With no further delay; Here is chapter four.
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Determined to see her through everything, I grit my teeth. The pain she’s in resonates in me and although she’s admitted to needing my help, she still keeps me at a distance. I keep trying not to step over her boundaries, but it’s difficult when all I want to do is grab her, kiss her and make everything better. Emma is hurting and she will be for a long time, but I still can’t stop myself from thinking she’s free. Now is the time for me to try my luck and charm my way into her life. But, the moment I allow myself to go there is the same moment I’m ashamed for even considering it. The poor girl lost her boyfriend. Her long-term lover. The one she wanted to grow old with. And here I am, wanting to get in her pants. I’m disgusted with myself and take a moment to gather my thoughts. I have to be so much better than this. I want to be there for her and I’ve got to make sure she comes out the other end still alive and breathing. Being what she needs and wants right now is more important than anything, even if it means burying all of the feelings I have for her already. I can wait. I have to wait. I’ll wait forever for this girl. I still remember the first time I saw her at a show. By then, the tours we did in the US were getting large, but we were still relatively unknown in Europe. We had started out at small venues holding no more than 2-300 people. Most of them were fans that had come to the US to see us before, or the ones we chatted with online. This time we were in London, and this girl, she was new. She was wearing a silly shirt with our band’s name pasted all over it in neon colors, hard to miss in the lights from stage. She was small, but not tiny. Her hair was so long, flowing in the gentle breeze from the fans blowing under the stage. It was the color of dark chocolate. She had green eyes so big you could mistake them for the brightest star. She wasn’t skinny, nor was she fat, but she had curves. Oh man, those were some beautiful curves. It was the neon shirt that caught my attention initially, but the bright green eyes were the features that made me spend most of my time during that gig right in front of her. I remember flirting viciously with her, and I remember her blushing as I did. We weren’t huge back then, our band, not in Europe. Because we considered our fans to be the number one reason we got to play anywhere, we always used to take some time outside the venue after every show to meet the fans. We still do it, but it’s getting scarier by the day. There are a lot of crazies out there. But anyway, this evening there weren’t all that many people there. I hadn’t forgotten about this girl as I went outside and I remember I was hoping for her to be there. I guess I can thank my lucky stars, because there she was, right in the middle of the street, with her friends. I had some girls come running after me. There were always a few. But this one, she saw me and smiled, but didn’t move. I knew in that very moment that this one was different. Working through the few people there, I was signing stuff, taking pictures and saying thanks for coming. But, all I wanted to do was to talk to her. I finally got to her little group and started shaking hands, introducing myself. I was purposely trying my best to keep my cool. I mean, it wouldn’t look good for a supposed rock star to single out one lady. Weren’t we supposed to have one on each arm, and then a few more…? So, when I finally got to take her hand, I shook it gently and said my name. She was a little shy, I could tell, but she squeezed my hand and told me how much she had enjoyed the show; and then went on to say “You’re so sexy!”
I laughed out loud as she slapped her hand over her mouth. ”
Oh God, I said that out loud, didn’t I?” She asked, as her face went a little pale.
I just grabbed her and pulled her in for a hug, hiding her face to give her some time to recover, all the while letting the rumbles in my chest tell her that I didn’t mind. When I let her go, I immediately asked the other three if they wanted hugs too. It was for no other reason than to hide my interest in her. So, we all hugged and took a few pictures. When it was her time for a photo, I got a little bit closer than usual, just enough that I could tuck her head underneath my chin, and smiled straight into the camera knowing she’d probably want bragging rights for later. Let her brag all she wants, I thought. I want to see this one again. I left them scrolling through the images they had taken and walked inside to talk to Mac. I asked him to get her number, too, but he came back empty-handed.
“She said she has a boyfriend,” Mac explained.
I remember pulling my hair, kicking myself for always wanting what I couldn’t have.
A quiet sob brought me back to reality. Emma was crying again. I stuck my hand in my pocket and pulled out a clean hankie and handed it to her. She didn’t look up until I touched her knee, but when she did, I saw the utter despair on her face. She took the hankie, neatly unfolded it and hid her entire face in it. Her shoulders were shaking, and I felt a surge of pain rushing through me. I really didn’t want her to feel like this. I put my arms around her and held her until the sobs subsided. We were heading straight to the hospital. I asked her earlier if she wanted to stop by her place, but she shook her head vigorously, as if that would be hell to bear for her. I understood her. That place was theirs, and Tom wasn’t there anymore. So, to the hospital it was. It felt weird to me to take her to see her family. Well, his family. But still, this was her home turf and I knew nothing about it. I could easily let my imagination run away with me, but the only things we had in common at this point were concerts and music. Pulling up to the entrance I wasn’t sure what to do, or even what she would want me to do. Sophia was out the door surprisingly quick and Jack headed out after her, leaving me with Emma. I leaned over to her, careful not to touch her, and asked: “Do you want me to walk you in?”
She looked up, her eyes red from crying, and said; “No. I have to do this on my own. You should get back out on the road.”
Scared out of my mind that this would be it, I protested. “No, I will be here for you. Jack and I agreed. So, when you want to go, we’ll be here.”
She gave me a crooked smile and stepped out of the car.
The main entrance to the hospital was bright, so bright it took some time for my eyes to adjust. Sophia and Jack had already walked up to the door and were chatting quietly. She looked at me as I started walking and said something to Jack. He just nodded and she came my way. Linking her elbow into mine, we walked through the door leaving the guys outside.
“They’ll be here, waiting,” she said to me, but I wasn’t really listening anymore. Deacon, Tom’s father, was standing in the middle of the reception area and opened his arms wide when he saw me. He looked so much older than last time I saw him. I ran over and crashed into him. This man had been my dad for all intents and purposes since around the time Tom and I started dating. He was my mentor, someone I looked up to and trusted, and he loved me like he loved his own kids. I clung to him and we both cried for a long time. He eventually cleared his throat and asked, “Do you want to see him?” I answered him honestly.
“I don’t know.” T
he thought of seeing Tom in a hospital bed, even had he been alive, was scary. The idea of seeing him there, dead, was downright terrifying.
“I don’t know if I can handle it.”
Deacon took my shoulders in his big hands and looked at me.
“He looks good,” he said. “It’s like he’s asleep. But he feels different to touch…”
His voice cracked a little saying that and I understood how difficult that must have been for him. His only son was dead.
“Can I go in alone?”
“Yes, darling, you absolutely can.”
I took three big breaths, trying to steady myself, and then pushed the door open. The doctor had told me what to expect, but words are just that; words. I could have never been prepared for what I saw. It was Tom alright, but also not Tom. Taking a few steps closer, I could see his face and it looked okay. The entire right side of his face was covered in a bandage so I couldn’t see, but the rest of it was as beautiful as I remembered. I stopped when my thighs hit the edge of the bed. Looking down, Tom’s hands were folded neatly over his chest. His skin had a strange, sickly color to it and I felt nauseous. I closed my eyes to breathe only to discover there was an odd, metallic scent in the room. I had no idea what to do. What do people do when they see their loved ones dead on a bed? But, I knew this was it. I would never see him again. Never touch him. I would never be able to feel his love and his warm body next to me. I felt completely lost and alone, so I crawled up onto the bed and laid down next to him, resting my head on my arm. I was startled by his cold skin as it touched mine. I hadn’t thought he’d be cold. I raised my hand to touch him and it was the weirdest thing. His skin was cold and dry. And dead. His hair, that used to do whatever it wanted, was combed back. It was strange and it made me angry, so I put my hand in it and tousled it up. Something was still off, though. It didn’t feel the way it used to, and it wouldn’t move like it always did. It was stiff and unfamiliar. I laid my head down to rest on his shoulder. He was cold. Cold, and hard. This, I realized, just wasn’t Tom anymore. This was just a body, and that thought alone broke me completely. My tears fell by the bucket loads. I couldn’t stop myself, but held onto this body for dear life while I got everything out…stroking his chest, brushing my fingers against his facial features, touching every little bit of him visible over the sheets; memorizing what I could. This wasn’t fair. He wasn’t supposed to go. I knew that I still needed him desperately and that feeling made me nauseous. I don’t know how long I stayed there, but slowly becoming aware of the room around me, I felt I needed to get out of there. I was probably not the only one who wanted to say goodbye. I sat up and got off of the bed. I turned towards Tom and took everything in.
“I love you,” I whispered.
Then I turned and walked away.
The next couple of days I was cooped up in a hotel room courtesy of Parker. It meant the world to me that he would do that for me, but I couldn’t stay for long. I didn’t want to depend on him. He and Jack had a room next door. I kept on nagging them about touring, but I couldn’t seem to get through to them. How could I get across to them how important it was to me that they continued to play gigs, when talking about it gave about as many answers as talking to a brick wall. They just couldn’t get it through their thick heads that if anything bad happened to Dangerous, it would be the worst that could happen; at least to me. This morning had been particularly tough on me as I had a dream about Tom, and I wasn’t quite able to shake it. He had been carrying me around in the woods. There were strange trees with no leaves and the ground was black and wet. We were both naked, cold and alone with each other; not a sound, no animals or people, not even a gust of wind. Just silence. And him. And he’d been taking care of me. I couldn’t let the feeling go and it felt like Tom was still around, so the pain kept hitting my chest. I showered, got dressed and walked over to the next room where I knocked twice. It took a few moments, but Parker opened the door and asked me in.
“No,” I said. “I’m thinking of going home for a bit, but I don’t want to go by myself.”
I bit my thumbnail, too embarrassed to look at him.
“Give me two minutes and I’ll go with you.” Parker said.
I could have kissed him for saying that. Going home scared me like nothing else and going alone was not something I wanted to do. I had thought about calling Sophia but I really didn’t want to bother her, plus the fact that I couldn’t bear to see the pity on her face. Having her feel sorry for me was more than I could handle right now. I lingered in the hallway, not wanting to get too close, but he left the door open; so, when he pulled his shirt over his head to change it, I was staring at a perfectly ripped chest.
“Jeez,” I muttered, more to myself than anyone.
“What?” he said, as he was tucking his shirt into his jeans.
I didn’t bother to reply, but turned and started walking towards the elevator. He came running just as the doors opened and we stepped in. Alone in the elevator, he didn’t say anything, just pulled me in and held me. The move was so sweet I felt my chest tighten. “I’m scared,” I whispered to him.
He said: “I know. But, I’m here.”
I believed him. Parker was a stranger, but I trusted him completely. He would be there when I needed him. The danger was that I might need him too much, and that scared me. We caught a cab in the street and I gave the address. We rode in silence. I didn’t know what to say anyway, so it was okay. It felt good, even to just sit there in silence with someone. We so rarely do that anymore, just enjoy quiet time together. As we pulled up, I felt cold inside. Parker took care of the cabby and I owed him once again, because all I could do was stand there and look up to the windows in our apartment. One window was slightly open. I guess Tom had forgotten to close it. The lights were left on. Typical Tom. My hands were shaking as I pulled the keys out of my purse. The tiny pink teddy bear that Tom bought me when we got the apartment was dangling from it. I wobbled as I stepped up to the main door and pushed it open. I did not know whether I would be able to actually climb the two flights of stairs to our door. It took forever to get up there. Every step had a memory attached to it. The first one was where Tom had sat me down one night after we’d been out late and I had been too drunk to walk. He’d turned me around and kissed me right there. The third one was where he’d leave while shutting the door behind him, making sure it was locked at night. The chip in the tile on step number six was there because he dropped a hammer out of his back pocket while carrying furniture the day we moved in. I could tell a story about every step and I remembered all of them as I walked. I reached our floor and stopped dead in front of the door, fiddling with the keys. When Parker put his hand on my shoulder, he spooked me. I realized that I had forgotten he was still there.
“Do you want me to open it?”
He pointed at the door. All I could do was nod and watch him as he took the keys out of my hands. He unlocked the door and opened it slowly before taking a couple of steps back. I guess he didn’t want to go inside before me. I took a deep breath, bracing myself, and walked inside. I walked straight into the living room. I didn’t have the courage to look around quite yet, so I headed for the open window so I could close it. It was almost as if I needed to busy myself so the pain wouldn’t catch up. My fingers graced the curtain before I slowly turned and looked around. It was still home. A very quiet and very strange place, but home. There was the picture of Tom and his family. There was the blanket I always had on my lap in the evening, thrown over the sofa where I left it. There was Tom’s PlayStation, not even shut down. Everything as usual. But, there was no Tom. He’d left half a pizza out on the table, as if meaning to eat it later. How was he to know later would never come. I picked it up and folded it into the trash.
“What can I do?” Parker asked.
I didn’t have an answer for him, so I just pointed at the couch.
“Just sit there.”
I wasn’t sure if I could handle being here alone right away, and having him there took off a lot of that burden.
“Just be here?” I asked him while hugging myself.
He took off his jacket and sat down, got comfy in my favorite part of the couch and actually looked like he belonged. The pain in my stomach was back again as I followed that trail of thought. What the hell was I thinking? Tom hadn’t even been gone for a day. I felt sore and raw everywhere, but I’m thinking of another man? I slapped myself internally and started checking the rooms. The bathroom was normal, laundry on the floor, but Tom had emptied out the washer and dryer and folded everything. I picked up the clothes and walked over to the bedroom. The covers were a mess, as always. I smiled at the thought of Tom getting up, throwing everything over me and then me having to dig my way out of a huge pile of pillows and covers. His clothes were on the floor. I dropped the laundry I was carrying onto the bed and went to pick up his clothes. His favorite t-shirt, the one I had bought him at a Dangerous show, was on top of the pile. I lifted it to my face and pulled in his scent. My knees buckled and I sunk down to the floor, laying myself on top of his clothes, digging my hands into what I could get a hold of. The tears were streaming again as that familiar scent surrounded me. This was going to be so hard. Not knowing what to do, I pushed everything and everyone out of my mind, leaving room for Tom only as I laid there, on the floor, crying. It took a few minutes for me to come to my senses enough to know that I wasn’t alone anymore. There was a hand on my back, gently stroking my hair, and tissues in hand ready when I needed them. And silence. It was like he instinctively knew what I needed at all times. The strokes on my back, knowing I wouldn’t want him to hold me right now, tissues for wiping the tears off my face, and the silence I so appreciated. How could he know I desperately wanted company without having to explain myself or talk about it?
But he knew, he just knew.
“Love Comes Twice” is set for release 04.30.17.
Available for preorder now, on iBooks and Barnes and Noble.