Thanks to Hubby for the edit. Couldn't do this without you! <3
For the few days after Megan met my parents, I was on edge. She didn’t contact me, and I didn’t dare call or text her.
The more I thought about it, the more I realised I was being unfair, and hurting her with my bullshit. I hadn’t meant to give her the wrong impression. I don’t know what I’d been thinking. I loved having her in my life, and didn’t want that to end. But I couldn’t give her what she wanted.
I thought back to the conversation I’d had with Davi when the news Megan and I were having a baby had become public. He’d insisted we owed it to ourselves, and Ella, to give it a chance. At the time, and after seeing how Megan had defended me online, I began to wonder if he was right. But I wasn’t ready to risk it. I’d only scratched the surface in therapy, and had inadvertently hurt Meg by giving her false hope. I wasn’t prepared to drag her deeper into my messed up life, and hurt her more.
She was right, we needed space from each other. I couldn’t string her along indefinitely while I sorted my shit out. She deserved better than that. She had graduation and finding a job to focus on, she didn’t need me pulling her down.
Knowing it was best if I kept myself busy, I made an appointment with my solicitor and we discussed Davi’s offer. I had him draw up a provisional contract, and arrange a meeting with Davi and his solicitor.
I wanted to run everything by Ollie, just to make sure I wasn’t doing something reckless, but I was pretty much decided I was going to buy into the gym. I still had no desire to return to fighting, but I could feel myself itching to get back to the gym and start working out again. This would be the perfect balance.
When I was done at the solicitor’s, I made my way to Ollie’s office for my appointment. Always punctual, he was just seeing his previous patient out when I arrived.
“Hey, come on in.”
I made my way into the therapy room and settled myself on the leather sofa, while Ollie sat at a chair behind his desk.
“So Kian, how are you today?”
“I’m good man. Very good, actually.”
“Oh? That’s very positive to hear. What’s been going on since our last session then?”
I filled Ollie in on Davi’s offer, dinner with my family and my visit to the solicitors. “What do you think then?”
“I think that’s for you to decide. If you feel like you’re in a place where you can take on the extra responsibility, then it’s worth considering. Your reasoning is solid and you seem to be going into this with the correct intentions.”
I leaned back on the couch and let out a long breath. “Well, that’s one thing sorted.”
“It’s a confident step in the right direction. And how do you feel about what we talked about last session?”
“You mean about Bagley and me going to see him? I dunno. I just want to be done with that part of my life.”
“But isn’t it possible you’ll encounter him again when you return to the MMA world? Wouldn’t it be better to clear the air now, and then move on with your life?”
I tilted my head to the side, rolling the kink out of my neck as I considered his words.
Ollie’s suggestion was to take responsibility for my previous bad choices, I should speak to those effected by them, and get closure on the issue if I could. He’d also recommended I apologize to Bagley for breaking his arm. I’d already started trying to make amends with the people closest to me, and had spoken to my parents, Marie and Davi about my behaviour. That had been easy, and since then my relationships with all of them had improved.
Doing the same with Bagley felt … unnecessary.
“What do you lose by trying?” Ollie prompted.
“Nothing, I guess. It’s just … I dunno.”
Ollie steepled his fingers in front of him. “Harder than you expected?”
“Yeah, with my folks, Marie and Davi I wanted to make things right. I’m glad I made things right. My relationships with them are better.”
“You don’t want your relationships with Bagley to be better?”
I shrugged. “He’s not important to me.”
“He might be if someone you end up training has a match against him.”
The muscles in my arm tensed, and the hairs along my forearms bristled.
Ollie was a good guy, but he was applying doctor-logic to the world of MMA. Fighting wasn’t the same as falling out with a co-worker. You couldn’t just take something you’d read in a book and apply it to every single thing ever. The world we lived in wasn’t that black and white.
A tense silence filled the air. I got that Ollie was trying to help, but sometimes his advice was just daft, and this was one of those times.
I knew now that when I’d broken Bagley’s arm I’d let my anger get the better of me, and some time away from fighting had made me realise Matthews had taken a cheap shot to win because he just didn’t respect me. Maybe if I hadn’t been so arrogant and disrespectful before our fight, things would have worked out differently.
Space and time had made me see my fault in both situations, but apologising wouldn’t solve anything. Bagley and Matthews didn’t give two shits about me. They didn’t need me to say sorry. That’s not how the world of MMA worked.
I shrugged. “Sure, I’ll think about it.”
As I stared around the office, my thoughts drifted to Megan and I let out a long breath.
“Something else on your mind?”
I sighed, and ran my fingers through my hair.
“Yeah-” I told Ollie about the conversation me and Meg had, and how I didn’t want to keep hurting her.
“How do you feel about giving her space?”
My shoulders slumped, and a cold empty sensation settled in my stomach.
“I don’t want to lead her on and upset her, but I miss her. I miss talking to her on the phone. I miss hanging out with her.”
“Why are you so convinced you can’t give her what she wants?”
I let out a dry laugh. “Are you kidding me? I’m in therapy for Christ’s sake! That’s hardly on a women’s checklist when she’s looking for a boyfriend.”
“Some might say it isn’t on the checklist for being a parent, either, but that’s not stopping you.”
“I can’t walk away from my daughter. She deserves a decent father, and I’ll do my damndest to be that.”
“How about Megan? What does she deserve?”
“Someone better than me. Someone who isn’t going to screw up.”
“Kian, that’s what we call ‘crystal ball gazing.’ You don’t know you’ll ‘screw up.’ Isn’t that the reason you’re here, to learn how to stop making the same mistakes, and get your anger under control?”
“Yeah, but what if I end up fucking things up so badly she ends up hating me. I couldn’t bare that.”
“Again, you can’t predict the future. What if you get struck by lightning? What if a plane falls from the sky and lands on you? Are you never going to leave your house again?”
“Yeah, but those things are ridiculous. The chances of them actually happening are remote. The chances of me screwing things up aren’t. A leopard doesn’t change its spots.”
“It doesn’t. But leopards can be domesticated. People can change their behaviour. You’re proof of that. Look how far you’ve come.
“And consider the alternative. What happens when Megan is ready to start dating again? How would you feel if you saw her with another man?”
The thought of Meg with another guy wasn’t something that had occurred to me. It wasn’t something I’d thought about, ever. But with the mental image in my head, I could feel sweat beading on my forehead, as I clenched my jaw.
I shook my head, and lied, “If that’s what makes her happy, I’d just have to get used to it.”
I checked my watch, and saw we only had a few minutes of our session left. Knowing that, I put on my ‘I’m okay-face’ so I could escape without any further questions. I reached for the jug of water on the coffee table in front of me, and poured myself a glass.
“Okay. That’s our time up. But until our next session, I want you to think over everything we’ve discussed.”
“Yeah, cheers man. I will do.”
I slid the half-drunk glass of water onto the table.
“Make another appointment with Lizzie for two weeks’ time, and I’ll see you then.”
“All right. See you in two weeks.”
I stood up and headed for the door, and then left Ollie’s office, and made an appointment for the same time in a fortnight.
As I climbed into my car, Ollie’s final comments swirled around in my mind.
He was right, people did change, and those closest to me had already commented on the difference they’d seen in me since I’d gone back to therapy.
So what was stopping me? What was holding me back from getting together with Megan? What was I so afraid of?
With no direction in mind, I started driving, and before I knew it, I’d left the city and was heading out into the countryside. After another thirty minutes, I started seeing sign posts for a nature reserve and reservoir. It seemed like the perfect place to relax and think in peace.
I parked my car, picked a direction at random and started walking. I saw a couple, a family and a man with his dog heading down a well-worn dirt path, so I took the opposite route; wanting to be away from people.
Soon I walked into a more wooded area, and the terrain started to incline steeply. Careful of my footing, I made my way up the slope, and came to a clearing on the crest of the hill. I found a tree stump to sit on, and looked down at the view. Below me the reservoir glistened in the sun.
I took a deep breath and closed my eyes.
Instantly an image of Megan popped into my mind.
Even without Ella in the equation, I couldn’t imagine my life without Megan in it. Ignoring all the ways she’d had helped me, she was like no woman I’d known before.
Since the first time we’d met, she’d been easy to talk to, with no silly game playing like some women did. Just upfront about everything. And funny, too. Her sense of humour ranged was absolutely silly. She had me laughing like an idiot when she drew boobs on the shirtless guy on my bottle of protein pills.
I loved how if she wanted something, nothing stopped her from achieving it. I respected how she’d held down a job, and graduated uni, all while being pregnant. That’s some MMA-level dedication right there.
Determination and focus was something we shared, as were the bonds we had with our families. Seeing how close she was to her mum and dad made me sure she’d always be there for Ella, even when our daughter was an adult.
But it wasn’t just our similarities that drew me to her. Her eagerness to experience different things was infectious, and it’d become a contest between us to introduce the other to as many new foods, or movies, or bands as we could. Even though I’d never admit it aloud, the chick flicks were growing on me.
She took an interest in all aspects of my life, simply because they were important to me. No woman I’d slept with cared about my cooking, or the bikes I liked, but Megan was always asking questions and insisting I show her things.
So many of the women I’d slept with were so in awe of the celebrity they thought I was that they did nothing to challenge me when I was acting like a prick. But from day one, Megan had called me out each time I’d acted badly. Even after we’d grown close, and she started feeling more for me, that didn’t stop her from putting me in my place, and telling me I’d hurt her by sending out mixed signals.
No woman had done that before.
They were always so worried about ruining their chance with The Kian Murphy that their responses had been: “Yes Kian. No Kian. Can I carry your three gym bags full Kian?”
I hated it. I didn’t want a bloody nodding dog!
I wanted a woman who ‘got’ me. Someone who wouldn’t put up with me being a dick because they were so infatuated with the celeb life. I wanted someone who was my equal.
I wanted … Fuck! I wanted Megan.
But I couldn’t let myself be with her.
I slammed my head into my palms.
Why? Why was I being such a jackass and holding back?
What could go wrong? I asked myself.
You could fall for her, it not work out, and then you’d be left with nothing.
The thought of not having Megan in my life, the idea of being cut off from Ella, and the idea of going back to being the guy who only cared about sex, terrified me.
That’s what was stopping me.
If Megan and I never got together, then we could never break up. She’d never end up hating me and stop me seeing Ella, and we’d still be in each other’s lives.
Part of me knew I was being stupid, denying a potential relationship because of what ifs. But the loudest voice in my head told me it was better to have Megan in my life, at least in some capacity, than risk losing her and not have anything at all.
But she’s not really in your life, is she? Another voice argued. Since she met your parents and asked for space, you haven’t spoken.
It was like fate was taunting me, and no matter what I did, I’d lose Megan either way. If we got together, and something went wrong, I’d lose her. If we didn’t get together, I’d still lose her, because she’d need space or worse, get with someone else.
I couldn’t win.
Ollie’s earlier words came back to me: What happens when Megan is ready to start dating again?
He was right. If I kept giving her space, there was every chance her feelings for me would fade, and then eventually, she’d move on and start seeing someone else.
I was damned if I did, and damned if I didn’t.
But at least if we didn’t get together and mess it all up, we could still be civil for Ella’s sake.
My phone ringing in my pocket jarred me out of my thoughts. I pulled it out and was surprised to see it was a text from Stacey:
>>Megan’s at City Hospital. Ella is ok. Get here ASAP!<<
My mouth went dry and my stomach hardened.
I leapt up from the tree stump, scrambled down the hill, and then raced back to my car. Skidding out of the car park, I floored the accelerator and pushed the speed limit.
If I hurried, I could miss the late afternoon traffic, and make it to the hospital in forty minutes.
As I thundered through the streets every horrible scenario played out in my mind. Megan going into premature labour and Ella not making it. Ella being born early, but Megan dying in delivery. Neither of them pulling through.
By the time I pulled up in the City Hospital car park my limbs were shaking and pain burned across the centre of my chest.
I whipped out my phone and called Stacey. “I’m here. Where are you?”
“I’m in the waiting room with her parents. Meg’s been taken for a scan. Wait there and I’ll come down to you.”
I paced outside the entrance to the hospital, mentally willing Stacey to hurry, and for Megan and Ella to be okay.
I couldn’t lose them. Not now. Not like this.
“Kian…” Stacey rushed through the double automatic doors and almost barrelled into me.
“Well, it started this morning when she was late for uni, and I called her about half-ten … no, it was closer to eleven … wait, that doesn’t make sense. It had to be half-ten.”
My muscles tensed, and my head started to ache.
“Stacey, I don’t need your life story. Just tell me what happened to Meg.”
“Right. Yeah, sorry. Just before her presentation she had to rush to the loo and throw up. She said it was nerves, and promised me Ella was okay, so I believed her.
“And she did seem to perk up after that. We had some lunch, then it was time for the display show to open.”
We entered the hospital, and headed towards the antenatal ward.
Stacey resumed her story. “Her parents stopped by her booth, and then mine. We chatted for a bit-”
I let out a low growl, and Stacey stopped, turning to me with wide eyes. “Sorry. I’m doing it again, aren’t I?”
“Yes. You are.”
“There was some commotion in the hall, and we were told Megan had fainted. I called for an ambulance, and her parents tried to wake her. She came around briefly, but she was delirious.
“It wasn’t until we were in the ambulance and on the way here that she came round properly.”
“How was she when she came round?”
“Groggy at first, then pissed off. Her parents said she’d been taking on too much, and Meg got annoyed with us.”
Her parents were right, but I knew better than to say that to Meg while she was in an ambulance on her way to hospital. She responded to things better when she’d had time to realise an issue herself, instead of being told what to do.
Another thing we had in common.
“And Ella? What have they said about her?”
“They checked her heartbeat and it was normal. They think she’s okay, but they’re doing a scan to be sure.”
I stopped, frozen in the middle of the hallway. It was like a nightmare; as I willed my feet to work, my mouth to open, I couldn’t move, not matter how hard I tried. All I could do was stand there, rooted to the spot.
“Kian, it’ll be okay,” Stacey said, before grabbing my hand and pulling me into gear.
I let out a long, slow breath, and my muscles relaxed, though my throat still felt dry.
“Thank you for calling me.”
Stacey gazed away and scuffed the ground with her shoe. “I couldn’t just not tell you. She hasn’t said anything about what’s being going on, but I know something isn’t right between you guys. She’s been miserable without you.”
The hardness returned to my stomach, and the back of my throat stung.
“I better get back in there before her parents realise I’m gone.”
“Okay. I’m going to ask a nurse if I can see her.”
“All right. I guess I’ll see you later.”
With an awkward wave, Stacey headed for the waiting room, and I turned towards the reception desk.
“Hey. The mother of my baby, Megan Green, was admitted earlier for tests. I was wondering if I could see her, please?”
The nurse tapped some details into the computer in front of her, and then asked, “Kian Murphy?”
“Sure. You’re on the list of permitted visitors. Go through, she’s in room thirty-six.”
The nurse hit the security button and allowed me access to the antenatal ward, and I made my way along the corridor to Megan’s room.
When I reached the room marked 36, I paused for a moment. The door was ajar, and Megan was sat on the bed, stroking her tummy and talking to Ella.
“It’s okay, little one. Mamma’s here, and everything will be okay.”
My breath caught in my throat.
She looked so pale and small. Her skin was as white as the sheets she lay on, and there were bags under her eyes. Her usually carefully styled dark hair was frizzy, and her arm was hooked up to an IV.
Tears stung the back of my eyes, and before I knew it, her name had slipped from my mouth like a prayer. “Megan … Can I come in?”
She lifted her head, and her gaze settled on mine. Warmth filled her green eyes, and she patted the space on the bed next to her.
Without hesitation I raced to her side, pulled off my jacket and threw it on the chair, then climbed onto the bed with her.
I closed my eyes and gathered her in my arms, kissed the top of her head. “Thank god you’re okay. If anything had happened to you or Ella … well, it doesn’t bear thinking about.”
“We’re fine.” She stared up at me, and her bottom lip quivered, then tears trailed down her cheeks.
My pulse spiked. What has the scan revealed? “What is it? Have they told you what’s wrong?”
“No, they’re still waiting for the results to come back. It’s just … it’s good to see you. I missed you.”
My muscles relaxed, and I wrapped my arms tighter around her, wanting to protect her from the world. “I missed you too. And I’m sorry, you know, about the other day.”
“That doesn’t matter right now.”
My thoughts drifted back to my session with Ollie, and my claim that leopard didn’t change their spots. Fuck. Had I caused this by how I’d acted the last time we’d seen each other?
“It does. This is all my fault. If I hadn’t been giving you mixed messages, you wouldn’t have gotten so upset.”
Megan slipped out of my arms and gazed up at me, her mouth forming a thin line. “This isn’t all about you.” Shit, wrong move. “I think I’ve just been working myself too hard, what with the presentation, and graduation looming, then trying to find a job too.”
“All that stops now. I don’t want you lifting another finger until Ella is born.”
She let out a tense laugh. “Are you forbidding me from working? Really? I appreciate you looking out for me, but I can’t just do nothing until she’s born. I still have to graduate and find work.”
I paused for a moment, considering my words. I didn’t want to upset her by saying the wrong thing again, but I also wanted her to know I’d do anything to help fix this.
“Let me look after you until Ella is born. I’ve got enough saved to support you, and I’ve spoken to my solicitor about buying into the gym.”
“I can’t ask you to do that.”
“You’re not asking, I’m offering. And I know you said before you’d be okay, but this time I insist. I don’t want anything happening to you and Ella. If I can help in some way, please, for the love of God, let me.”
I looked into her eyes, trying desperately to convey without words how much she and Ella meant to me, and that nothing would stop me making sure no harm ever came to them again.
“Okay. Thank you.”
“Anything you need, just ask.” Hearing footfall in the corridor outside, I kissed her again and then climbed down off the bed.
My back went ridged, as I waited for her parents to enter. But a moment later, Doctor Stone stepped through the door.
“Megan … Kian. The good news is, it isn’t preeclampsia, which we were worried it could have been. But, based on your symptoms and results, it’s likely you have gestational hypertension. We’d like to keep you in overnight to monitor your condition, and then depending on how things are tomorrow, discuss a plan for your pre-natal care after your release.”
The word hypertension was familiar to me from my training, and the times I’d had to see a doctor for one reason or another, but I couldn’t recall what it meant, so I asked, “What’s gestational hypertension?”
As Doctor Stone explained the diagnosis, I tried to listen and take in what she was saying, but I couldn’t take my eyes off Meg, and I studied every detail of her face.
Even when we were just hanging out in t-shirts and trackie bottoms, she always wore a little makeup, but all that had been scrubbed off, leaving her looking vulnerable and innocent.
The fierce need to protect her blazed across my chest, making my heart race and the hairs on my arms stand on end.
My attention was pulled from my thoughts, and back to the door as Doctor Stone left, and Megan’s parents, followed by Stacy, entered.
I could see the resemblance between Megan and her mum instantly. They had the same green eyes, which her mum focused on me. I’d see that look before from Meg. She was pissed off.
“What did the doctor say then, Love?” her dad asked.
Megan told them Doctor Stone’s diagnosis, and I tried not to make it obvious I was listening to how they took the news.
The tension radiating through Megan’s mum’s body flared. “That’s it, you’re moving in with us until Ella is born, and once you’ve graduated, I don’t want you doing anything. Job hunting can wait.”
“I am not moving back in with you guys.” I could see the argument brewing between mother and daughter, and was impressed when Meg shot her mum down. It wasn’t just me she didn’t take crap from. “But after graduation, I will take it easy until Ella is born. Kian’s offered to use some of his savings to make sure I’m okay for money until after the birth, so I’ll spend the next few months resting. I promise.”
My gaze drifted from Megan and her mum, to Meg’s dad as he approached me. “You’re a good lad, son. Thanks for taking care of my girls.”
Fire blazed in my chest. “It’s nothing, Sir. They’re my girls, too, and I’d give anything to protect them.”
I held my chin a little higher, and then looked at Megan’s mum, expecting her to say something. When she didn’t, I let out a breath. It was then that it hit me this was the first time we’d met. Introducing Megan to my parents a few weeks ago had been scary enough, but I’d been thrown into this completely unprepared.
With amusement I wondered what it was about me and Meg that had caused us both to meet the other’s families for the first time in hospital.
“Mum, Dad, this is Kian. Kian, this is my parents,” Megan said.
I stood up and approached Megan’s dad first, as he seemed the friendlier out of the two. “Pleased to meet you.”
“And you,” he said, shaking my hand.
I flashed her mum my most charming smile and said, “Nice to meet you, Mrs. Green.”
The exchange was quick, and she barely shook my hand, before saying, “Yes, you too.”
I took a step back, unsure if I should remain standing or sit down. The air was thick with tension, but I wasn’t giving Mrs. Green the satisfaction of making me look away, so I remained where I was.
“I think I’m going to turn in for the night. I’ll call you tomorrow after I’ve seen the doctor,” Megan said.
I didn’t want to leave yet, but I sure as hell wanted her parents to go. Maybe when I met them ‘officially’ Megan’s mum would stop shooting daggers at me.
Though that hope was quickly dashed, as she pretty much shoved me aside to get to Megan and hug her. “Yes, make sure you’re getting plenty of rest.”
I stepped out of the way to let her dad passed.
“You take care, Love.”
I sank into the chair and zoned out as Megan said goodbye to her parents, then discussed with Stacey what they were going to do about their uni presentations, and the things Meg had left at uni.
I was just starting to grow restless when they finally left.
Wanting to return to the closeness of earlier, I climbed onto the bed and wrapped my arms around her. “See, even more reason for you to take it easy and let me look after you. Doctor’s orders, and I pretty much promised your parents.”
Megan let out a nervous laugh. “Yeah, sorry about Mum. We had a bit of an argument in the ambulance, and I think she’s still pissed off with me.”
Eager to put her mind at ease, I said, “She’s just worried about you. We all are.”
I wanted to be closer to her, so I gently reached out, and started massaging then tension from her shoulders.
“I know … I just …”
It didn’t take much to fill in the gaps. I knew exactly what she was going through. I’d been there plenty of times myself. “A little too much at times? And you’d rather they left you alone unless you directly asked for their help?”
“Yes! That’s exactly it. I love them, I really do, but when Mum and Dad get all overprotective like that, I can hardly breathe.”
I laughed, both at the absurdity of the situation, and at how easily me and Meg connected.
It bought my thoughts back to my earlier internal debate, when I’d realised one of the reasons I liked Meg so much was because of how she just ‘got’ me.
I would have never dreamed of telling any of the girls I’d slept with how overwhelmed by my life, and people’s interference in it, I got sometimes. Aside from not wanting to show any glimpse of weakness that would shatter the illusion of who they thought I was, it would have been just too damn difficult.
With Megan the words flowed from my mouth easily, because I knew there’d be no judgement at the end of them. “I know what it’s like. My parents were just as bad when I was in the ICU. You know my mum suggested I move back in with them for a while too?”
“It’s insane. You’d think by the way they went on when we lived with them they’d be glad to see the back of us. Suddenly, the moment we move out, they want to treat us like babies again. Promise me we’ll never be that overprotective with Ella?”
The cloud that’d hung in the air earlier evaporated, and I smiled. “Are you kidding me? Our little girl isn’t leaving the house alone until she’s at least twenty-five.”
Megan laughed, and something inside me flared to life. It was so good seeing the colour return to her cheeks, and hear the pressure lift from her voice.
“Oh yeah, I forgot, tough guy Daddy doesn’t want our daughter having a boyfriend or anything.”
“Damn right. What if she meets someone like me?”
“She could do a lot worse.”
The words hung in the air and my fingers paused.
Damn it, I’d done it again.
Unconsciously, I’d slipped into the role of protective boyfriend. I hadn’t even been aware I was doing it, it’d felt that natural.
But Megan had obviously noticed.
With the gestational hypertension the last thing she needed was me stressing her out with my indecisiveness. I knew, for the sanity of both of us, I had to get away and think about what I really wanted.
“I should be getting off too.”
“Yeah, I should probably try and get some sleep. I’ll call you in the morning after I’ve spoken with Doctor Stone.” I picked up on how flat her voice sounded.
I really needed to put some space between us before I did any more damage.
I jumped down off the bed, and threw on my jacket. “Okay, I’ll speak to you tomorrow.”
Not daring to look back, I left the room, and made my way outside and back to my car.
It was just starting to get dark when I got home, and my stomach rumbled. I hadn’t eaten since that morning. Knowing I’d need to get back into shape if I bought into the gym, I decided against takeout, and cooked an omelette instead. When I’d finished eating and had cleaned up, I flicked on the telly and turned to something random, just to give the room some background noise. Even though I needed to think, silence would drive me insane.
Tuning out the comedy panel show that was on, I thought about what was happening between Megan and me.
Her words from our last argument played in my mind: I can’t keep pretending like we’re a couple when we’re not.
I hadn’t noticed it fully until earlier, but somewhere during the course of the pregnancy we’d gone from two people having a baby together to practically a couple.
We were always touching when together, hung out or chatted on the phone virtually every day, and I could confide in Megan like I could no one else.
Everything you’d expect to find in a relationship.
I knew, given the chance, the physical side would be there too. We’d connected on the night we’d met, and since then my attraction to her had only grown.
It was more than just sex though. I could get that any time I wanted. I was sick of meaningless encounters. For the first time in my life, I wanted to other stuff. The real stuff.
Then take a chance, a voice in my head demanded.
I closed my eyes and let myself picture what it’d be like to be with Megan.
Not that much would actually change from how it was … I knew Megan wasn’t the type to become obsessive and want to spend every waking minute with me. She wouldn’t suddenly want to move in, get married and live happily ever after, either.
She knew what being with me would entail. She understood the ups and downs of me going through therapy, and my professional life taking a new direction.
I hadn’t forgotten what she’d said to me in hospital when she’d confessed her feelings for me:
“I know exactly who you are. I know that a lot of the time you let your anger get the better of you. I know that you act first and think later. I know you like to be in control, and get you own way. I know all this, and I don’t care, because you’re also passionate, and stand up for what you believe in. You’re determined, and always striving to do your best. You’re loyal, and considerate. You know you’ve got faults, but you’re getting help with your problems.”
She’d seen me at my worst, she knew what I was capable of and she’d seen through the façade I showed the world. She saw the real me, and instead of being horrified, she still cared about me. Still wanted me.
Wasn’t that exactly what I wanted?
Yes, but think of the risks, another voice in my head argued. You’re too selfish to make this work. Sooner or later you’ll get bored, or you’ll lose your temper, or you’ll fuck up in some other way, because you always do. A leopard doesn’t change its spots.
No, I argued back. But leopards can be domesticated. People can change their behaviour.
I’d come too close to losing Megan today, and I hadn’t forgotten Ollie’s warning about her eventually moving on. No matter what I did, I risked losing her. But at least if I gave our relationship a chance, there was the slightest possibility we’d work out.