Mel rolled over on his bed and opened his eyes cautiously. Pain slammed into his skull. He grimaced and glanced at the time. 5:10p.m.
He flopped onto his back, splaying his arms wide. Sweat, stinking of alcohol, leaked out of his pores and his mouth felt like he'd eaten cotton balls. He licked his cracked lips with a tongue that was equally as dry.
Shit, he felt like absolute hell. He wiped a hand across his forehead and his stomach rolled and lurched.
Just great. In the grips of one mother of a hangover, coupled with a broken heart. This was shaping up to be a wonderful evening.
He brought his other hand up to his face and unclenched his fist. Crumpled like a piece of tissue paper against his palm was the daisy.
Kal's words haunted his mind the moment he saw the wilted flower. He hated to admit it, but Kal was right. Love, real love, didn't come around very often. And like the coward he was, Mel had allowed his fears and past to dictate, ruining his one chance at happiness. Yes, but his ruined happiness was nothing compared to Breeana's safety from all the dangers a life with him posed. Plus, what could he offer her?
Love. That one word flashed through his mind over and over.
With a thumb and forefinger, he pinched the dry stem and brought the bloom to his nose. A faint hint of the flower's perfume remained. As he gazed at the white petals, his mind recalled the evening when he confessed all to Breeana. Her love and understanding helped heal his old wounds and ease some of his guilt. She brought him out of the darkness, into the light, and every part of him rebelled against falling back into that blackness again.
A dam burst inside his chest, releasing a flood of yearning and need so strong the torrent smashed through the walls of his willpower, fears, and good intentions. This love he had for her was a force greater than him. He couldn't stay away from her no matter how hard he fought. The knowledge scared him to some degree.
He would go to her tonight. Get down on his knees and beg her forgiveness. Plead with her to take his sorry, undeserving ass back. If it wasn't too late.
Mel carefully set the flower on his nightstand, then forced himself out of bed and into the shower.
Twenty minutes later, he made his way through the living room to the kitchen. He passed Kal seated on his recliner, playing a video game.
More of last night's piss-up surfaced in his throbbing brain. Kal had been only trying to help and Mel had treated him horribly. Just wonderful. It looked like he owed him an apology.
He guzzled a glass of water and crunched a couple of Tums before heading back to the living room. He stared at Kal's stiff profile for a few seconds, and then cleared his throat.
Kal didn't acknowledge him, just continued with the mock battle on the screen.
Mel watched the game, drumming up nerve. “I'm sorry for what I said and how I acted. I was pretty out of it and I can't remember much.”
Kal shrugged, but kept his gaze on the TV. “No need. You didn't say much.”
Minutes ticked by. “Do you mind telling me why you're so pissed?”
“Wasn't aware I was.”
Exhaling an agitated breath, Mel drove his hands through his wet hair. “Look, I'm hung to the nuts and I'm not in the mood for games.”
Kal's blue eyes flicked over to him. “Could've fooled me. Seems that's all you're doin'.”
“What the hell is that supposed to mean?”
“You figure it out.”
Anger pulsed through Mel's veins, making his head pound. “I don't have time for this.”
Kal set his controller on his knee. “One day you just might figure it out and let's hope it's not too late, but knowing you for the procrastinator that you are, it will be.” He picked up his controller and resumed the game.
“For your information, I'm going to see Breeana tonight and beg her to take me back.”
A big grin broke out across Kal’s face. “No frickin' kidding, hey? Wow. I didn't think you had it in ya. I thought you'd just wallow in your self-pity and self-righteous crap until someone put you outta your misery.”
Mel hid his smile. “I'm that bad, huh?”
“Nope. Just that stubborn. Once you make up your mind about something it's pretty much a done deal.”
Mel sat on the leather couch, stretched his arms along the back and propped his feet up on the coffee table. “Yeah well, I really have no choice this time. The only way I could stay away from her is if I were six feet under.”
Kal laughed and pointed a finger at him like a gun. “Gottcha, man.”
“So, if she says yes, I'll ask Roarik if we can move into one of the empty suites.”
Kal raised his fists in the air. “Yeah!
“Thanks, dipshit. I didn't think I was that hard to live with.”
“Hey, man. Sometimes you act like an old lady, always nagging me about keeping the place clean. It's enough to wear a guy down after awhile.”
“That's because you're such a pig.” Mel chuckled. “I can just imagine what this place will look like after I move out.”
Kal's smile vanished and his eyes grew serious. “Let's hope we get the opportunity to see, eh?”
The thought Breeana wouldn't be coming back was something Mel couldn't even entertain. He hoped she hadn't come to her senses and decided she was better off without him.