The door jerked open violently, James' body taking up most of the space between the door frame. Her eyes shifted and she drank him in from head to toe. Long black hair with the strange silver strands hung down passed his shoulders in thick wet ropes. The steel metal grey of his eyes bored into her. They were tired and worn. His rugged face was gaunt and thin, like he wasn’t eating or spending entirely too much time working. The angel versus demon tattoos that covered his upper arms and his chest danced as the muscles underneath twitched. And there it was, staring back at her, twisting her belly in knots. Her name, in her own handwriting, a beautiful flourish of red and black, was inked on his abdomen, right below his belly button for the entire world to see.
It was too much. She had to turn away.
“I just... I just wanted to make sure you were okay. Padre told me what happened and... I'm sorry. I shouldn't have come.” She choked on hot unshed tears. “I will just have Caius get the rest of my clothes later.”
She turned towards the club's bar room but his hand on her wrist stopped any forward motion.
“Maddy, please.” James pulled her closer towards him. “I didn't want it to be this way. I told them not to call you.”
She stared at the stitches on his forehead. The wound underneath was no longer red and angry but the thought of him being touch and go for two days without her by his side was a heartache she never wanted to live with. The levee was breaking. The tingling sensation of his skin against hers was enough to shatter the last sad remains of the barriers that she’d built. There was no sweetness left. What vestiges of the sweet simple Maddy remained were thrown by the wayside. A fire of pure unadulterated anger was what he’d left behind in her now. “I spent days begging you to change your mind James.” The tears behind her eyes began to trickle down her face. “You’re right. It didn't have to be this way. But you and whatever convoluted thought processes govern you, decided that this was what was best for me.” Her voice grew louder. She didn't notice that James had already pulled her into his room. “You made the choice. You called the shots and I have to live with it, but damn it, you can't expect me to turn off my feelings for you.”
“I didn't ask you to stop loving me, Maddy.”
She stared blankly at him for a moment. “You ass!” She smacked him in his chest and instantly regretted it as her small hand met with solid muscle. “What kind of statement is that! Of course I'm not going to stop loving you, but what the hell am I supposed to do with it? Because you’re scared I can't see you. I can't talk to you. I can't fuck you. What the hell, James.”
“Damn it woman.” He slammed the door shut and stood directly in front of her, glaring down at her. His chest was heaving, his arms shaking. “Do you see this?” He pointed at the stitches on his forehead. “You knew this was a possibility when we met. When we got together I told you what we do and you accepted all of the terms. This is the kind of shit I get into. This is what happens to us when we do what we do. You think I want you to live through this?” He stepped back and sat on the bed, sucking in slow, steadying breaths. His elbows rested on his knees as he laced his fingers through his hair. “You don't know what they are like, what they do. I never wanted to hurt you. All I ever wanted to do was make you happy and keep you safe, but for real? We called this off just in time, Maddy.”
She cocked an eyebrow and put her hands on her hips. “What is that supposed to mean?”
“Nothing. Just... look, I love you. I know I've said it before and hell, I think I've pretty much branded by self,” he pointed towards the flourishing M-A-D-D-Y tattoo on his belly, “but I would rather love you from a distance than watch one of those bastards eat your soul.”
Maddy seethed. Every fiber of her being was lit on fire. “Let them eat it! They can take it for all I give a shit. I'd rather loose my soul than spend the rest of my life knowing that they are the reason I lost you.”
James stood, his body seething. He went from contemplative to nuclear thermal pissed in a nanosecond. “Fuck you and your dramatic Heathcliff bullshit.” With every word he stepped closer and closer towards her. “I’ve said just about all I can say. I love you. I will go to my grave loving you but I cannot risk something happening to you!”
Maddy tensed up, tilting her face upward. She glared into his eyes, the fire in her blood made her cheeks hot. “You mope and talk about sacrifices you’ve made for my well-being and I’m dramatic? Spare me your sob story pal! We were good together and you know that! You and me were something different, something that could last. You think I’m a big pussy, that I can’t take care of myself, but you don’t have to watch over me like I’m some simpering infant. And to be honest, if that’s the way you see me, then maybe you are right. Maybe this,” she pointed back and forth between herself and James who were now only a few inches apart, “this just needs to be over. So fuck you very much.”
She turned to leave, but before she could fully grasp the door knob James jerked her up off of her feet and planted the two of them firmly against the wall. He gripped her entire body against his, his iron-corded arms holding her tight against him. James stared down into her face before seizing her mouth with his. His tongue was hot and hungry. His hands cupped her ass and lifted her up. She instinctively wrapped her legs around his waist, hooking her ankles.
“Let me go,” she whispered between the angry kisses.
“Shut up,” he whispered back. He cupped her face and looked down into her eyes. “Just this one time.”