“Logan.” I rushed to him. We stood silently watching each other while we caught our breath. There was so much being communicated without us needing to speak a word. Who was he in his past life and what type of people was he involved with?
He released a heavy sigh. “You shouldn’t have seen that.” I tried to make sense of his words, understand what he was guarding me from when he spoke again. “Go home, Ashlyn. Go back to your life and let me figure out mine.” He pressed a kiss to my forehead and turned away, jogging until he turned a corner and disappeared from sight.
I stood there stunned and unable to move. Logan was gone.
The next several days dragged on at an agonizing pace. I tossed and turned at night without Logan, worried about where he was sleeping and who would be there for him during his nightmares.
I woke early and spent my days working on campus, trying to keep myself distracted. Even Professor Clancy commented on the dark circles under my eyes, so I’d taken to wearing extra concealer. This was so not like me to be pining over a guy. Except Logan wasn’t just any guy. He was a mystery to unravel, a puzzle I desperately wanted to solve, with a heaping dose of sexual chemistry. Not to the mention the deepening feelings I was developing for him despite my better judgment.
On my way to and from campus, I kept thinking I spotted Logan, but of course, it was only my mind playing tricks on me. He was gone. Where I didn’t know, but I knew he was searching out clues, sparked by that guy in the park.
It scared me to think that he might be targeting drug dealers in search of information. If he was friends with the guy in that car, maybe he was a user too. But his medical records didn’t show traces of drugs in his system. Something just didn’t add up.
A knock on my door broke my concentration and I leapt from the chair, my heart galloping. I pulled open the door. It was Liz.
“Oh. It’s you.” My face fell.
“Nice to see you too,” Liz muttered, weaving around me to come inside.
Tom immediately came in to greet her and she picked him up. “So lover boy bailed and left you here with this poor guy?” She kissed the cat on the top of the head.
I didn’t answer, but instead let out a deep sigh. The first night Logan had disappeared I’d called Liz. She’d come over to stay with me. I waited up all night for Logan, terrified when he wasn’t home by three in the morning that he was going to spend the entire night out, but by dawn, my terror had turned intolerable when I realized he might not come back at all. I sobbed into my pillow as Liz rubbed my back.
I knew she didn’t agree with my relationship with Logan in the first place, but I appreciated that she let me fall apart over his sudden disappearance from my life. It was so out of character for me that I think she finally appreciated just how much he meant to me.
I had never expected him to up and leave one day to go discover himself. I’d always imagined he’d only leave if he remembered his former life and wanted to return to it. This way was so much harder to face. He’d rather be alone than be with me. And I couldn’t seem to stop my mind from replaying the way he ran from me over and over again.
Liz’s pep talks over the last few days were comforting, but bordered on tough love. She didn’t want to see me continue to mope around my apartment, and I knew she’d only be so tolerant of me wallow in my sorrow for a short while longer.
She lifted my stringy hair to her nose as she passed. “When’s the last time you washed this?”
I cringed inwardly. Yesterday? Or had it been the day before?
She released a deep sigh. “Go take a hot shower. Tom and I will hang out. Then we’ll go out and get a drink. Sound okay?”
I nodded and shuffled into the bathroom without complaint. It would be better than sitting in my tiny apartment that still felt full of memories of Logan.
It was too hard to be alone right now, and I needed her company, even if she couldn’t understand my pain.
I took my time in the shower, washing my hair, using the jasmine body wash that was a birthday present from Liz and shaved my legs. I felt halfway human again when I finally met her in the living room.
“There’s my sexy bitch.” She patted my behind. “You look better.”
“Thanks,” I mumbled, looking at my shoes. This was the first time I’d put on jeans in days rather than my stretchy yoga pants or leggings, and I was surprised to see that they hung on my hips baggier than before.
I grabbed my purse and we headed for the door. When I pulled open the door, I was stunned at what I saw that it took a moment to register. Logan sat against the far wall, his knees pulled to his chest, his head hanging between his knees. When he heard me gasp, he looked up. He looked awful. Exhaustion and stress had etched purplish hollows under his eyes.
“Logan!” I burst through the door and rushed to him, dropping to my knees.
He pulled me to him and kissed my lips, my face, my hair, clutching me desperately. “Ashlyn.”
“I was so worried.”
“I know.” He kissed my lips again. “I’m sorry. I had to see if I could figure anything out.”
“And did you?”
His eyes were blank, devoid of hope and I knew the answer before he spoke. He swallowed and tilted his chin up, unable to admit defeat. “Just that I missed you.”
I hugged him again and he pulled me onto his lap, cradling me.
Liz cleared her throat loudly behind us. “I guess this means we’re not going to get that drink.”
I stood up and offered a hand to Logan. He accepted it and stood. I hated how exhausted he looked, like he hadn’t slept at all in the four days he’d been away.
“Sorry, no.” I looked from her to Logan.
She nodded, her lips pressed into a tight line and began to walk past us, but she stopped directly in front of Logan, and leaned in close. “It’s not okay to use her as your emotional punching bag. Despite how it seems, she’s fragile and she has feelings.” She poked him in the chest as she made her point.
Logan looked down, clearly embarrassed at being chastised by her. “I’m sorry. I know.” Then he turned to me and took my hand, bringing it to his mouth. “I’m sorry, Ashlyn,” he breathed against the back of my hand.
“It’s okay,” I mumbled, mesmerized by the sight of his eyes on mine.
“No, it’s not,” Liz scoffed and walked away. “Call me if you need me,” she hollered from down the hall.
I led him inside the apartment, wanting to interrogate him about where he had been, what he had discovered, but I kept my mouth shut, sensing that he needed some space. He headed in to the shower, while I heated up a can of soup.
I laid a set of fresh clothes for him on the bed and waited anxiously for him to get out of the shower and planned out how to initiate the talk I knew we needed to have. I lit some candles around the apartment, hoping to set a calming mood. Logan needed help. As the professional, level-headed one in this relationship, it was time that I pointed that out to him.
He emerged from the shower clean-shaven and smelling fresh. He joined me on the couch and I offered him a mugful of soup. He accepted it gratefully and sipped the warm broth eagerly from the edge of the mug. When he had finished the soup, he set the mug on the coffee table and pulled me into his lap.
I settled onto his lap, curling against his frame while he wrapped his arms around me. My courage over the discussion we needed to have faded just slightly. It felt so good to have him back, I didn’t want to disturb this reverie.
“I can feel your ribs,” he murmured against my neck.
“I didn’t do so well when you left,” I admitted.
He swore under his breath. “I left to make things easier on you. I didn’t like thinking I was weighing you down, complicating your life.”
“You weren’t. I wanted you here.”
He nodded carefully. “I know that now. I’m sorry I took off like that.”
“Where did you go?”
He swallowed the lump in his throat and stayed quiet. “Everywhere. I roamed the streets, talked to some dealers. I asked around, but I couldn’t turn up any leads.”
I sat up straighter, summoning my courage. “Logan, I care about you, and I can’t watch you do this to yourself. Having amnesia is not your fault. And no matter who you were before, I can tell that you have a good heart.”
He closed his eyes at my words, struggling to keep quiet.
“I want you to stay here with me, but I think you need to get some professional help. Talk to someone. Maybe get some medication. I know you wanted to solve all this on your own, but… ”
He lifted me from his lap and stood, leaving me sitting alone on the sofa. He began pacing the living room. “I don’t want some fucking doctor prying into shit, asking me questions I can’t answer, or asking me about feelings I can’t explain.” He stood with his back to me, looking out the window to the street below. “I need to do this my way, Ashlyn. I won’t take off again if that’s what you’re worried about.”
“No.” The sound of my voice surprised us both. Logan spun around to face me. “That’s not going to work. I want you here, and I want to be in your life. But this isn’t living.” I struggled to find the right words. “You need to get help. And unless you agree to that, I don’t think you should be here.”
I stood and fled to my bedroom before he could see the tears filling my eyes. Even if this pushed him away, I knew I needed to stand my ground on this. We couldn’t go on living the way we had. Logan needed help.
A few minutes later, my bedroom door opened and Logan peeked inside. I was pacing in the room. I’d been waiting to see if he’d come in. He came in and closed the door behind him, and walked closer to me.
“Okay?” I asked.
“I’ll see whatever doctors you think I should, talk to shrinks, do hypnosis, whatever you think will help. I just want to stay with you. You’re all I have, Ashlyn.”
I should have felt happy and relieved that he was going to seek help, but something nagged at me. I was all he had in this world. Did he actually have real feelings for me? Or was I just his only source of food and shelter?
I continued staring at him impassively. “I need more than that,” I found myself saying. It nearly crushed me when he left and now that he was back, I couldn’t put off this conversation any longer.
He waited for me to continue, but when I remained quiet, he took my hand and led me over to the bed. “Sit down. Tell me.”
“When you left, I did a lot of thinking. About you, and about us. I need to know why you’re here. Why you missed me. Was it because I’m the only person you know in Chicago, because I can offer you a place to sleep at night?” Maybe Liz’s ranting had started to seep into my brain. Her critical judgments of Logan seemed a little more justified now. If he could just leave so easily, was he using me?
He curled his hands into fists. “You don’t get it. I tried to leave to protect you. A guy like me will never fit into your life.”
“Logan,” I sighed. Conversations with him sometimes exhausted me and left me more confused than before.
“You’ve done far more than I deserve. I don’t understand what it is you could possibly see in me. I have nothing to offer a woman like you. You’re beautiful, brilliant, and being with you – hurting you –scares the shit of me.”
“But,” I supplied for him, at his pained expression.
“But despite all of that, I’m falling for you. You’re delicate, and smart, and damn near the worst housekeeper I’ve ever seen.” He chuckled, running his thumb across my bottom lip. “I want to protect you and make you happy.”
I smiled like an idiot, gazing up into his eyes. Maybe it was foolish of me, but I was in no way ready to remove Logan from my life.
He leaned in and softly kissed my lips. “Have you eaten dinner?”
I shook my head.
“Let’s go feed you. You’re getting too thin.”
He led me from my room, and sat me down on a stool in the kitchen so I could watch him cook. When dinner was ready, he made me finish every bite of the spaghetti until I was full.
After dinner, he tucked me against his side on the couch while he looked up local psychiatrists and doctors online who specialized in amnesia. Dr. Andrews’ name kept appearing in the searches, until finally Logan relented and we clicked the link to request an appointment.
As I lay in bed that night while Logan went to paint, I tried to quiet my fears about his past and about our future, and just enjoy the small comforts of having him here while I could, even if it wouldn’t last.
I was a jittery mess as we waited in the exam room for Dr. Andrews. Logan sat in the side chair, leaving me to climb onto the paper-covered exam table, like somehow his choice of seating meant he wasn’t the patient. I sat swinging my ankles from the end of the table, the paper crinkling underneath me.
“Stop fidgeting. Why are you so nervous?” Logan asked.
I wrapped my arms around myself. It was just too damn quiet in this room and I flinched at the footsteps I could hear in the hall.
Dr. Andrews had suspected that Logan and I were growing close several weeks ago, so showing up with him today would confirm that my relationship with Logan went well beyond a professional one. I might as well be wearing a flashing neon sign declaring me a wanton hussy.
“If you didn’t want the doctor to see you with me, you didn’t have to come,” he said harshly.
“No. I want to be here.” I did. We had talked about this last night once Logan had washed the paint from his hands and climbed into bed. We weren’t going to let the circumstances surrounding the way we met stop us from being together. It was very freeing. There would be no more hiding, no more tiptoeing around the conversation. Logan and I were together. Plain and simple. We cared for each other and were doing what felt right.