Fighting for Love(2)

By: L.P. Dover

She swallowed hard and took a deep breath, approaching me slowly. Her strawberry blonde hair was smoothed back in a tight bun, and even with her glasses on it still didn’t hide the turmoil in her midnight blue eyes.

“You didn’t do anything wrong, sweetheart,” she answered soothingly, placing her hand gently on my arm. Her lips quivered when she tried to reassure me with a smile, but it only added to the grief. “Sometimes it just happens and there’s nothing you can do to prevent it. It doesn’t mean that it will always happen like this. You’re young and healthy. One of these days, when the time is right, it will happen again. I’ve been through it, too, so I know the pain you must be feeling. The last thing you need to do is blame yourself. It’s not your fault.”

I nodded quickly, but nothing was going to take away the pain of my loss … of both of my losses. Was it karma rearing its ugly head and taunting me for making the wrong decisions in life? Could it honestly be that cruel to make me pay with such a high price? The desolation and despair I felt in my chest was like a blunt-edged knife burrowing deep into my soul, ripping me from the inside out. I honestly felt like I would die from the torment because it was so overpowering; it was as if the shadow surrounding me sucked away every ounce of happiness I had ever felt.

How can I go back to the way things were?

The answer was simple … I couldn’t.

THERE WERE TIMES IN MY life when I’d just sit and wonder … wonder what my life would’ve been like if I’d stayed and followed my heart; if I’d done things differently. I knew I wasn’t the only person in the world who felt regret, but what I wanted to know was why did I feel so alone? I had everything I could ever want, and yet it still wasn’t enough. Would it ever be enough?

“Shelby, what are you doing here? I thought Bryan told you to take the day off? Not to mention, I figured you’d be hung over after last night’s festivities,” a voice from behind me scolded playfully.

Ah yes … last night. My boss, Bryan Winters, did tell me to take the day off, but I hadn’t had one in so long I forgot what they felt like. After winning two National Journalism Awards and getting a promotion, I definitely deserved to celebrate. However, I think I over did it with one too many martinis and getting a little too comfortable with a guy I met at the after party.

Gazing out of my office window at the San Francisco Bay, I didn’t have to turn around to know it was Lexi Martin, my headstrong best friend and other half for the past ten years. I could see her reflection in the window, and like always, she had her bright blonde hair pulled back into a ponytail with her Nikon camera securely wrapped around her neck. She never went anywhere without taking pictures of something. There were more pictures of us in college than there were of me as a child.

With a sly expression on my face, I peered at her over my shoulder and replied, “Lex, you know I practically live here at the office. Besides, Jace fixed me one of his cure all smoothies this morning so I feel fine. I guess his studies in Nutritional Science paid off. Anyway, it takes a lot more than that to get me down.”

I really need to figure out what he puts in those drinks, I thought to myself as I turned back to the window.

Jace Harding was one of my closest friends and currently sharing a house with me now that Lexi had moved out to live with her fiancé. I thought it would be a little difficult explaining Jace to the guys I dated, but once I told them he was gay it all worked out just fine. It wasn’t like I went on many dates, anyway. Jace and I had lived together for the past nine years, and not only was he a wonderful friend, he was family; more like the protective brother I never had since I grew up an only child.

Sometimes I hated not having any siblings. Lexi had a younger sister she was close to, and for that I envied her. They always spent time together, and had a bond that I would never have. Maybe that was a reason why I focused mainly on work and not relationships; work was my significant other.

Staring at my reflection in the window, it was hard to believe that my face now appeared in every issue of the prestigious, Physique Sports and Fitness Magazine. In college, all I ever wanted was to work for a prominent magazine and I got my wish. The only thing about my success with Physique was that the articles I wrote and became well known for were under my pen name, Paige Monroe. For some reason, I didn’t think Shelby Dawson sounded marketable so I changed my name and my whole appearance in the process. It felt good being someone else for a change. Most people at the office usually called me Paige so in a way it felt like I lived a double life. Only Lexi and my boss called me by my real name.

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