Chapter 21

I ignored Michael, his call and text messages, the anger inside me hadn’t waned since I found out about Tammy.

He was the first guy in a long time that I’d let into my life. We weren’t on the fast track down the aisle, but I spent more time with him in the last couple of weeks than I had with any other man in the last few years.

I didn’t drown my sorrows in ice cream and cry myself to sleep. I may have shed a tear or two after the shock wore off, but that’s all Michael Gallo had been worth. I had too much on my plate to walk around all day upset about the shitty end to our relationship.

I did my shifts at the hospital and volunteered more than usual at the clinic. I filled my free time with work and kept my mind off him.

I hadn’t been to the gym to work out since it all exploded in my face. I couldn’t see him; not yet, I didn’t have anything to say to him.

I stood on throbbing feet filling out my last chart, about a child that had arrived via life-flight, before I could head home. She drowned in the family pool and was found by her mother. The little girl had been revived to the point that she was breathing upon arriving in the ER. Brain damage was almost a certainty with the lack of oxygen for an extended period. Talking to the parents was bittersweet. They were happy that their baby had survived, but mortified about the possibility of complications and possibility they’d never have their little girl back.

Every day the hospital chipped out another piece of my heart. Between losing patients, talking with families, and a general feeling of helplessness – I felt broken.

The shell of the person I used to be before I started med school with big dreams and foolish hopes.

“Guess what?” a woman asked in a giddy tone, distracting me from the chart.

I ignored the voice, signing my name and flipped it closed. The outline of a person standing a little too close caught my attention, but I still I ignored her.

“Hey, I’m talking to you,” she said again, not moving.

Hell. I sighed before turning. “What?” I took in the sight of her – Tammy.

My blood turned ice cold as I stared at her smile. An overwhelming urge to claw her eyes out hit me, the fantasy in my mind bringing me a moment of joy.

“Michael and I are back together.” She smirked.

Well, isn’t he quick? She’s as big of an asshole as he is. He’s been texting me since the day I left him in the hall with her and they’re already back together.

“That’s great news. I’m very happy for you,” I gave her my best fake smile. “I’m kind of in a rush. My shift ended and I need to go.”

The smile on her face faded. “I wanted you to know since you were so supportive, but I know there was something going on between you two. When I found you in the hallway it was obvious.” She crossed her arms, taking a defensive stance.

“Nah, we’re just friends. You two are back together and you have a bundle of joy on the way. I’m truly happy for you both.” My cheeks hurt from the smile, still needing to make the bullshit happiness I pretended to feel be a little more believable.

She squinted at me, her mouth set in a firm line. “You slept with him didn’t you?”

I looked her in the eyes as I spoke very slowly. I wasn’t about to jump on the crazy train. “Michael and I are and were nothing. He’s yours.”

“Oh my god, you did. You’re a fucking whore. You’re the reason he broke up with me in the first place, aren’t you?” She bit her lip, gnawing on it, glaring at me.

I could almost see the wheels in her head spinning. Fucking great.

“I’m out. You can talk to Michael about me but I don’t have time for your bullshit, sweetie.” I know I sounded patronizing, but I couldn’t get in a fight with a pregnant woman.

“I’ll have a long conversation with him when we go to the doctor tomorrow for our first visit. He can’t wait to see his baby and show it to his mother.” Her phone rang, distracting her before she could continue.

I took the opportunity to get the hell away from her. “Good luck and congrats,” I said, walking away before she could catch up to me.

“Wait, wait!” she screamed only a few footsteps behind me with her heels clicking on the tile floor.

I stopped in my tracks, closing my eyes. “What?” I asked in a clipped tone.

“I wanted to show you our engagement photo.” She thrust her phone in front of my eyes.

If she had a knife in my chest, she’d turn it, just to make the pain that much worse.

I glanced at the photo and looked away quickly, not wanting it to be thrown in my face more than it already has. Something about the photo was off. “Wait, let me see that again.” I grabbed the phone.

“Look all you want, sweetheart. He’s mine and this time, I’m not letting him go.” She released the phone with a giant ass smile on her face.

Touching the screen, I enlarged the picture. The faces weren’t right. They didn’t match the bodies. I stood there gawking at it until Tammy grabbed it from my fingers.

“He’s so romantic. He proposed at the beach,” she said, staring at the picture.

It was creepy and her mind must be totally twisted. I hadn’t realized until then how entirely off she was and the depths of her craziness.

“It’s a fairytale,” I said. This bitch lives in La La land.

“More than I could’ve ever dreamed of really. He’s mine, all mine.” She hugged the phone, moving her body side to side.

“Yep, all yours.” I smiled. “I really have to go.” I needed to get away from her. “Good luck with your ultrasound,” I called out as I walked away.

I snuck a glance over my shoulder. She stood in the middle of the hall with her hands on her hips glaring at me. Her very presence put me on edge but her delusions told me she was far more dangerous than I imagined. I was the enemy to her.

I wondered if Michael knew about the type of over the top nutty that was his fiancé. I asked the security guard to walk me to my car. I didn’t explain, but I never needed to. I felt a little more at ease as I drove home but I looked in my rearview mirror every few seconds to make sure she wasn’t following me.

Sitting in my driveway I opened my text messages, my finger hovered over Michael’s name and his last message.

Michael: God damn it, Mia. I need you.

My resolve wavered until I thought about Tammy. I wanted no part in their crazy bullshit. I would’ve described him as romantic and an amazing lover, but fuck, there wasn’t a cock in the world worth the hassle.

I wasn’t going to come between them.

My body felt heavy from a long shift on my feet, my mind was in a fog, and my heart ached. A small part of me wanted to see why he needed me, but I convinced myself it was a ploy.

The day had been emotionally draining already without opening my heart to him again and rubbing salt in the wound.

I pulled down the room darkening shades and closed the drapes. I tossed my clothes to the

floor before I grabbed a glass of water and my sleeping pills. I needed for this day to be over.

I climbed into bed and closed my eyes, wishing the day away. Sleep didn’t come easy. Every time I drifted off a different nightmare would wake me up. Images of patients and their horrific injuries and the screams of the injured faceless people startled me awake. The last one dealt with Tammy waiting to slice my throat open in my car after work.

The sleeping pills were supposed to help knock my ass out, but tonight, they sure as hell weren’t doing the trick.

I turned on the television, giving up on sleep, and looked through the guide. There had to be something happy to watch to help replace my nightmares. “Sleepless In Seattle” had an hour left and I’d seen it a dozen times. I flipped to the channel and watched with stinging eyes. I needed the happily ever after.

I could recite the lines in the movie verbatim. When they meet on top of the Empire State Building at the end, it always brought me to tears.

I drifted off to thoughts of Sam and Annie.

Chapter 22

“I hope your ass has been working out, man. Countdown is in single digits. What the fuck have you been doing?” Rob said as I landed another blow.

“I got this, Rob. Shit’s been going on in my personal life that I’ve had to deal with and I’m still dealing with it.” I stretched my shoulders, cracking my neck, readying myself for the next round. My heart hurt more than my muscled ached but I couldn’t stop.

“You need to get everything worked out before the fight. You need your head in the game. An hour here and there will not make you a champion.”

“Oh ye of little faith. I took down ‘The Mauler’ and I sure as fuck can handle ‘The Heat’. One problem will be taken care of today and then I just have to win Mia back,” I said as I grabbed a bottle of water, downing it, before crushing the plastic.

Mia walking away and shutting me out hurt more than any injury I’d even suffered in the cage. She gave me something good and pure to look forward to each day, but it was ripped from me by the devil.

His eyebrows shot up in surprise. “You hooked up with Mia, huh? You’re a lucky son of a bitch.” He shook his head but smiled. “She did ask me about you.”

“When?” I asked feeling hopeful.

“Weeks ago. Wanted to know who you were.” He shrugged.

“Oh. I’d say we more than ‘hooked up’. I really like her, man.”

“Before you grow a pussy, can you at least train while you pour your heart out?”

“I’m done talking, dick. I’m going to make you pay for the pussy comment.”

I spent the next hour doing just that. Cocky bastard talked a good game, but he wasn’t as fast as me. Rob knew the moves; his technical skills couldn’t be beat. He used to be part of the circuit but a nasty injury ended his fighting career.

I took my anger out on him. My jabs, kicks, and takedowns were aimed at him, but in my mind Tammy received each piercing blow. The bitch had crossed the line, making me miserable, and today I would call foul.

“Jesus, that’s the hardest you’ve hit me in a long time, man.” Rob huffed, grabbing his shoulder.

“I don’t have another outlet for my anger. You’re my personal punching bag,” I said, wiping the sweat from my eyes.

“Save some of it for the cage. Heat won’t know what hit’em. Maybe you shouldn’t straighten the shit out first.” He laughed.

“Fuck you, Rob.”

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