After the hit I’d taken in the fourth quarter, I’d been ordered to soak in the tub, but I just couldn’t handle the emotional hit of that room, not until I was too exhausted to see straight, and even then I wasn’t sleeping. There was too much of Liberty in there…and not nearly enough. She’d looked so tired when we’d talked yesterday. She’d looked almost as miserable as I felt.
“Honey, are you sure I can’t make you a sandwich?” Mom called up the stairs. The second she’d heard what had happened, she and Dad had driven down. They hadn’t even warned me they were coming. They’d simply shown up on the doorstep—Mom looking worried as hell and Dad studying me like I was one tackle away from dying. To him, I probably was. As much as I’d held it together when Liberty walked out, I damn-near lost it at the sight of that truck in the driveway. He’d driven the one I’d bought him.
“I’m good, Mom,” I answered. “But thank you.”
“Leave the boy alone,” Dad muttered. “You can’t fix a broken heart with a turkey sandwich.”
“You’re right,” I heard Mom answer thoughtfully. “I’d better make some chicken soup.”
“Not my point, love,” Dad responded, his voice fading as I walked into the nursery.
I shut the door, then leaned against the wall beside it and let my body slide down until my ass hit the ground.
At least she’ll get to spend some of her time out of this paparazzi-filled fishbowl you call a life. Liberty’s words were a shot across the bow because they were true.
I’d decorated my daughter’s nursery with maps of the world so she could plan her adventures, but her mother was trying to raise her in a world that came with adventures included. Take away the disease, the bugs, the war-torn countries, and general danger that accompanied those adventures, and I’d almost have to admit that maybe Liberty had it right.
But right or wrong, she sure as hell had my daughter…and my heart, if the thing still existed. I felt hollow, like someone had come along and scooped out everything inside me that was capable of producing an emotion and left me this hulk of a shell.
I fucking missed her. I missed her laugh and her smile. I missed the mess she left in her wake—the scattered books and forgotten dishes. I missed the scent of her hair and the feel of her in my arms. I longed to hear the way she’d gasp when I put my hands on her, and see the look in her eyes right before she came—that little jolt of surprise and wonder. I even missed the way she’d call me on my bullshit. I missed everything about Liberty.
And the worst? I ached to feel our baby kick at the sound of my voice. Did she think I’d abandoned her? I lifted my knees and put my face in my hands.
The door opened, and I bit my tongue to keep from snapping at Mom. It was pretty fucking amazing that they’d dropped everything and come. I just wasn’t ready to talk about it.
The door shut and someone joined me against the wall.
“Sitting in here isn’t going to bring her back,” Roman said softly, raising his knees to mirror my position.
“Short of turning myself into a third-world country in desperate need of mental healthcare, I’m not sure there’s much that will.” I let my head fall back against the wall.
“Then go after her.” He elbowed me. “Get off your ass and go get your woman.”
I gave him a good glare. “It’s not that easy. We’re in the middle of the fucking season.”
“And that’s your biggest problem?” He shook his head. “You have more money than you’ll ever need. You’ve never given a shit about public opinion, so fuck it. Go get her.”
“You don’t get it, Ro. She doesn’t want to be gotten. She doesn’t want to come back here. She wants me to give up everything I’ve worked my ass off to build. She wants me to stop honoring my brother. She wants me to follow her around to places I can’t possibly protect her or our daughter. The only way she wants me is on her terms.”
“Damn. Must suck to fall in love with someone so stubborn.” He sent a little side-eye my way.
“I’m just saying that there’s no cute, easy answer here. She fucking walked out.”
“Yeah. She did. It sucks. Tell me something, though. You still love the game?”
“Hell yes, I love it. Lately, it’s the only place I feel…anything.” Football had always been a constant for me, and it was the only thing I was holding onto now.
“You love her more?”
My gaze snapped toward his, and he met it head-on. “I shouldn’t have to choose.”
“You shouldn’t, but maybe you could, anyways.” He shrugged. “Look, I know you’re not one to break out the diary and shit, but I’ve never seen you destroyed over a woman before. I can’t ever remember seeing you destroyed over anything, come to think of it.”