KNOT: A Wake Family Novel - M Mabie

For Megan Cooke—not the blogger, not the reader. Just Megan, my dear friend. Many times when I counted backward from ten, you counted with me.

This is for you.

REGGIE—Friday, June 11, 2010

Our fucked up history was Hell dressed up in heels and pearls, suits and cuff links, pretending to be Heaven. Had either of us known it really was Nirvana—and not the mirage we’d thought—maybe we could’ve stayed.

Our relationship was a dream I’d never wake up from. Sometimes it felt like a fantasy. Sometimes a nightmare. A mind fuck that had me ticking down numbers.

Fuck starting from ten.

Fuck ten a long time ago.

With her, I should have started at infinity. At least then I’d have more time. More minutes of torture. More seconds of bliss. At infinity, I would have had the time to prove her wrong. If I’d only known she was.

Nine times I let her go. Maybe more. Maybe less.

She never wanted what she said at all, and every time I fell under her spell, I proved her right. Every fucking time. Every mistake. Every misstep. Every time I held back from my instincts.

Still, with us, fault was universal.

We’d both failed each time. All eight or so times I’d denied myself by not telling her the truth, I hadn’t realized I’d denied her a thousand times more.

I only ever wanted her. Fuck money. Fuck power. Fuck my pride. Fuck all seven days of the week without her. Fuck other women and fuck the whole country of Switzerland.

Fuck knowing damn well in my gut the whole fucking time.

But while she was there in my arms, under my body, I’d settle for fucking her. She knew it was how we could’ve been.

Fuck her stubbornness. Fuck her fucking ability to stay away for six or the half-dozen months at a time while she chased her tail. I stood by and watched, all but cheering her on.

Fuck the sound of her voice when she laughs. Not any old laugh—fuck those, too—but specifically the special one. Her Reagan laugh. I wish I could mute my memories of her, but that laugh will haunt me forever.

That laugh belonged to only me, along with a handful of other fragments of her that I never took the time to piece together. If I had, she might have been whole. She might have been mine if I’d added them all up.

Ironically, I didn’t look for the sum of the real her. How many math classes did I need to learn this one damn woman? Certainly ones I hadn’t taken. Certainly ones I would have failed.

If I could go back to the beginning, I’d add more up than just how many times I could get any of my five fingers, my tongue, and cock into her. I’d add her only-for-Reagan parts. They’d been there all along.

They were enough.

Starting with the four or so seconds, where she didn’t even know her name—let alone mine—before she cried out in ecstasy. That wonder in her eye. The pull of the tendons in her gorgeous neck. The tightening of her brow. The slack of her jaw.

Plus.

The way she looked handing me coffee, naked in the kitchen. Her wet hair matted and untamed. Her skin pink from the hot shower. The print the bathroom tile left fading on her shoulders.

Plus.

The way she stretched her feet when she woke up in my sheets. Spreading them and wiggling the one we knew would always be our toe.

Plus.

The way she could recite every ingredient in her favorite dishes. How she knew about cheese from other countries, even though she’d never visited most of them.

Plus.

The way she kissed my Adam’s apple, then rubbed it with her thumb. Only to kiss it a second time.

Those were things meant only for me.

I’d add every time she called me, and I answered.

I’d subtract the times I didn’t because I was selfish and wanted her to show up instead.

Then I’d multiply that total by the times she told me she more-than-just-loved me. Which was exactly three. I hadn’t even realized what she meant the first time, but the second time, I was sure to make up for it. The third had been tonight.

We’d been two people lost. Wandering around, pretending we’d known everything.

Even though it was most likely the last time I’d ever fuck her, it would also—mercifully—be the last time we’d ever fight.

Sadly, it was the first time I’d seen the power my words had held over her the whole time. I’d watched her heart break. I’d watched as she crumpled to