Love & Loss (The Austin Series)

By: C.J. Fallowfield

Broken



I’d been huddled up against the cold of the brick wall of the car park, feeling it pressing into my flesh as I tried to make myself move as far away from whatever was happening in front of me. The last I’d remembered seeing was a fist flying towards Gabe’s jaw and for a few seconds I’d keep my eyes tightly shut feeling terrified, then something inside me had snapped, someone was hurting Gabe. My body switched off from flight mode and automatically kicked into fight mode, ready to help protect him from whoever it was trying to hurt him. I clenched my fists in anticipation and opened my eyes and gasped in shock when I saw who his attacker was, and just froze to the spot.

‘Mia … Mia … MIA,’ came the voice. I took a moment to take in the sight in front of me. Gabe was lying face down on the floor motionless and Doug was on top of him, holding him in some sort of vice like martial arts grip.

‘Doug?’ I uttered, confused.

‘Are you ok Mia? Did he hurt you?’

‘Only my arms where he … he gripped me too … tightly,’ I stuttered, still in shock, while relief flooded my body to realise that Gabe was ok, my fears that someone was trying to hurt him had been unfounded. It seemed that Doug had simply stepped in to protect me and to stop his best friend from doing any more damage.

‘You’re sure?’ he asked and I nodded as I folded my arms across my chest, my hands still shaking. ‘Mia is Lexi upstairs?’

‘Yes.’

‘Ok, then I want you to go up and deadbolt yourself in with her just in case ok? I think it’s best I take him back to his to cool down, but in case he gets away from me, I don’t want to risk him doing something stupid if he comes back here to try and see you. Promise me if he comes you’ll ring the police and not let him in?’

‘Doug you’re bleeding,’ I exclaimed as I realised he had a split lip.

‘I’ll be fine Mia. Trust me, the two of us have had worse tussles than this over the years, please I want you to go and do as I ask. I’ll be fine and I’ll look after him for you. I’ll call later if I can ok?’

‘I just don’t know what’s wrong with him Doug.’ I could feel my bottom lip wobbling as tears threatened to come.

‘Me neither but it ends now. I’m just so sorry I didn’t step in before, I knew he was off his game, but this ….’ Doug shook his head and let out a heavy sigh. ‘Please Mia, I need you to go, he’s still a bit stunned from a second punch to the jaw, but I don’t want to risk you being in the way if he snaps out of it still furious, he’d never forgive himself if he hurt you.’

‘Promise me you’ll be careful Doug?’

‘I will.’

‘Thank you,’ I sobbed, as the enormity of what was going on hit me. I’d tried to push my fears of Gabe’s changing behaviour to the back of my mind, but I couldn’t anymore. Even his best friend knew he was broken somewhere deep inside.

‘O shit you’re crying. I’m crap with emosh babes. Go and see your best friend and let me sort out mine ok?’

‘Is he badly hurt?’

‘He’ll be fine, I’ve seen him more banged up than this. Please Mia, I need you to go.’

‘Ok,’ I nodded and gave him a grateful smile as I wiped my face again. I gingerly stepped around them, then hesitated and crouched by Gabe’s head. I kissed my fingers and pressed them to his lips and heard him moan my name as his eyelids flickered. ‘Don’t worry, I still love you Gabe,’ I whispered as I gently ran my fingers through his hair. I quickly stood and kissed Doug on the top of his head and ran as fast as I could to the front entrance. Somehow I made it up the stairs and dead bolted the front door, just as Doug had asked.

I leaned back on it, dropped my bag to the wooden floor with a clatter and slid down into a puddle on the hall floor and let out a howl of frustration as my whole body started shaking. Lexi came running out of the lounge and sank to the floor next to me, pulling me into her arms, holding me as I completely let go and went to pieces on her.

What had just happened? That wasn’t my doting caring Gabe. I was scared, so scared from what had just happened, scared of what might happen to Doug if Gabe lost it again, scared that Gabe and I might actually be over, but most of all I was scared that my man was actually so broken that no one would be able to fix him, not even me. I also never wanted to feel that vulnerable again, I decided I was definitely taking up those self-defence classes that he’d been hammering on about for weeks.

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