Wilson Mooney - Beyond Eighteen Book 3

Chapter One

~ Wilson ~

I couldn’t stop shivering and every muscle in my body ached like I’d been in a head-on collision. My voice was raw from crying endlessly since Max left; it felt like I’d swallowed jagged shards of glass plastered with every missing word I should have said to him. Somewhere above my body, a space that I never really knew existed carried all of my relevant thoughts away. The look on his face when he found out I betrayed him steamrolled across my head over and over again. Visions of him driving away as I collapsed on the porch killed every butterfly caged in my gut. Max left me on the bone-chilling granite—rotting, longing, and totally broken. How will I ever find my way back after hurting the man I love more than anything in this world? A war was being waged in my body, and I was losing…big time.

Joanie’s hands were scalding hot against the side of my head as she held me on the Browlers’ sofa. She rocked back and forth in an attempt to soothe the searing pain that vibrated from my core out to every last part of my body.

“Shhhh, Wilson, sweetheart, shhh. I am so sorry honey, so sorry.” The nature of her words only made it worse.

Incoherent babbling tumbled from my lips. I searched behind my closed eyes, working to see patterns that I could dissolve into, but I couldn’t see past the ache that throbbed in my head. Joanie clung to me so hard that I couldn’t catch a deep breath. Please, God, let me just disappear; let me become that person who nobody hears from ever again. There was nothing I could do to repair the damage I’d caused. When I kissed Nick I destroyed everything Max and I had.

I heard footsteps strike against the hardwood floor and the whispering concern of a guy’s voice as I slumped heavily in Joanie’s embrace.

“Is she...okay? If she needs anything—” Nick said in a low voice.

I felt the pressure of Joanie’s hand across my back withdraw and her voice vibrate through her chest as she whispered back at him, “Thanks, but I think I’m just going to take her upstairs.” There was a sizable pause before she continued, “She’ll be fine, Nick. She just needs some time right now.”

I could feel Nick staring at me before I heard him walk toward the kitchen. Even if I wanted to look at him, I couldn’t. Suddenly I didn’t feel the same need to be comforted by him. He was part of the reason I lost Max.

Joanie dragged her hands to the back of my biceps as she pulled me away from her chest.

“Wilson, sweetie, let’s go upstairs. You can clean up and change your clothes. Freshen up a bit,” Joanie said in a soothing voice. It was the same voice I found comfort in when every other shitty event happened in my life. She ran her hands up and down my arms from my elbows up to my shoulders and back, collecting the heat she generated with her friction.

I didn’t say anything. I just willed the muscles in my legs to work and Joanie did the rest. She supported me as I ambled out of the living room and up the imperial staircase. I also knew better than to try and argue with Joanie. She knew what I was going to need, and how much time it was going to take me to wallow in my misery.

My knees stretched and ached as I pushed up each step. They seemed to be taller than I remembered. The same gut-wrenching feeling I’d had when I first climbed these stairs twisted low in my stomach. Those familiar feelings of wanting Max and not knowing if he felt the same way about me started to swirl throughout my body. The beads of perspiration that tickled and rolled from my hairline down the back of my neck when I decided to find him at Cindy’s “seasonal” party just a month earlier began to push from my pores. It seemed so long ago and yet not long enough to be in this much pain.

We were almost to the top of the stairs, my body still leaning into Joanie’s, still hoping that I could make it up to the room, when I saw Cindy standing at the top of the stairs. God, she is the absolute last person I want to see right now. Her lips twisted into a smirk and her eyes