For those of you wondering what happened to Carter Mason’s book...
Damaged had to be scrapped. The tone of the whole story was too somber and depressing…I simply wasn’t happy on how the book came about. So I’d decided to take his story and evolve it to something less doom and gloom. His book will be named “Carter Mason” and will include some of Damage merely as flashbacks. I’ll build a new story around that. Thank you for being patient.
Here’s bit and pieces from Damage:
The eve of Lindsey’s wedding…
A soft knock rapped on the door, interrupting my web surfing while I enjoyed a cold beer.
As the brother of the bride, I’ll be walking her down the aisle. Normally I wouldn’t mind the attention but bearing the fact that the woman who turned my marriage proposal down and made me half of the man I was, was in attendance, well it’s another turmoil to overcome with.
If this was Lindsey wanting to reassure me like mother who coddles her child I wouldn’t know what to do with her. Maybe it’s Amber, my mind interjected. She sure didn’t seem like herself when I saw her earlier on. But upon opening the door, I was surprised to find her standing before me, seeming unsure and pregnant more than ever.
My eyes widened. My heart stopped beating. My blood burned from hot to cold then back at it again in a vicious manner than I felt out of element.
Reeling at the sight of Emma, instead of greeting her like a normal person would, I simply stared at her, hard. Tongue-tied.
“I thought I might drop in to say hi,” she nervously said with a strained smile on her face. “Tomorrow’s the big day…and with our friends there, I thought it’d be a good idea to hash out any awkward encounter for tomorrow’s bid day.”
I blankly stared at her, hearing her words and yet none of it seemed to register in my head.
Blue eyes sparked fire before she bit her lip and looked away. “May I come in?” she shyly asked before lifting those mesmerizing blues on my heartbroken ones.
She was undoubtedly pregnant and her protruding stomach was the first thing that caught my attention. But even though she was…she made pregnancy look beautiful. Emma absolutely took my breath away.
Making a serious nod, I stepped to the side to let her through before closing it right behind her. Her scent lingered, toying with me, commanding all of my senses in at a moment’s notice. Her intoxicating smell engulfed me…the thought immediately hit me that she still wore the same perfume…the very same one she left in my home…and the culprit behind my madness of literally annihilating the damn scent, pushing towards insanity as I gulped it down because I couldn’t get enough of her. That was one of many. Hence the downward spiral…
“How have you been?” She cautiously asked, granting me a soft melancholy gaze with those familiar blue eyes I loved so much.
Masking my darkened thoughts, I made sure there was enough distance between us. Here I thought that as long as I couldn’t smell her, I’d be in a much safer space. A sniff of her scent had my alarm bells ringing. It was an indicator that resisting any crazy notion wasn’t far off, so playing this encounter with cool detached was imperative for my survival. Considering her question, I pressed my lips together while my eyes landed on her stomach. “I’m…I am what I am.”
Her brows furrowed, puzzled at my response. “Which translates to what, Carter?”
“I’m living…surviving.” Voicing it out loud didn’t do much to my already beaten self worth. It hurt to admit it to anyone and pretty much to myself, but there was no victory in hiding the truth. This was Emma. She knew—all it took was one look at me and she immediately would know everything.
“I heard about what happened…” With a pained expression, Emma took a step towards me but I immediately took a step back, fearing close contact with her. “I’m so sorry—the last thing I wished was to hurt you again after what you had done for me…you were so good to me, Carter,” she choked up while her eyes welled with tears. “I destroyed everything…I destroyed you.”
My hand itched to wipe the moisture off her eyes. Even to this day, it pained me to see her crying. Was I really this weak? Am I not entitled to have a little hate in me and tell her off about how fucked up it was to lead me on like that? To break a man when he was already vulnerable? What right did she have? I knew I brought most of the demise of our relationship in the beginning but that didn’t justify the havoc she put me through. She placed me through the ringer and back to Hell. It was agonizing, soul breaking.
“I don’t deserve it…but I hope you can forgive me one day.”
The funny thing about forgiveness was one had the power to do so. In our case, she didn’t need one. If I didn’t have the capacity to even hate her in the slightest, forgiving her wasn’t necessary because I loved her, and through that…everything she did, including the past and the present, were pardoned. A man couldn’t summon hatred in his heart wherever she was concerned, I could tell her that at least. The last thing I wanted for her was to worry. Given her present condition, even if I was irreparably broken, I wouldn’t be able to bear it if she was wasting time feeling guilty. I’d rather endure the suffering than have her in that position. “There’s no need for that. You must already know…that my love for you is strong enough to battle and cure any ill feelings I might’ve had towards you.”
Huge teardrops fell from her precious face. “That’s too generous, I don’t deserve it.”
Her lips trembled, making my gaze hone in on them as temptation knocking me out of air that I could barely breathe. It was a combination of being in a state of high but also in the lowest of low. It was a thrilling mixture of both and it left me perplexed.
The desire to kiss her, to possess her for the last time was terrifying. God help me, I knew she was pregnant but that didn’t even lessen my yearning for her. In my eyes, she was Emma. The woman I was supposed to marry. The only woman I fought so hard for. The one I vowed to love and protect at all costs whether she was mine or not…until the very end.
Consumed with turbulent emotions, I restrained myself from wiping the tears away from her face. “Is he treating you well?” I had to ask, hearing it from her and not from the media and friends but from her own lips. Besides, changing the subject was imperative since my mind was wandering in dangerous territory and the last thing I would ever wish was for her to feel uncomfortable with me. After all that she and I had been through, I wanted to part in good terms—without any lingering guilt or doubts—on both our ends. For our sakes and peace of mind.
Those unforgettable cherry lips parted, gazing at me with mixture of confusion and bewilderment as if she didn’t know how to react to my question.
“Yes, he’s very attentive…more than I could ever ask for or deserve…” Emma’s words heavily laced with remorse, making me even more determined to reassure her that it was okay for her to be happy.
My gaze softened as it caressed her face. “That’s good to hear, Ems. If there’s another man that loved you just as much, I knew it’d be him. I don’t expect any less from him. I know where he’s coming from and I’m confident that he’d give you everything just to keep a smile on your face.”
She sniffed as more tears fell. She was on the verge of really folding in and letting emotions conquer her. “Don’t say things like that…”
“It’s true.” From the bottom of my heart. From the depths of my soul. Her happiness meant the world to me or I wouldn’t have given up fighting for her if I knew Bass loved her any less than I did.
“Each time I think back…you…us…I can’t look at myself in the mirror. I feel like a monster for breaking your heart.”
“You had to do what you felt was right, Emma.”
“I know but it came at a high cost.”
“Everything good comes at a price.”
“Whatever happens…I just wanted to tell you that I’m truly sorry and that I really loved you too…but things changed along the way—I changed and somehow through the chaos I fell in love again. Forgive me for hurting you; it was hard to live with myself for a time. It ate me up and kept me up at night.”
Her words though felt like daggers to my heart, it also happened to be a balm to the punctured wounds. I wasn’t sure when it’ll heal but knowing that what I had with her was real—that for a time she and I were true to each other—it was enough. This was closure, more for her than I…but at least the dust had finally settled. Any lingering questions I had dissipated. Giving in, I gradually made it towards her and held her for as long as I could. Tears threatened behind my eyeballs as I kissed the top of her forehead for the last time. For a brief moment, I let myself bask at the feeling of coming home. “I love you and as much as it hurts me to keep doing so, I want you to know—” I murmured as Emma shook her head, weeping. “No listen, even if it doesn’t seem like it is, I’m glad that you’ve found happiness. You deserve it—embrace this new life you have and never look back, Ems. Do that for me will you?”
“I love you too.”
“I know you do. You just love him a little bit more.”
“Someday…someone will come into your life…don’t hold yourself back.”
Somehow I doubted it but I wasn’t going to tell her that, I didn’t need to give her another reason to bawl her eyes out more. “We shall see.”
“You’re a good man, Carter. You deserve someone that’d be just as crazy about you.”
Luck wasn’t going to come by twice. Not on my doorstep at least. Instead of responding to her, I kissed her forehead. “Get some sleep, Emma. There’s nothing to stress about me. I’ll be okay. I’ll survive. That’s what survivors do.”
Even though my heart ached at the idea that my love was all lost, I vowed to try and set her free from my thoughts. As for my heart, I knew I was left loving her from afar. The future was bleak—lifeless and uninspiring.