Abbotts · Walker and Jasmine

Walker

I grab a bottle of bourbon and give myself a healthy pour.

I’m such an asshole.

I stare out the window blindly, annoyed at the sunshine. I want the weather to match my mood. It’s far more beautiful outside than I deserve.

This is an awful idea. I can’t seriously be contemplating living this lie. I’ll never get away with it. Eventually she’ll hate me. Again.

Hate me still.

I rub my temple almost welcoming the headache coming on.

It’s an awful idea. Truly depraved but the alternative is also unthinkable. At least to me and my selfish impulses.

My best friend Derek enters my home office.

“You look like hell.”

I grimace. I’m sure that’s true.

“She’s home?”

I nod. “She’s resting upstairs.”

He stands beside me in front of the bar cart and pours himself a drink. He clinks our glasses together. “Thank God she’s okay, man.”

I stay silent. There’s a million things I want to confess, to unload, but my thoughts are a jumbled mess. It’s my fault. All of it.

It’s my fault.

Derek moves to sit in one of the leather wing chairs behind me. “What did the doctor say?”

“She’s lucky. Fairly minor injuries overall. But they don’t know if her memory will return.”

“She doesn’t remember anything?”

I turn to face him. “No. Nothing. Me. Us. She didn’t even remember her own name.”

“That’s some crazy soap opera shit, bro.”

I chuckle. Derek is one of the few people capable of making me laugh. “Seriously. It’s all a bit surreal.”

I hear her coming. My wife.

She pauses just inside the door.

God she’s beautiful. From the first moment I saw her I’ve been obsessed.

It’s been a real problem.

I don’t know how to handle the emotions she stirs in me, but I know I’ve been doing a piss-poor job at it so far.

Her wide golden eyes are hesitant and vulnerable as she looks between Derek and I.

“Sorry, I didn’t know you had company.”

“Company? Jazzy, I’m insulted. I’m practically family,” Derek immediately reverts to their affectionate and teasing relationship.

She blushes, clearly uncertain. “I’m sorry. I didn’t realize.”

I move to her side and place a hand lightly against the small of her back, attempting to reassure her. I feel her shiver under my fingers.

“Ignore him. He’s incapable of taking anything seriously.” I glare at Derek, warning him without words. “This is Derek. Unfortunately, you’ll probably see him around a lot.”

Derek grins at her, not looking at all contrite. “I’ve been hanging around Walker’s place since we were just kids in diapers.” He stands and gives her a quick hug. “Glad you’re okay, sweetheart.”

“My best friend,” I explain. “I apologize in advance.”

Jasmine laughs, her body relaxing next to mine. “So, we’ve probably met before then?”

“Many times,” Derek confirms. “I was the best man at the wedding after all.”

“You were?”

I interrupt before this goes too far down a direction I’m not prepared to deal with. “Did you need something, Jasmine?”

“I was wondering if you were going to be free this weekend…if you wanted to explore the city. Go back to places that mean something to me, maybe it will help….”

I smile gently, trying to hide my dread at this idea. “Of course.”

She exhales in relief, her smile widening and turns more confidently back to Derek. “You’re staying for dinner, I’m assuming?”

“See? You remember me just right.”

She laughs again, kisses me quickly on the cheek and excuses herself.

I watch her leave the room, absently touching the skin she just kissed, already wondering how I’ll get through an entire day in her company.

“Soooooo. I take it the divorce is on hold?” Derek’s words are like a slap to my face.

Stubbornly I just glare at him. I feel sick.

Undaunted, other men cower under this look, Derek just raises his eyebrows and waits patiently for my response.

She doesn’t remember she wants one,” I admit, silently cursing myself.

“And you’re not going to remind her.” It’s not a question.

I groan. Restless I begin pacing the room, prowling. Can I really do this to her?

But can I let her go either?

“I’m sure I should. I”m sure that’s what Seth would do.” I spit the name with venom.

“Who the fuck cares what that guy would do? She’s your wife.”

Distracted, I pause again staring sightlessly out the window. I throw back my remaining bourbon and admit, “She’s pregnant.”

I almost delight in the shock on his face as he stares back at me. It’s rare the Derek is at a loss for words or some smart ass comment.

“Should I offer congratulations?” he finally asks.

“No,” I tell him, pain ripping through my gut. I pour myself another drink. “You should save those for the father.”

Derek curses. I feel like someone is squeezing my throat, slowly suffocating me.

“I take it she doesn’t remember that either?”

“She knows she’s pregnant. They told us at the hospital after her accident. She just assumes I’m the father.”

“But you know you’re not?”

“I’m not.”

“How far along is she?”

“The doctor said six weeks.”

“And you two… you haven’t…?”

“Been sleeping together?” I finish his thought. “No. Not for months.”

“Not at all?” Derek is being a persistent bastard. I’m not exactly proud of the state of my marriage. Especially when I know it’s largely my fault.

Angry now, I jam one hand through my hair. Annoyed by everything, I snap at him. “Once. Okay? Once in the last four months.”

“So you could be,” he insists.

I glare at him in disbelief.

“Well,” he shrugs feebly.

“No,” I tell him, my voice firm. “No. I’m not.” I top off Derek’s glass. No point in drinking alone. Not when there is someone to join my misery.

“Look, I know I’m probably going to sound like a bastard for even suggesting this, but…”

“But?” I prompt when he trails off.

“Maybe…maybe this isn’t such a bad thing. Her not remembering. I mean, she’s safe. The baby is safe. Maybe this could be like a second chance for the two of you.”

I snort. “You think that hasn’t occurred to me? I already browbeat her best friend into keeping quiet.”

“Well then?”

“God, I’m the bastard.” I run another hand through my hair in agitation. “Can I really do this to her?”

The truth is, I want a second chance. I want a chance to fix all the mistakes I’ve made. I don’t want to live without her. I’m just not sure how to live with her, to make her happy. Or if I even deserve that after everything that’s happened.

“Do what exactly? All’s fair in love and war and all that shit,” Derek mumbles into the last of his bourbon.

I sigh, looking at him helplessly.

And which one would this be precisely?