Blame It On The Pain Episode 35
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🧏 Blame It On The Pain THIRTY FIVE:
I'm leaving the cemetery when my phone buzzes with a message.
Jackson: I know this is random, but I just wanted to tell you how amazing you are.
I stare down at my phone and hit the ‘reply' button as I continue walking.
I stumble back slightly when I bump into someone.
I look up with an apology ready to leave my lips due to my clumsiness.
Deep blue eyes meet mine and I stifle a gasp.
Before I can say anything, he grabs my arm and spins me around until my back hits a large marble statue.
“You haven't been answering my phone calls,” he growls.
I swallow down the fear rising in my chest. I'm perfectly aware he's called me a dozen times in the last few weeks…I just haven't really been up to talking to him.
“Sorry. I've been busy,” I say.
And then I brace myself. I brace myself for his comment telling me that I'm a whore or something else along those lines, but it never comes.
His gaze locks on Jackson's t-shirt that I never changed out of. “These aren't your clothes. Where have you been?”
“I already told you. Busy,” I repeat
He leans in close to my ear. “You're getting a little too big for your britches there, sweetheart. Remember who it is that you're speaking to.”
I push my shoulders back and look at him, feeling annoyed now. “You know, lurking around graveyards is a little creepy…even for you.”
His eyebrows draw up in surprise. I haven't given him attitude like this in a very long time. Since I was a teenager.
He positions one of his hands on the statue behind my head. “You know why I'm here. I still mourn your father, unlike you who tarnishes his memory with your internet antics and wh're-like ways.”
And there it is.
Ever since that day in his office, I've felt like I was made of glass around him.
But not today.
Today…I feel a little bit stronger. Not a lot, but enough to give him a taste of his own medicine. “Didn't stop you from indulging in my wh're-like ways in your office that day, now did it? Or when I was 17 for that matter.”
To say he looks shocked would be an understatement. He opens his mouth to say something but stops himself and looks down at his feet.
“I'm sorry,” he breathes.
I'm certain that I must be hearing things. Ford actually apologizing to me is not something I ever expected to hear in this lifetime.
This time, when he looks at me, I see a glimpse of the old Ford. The one who was always there for me. The one who actually loved me. The one who saved me.
“I should have been there for you that day. I turned you away and I treated you like garbage.” He tilts my face up. “I couldn't stand the thought of you giving that part of yourself to someone else. I wanted it to be me that you shared your innocence with.” He closes his eyes. “I thought you wanted it to be me.”
He cups my cheek and looks at me. “I'm fked up, Alyssa. You make me that way. I have tunnel vision when it comes to you. But I know deep down inside you know that no one else will ever love you the way I do. They'll only hurt you, sweetheart. And when they do…I'll still be standing here. I'll still be loving you when no one else in the world ever will.”
I'm at a loss for words. Actually, no. I'm not.
“You hurt me, Ford. That day, you broke something inside of me. I never knew you could hurt me like that.”
He pulls me into his arms. “I know, sweetheart. I know. Why do you think I couldn't bring myself to touch you again after that day? I hate myself for doing that to you.”
I rub my cheek along the fabric of his suit and fight back tears because it's so familiar and strangely comforting to be held by him again.
“Let me make it up to you, Alyssa.”
“You know how.”
I begin walking away from him, knowing perfectly well why he came here now.
“I told you. I still have to think about it.”
Irritation crosses over his handsome features. “It's been almost a month. How much time could you possibly need? I already gave you the location and even went as far as to set you up with an interview.”
He spins me around. “Don't you want to get vengeance for your father? All I need you to do is go undercover and tell me if DeLuca owns that fight club. We start there and find something we can use. Then we take him and all his other establishments out little by little. I know it's not ideal and it will take awhile. But we need to move stealth-like so he'll never see it coming.”
I bite my thumbnail, hating that what I'm about to say will disappoint him. It's the real reason I've been avoiding him. “I went to the club, Ford.”
His grip on my arm is so tight I'm sure he's going to leave a bruise. “And? What the fk happened? Why didn't you tell me?”
I wince in part due to his tight hold and because I know I failed him and my father…once again. “And it turns out that it's not his club. I'm sorry. I wanted it to be…but it's not.”
He shakes his head. “No. It is his club. Stop lying to me. Alyssa…all I needed you to do was go undercover for a week or two— not really all that difficult.”
Easy for him to say, he doesn't have the scars that I do. The scars caused by being a 10-year-old who watched their father get bru tally mur dered in front of them. All while the ki ller looked right into her eyes and smirked.
But I still walked into that club knowing it might be his. I still took the risk.
“I'm telling you, it's not his club. You think I don't want to help you nail DeLuca? You think I would lie to you about something so important?”
He releases my arm. “How good was the source of your intel?”
Guilt hits me when Jackson's face crosses my mind. Luke, the guy who hired me, was actually my original target. And Lou-Lou quickly became my backup. Well, before I found out what a bch she was.
I never intended to make Jackson my source, but in the end, he provided me with the answers I needed. And I have no reason not to believe him. He's never lied to me before.
“Trust me,” I say, while digging in my purse for my keys. “I couldn't have found a better source unless it was DeLuca himself.”
Ford's eyes narrow while he holds my car door open for me. “What makes you think this source didn't lie to you?”
I think about this for a second before replying, “Because I trust this person.”
He looks down at my t-shirt and scowls. “Well, I think he's wrong. I'll find another way to get you undercover at a different establishment of DeLuca's.” I open my mouth to protest but he grabs the back of my neck. “And when I do…don't fk it up again by spreading your Iegs for your source this time.”
He releases me and slams the door.
It's only when I'm pulling in the driveway that it dawns on me. How does Ford know my source was a he in the first place?
My phone rings and Ford's name lights up the screen. I debate not answering it, but decide to just get it over with.
“Yeah?” I answer.
“Listen, I'm sorry. I was a little too hard on you back there. I wasn't very nice to you and you didn't deserve that.” He takes a breath. “I'm under a lot of pressure at work, especially with this new promotion.”
Two apologies from Ford in one day? It must be a full moon.
“How did you know my source was a he?”
I hear paper rustling in the background. “What?”
“You heard me, Ford. How did you know it was a guy?”
“What exactly is it that you're accusing me of, Alyssa? You act like you don't trust me anymore.”
He sighs when I stay silent. “I assumed it was a guy because you're a beautiful young woman walking into a dmned underground fight club. For crying out loud, you went undercover as a ring girl. Not only would it make sense, but it would be smart for your target to have been male. Why do you think I asked you to do it in the first place? Trust me, none of my female agents look like you.”
I hear the call waiting signal on the other line. I smile when I see Jackson's name.
“Okay fine. I gotta go. Bye, Ford.” I go to press the button to hang up but his voice stops me. “Wait a minute, sweetheart.”
“Are we okay? Because I really don't like that you felt the need to question me. You know I would never do anything to hurt you, right? I love you.”
I roll my eyes because he's already hurt me too many times to count in my short 24 years, despite his love for me. “Yeah, I know. We're fine. Look, I have to go. I have another call. It's important.”
I hang up without waiting for a response.
“Hey, you,” Jackson's voice greets me on the other line.
Wow, do I love the sound of his voice.
I get so lost in that thought, my keys slip out of my hands when I go to open the front door.
“Hey,” I respond. “What's up?”
“Just wanted to make sure you made it home okay.” He pauses. “I got a little worried when you didn't respond to my text. I hope I didn't freak you out.”
I mentally cur$e myself for never responding to him earlier. “You didn't. I was at the cemetery visiting my dad when I got it, though. I'm actually just walking in the door now.”
I don't tell him about Ford…for obvious reasons. There's no way he'll understand our fked up dynamic. H'll, I've never understood it. Not to mention, he'll probably be upset that I lied to him in the first place.
“Oh.” I hear him draw in a breath. “I'm sorry.”
Neither of us say a word for what feels like forever.
I plop down on the couch. “Cue the awkward silence that de ath always ensues.”
“You'd think we'd be experts at getting around it, huh?” He clears his throat. “Okay, change of subject. How was the rest of your day? Did you do anything else?”
“Nope, just that.”
“That's good.” He sounds relieved…which is interesting.
“What exactly did you think I'd be doing, Jackson?”
“Nothing,” he quickly says. “I'm just happy to hear that you weren't doing anything.”
He cur$es under his breath. “That did not come out right.”
I decide to cut to the chase. “Is that your weird way of saying you're happy to hear that I wasn't hanging out with another guy today?”
“Yeah,” he admits. ‘Yeah, I guess it is.”
“I haven't.” I sit up and cradle the phone in my ear. “I haven't been with anyone since before we met.”
Since the night he saved me from that guy in the parking lot, I think before his voice interrupts my thoughts. “Is it wrong that it makes me really happy to hear that?”
“That all depends. Have there been any other girls in your bed beside me lately?”
“What?” he says. “No. Not at all.”
“Then it's not wrong. Because that makes me really happy as well.”
“Good. I guess I'll see you tomorrow.”
“See you tomorrow, Jackson. Good luck with your fi ght.”
“Thanks. By the way,” he says before we hang up. “My sheets still smell like you. And I love it.”
TO Be Continued