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|Without Me(Men of Inked #7) by Chelle Bliss|
As we walked down the driveway, I stopped and pulled Max to me. “I love your family,” I whispered against her lips.
She smiled and smashed her lips to my mouth. She still tasted of sweet potato pie as her tongue mingled with mine.
“Take me home,” she murmured into my mouth. “Make love to me.”
My heart was full along with my stomach. Even if I hadn’t liked her family, I’d still have loved her. Knowing that they were good people and much like my family made me happier than I already was. No matter what the test said, I wanted Max to be mine. I wanted to spend my life loving her and making her happy. Soon, we’d have the results and better know what we faced. Either way, as long as we had each other, I’d do my best to make her life happy.
Patience Isn’t My Middle Name
Six motherfuckin’ weeks.
Forty-two goddamn days.
One thousand eight freakin’ hours.
Sixty thousand, four hundred and eighty excruciating minutes.
That’s how long we waited until the doctor’s office called to say that they’d received the results. Even though Max begged to be told the results, they wouldn’t divulge the information over the phone. They stated that it was standard office procedure for her to come to the office to “discuss” the results with the doctor.
We’d already been stressed to the maximum level possible. Every day, I’d felt like I could touch the tension and cut it with a knife. The time that felt the longest was when we sat in the waiting room at the doctor’s office. I wanted to burst through the doors and demand to see the results.
To have come this far and know that the information was close enough to touch drove me crazier than I’d ever felt before. I couldn’t stop shaking my legs and fidgeting in my seat. I didn’t even have the patience to look at my phone. The only thing I could think about was the goddamn test.
I was the one who had made her do it. I’d been selfish in demanding her to get it done. The last six weeks had been absolute torture. We hadn’t talked about it much, but it was always there.
I held her hand, which was stuck to mine from the nervous sweat that had formed. I could feel her trembling next to me as our arms and shoulders touched.
“It’ll be okay, Max,” I tried to reassure her with a small smile.
“Yep,” she responded in a clipped tone as she stared straight ahead and didn’t return my glance.
To the casual observer in the room, it would have seemed that we were here for me. I was the one more visibly nervous, but I knew she was a mess inside.
“We’ve been waiting here an hour. What’s taking so damn long?” I complained as I looked at my watch.
“Look at all the people, Anthony. It’s a busy office. It always takes this long here.”
“Bullshit,” I mumbled as I gnashed my teeth together.
“What’s a couple more minutes when I’ve waited this long?”
“You can’t mean that, Max. I know you’re nervous.”
“I am, Anthony. I know I have it. I can feel it. You wouldn’t understand.”
“I won’t believe it until she says the words.”
“Prepare yourself, then, Anthony. Are you ready for it?”
“We’ll get a second opinion.”
“No!” she yelled, causing people in the waiting room to look at us.
“Max,” I said, leaning closer to her. “I’ll go to the ends of the earth to give you a different fate.”
“Can you give me a different body?” she asked as she looked at me.
“I’m in love with the one you have now, Max.”
“Then it’s what you need to accept.”
“Ms. Washington,” a nurse called out from across the room, standing near the doorway.
“Here,” Max said as she stood.
I took a deep breath, holding it in as I climbed to my feet. I felt like I was doing the long march to the electric chair. I dreaded what I might hear in a few short minutes. Some invisible fist was inside my stomach and punching it. I could barely breathe as I moved on shaky legs.
I repeated to myself, “She will be okay,” over and over again. Max squeezed my hand, never breaking contact as we were shown to the doctor’s office.
“Please take a seat. The doctor will be in in a moment,” the nurse said before she gave Max a small smile and left us alone.
“I can’t sit,” I said as she started to move toward the seat.
“We can’t just stand here,” Max replied as she closed her eyes and exhaled.
“Let me hold you, Max. I need to hold you.” I pulled her hand, bringing her to my chest.
I tried to memorize possibly the last normal moment we’d have. The moment where I felt we were just Max and Anthony. It would all change. We could be Max, Anthony, and ataxia. Not a relationship I wanted to enter into, but I might not have a choice.
“I’m scared,” Max confessed into my shirt.
“I know, baby. Me too,” I admitted. “Either way, I’m with you through it all, Max.”
“Anthony,” she whispered as she moved to look at me. As she toyed with my shirt, she said, “I don’t blame you if you leave me. It’s okay if you leave me. I’ll totally understand.”
“Are you giving me permission to leave you?” I tried to keep my voice steady, but inside, I was seething.
“Yes. No one wants to be with a sick person. Why should you be tied to me forever? I’m giving you an out,” she said with tears in her eyes. “I love you, but I’ll understand.” As she gave me a weak smile, a single tear ran down her cheek.