Macy was busy picking flowers around Pike’s, when she noticed a familiar tattooed arm picking around fruits. She felt anxiety bloom in her stomach and her pulse picked up, but her feet moved towards the man.
His back was familiar, his stance, and even the broadness of his shoulders. Then she saw the small tattoo on the back of his left elbow; Novak.
Her heart dropped when he turned around; there were visible scars on his arms that weren’t there when she had met him. She watched him pick an apple, take a bite and toss the vendor some change. She wanted to follow him, ask him about Caleb, get any kind of information, but her pride had gotten in the way. Maybe that’s what was best.
Macy was driving home in her Titan when she felt a tear roll down her cheek. “You’ll be okay.”
She wiped the tear and quickly rubbed her stomach, in that moment she truly believed she would be okay. It was late when she was pulling into the driveway and saw a large figure looming in the shadows, near Caleb’s bike. She couldn’t distinguish the figure; darkness makes everyone look the same.
The first thing she saw were boots in the brightness of her headlights.
Caleb was back.
Her heart concaved into her diaphragm. She was happy and excited and angry and hurt, but she remained collected. She wasn’t the first priority anymore, baby was. She left the peonies in the front seat of the truck and stepped out.
He stepped into the brightness of the porch light, looking as rugged and gorgeous as before. Nothing had changed except a small scar on his left eyebrow.
“Hi,” he said, “how are you?”
She was enraged. “How am I? Is that really all you have to say after all this time, Caleb? I haven’t heard from you in months.”
“You don’t understand, Macy, I had no choice, I couldn’t come back home.”
She scoffed. “Like Hell, you couldn’t.”
As quickly as the rage had come, it left her again. It left her spiritless.
She walked towards him and gently reached up, cupping his jaw. “Where were you, Caleb? Why were you gone so long?”
Caleb looked down into the woman who kept him alive and leaned into her hand. After the explosion, he and Pierce had been captured and kept hostage until Blake and Cade had taken down every one of Manuel’s men and got them back to safe grounds. They were kept holed up twenty eight days, being fed tortillas and dirty water. At night, he would think of Macy’s laughter and the way she used to hum while mopping and his heart kept beating. His heart kept beating because he knew he had to get back to Macy one last time.
He let out a long breath. “I’m not who you think I am, Macy. I mean, I am Caleb Walker, but I’m not ex-catcher for Seattle Mariners. That’s just a cover up story for the world. But to the underworld of TITAN, I am Junior Officer Seal, Caleb Anthony Walker.”
Her eyes widened and then she let out a fit of giggles. She walked towards her porch, laughing and he followed behind her.
“Please continue,” she said, taking a seat, “I’m only laughing to hide the tears.”
“TITAN is an organization for the underworld of military. They recruit fallen soldiers, looking for new starts. They also recruit secret agents, the best of the best. When no one else can, they send in TITAN. I am in charge of four men in the West Coast Division. We travel the world, gathering Intel, staking out fugitives and then eliminating them.”
Caleb watched Macy visibly put herself together. “Why were you gone so long? You just left, without the possibility of coming back.”
Caleb took her hand, but she withdrew. “I was in Columbia, wiping out a man who had a severe role in drug trafficking, and he also had targeted a new member of TITAN. All day, every day, I prayed that I would make it home safely, but each day got longer and harder. When Pierce and I were rescued, I couldn’t face you, I couldn’t come home.”
Caleb had been so intent on looking at his hand, he missed the fact that Macy was quietly crying. Nothing had ever hurt him more, he had never seen her cry other than the two tears she let fall during Marley and Me. Her tears made him want to change the world so it wouldn’t her anymore, but he was the one hurting her.
She sniffled and then chuckled. “Sorry for the dramatic, I don’t think I’ve ever cried as much as I have in the past month.”
He saw her put a hand on her stomach and gently rub, but he made nothing of it.
Macy wanted to reach and put Caleb’s hand over her stomach. She wanted to take him to look at nursery decor and argue about what kind of diapers they would use, but she wanted that to be his choice. She wanted him to stay because he left it, not because he felt she should. Even if he left her, again, she would still have a little piece of him.
“So what now, Caleb,” she whispered, “I missed you, but if you’re not planning on staying, you should leave now.”
“Macy, I want to stay,” he said, and she noted nothing in his voice except honesty. ”But I can’t. You knowing who I am, puts you in danger, it makes you a target to anyone out to get me and I’ll die if anyone hurt you.”
She looked at him with wide eyes. “Well, it’s a little too late for that now, isn’t it, Caleb?”
Caleb's heart was racing, he knew he was losing her every second.
“Macy, you don’t understand,” he yelled, exasperated.
“Then help me understand, Caleb,” she shouted back, “I am a part of this now, but I refuse to fall for your sins.”
Caleb felt himself shut down, he felt the familiar ache seep into his blood. His bones became dense, his head numb. The constant dull pain that followed him reminding him of who he was and what he had been through. The stronger part of him wanted to touch her, hold her like the pieces of something rare and fragile and broken, whisper his love for her. He wanted to tell her that his love was so strong, it could put the broken pieces back together, but he didn’t. Instead he walked toward the porch rail and took a heavy breath.
“Casey Auburn,” he said, focusing on the moonlight hitting the trees, ”She’s the one from my nightmares, the one I call out to.”
Macy took a step towards him, she almost sighed. He still smelled like tobacco.
“She was the daughter of my parents' neighbor. My dad told her I would help her paint her new house, and I did, but I also fell in love with her and she with me.
“We moved in together and got engaged. I was ready to get married and start a family, but the previous year I was recruited by TITAN. I was assigned to a mission in Monaco and I took her with me, telling her that we would vacation there. Little did we both know, I was made as a target and so was she. Fourteen days before our wedding, she was hit by a truck. The driver was an ex-con who was taken down by TITAN; he knew who I was and who she was to me.”
Macy moved next to him, setting a hand on his, offering whatever support she could, desperate to absorb any pent-up pain he had. His body was tense to the touch.
“She made it to the hospital, but her lungs were punctured. She died by asphyxiation,” he whispered. “There were pregnancy tests in the front seat."
Her mouth became dry and her heart nearly stopped beating.
“I couldn’t go home, I couldn’t face my parents or hers. I promised I would take care of her and I broke the only promise I made,” he said through clenched teeth. “The scars came from trying to tear the metal from her body.”
He solemnly chuckled. “She did say they would turn into nasty scars.”
Tears were streaming down his face. “In my nightmares, her body is still, but she’s screaming for me and I try to get to here, but it's always too late. I was too late. I let her die.”
Macy turned his body towards hers. “Don’t you ever say that again, you hear me? It was not your fault. It was not your fault then and it’s not your fault now. You have a chance, Caleb, you can start over. We can go anywhere, do anything. You have to give yourself the chance.”
Caleb took her face in his hands. “Don’t you get it, Mace, I can't run. I have enemies who can track me down, no matter where I go, you won’t be safe. I cant guarantee you anything.”
She held onto his arms as if he were her lifeline. “I don’t want a guarantee, I want you.”
“I've spent the last ten years of my life in my own personal Hell and I’ve grown roots in.”
She hit his chest. “Well, guess fucking what, Caleb? I just waded in with you, I'm neck deep with you baby, and I will continue to be until you see that.”
He shut his eyes almost painfully. “I love you, Macy.”
She had waited so long to hear those three words stringed together in one sentence. Although some part of her had revived at his declaration, the only words she wanted to hear was that he would stay.
“Stay, show me that you love me,” she proclaimed. “Just stay.”
With that, he swept his lips across hers and left her standing alone on a chilly September night. He had no idea he was leaving the love of his life and their child.
There was no God in his heart; he knew. His mind was still in riot and there was an ever present memory of pain. He knew this was the right thing to do, but it felt so wrong.
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<a href="http://www.lushstories.com/stories/love-stories/reading-between-the-lines-chapter-9.aspx">Reading between the lines- Chapter 9</a>