Grazed Knees by TheSouthernScribe
Summary:

 

*Repost*

 

Sydney Lane and Lincoln Dunn were reluctant best friends during their high school years who willingly became the love of each other's lives. Too bad the realization came after promises and vows made to others. Will they choose to right their wrong?

 

A five part fic loosely based on Snow Patrol's song, Grazed Knees


Categories: Original Fiction Characters: Original Character(s)
Classification: General
Genre: Comedy , Drama, Family, Friendship, Romance
Story Status: None
Pairings: Male/Female
Warnings: Adult Situations, Dark Fic, Extreme Language, Original Characters, Sexual Content
Challenges: None
Series: None
Chapters: 6 Completed: Yes Word count: 5995 Read: 12589 Published: 06/12/11 Updated: 06/12/11
Story Notes:

Yes...

I'm reposting this story in honor of a reader request. No real changes...just a little clean up as I convert it from PDF to Word. If you read it before, thank you. Read again if you like.

1. The Cast of Characters by TheSouthernScribe

2. I. May I Have This Dance by TheSouthernScribe

3. II. Dealing Pt. 1 - Linc's POV by TheSouthernScribe

4. III. Dealing Pt. 2 - Sydney's POV by TheSouthernScribe

5. IV. Complications by TheSouthernScribe

6. V. Strength, Courage, and Wisdom by TheSouthernScribe

The Cast of Characters by TheSouthernScribe
Author's Notes:

The folks you need to know...


I. May I Have This Dance by TheSouthernScribe
Author's Notes:

Your introduction to Sydney

The magic of first love is our ignorance that it can ever end. ~ Benjamin Disraeli

 

~`~

 

First loves...

 

Love period... the mess is scarier than Freddy Krueger, Jason Voorhees, and Norman Bates all jumping out of your closet at the same time and yelling, "Surprise." Better yet it's twice as frightening as the fear that wraps around your heart, constricts your lungs, and causes your stomach to flip the hell out while you're waiting on the plus or minus to appear on that Clearblue Easy stick. Whatever the case may be I still can't explain the meaning behind the dirtiest four letter word in the English language. After four years of college and three years of graduate school, I can break down the three and if you're picky the five Greek derivatives of love; passion, friendship, affection, desire, and divine love. Even with that knowledge and in spite of the websites, poems, and dissertations written on the subject, I can't find the words to properly relay the range of emotions I felt when my eyes met his and the first pit to the patter of my heart when I realized it wasn't like or lust, but that straight up bullshit called love.

 

I met Lincoln Dunn when I was fourteen years old. Long before the fat rolls turned into voluptuous curves and the B cups morphed to double Ds.

 

He was a smartass.

 

The class clown capable of making every teacher who engaged him in a round of verbal judo feel like the idiots they so obviously were.

 

We met during the second semester of our freshman year.

 

We were both enrolled in Mrs. Shards Basic Improvisation Class at the Gershwin School for the Performing Arts. Shards was the one and only teacher he didn't test, and I was never sure if it had something to do with the massive crush he had on the woman or the Swiss Army knife she kept on her key ring.

 

Regardless, I got stuck with Lincoln as my partner, and I bore the brunt of all his insults from 8:45 am to 10:15 am Monday thru Friday. I hated the prick and it had nothing to do with the various ways he called me fat in front of his crowd of friends and everything to do with that lopsided grin and wink he reserved just for me when we were sitting Indian style on the stage and working our way through a scene.

 

I fell hard and I haven't hit the ground yet. Sixteen years have passed and my heart still does a funky staccato beat, every time Lincoln enters a room. My mouth goes dry when he says my name or allows his eyes to drift in my direction. My breath escapes my lungs when I feel his fingers stroke the palm of my hand. It's wrong how my knees go weak when we kiss because my heart should belong only to him.

 

~`~

 

Perfection...

 

It's a term I only associate with Sydney Lane. The smooth opalescent skin that compelled me to touch her the first day we officially met. And that's not counting the entire semester before, where I stared at her like a perverted stalker in shadowy corners around the school. The girl's voice sent chills down my spine when she sung the scales in an attempt to warm up before a performance.

 

It's been almost two months since our last meeting. Not since my trip to Chicago and the big stand - up show at Second City. Life has kept both of us busy. I just wrapped a movie. She's been on the road; stages in New Orleans, San Francisco, and New York have held her captive for months on end.

 

Still, I find time, just for Syd every single day.

 

The CD shuffling through the playlist on my iPod is the one that she won four Grammys for in 2010.

 

There's a character in the screenplay I wrote who reminds me so much of...I'm doing it again, making myself sick over the past and regrets I can never amend. If I would have been honest sooner, given up on all the damn winking and smirking and just told her how I felt. Things would be different. Instead I sustain myself daily with memories.

 

The kisses, the ones we claimed were just for practice.

 

The first sexual encounter we shared, just so we could say our virginities were a thing of the past.

 

The day she left town to finally follow her dreams and the punk I let myself be, by remaining silent and never saying, "Sydney, I love you."

 

Shit, sixteen years is a long assed time to let a broad lead you around by your dick; especially when the woman doing the leading is not her.

 

Listening to Sydney now, at home on the stage in a smoky bar, I'm reminded of the past, our past. She sings of being lost, and desiring to be found by love. It's a plea I've heard too many times to count. She told me once she wrote the song for me, years ago; when she thought I was ignoring the lovelorn looks she tossed at me in a hapless attempt to gain a sliver of my affections. There was no ignorance on my part, just a slow build to the courage that never came and the cowardice that sent me down the aisle and into the arms of another woman.

 

The set ends and I anticipate my friend taking the seat across from me. She never answers the call for an encore, except tonight she does. The lights dim and I'm stunned by the simplicity of her beauty when one spotlight shines on Syd, and she begins to sing. An imaginary fist clenches around my heart with the first lyric. It's a classic, one she once sung when we were near strangers. At the time it was a prophetic declaration, promises to love an imaginary man come rain or come shine.

 

I had hoped to be the man; the bastard lucky enough to own Sydney Lane's vow to be with that man always, regardless of the weather, economic standings, or bitter betrayals that may hang between them.

 

One swallow was all it took to finish my drink and in that time, she bowed gracefully, accepted the love offered from the crowd, and snaked a path to my table.

 

"Linc."

 

Rich velvet encased my ears when she spoke my name.

 

"Syd."

 

And so the dance began.

II. Dealing Pt. 1 - Linc's POV by TheSouthernScribe
Author's Notes:

Inspiration: Dealing

Have you ever been in love? Horrible isn't it? It makes you so vulnerable. It opens your chest and it opens up your heart and it means that someone can get inside you and mess you up. You build up all these defenses, you build up a whole suit of armor, so that nothing can hurt you, then one stupid person, no different from any other stupid person, wanders into your stupid life...You give them a piece of you. They didn't ask for it. They did something dumb one day, like kiss you or smile at you, and then your life isn't your own anymore. Love takes hostages. It gets inside you. It eats you out

and leaves you crying in the darkness, so simple a phrase like 'maybe we should be just friends' turns into a glass splinter working its way into your heart. It hurts. Not just in the imagination. Not just in the mind. It's a soul-hurt, a real gets-inside-you-and-rips-you-apart pain. I hate love. ~ Neil Gaiman

 

~`~

 

"I don't want anything from you."

 

Those words...a simple statement from Sydney Lane's lips freed me from years of

shenanigans and pubescent beliefs about who I needed to be in order to gain acceptance. Gone was the compulsion to sustain the insatiable appetites of my friends by stealing bottles of liquor from my father's well stocked bar.

 

"I don't want anything from you."

 

She had uttered the phrase when I tried to force an invitation to my infamous New Years' bash in the palm of Syd's outstretched hand. At first, I had taken it as a dismissal. A reminder I was not welcomed in Sydney Lane's precious inner circle and then she elaborated.

 

"You run around here like Al Jolson in black face." Syd's eyes were cold as she spoke, "Smile stretched across your face, while you sing and dance a jig, like some modern day minstrel show."

 

I never told the lovely and talented Ms. Lane I skipped my happy ass to the library right after our exchange and thumbed through the encyclopedia until I found the entertainer she compared me to. It wasn't a compliment, not in the least.

 

She made me think.

 

"You're nothing more than a clown to them, the ass of their jokes, the idiot who brings them free booze and begs for their friendship, it's pathetic, sickening, and a little bit sad."

 

She crushed a part of my spirit that day, but over time she slowly repaired the damage she had done. Restoration came in the hand gripping mine and pulling me from the circle of degenerates who hung in my corner of the cafeteria. We sat in the middle of the school's cobblestone court, bundled in wool jackets, gloves, with cable knit beanies on top of our heads, while we nibbled on peanut butter and honey sandwiches she made in morning before she hopped the train and rode into the city. We talked about things I could never reveal to the brat pack. My love for all things Motown, the stacks of spiral bound notebooks holding the jokes I had written, and outlines for one man stage shows and larger than life movie ideas. She listened as I recounted my favorite Depp lines from the previous week's episode of 21 Jumpstreet. She didn't bat an eye, when tears threatened to spill from my eyes when I shared the darkest family secrets my parents' had hoped I had forgotten with every birthday I celebrated.

 

"Just be yourself Lincoln, that's all I want from you."

 

Sixteen years later, those words...a simple statement from Sydney's lips still did things to me, I couldn't quite comprehend. It was never about the sex. Not even when I slipped between those full, voluptuous thighs for the very first time and exploded less than thirty seconds later.

 

There was a memory to be forgotten.

 

With senior year just around the corner, a summer wasted, kissing, hunching, and groping every girl other than Sydney Lane while watching Cinemax after midnight on mute; I decided to take fate into my own hands. I had grabbed a breast, awkwardly jerked my dick in front of my then high school best friend, and swore my pleas to lose my virginity were only for practice...an opportunity to adhere to the status quo.

 

In the end I had Syd convinced the idea would erase our lack of experience and make us prime candidates for bigger and better conquests. Only my excitement won the battle over successfully mimicking every move I had seen on thirteen inch television screen, and my release came without a full pump, and those bigger and better conquests, were replaced with the two week waiting game for Syd's elusive period.

 

Even when I disappointed, when she bit that full bottom lip, rolled those gorgeous brown eyes, and slid from beneath my convulsing frame, she didn't look at me different...not then and especially not now.

 

Sure things had changed.

 

Seconds shifted to minutes which evolved to hours and showing Sydney how I felt went beyond the strokes or dips of my tongue into the undeniable sweetness she possessed. It was in those stolen moments and the silence hanging in the balance just before she climaxed, the most honest words I had ever spoken eased from my lips.

 

"I love you Sydney."

 

I will always love Sydney.

 

I have always loved Sydney.

 

George Harrison penned the tune in 1969; there was something in the way...

 

It had always been about how Sydney made me feel.

 

In Sydney's arms I felt like a king.

 

I was simply me.

 

The knowledge was always confirmed in the ease with which she knew what I was thinking and the soft smile that curved her lip and her answer to the question she didn't have to ask. Substantiation was given by the innocent fingertips that danced along my back and yielded not so blameless thoughts. It was in Syd's tiny hands when they gripped each side of my face, and forced my eyes to the deep brown orbs that held the keys to my soul.

 

"Where are you?"

 

The concern in Sydney's voice pulled me from the past and back to the present. I couldn't answer any question for fear that the guilt would unbridle my tongue and speak for me. I kissed Sydney, in part for distraction, and the other half to erase the distance that fed the gaping hole in my chest.

 

The questions ceased.

 

Doubt dissipated and what remained was only what existed between us.

 

~`~

III. Dealing Pt. 2 - Sydney's POV by TheSouthernScribe
Author's Notes:

Inspiration: Poison and Wine

The cruelest lies are often told in silence. ~ Robert Louis Stevenson

 

~`~

 

I don't love Lincoln.

 

It's the lie I tell myself when the nights lying beside him become more than I can bear. A small four word phrase of comfort to move beyond the regrets from the past...simply never works.

 

I stalk my memories, glimpses from days gone by, playing on repeat before my eyes. The moment when I could have turned around, dropped my bag, and kissed Lincoln like Sandra Bullock in one of her many formulaic romantic comedies. The cold night in September when I walked off a stage in Tennessee, stole the keys to a rental car, drove twelve hours, only to have my nerves get the best of me, two exits from his tree lined suburb in New Jersey.

 

It's a nonsensical journey that never works. It didn't then and I'm sure it won't now.

 

Then referring to the day my phone buzzed and I heard her voice on the line.

 

"Syd we're getting married," I cringed listening to the pretentious British accent mutilate the nickname reserved solely for Lincoln, "Right before Christmas, please come, Lincoln will be beyond the pale if you don't make it to the festivities."

 

Even now I can't comprehend the how or why until the metal on my left ring finger begins to burn. It's always been him.

 

We met on a stormy morning. The sky was a violent shade of gray. Large raindrops strummed an erratic beat against my skin as brown leaves whipped through the air and circled my head. He paused, feeling slightly sympathetic for me and my lack of ability to cope with the uncharacteristic winter thunderstorm. He offered his scarf first and then his coat. We talked about music while I waited outside for the chauffeured Lincoln acquired by the portly concierge at my hotel. He was a composer, a grad school dropout, doomed to produce one hit wonders until success finally graced his doorstep. His head was bald, his skin the color of Hershey's chocolate, and for two seconds I was Sydney and not the girl hopelessly in love with her best friend Lincoln Dunn.

 

He picked apart my first EP, with the ear of an industry elder. He loved the quality of my vocals, hated the production of the tracks, and abhorred the empty lyrics I'd been given to sing. By the time the car arrived I was enamored. Not by the man but with his knowledge. In a week's time he joined me in the studio and I had the beginnings of several tracks that promised to build a healthy foundation for my career. Gratitude led to a moment of abandon and a kiss witnessed by the ruler of my heart.

Things changed that night.

 

Lincoln pulled away and I moved closer to him.

 

For a while I pretended it didn't matter.

 

I masked my sadness at the lack of impromptu phone calls from Lincoln's cell in breathless giggles in response to jokes told for my benefit. I enjoyed evenings at smoky clubs listening to foul mouthed men as they plucked the strings of their bass guitars. I enjoyed the strength in tattooed arms as they twirled me around the small dance floor. I shared my body with a man I could never fully love, because my heart belonged to another.

 

So when I got the call from her, I did the only thing that could soothe the pain in my heart, "Congratulations, I am so happy for you and Lincoln," I lied.

 

That day had been a turning point; my last opportunity to right so many wrongs birthed by my hands.

 

I didn't.

 

I danced with Lincoln for the first time in years on the day of his wedding. I ignored the butterflies in my stomach when his arm circled my waist and pulled me flush against his chest. I let the tears fall with little pomp or circumstance when he whispered in my ear, "I love you Sydney Lane."

 

~`~

 

My fingers tug at the unkempt curls atop Lincoln's head as we kiss. His mind is racing a thousand thoughts per minute. His attentions have been focused somewhere or on someone else for most of the evening, however in spite of the divided consideration, his affections are searing and damn near awe inspiring, setting flames on their path of destruction that will end the so called lives our lies have erected.

 

"I'm sorry."

 

I whisper the words between pants and feverish attempts to rid our bodies of the clothes they bear.

 

"I'm sorry."

 

I repeat them again when his hands cup my face and I see the first salty trail careen its way down his cheek.

 

"I'm sorry."

 

It's an incoherent babble by the time my nails dig into the flesh of his back when his length begs for entrance at my intimate walls. I need him to feel my regret. I need him to understand, that I would always choose...even if the choice was never my own, in the end I only want my heart to belong to Lincoln Dunn.

 

The subsequent tastes of Lincoln's lips are a bittersweet poison, revealing the plan of my demise in each tender tingle ignited by their touch. I know that what we've done in the dark will soon come to light. My body is a traitor and unwilling to hold its silence for a moment longer. The first second of my climax is pure ecstasy before it morphs into unremitting pain.

 

Pleasure always followed by guilt. For now I'll endure the wrath of my judgment. I'm tired of living with the regret, "I love you," his shoulders relax with my admission, "I love you," I repeat and there's an undeniable happiness that radiates from his eyes, "I love you...I always have...I always will."

 

My confession is the very beginning of the end.

 

 

 

IV. Complications by TheSouthernScribe
Author's Notes:

Inspiration: Accidental Babies

Well I know I make you cry...and I know sometimes you want to die...but do you really feel alive without me ~ Accidental Babies - Damien Rice

 

~`~

 

"Pancakes," Lincoln wrapped a hairy arm around my middle and tugged me from the serenity of the only remaining dry portion of the sheets, "We should have pancakes." This side of my best friend, my lover, set every fear within me at ease. Waking up in his arms, was the perfect start of the day, almost as delectable as the taste of said pancakes melting on my tongue.

 

Yes, I missed mornings like these.

 

Nights filled with silly conversations, sharing secrets, and making love until my muscles felt like they would scream. His lips trailed my neck, pausing for a moment of pleasure and his first and second favorite nipples, before he settled on the on the soft flesh of my belly. A coil of fear twined its way around my internal organs and for a brief second I swore I felt a kick. That he could feel that kick. I cursed myself silently for being silly, seven weeks, my baby was the size of a lima bean, a lentil, or a chick pea, there was no way he could tell. I focused on the man determined to hold me hostage in bed for most of the day while torturing me with the idea of a meal prepared by his hands and maybe a few more scintillating sexual encounters.

 

How did I ever...let him go...

 

Lincoln's kisses continued and the discomfort tickled and teased me all the same, "Linc shit... stop that tickles." He continued, splaying his hand across my belly, showering affection that alternated between gentle and aggressive, "Quit it, shit, I'm going to pee."

 

It was only after that confession and my sprint from the bed that he stopped. A round of baritone laughter followed me into the bathroom and Lincoln soon joined me. He rested his six foot three frame against the door and folded his arms across his chest, "What are you going to do watch me pee?"

 

"You're beautiful," His eyes glazed over with unshed tears, "I don't want to lose a moment with you?"

 

I couldn't ignore the sentiment in his voice or the words he refused to speak. I hated this part, the simultaneous guilt and dread. I loved him. I had confessed my feelings aloud the night before and now I was discontented and ready to go back to business as usual.

 

Mistress and wife...

 

Friend and lover...

 

Sinner and saint...

 

During this trip, our time together would be shortened by the arrival of the respective significant others in each of our lives, since they would be attending my show that evening, "Can I just pee alone, I promise not to climb out of the window."

 

My voice cracked and I knew the battle with my tumultuous emotions would soon end. I had yet to suffer from morning sickness, tender breasts, or bizarre cravings. I could however, cry at the drop of a hat and curse the hell out of a cabbie that obviously purchased his license from the web.

 

"When are you going to tell me what's going on with you?"

 

I proceeded with my morning routine. I flushed, started the shower, and moved to the sink to brush my teeth.

 

"Mother Earth is going to put a hit out on your sexy little ass," He grabbed my behind for effect, "For the way you waste water?"

 

I ignored Lincoln, concentrated on my molars, while I sung my scales through a foam filled mouth.

 

"It doesn't go away just because we don't talk about it," He moved behind me and grabbed a section of my locs and began to twist, "I don't want them there..."

 

The final straw landed on my back and I erupted, "Let it go Linc, not now, not ever, we're not talking about it." I pulled his shirt over my head and disappeared behind the beveled glass.

 

When I emerged from my purification, the sheets had been changed, my clothes for the day were folded neatly across the bed, and the scent of vanilla hung heavy in the air. The tears started of their own volition.

 

Pregnant...

 

I remembered the day well; I bought three Clearblue Easy tests, two EPTs, and one of the cheap store brands for a fraction of the cost. I lined them all up on my bathroom counter and read the results one by one. The next day I listened to the nurse at my OB/GYN confirm was six positive test results already told me. Two weeks later I stared at the mass on the ultrasound screen as a technician rolled the wand around my still flat belly and my doctor went on and on about the changes my body and my baby would undergo in the next seven months and twenty - eight days.

 

When I dressed and joined him in his office, Dr. Malik retrieved a calendar from his desk and began his journey backwards in time until he landed on what he believed to be the date of conception. I didn't have to think about it or turn my eyes to the page. I knew it well; it was the last night I had spent with Lincoln. He placed the paper on his desk, sat back in his chair, and released a sigh, "Sydney, I say this as your friend, what the fuck?" Malik was a friend and my favorite neighbor. He kept the best wine chilled and ready to be poured when I came knocking. He listened to my rants and raves, when I came home from the road, and my dalliances with Lincoln. "What are you going to do?"

 

I shook my head, "I don't know."

 

I didn't know then and I sure as hell don't know now.

 

Dressing without crying had become a chore. I swore my jeans were tighter than they were the week before, my bra didn't fit the same, and part of me would rather die, than face the heartache the life inside of me would bring.

 

I grudgingly left the bedroom and tentatively made my way to the kitchen. There was a plate and juice waiting on the counter for me. Lincoln turned to greet me, a smudge of batter on his cheek and I quelled the urge to lick it off his face. His smile was not as bright, his eyes were heavy with worry, and it was then I noticed the cell phone, haphazardly tossed across the room.

 

One phone call coupled with our bathroom disagreement and the mood had changed.

 

"I'm sorry."

 

I know I sounded like a broken record and he didn't respond to my apology immediately.

 

"I have a lot going on inside of my head."

 

The spatula guided by his hand flipped another pancake, encouraging me to continue.

 

"I'm pregnant."

 

His back went straight before the plate in his hand fell to the ground and he closed the distance between us. His face was wet with tears in seconds. I accepted the kisses he offered. I relished the feel of his hands and lips on my belly. My heart clenched and shattered into a thousand pieces when he realized the complications my news added to our lives.

 

It was Lincoln who finally broke the silence between us. He was still on his knees, ear pressed against my stomach, and his hands holding onto me for dear life, "What are we going to do?"

 

I slid to my knees and wrapped my arms around his neck and began to cry, "I don't know."

 

 

 

 

           

V. Strength, Courage, and Wisdom by TheSouthernScribe
Author's Notes:

Inspiration: Fix You

Between men and women there is no friendship possible. There is passion, enmity, worship, love, but no friendship. ~ Oscar Wilde

 

~`~

 

I refused to attend Sydney's wedding.

 

She had been much braver than me, months before, when she entered the glamorous home of my future in - laws a week before Christmas. It was an evening affair, eggnog, music, and drunken socialites intent on sharing inappropriate affections. Many of the women had worn formal gowns in deep, dark colors, but Sydney wore black, and only we knew why. She was effortlessly beautiful in liquid satin that submitted to every curve of the God blessed body she controlled. The crown of russet colored tendrils was elaborately arranged and I had never seen my friend as such a breathtaking sight. Her skin glowed under the soft candlelight flickering throughout the room. I forgot to watch the entrance of my bride because I was too consumed by her. She sat there, face impassive, eyes glazed over with unshed tears, and the sound of heartbreaking reduced to background noise, while I repeated vows I knew I would never mean. I couldn't do the same. I wouldn't watch Sydney marry another man and accept our fate. No I played the coward and stayed away.

 

What if she were happy...

 

I thought he made her happy. It was the conclusion I jumped to the night I witnessed their first kiss. Sheer joy covered her face and immediately jealousy became my cherished companion. I couldn't stand that another...man...could make her smile like she had. I didn't listen when she had tried to explain about the music and the passion that came with creation. I walked away, with a hand raised to silence Sydney's excuses and a heart burdened by unspoken truth. I was still weakened and in possession of a bruised ego when I met her.

 

She was young.

 

She laughed too loudly at my jokes.

 

She wasn't Sydney and instead of fighting for the woman I wanted, I settled for what I deemed good enough. I tried to move on. Marriage was something I wanted; a strong, infallible connection with someone other than myself. I didn't have that with her. I was an emotional adulterer on the night of our wedding. I dialed Syd's number repeatedly and listened to her husky voice relay the message that she was unavailable. Depressed I made love to my wife as thoughts of another fueled the desires of my flesh.

 

I should have walked away then, but I stayed. I responded to the RSVP card in Sydney's wedding invitation, and then ran away to London, so I wouldn't have to deal with the weight of my regrets.

 

Now, it still wasn't easy for me to watch Sydney with him. To know for a fact that she slept beside him, shared her body, and a laugh that was only supposed to be mine. He touched Sydney constantly; hands on her back, fingers twined in her hair, and if he kissed her one more time I would scream. It was obvious, he loved Sydney. I was unsure of how he defined his love; if it meant dictating the path of her career or strategically aligning himself with her to attain his goal of ultimate success more quickly. He couldn't give her what she wanted.

 

He wasn't me.

 

There was the disappointment in Syd's life that came with the news he could never father their children. It was compounded by the half hearted laments expressed the first time he cheated. He blamed his body, and not his heart. Five years had passed and yet Sydney had stayed. My biggest complaint was with Syd, not him.

 

Finally, things were going to change. She was having a baby. We were having a baby. Yes, our actions had been careless. I knew when I entered her unprotected there was always the chance she would return home, my seed planted in the fertile soil of her womb. Maybe it could have been categorized as subconscious sabotage. The quickest means to an end, Sydney belonged to me, now and forever.

 

~`~

 

Linc's eyes followed me around the room. His gaze burned as I tried to nurture my throat with a ginger and honey infused toddy.

 

I was nervous.

 

I revised my song set three times, opting out of Aretha and choosing Dinah. I snapped at the saxophonist, dismissed the only background soprano, and nearly polished off a glass filled with bourbon before I remembered the quiet gift, growing by the minute in my belly. I walked away from the band seeking a moment of solace, only to be interrupted by him.

 

My loving husband, the man who had vowed to comfort and keep me, rubbed my shoulders tenderly and I heard Lincoln when he snarled from across the room. He was a good man. Someone who wanted the best for me and helped me grow as an artist and a woman. However we were never meant to be connected, not for an eternity, and definitely not by bound instituted by God. He couldn't be faithful and I never blamed him for that. My heart, love, and affection were on reserve for another.

 

When I said, "I do," I knew I would transgress the next hour if given the opportunity.

 

It was easier to lie, to accept the man that was there, and not fight for the one I had always desired.

 

I should have said no to his proposal.

 

I could have been honest with myself and Lincoln.

 

I would have been much happier about the new life inside of me, if I had been a better woman.

 

A stronger individual...

 

An independent thinker without fear...

 

"I don't love you."

 

It was more of an involuntary reaction to my husband's latest series of touches versus a confession.

 

"I know," He turned his head to the left, "You've always loved him."

 

Burden after burden lifted from my shoulders with his response. My mouth fell open and only one word came, "Why?"

 

His touch was tender, full of understanding, "I hoped one day I would be enough."

 

I listened as he relayed every stolen glance I had shared with Lincoln in his presence over the years. I tried not to cry when the anger crept into his voice. I accepted the momentary glimpse of hatred registered in his eyes.

 

"You never wanted me Syd, but you gave me just enough to make me stay."

 

I resisted sharing the words on the tip of my tongue that would tell him to be a man. End the farce with the courage he wore like the suits bought with my hard earned money. I didn't say a damn word about name after name in the contact list of his phone and the seedy hotels where they spent their time. I didn't have a right.

 

"It's over."

 

He shrugged, backed away, "Yeah, kind of figured that when you walked in here smelling like his dick."

 

It was a voluntary reaction when my hand connected with his cheek coupled with an

overwhelming sense of relief when a familiar fist collided with the other side of his face.

 

What a mess we made.

 

Long after the show was cancelled and the lights were dimmed, I sat there, stroking the swollen knuckles of Lincoln's hands. We had only fooled ourselves. The others had always known and greedily devoured the scraps we tossed their way. She had called me a hateful bitch.

 

I was.

 

I had befriended her, knowing that I prayed for the demise of her marriage every night while on me knees.

 

He had called me a whore, which netted him a broken nose to match his swollen jaw.

 

I was everything they said I was and more.

 

"I don't know how to love you."

 

Honesty came on the wings of a fresh set of tears. I couldn't breathe as I waited for Lincoln to say something...anything.

 

He took my hand and placed it on his heart, "We'll learn together."

 

"I'm broken," My vision clouded from the liquid spilling from my eyes, "I'll hurt you, just like him."

 

He slid his chair closer, "No you won't."

 

I averted my eyes, "I..."

 

Lincoln silenced me with a kiss that was urgent and hungry before he forced me to stare in his eyes, "I love you and this time you're not running away."

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