nights she awoke to his lovemaking. Yes, she definitely didn’t get any sleep that night or many after for that matter.
She talked to her cousin for a little while longer dreading the moment she would have to leave her sanctuary of her bedroom and face Clint. She jumped in the shower bathing off the grit from tossing and turning then got out. She was in the process of putting lotion on her body when a knock sounded on her door. She held the towel in place and called out, “Yea?” thinking he would simply say what he wanted, but of course Clint never did anything by half and walked into her room.
“Stop screaming before you wake up Cam” He said calmly while closing the door and leaning against it. Taking his time examining her dripping body. He looked at her so long she was almost sure he could see through her towel. Madison who had lost all forms of speech when he walked in her room closing them in finally found her voice.
“What the hell are you doing? Get out of my room, Clint” She said looking him in the eye afraid if she lowered her gaze again she would falter and perhaps on accident drop her towel. Or at least she would never admit that it was anything but an accident. The nerve of him coming in her room, with nothing on but a pair flimsy shorts that hid nothing and showed everything including that fact that he still preferred no underwear definitely not the time to be thinking of that, showing off his smooth chest that was defined with conditioned muscles. She wouldn’t dare give him the satisfaction of knowing she looked and enjoyed the view.
“I was wondering if you were finished hiding from me, yet.” He said still not looking at her face but somewhere stuck between her waist and her breast.
“Don’t flatter yourself honey. If you let me get dressed, I’ll be right out.” She said clutching her towel and crossing her arms over chest.
“Go ahead, I’ll wait” He said smiling.
“Not on your life lil buddy, get out of my room” She said.
“Why it’s nothing I haven’t seen before. If I remember correctly, you have a mole on under your left breast, your birthmark on your right cheek and a few other sporadic beauty marks that I use to love to find during my scavenger hunts.”
“Well your hunting days are over on this camp ground, so get out of my room” She said turning towards her dresser pulling out clothes. Sure that she made her point and expected him to follow her direction. Of course at the most difficult time she kept forgetting that Clint rarely if ever did what he was told because she heard the door lock click and heard Clint say from somewhere behind her.
“We’ll see about that.”
Clint could see her slight tremble as she closed her drawer and gripped the dresser. While desperately trying not to show him her inner turmoil. He of course didn’t need her to tell him, because he was experiencing it as well. It took all he could to keep his hands to himself over the last two weeks. He knew she expected him to do something after that kiss and she had no idea how bad he wanted to, but he knew things were still too raw and she wasn’t ready. And he knew that she still wasn’t ready at least not for everything he had in mind but he would love to pave the road to ecstasy for her and he planned on starting right now.
Madison looked up and met his eye in the mirror as he continued to stalk up on her like she was his prey and damned if she didn’t feel trapped. She turned around to face him, still clinging to her towel and was about to give what for when he closed the gap between them locking in between him and the dresser. If she moved in any direction she would be brought into contact with his body and that just wouldn’t do, he would have her naked in nothing flat. She needed to say something, anything but as his head descended towards her she lost all coherent thought. She closed her eyes anticipating the arrival of his lips on hers but it never came. She opened her eyes a moment before his tongue swiped her neck and lingered, they immediately shut again but more slowly this time. His hands stayed bracketed on each side of her as he placed butterfly kisses in a trail of her neck. He knew her body everything about it, her likes and dislikes, her sounds, her smells and he knew that when he latched gently onto her ear with his teeth that she would just about give him anything. Her hands dropped from her towel curling a ball at her side. She knew she should stop him, but truthfully she didn’t want to. She would enjoy this just a little for longer, then she would stop, she vowed. One hand left the dresser and worked its way from her waist to her breast and she was unable to stop the strangled sound that came out of her mouth. Was that a moan? She broke away from his mouth knowing it was time to stop, he had too much control and she had none. She couldn’t do this.
“Clint…” She started placing her hand on his hands trying to halt him but was quickly silenced when he placed a finger on her slips
“Shh, let me love just for a minute, I promise I won’t do anything you don’t want” He said in a husky undertone.
She wanted to tell him she didn’t want him touching her but for some reason couldn’t summon the lie. She was trying to think of something to do, that would delay him long enough to for him to see reason but his needs words stopped her,
“Don’t think, just feel, feel me” He said and with a flick of his wrist released her towel and let it drop to the floor. He felt her trembling increase but didn’t make a move to aide in the distress that her body was obviously in. She may feel like she didn’t want him but her body was saying others things.
He placed both hands on body and realized that his hands weren’t as steady as he would like either, but he didn’t stress, he knew the power she held even if he didn’t. He promised her that he wouldn’t do anything she didn’t want him to do and he knew that he could make her so hot that she would take anything he wanted to give but that wasn’t his intent and he promised himself that this was all about her. That was his last thought before he starting feathering kisses over her body starting at her luscious lips and working his way down. He lingered when he reached her full breast, cupping them in his hands, mouth watering , he gently placed kisses on each until he couldn’t take it anymore and took as much of one into his mouth as possible all while listening to her soft whimpers of protest and encouragement. He treated the other breast to the same until she was shaking and holding his shoulders. He was sure she was unaware of what she was doing and didn’t bother telling her she would realize soon enough. He placed kisses on her stomach before dropping to knees in front of her. Her eyes were partly closed but they were trained on him. She shook her head, not believing this was happening. That she was allowing this to happen.
He saw her shake her head and smiled, “yes baby, it’s been long overdue” and then he dropped his head and paid her tribute, she gripped the dresser behind her for support and bit her lip to keep from crying out. He felt her trembling and body tightening and he knew she wouldn’t be able to hold herself together much longer and wasn’t surprised when a minute later she let go calling his name. He held her up by her waist and watched the emotions cross her beautiful face while trying to calm his own need. He knew it was to a little longer and mentally resigns himself to the pain as he watches her come back to herself shaking in his arms. He picked her up and placed her on the bed then disappeared into the restroom. He came back a second later with a warm wash cloth and gently cleaned between her legs then covered with a blanket kissed her lips and walked out her room and closing the door behind him hoping a cold shower would suffice for now. Knowing beforehand it wouldn’t even come close.
It was hard to pretend indifference after what happened but Madison did manage to face Clint without dying from embarrassment. What did she have to be embarrassed about, she kept reminding herself, she didn’t do anything wrong. Except let Clint screw her mind up and make her want more. She couldn’t believe she was actually thinking of a repeat action. The thought alone made her hot all over. She sat down at the kitchen and slowly drank her water and tried not to choke on it at the look Clint was giving her from across the table. He definitely had to stop or she would not be held responsible she thought. She had a vision of clean sweeping the table and having her way with him, but she knew that just wouldn’t do. She needed to get it together. She didn’t have time to be getting hot and heavy. She cleared her throat.
“When do you have to go back to work?”
“I’ll go back after the surgery goes well.”
“Ok, the doctor called and said that they can schedule it for two weeks out, after that you can go back.”
“Trying to get rid of me?
“No” she said quickly, probably too quickly which proved she was lying.
“Good because I’ll be back and forth between here and Ft. Stewart. It’s only an hour and a half drive.”
He could see the wheels turning in her head and he knew without a doubt she was trying to find something to deter him. She could forget it. It wasn’t happening. It had been three days since he walked into her room and he was itching to turn it up a notch but he needed to be cool. Cameron had started his therapy and he tired out very easily lately and he knew she was already exhausted with tending to him and he didn’t want to add to it, but he felt like she needed tending too as well. She would never admit that there was no one since him, but he knew it from the way she responded and he couldn’t stop the man in him being happy about it. He couldn’t honestly say he hadn’t slept with anybody in the last two years but he was honest enough with himself to admit that not one of them came close to Madison. He felt so much for her and his son that he couldn’t fathom not being a part of their lives. He needed a plan and he needed it like yesterday. He knew sex wouldn’t be enough to convince Madison but it was definitely a lovely way to kick it off.
She was so glad she survived through today. Cameron had a chemo session and it didn’t go well. He was irritable and cried constantly which made Madison feel drained. She would have given anything to trade places with him and only by God’s grace and Clint’s constant presence did she manage to keep the tears away. Now it was close to midnight, Cameron was finally asleep and she couldn’t sleep. She silently walked outside onto the back porch without turning on any lights. She wasn’t sure if Clint was sleep or not, his door was closed and the lights were out. She didn’t want to wake him, he deserved his rest. They depended heavily on him these past few days and she knew it wasn’t easy on him. She leaned against the railing, and closed her eyes and allowed the cool night breeze to float against her skin. The night was clear, with the stars shining bright and she wished with everything that she had that her life could be as perfect as the night sky. The wind picked up and she drew her robe closer to her body, but didn’t think of returning to her room. She couldn’t vision her room without seeing Clint there. She didn’t want to admit how much she wanted him there, but she had to tell the truth some time might as well start with herself. The man was her living and breathing dream and she needed him. She exhaled over the irony of the whole situation and shook her head. The moment he wanted to heat things up she would clam up and refuse, but moments such as these when she was alone with her thoughts her body burned for him. She could almost picture him standing before her with his shirt off, smiling his lazy smile, his catlike eyes flashing like a thunderstorm and her body screaming for release. Of course in her mind he let her have her way with him and vice versa. She closed her eyes again and captured the vision of again. She was so engrossed that she didn’t hear him behind her until he was right up on her and had her wrapped in him arms. He smelled like he just took a shower and she noticed his erection pressing against her. Her mouth went dry while everything in between became liquefied. Somewhere in the back of her mind she knew she should probably stop this madness but her body was doing its own thing and she didn’t want to stop, but she knew she probably should at least try to summon the will to stop but all thoughts were lost when he turned around in his arms and she looked into his eyes. All traces of green were gone leaving the amber iris glowing like flames and they were directed at her. She knew that look, she remembered what always came after that look, long hours of loving.
“Clint?” Was he serious? Did he really want this to go down like this? Because she doubted at this point when she felt her robe slide off her arms and hit the deck floor that she could stop.
“Do you want me?” He said with urgency in his voice that spoke of his need. He had been lying in his bed for the past two hours trying to talk his erection down and to make himself go to sleep. As with her they both had a challenging day and he knew he should be exhausted but he couldn’t manage to think that way. He was in tuned to every sound in the house and he heard her restlessness, he felt it. He listened in agony as she showered imagining the soap and water cascading down her curves glistening her body from head to toe. It did nothing to help his desire. He took his own shower hoping to freeze his passions, he gave up. He listened as she walked past his room, imagining in his mind that she was coming to him, he knew it wouldn’t happen. He couldn’t take it anymore. He wanted her, he needed her and he hoped she wanted the same. Of course he wouldn’t force her, if she said no, he would go back to his room and leave her alone but if she says yes even slightly he wouldn’t be able to stop. He kept looking at her watching goose bumps rise on her skin as her robe hit the floor and saw her dark nipples straining against her satin slip. His hands trembled slightly with anticipation but he wouldn’t touch her until she told him he could. He repeated his question.
“Do you want me yes or no? Say no and I’ll go back in the house. Say yes and I’ll make love to you right here.”
“Yes” Who was she fooling, she wanted this.
Was she wrong? She didn’t know and she didn’t have the strength to analyze it. Somehow they made it to his room and collapsed after he followed through on his promise and made slow sweet love to her that made her want to cry and scream his name at the same time. Or maybe she did do that, she couldn’t remember. Her head was still fuzzy. They finally drifted off to sleep sometime around three that morning in each other’s arms and Madison couldn’t fine one thing to fuss about. It was too good and way overdue for her to complain about how it shouldn’t have happened. He took his time bringing her to the brink and back before he allowed himself the pleasure of opening her up to all of his glorious loving. She wanted to treasure the very essence of him while he basked in her inner sanctuary. It was ridiculous, it was crazy, and she was in love again. Oh, Lord!
She couldn’t keep lying to herself she never stopped loving him she just wished she had. She knew she was in trouble but she refused to think about it right now, she couldn’t afford to. Here she was still cocooned in his arms while he lightly snored into her hair. She wanted to treasure this moment, his smell, his strength, his desire, but she was scared. How could she do that, without opening herself up to all the hurt and pain that he was capable of causing? Every day, her sureness of what happened two years ago began to wither away leaving in its place, doubt and regret. What if she made a mistake, what then? Could they pick up where they left off? Would he want too, after he realized the petty reasons she left? Did she want to start over, or was it just about sex? It was quickly becoming complicated in her mind and she needed time to step back and analyze the situation. Afraid she would freak out from the intensity of it, she tried to slip out of the bed but he tightened his grip around her waist and brought her closer to his body.
“What’s wrong, baby?” he asked sleepily after he placed a kiss on top of her head.
“Nothing” she said but even to herself she sounded strangled.
He flipped her onto her back and leaned over head, fully alert and searching her face for what she wouldn’t tell him
She closed her eyes. Some things were private and she didn’t want to say anything until she was sure.
“Do you regret last night?” He said softly
Her eyes opened at the quietness of his voice, he sounded unsure of himself and for Clint that was out of character. She tried to sit up but he wouldn’t have it and held her in place.
“Tell me, Madison do you regret it?”
Should she lie or tell the truth? And if she did tell the truth, how much of it to tell. After a few long seconds of looking into his eyes she made a decision. She relaxed into the bed and answered him,
“No Clint, I have no regrets. Last night was too beautiful to regret.” Yes she left out a few key points such as she still loved him and she was beginning to think she made a terrible mistake two years ago but she wasn’t ready for what those comments would bring about so she decided to keep those to herself.
He leaned down and kissed her mouth, greedily as if she was a delicious piece of chocolate while removing the sheet that covered their bodies. Her body immediately responded as his hands began moving of their own accord and his kisses became more urgent. His body responded in kind and he covered her body with his. His desire was impatient and he couldn’t wait. He parted her legs with his knee and thrust his way completely to a hilt in her moist heat. The rightness of it, took his breath away with a swoosh as her inner walls tightened around his sex branding him hers, marking him home at last. She was so tight and wet that he had to hold himself still and wait for his raging hormones to slow down. He tried to hold out but her body wasn’t cooperating. Her hips were moving involuntarily while she was trusting her breast in his face. He leaned down and took her offering into his mouth as he began to move. Thrusting with long, deep strokes that cause her to purr her satisfaction in his ear as they moved as one. She brought her legs up higher anchoring them around his upper back giving him better access for maximum penetration and he lost the battle of wills with his body and begin moving in earnest taking her over the top with him in ecstasy.
She was trying to come down, her body still quivering when she heard his words. She knew she had to be mistaken, or daydreaming because she knew he didn’t say what she thought he said, so she asked him to repeat himself and he did.
“I said I love you”
What the hell was happening to her life? Nothing seemed to be going the way she wanted it to go or the way she planned. She wanted her world to be right, her son to be cured and her love life to be… What did she want it to be? She who had stored up enough hate and resentment in hopes to keep her legs closed and her mouth to herself had been defeated by hers own desires. Her big heart, her love for Clint and her son, and her nonexistent life had taken her by storm. She never thought of the reasons why she didn’t continue to date after she had Cameron. She told herself that she didn’t because she didn’t want to risk meeting another jerk like Clint, but was that the truth? She was finding out that it wasn’t. She didn’t date because in her mind she still belonged to Clint and no man had the rights to her body but him. Now she has gotten in way over her head and didn’t know how to pull herself out. She allowed him to make love to her which in turn opened closed doors that she wasn’t ready for yet. Then he took the cake and tells her he loves her. Thankfully Cameron picked that moment to wake up and call her name and she was spared not having to respond. She didn’t know what she would have said if she had to respond. Did she love him? Yes or at least she thought she did but what did that mean. What made him admit his feelings to her and why now? On top of all of that, tomorrow was the surgery and then after he recuperated and Cameron was sent home Clint had to report back to duty. What then?
She didn’t know any of the answers to the thoughts running rampage in her head but she knew after Cam’s surgery then she would try to figure it out. If there was even an inkling that she would get a second chance at Clint she was going to take it and damn everything else. She didn’t want to be selfish and took Cameron into consideration as well. He adored Clint and she didn’t want to snatch that away from him again. He still cried at times when he would get tired or if he didn’t feel good and want her to sooth him but most of the time Clint could handle him. She was confident enough to know that Clint loved his son and would do whatever was in his best interest. Did that include her? She didn’t want to think he would love her body and profess to love her just to be around Cam. She wasn’t that much of a bitch she would never take Cameron from him , again anyway not now that they were establishing a bond of sorts. But she wouldn’t place herself in the middle either. She couldn’t have it all or nothing. She had Cam to think about. She couldn’t afford to give him an ultimatum because that wouldn’t be fair so where did that leave her? There was a lot that needed to discussed, what happened, why it happened and where did they go from here? She just hoped she had it in her to tell him and put it all on the line.
Alone and not liking it, Madison sat out on her deck and tried to read to take her mind off Clint. It had been two weeks since the surgery and Cam was back at home and resting. The doctors said his prognosis looked good but it was still too early to tell. Clint was back at work and she was alone once again. Cameron still tired easily and had been asleep since eight and here it was twelve and she wasn’t the least bit sleepy. What was wrong with her? She finally had her peace to think things over and she was miserable. She missed Clint, his laughter, his smile, and hell she might as well admit his loving. Every night after the first night she lost herself in his arms again and again and now she was alone, sleeping by herself and horny as hell. He was due to come up tomorrow but that could change at a moment’s notice. But if it didn’t and he came then what? Did they just pick up where the left off and continue to sleep together or did she lay the cards out on the table and demand something more? What to do? What to do? She sat outside with her thoughts until she had to force herself to sleep at a little past two. She left her unopened book on the table still nowhere near closer to her decision than she was when she came outside.
“Hey girl, how’s my baby, doing?” Lizzy asked on one of her weekly calls the next day.
“He’s doing better, he’s actually playing more and staying awake longer, so far so good. How are you?”
“I’m good. Guess who I ran into the other day?”
“Darius” Madison said with a tone of nastiness. She didn’t like Darius and she knew the feeling was mutual. “What did he want?” She knew that Darius use to have the hots for Lizzy but she never would give him the time of day. He was a dog with a capital D.
“Nothing girl, you know he’s married now?”
“What!? To who? What idiot would marry that hoe?”
“Apparently one that don’t play no games cause Mr. Playa has relinquished his crown and absolutely adores his wife, they are expecting their first child together.”
“Well that’s good” Madison said almost reluctantly. Was it jealousy she was feeling? It couldn’t be could it?
“Yea it is but you know he said something else that I found very interesting and I think you might need to hear it as well.”
“O yea and what was that?” Madison said with a sinking feeling in her stomach. She had a feeling something big happened and was about to shake her world off its axis. D was one of Clint’s homeboys and was one of the reasons she left two years ago.
“He said that it was all his fault that you and Clint are not together now?” Lizzy said slowly letting what she said sink in. She knew her cousin and there was no way she could convince her that her and Clint hadn’t been getting hot and heavy over the month he stayed with her or the weekends he drove down since he left. She refused to believe it.
That feeling in her stomach grew stronger and forced Madison to take a seat to prevent herself from doubling over. She had a feeling what she was going to say but she needed to calm herself and hear the rest.
“He said that he knew you were standing there when they were talking and he said few things just to get under your skin. His girl had dumped him and he was pretty upset about it and he was jealousy of what you and Clint had so he kind of set you up.”
Tears were rolling down Madison’s cheeks now but she still didn’t make a sound. She didn’t dare. It was true she was wrong. She made a huge mistake and now she knew it for sure.
“He said he didn’t think you would leave without saying anything to Clint, he just thought to make you upset or something but he saw your tears just before you stormed away.”
“That bastard.” Madison said softly with so much anguish in her voice that it came out strangled. All that she lost was for nothing.
“Yea but he’s paid for it, trust me.”
“Whose side are you on here. He’s paid! How about me or Clint, or Cameron, have we paid enough? Damn, I can’t believe Darius did that. I always knew he was an ass hole but this is even over the top for him. And then you’re taking up for him, when you knew the hell I went through over the past two years. The nights I cried from leaving Clint.”
“Madison that’s not what I mean by that”
“What did you mean? How did he pay for it, because this I have got to hear this.”
“I whooped his ass that’s how” Clint said from behind her.
Madison jumped up from the chair so fast it toppled over. Tears running loose down her face she looked at Clint thinking she had somehow imagined him there. It was early and he wasn’t supposed to be here until tonight.
He walked towards her with a deadly calm expression on his face, his eyes gleaming and she was desperately trying to calm the trembling that began in her limbs. He stopped right in front of her and took the phone from her hand.
“Lizzy, she’ll call you back.” He said then not waiting for a response hung up the phone not taking his eyes from Madison who was steadily trembling.
“Talk” he said briskly without elevating his voice. Using the technique he uses on his soldiers when they get themselves in trouble.
“Clint…” She started but stopped, what could she say. I’m sorry. No that wouldn’t do even if it was true. She opened her mouth again but again nothing came out. He waited patiently, looking like the grim reaper. The only thing that let her know that he was upset was the tightening of his mouth and the darkening of the green in his eyes without a hint of amber. She was scared. Not of him hurting her but of something a lot more effective. She was scared of him walking away from her. Now she knew how he must have felt when she walked away and she couldn’t take it. Knowing the truth, her mistake out in the open she couldn’t take losing him again. She cried tears falling in buckets down her face.
“I’m sorry” she managed to say even though she knew it wasn’t enough.
He looked at her and stilled himself against her pain. He hated to see her like this mainly because he knew she was so strong and hated the show of weakness in herself but this needed to be done.
“Sorry for what? That you didn’t trust me enough to confront me. Sorry because you left without a word and then took away the option for me to see my son being born? Sorry because you finally told me about Cam? Or because I finally found out what really happened two years ago? What exactly are you sorry for Madison?”
“Clint I was scared and I made a mistake”
“Scared of what? Did I ever do anything to you that would make you think I would hurt you?
“No it’s not like that. That’s not what I meant.” Everything was mixed up and she wasn’t able to make much sense. She had to try, she had to. She felt things slipping away.
“Clint I love you but I was scared. You made me feel things too fast and I didn’t know what to do. Maybe I was looking for a way out and D gave me a way. I don’t know.
“I could give a damn about D. I’m talking about you. Why didn’t you trust me enough to come to me, didn’t you know I loved you.”
“Clint.. “ She said pleading feeling him walking away although he hadn’t moved from his place in front of her.
“No Madison listen, I’m serious I love you now as much as I did two years ago, but when you walked away that almost killed me. And now that I know it was over some bullshit it pisses me off.”
He took a deep breath and continued to watch her, it was by grace that she was still standing. She wouldn’t completely crumble, her tears were bad enough and he respected and loved her for her inner strength.
“I need to know if you love me enough to make this work. I plan on being here for my son whenever he needs me but you and are a different story. Our relationship doesn’t depend on me being a father to Cameron. Do you love me enough to stick by me? Through good or bad, happy or sad. Through bullshit and all. Will you stay or will walk away again when it gets to hot? I need to know now. Because after this, I couldn’t take you loving me then leaving me again. So make your choice.”
There was a light at the end of the tunnel and she could see her way out. She wanted him to be a part of their lives a part of her life. Could she place her heart in his hands for safe keeping for a second chance.
“Clint I love you with all my heart and I will do all I can to prove it to you. I’m sorry that I was too scared to trust you and ran away instead.” She said with love shining in her eyes and tears in her voice, but she didn’t move. She made her choice he had to make his.
He pulled her into his arms roughly, unable to keep his hands to himself any longer. He actually trembled from the strain of trying to hold himself in check. His love was that strong. He needed this woman in his life and he meant to have her but he had to know she had his back and would forever be in his corner. His hand still hurt from beating up Darius when he came to confess what he did, but now all he could think about was the woman in his arms. His body absorbed her shaking as she gripped him as tight as he held her.
“Whenever and wherever you want too!” she said smiling right before she gently grabbed his face and kissed him to seal the deal. Things were definitely looking up.
Two years later
Madison stood with her back to the crowd of single ladies standing behind her chanting , “Throw it over here” She was so happy she almost doubled over with laughter as she readied the waiting bouquet in her hand. Her wedding had been one made of her dreams. She wore a beautiful off the shoulder crème dress that flowed flawlessly down towards the floor, extending five more feet with her satin and lace train. Her face glowed as she remembered Cameron walking down the isle bringing the rings smiling for all the world to see and then standing right beside his “daddy”.
“Come on baby, throw it I want to dance with you” Clint said standing off to her left looking at her as if she was dessert and he had already had his dinner. Dance yea right!
“Alright ladies, you ready?
Choruses of yeas went up as she caught her husband’s eye and winked. She threw the bouquet over her right shoulder and right into the hands of her cousin Lizzy, who looked stunned to say the least. All the single ladies groaned in playful jealousy as Timothy Ambrose Clint’s best man and brother strolled purposely towards her twirling the already caught garter on his finger with a look of intent and purpose in his green eyes.
Madison wondered briefly if she should tell her cousin that she might have her hands full with Tim. But as soon as her husband pulled her into his arms and started nibbling on her ear, she completely forgot and figured Lizzy would find out soon enough.
The End Until Next Time!