If you HAVEN'T read PMD, please stop where you are and not read ahead. It's for you own good ;)
The Moment that Changed Everything
“Where are we going?”
I stopped and looked down at Maddie. The lights of the club danced over her dark hair, making me want to reach out and run my fingers through it. Hell, who was I kidding? I wanted to grab fistfuls of the dark strands and yank her close to me.
My fingers caressed her wrists, keeping her close to me in the crowd. We were halfway to the door, halfway out of this place. That meant I was halfway to getting to heaven.
“I want you home. In bed. Now. I’ll be lucky if I can wait until we get there,” I said, my voice sounding hungry. Hungry for her. Desperate to taste her again. Dying to have her beneath me one more time.
My eyes dropped down to her dress. When she walked out of her bedroom wearing that little piece of black fabric, I almost came unhinged. I didn’t know whether to strangle her for wearing something so revealing or push her back into the bedroom and rip it off of her. For the last hour, I had barely held it together as I watched men ogle her like they wanted to fuck her silly. I had lost count of how many heads I wanted to bite off and spit out. Assholes.
Needing to touch her, (shit, when didn’t I need to touch her?) I grabbed her around the waist and yanked her closer. She fell against me, the impact making my dick almost explode.
“You look so damn sexy in that dress. I want to yank it up right now and have my way with you,” I said, low enough for only her to hear.
Her big, brown eyes widened in shock. Yeah, I surprised her sometimes with the shit I said but I never pulled any punches with Maddie. I’ll be damned if I started now.
A blush traveled up her neck, coloring her cheeks. Holy Mother of God. That just made me harder and I wasn’t talking about my sucky attitude; more like what was in my pants.
Unable to resist, I moved my hand down to the back of her leg, pushing the hem of her dress up a little. The dang thing was too short. Another few inches and I would have my fingers in her panties. Oh, hell! Just the thought of that made me sweat.
The skin of her thigh felt soft under my fingers. Unmarred. I suddenly wanted to leave whisker burns on her inner thigh, right where my fingers were.
She gasped, a tiny intake of breath between her lips, as my thumb glided higher.
“And those legs...” My thumb made another sweep across her thigh as I leaned in close to whisper in her ear. “They are begging to be wrapped around my waist while I’m deep inside of you.”
Her ear was right there, inches from my lips. I wanted to kiss the skin below her earlobe then run my lips down her neck. But I held my shit together. I needed to get her out of her first, somewhere private, somewhere I could make her scream with pleasure, then all bets were off.
As soon as the words were out of my mouth, I knew I had said something wrong. Worry was written all over her face. When Maddie looked like that, my heart and resolve cracked just a little bit.
Looking up at me with indecision, she bit her lower lip and stepped back. Her perfect, white teeth left teeth marks behind. My heart hammered as I eyed the tiny marks. Every time she did that, I felt myself slipping further and further into this fuckfest in my mind. I was beginning to worry it meant more than just a quick roll-in-the-hay. That scared the shit out of me.
“What about us, Ryder?” she asked, looking more like the little girl I grew up with than the woman I wanted to sleep with again.
“I need more than sex, you know that. I mean, I want you more than anything but how do we do this?” she asked, motioning between us.
I blew out a frustrated breath as I tried to think of what to say. How do I tell the girl that meant more to me than anything that I was scared to death of loving her? She owned me. My heart, my mind, my body, they were all hers. That was hard to swallow. Like a big dose of reality, I realized that I was in trouble. Being with her meant giving up my freedom, my lifestyle. The bars, the women, the fighting, they would become a thing of the past. With her, I didn’t need any of it. I didn’t want any of it. I just wanted her. And that freaked me out.
“Shit, Maddie, you’re killing me,” I mumbled, rubbing a hand over my face and trying to think straight with the biggest hard-on ever throbbing in my jeans. “I...I just don’t know.”
And I didn’t. I didn’t know if I could be the man she deserved, the man that could give her everything. I would never make the big bucks and rub elbows with the rich. I had a shitty outlook on life and could care less what others thought of me. I drank too much and cussed like a fucking sailor. All I knew how to do was fight, fuck, or drink. She deserved better out of life. I wasn’t sure that included me.
“Okay, I get it,” she whispered, looking hurt.
Damn, I can’t stand when she looked like that. It killed me.
I took her face in my hands, turning her eyes toward me.
“No, listen to me, Maddie...”
She put up a hand, stopping what I was going to say. “I need a minute, Ryder. Just a minute.”
My hands dropped away as she turned to leave. With one last glance at me, she left me standing alone. A man without reason. A man without the ability to open my damn mouth and tell her what I really wanted.
As the crowd closed around me, I watched her walk toward the bathrooms. Men stopped to watch her pass. I wanted to tear them apart with my bare hands and roar at them that she was mine. But more than anything I wanted to follow her and say I was sorry for being just an ass.
Suddenly, I felt empty inside and when I felt that way, there was one thing I always did and I did it well - drink.
Turning away, I pushed my way through the crowd. Fuck her and every woman like her. Hell, who was I kidding; there was no one like her.
I stopped and waited for a group of girls to walk by. They looked me over and smiled, liking what they had to see. Too bad, ladies, I’m taken. My heart only belonged to one person.
I watched them walk away, comparing each one to Maddie, just like I always did. But none of them could compare to her. They never would.
Dammit, I needed a drink in my hand.
The music blasted louder as I neared the bar. Skrillex had the crowd on the dance floor, some crazy shit that matched my mood.
I looked over the heads of the people milling about and caught Brody’s eye. He lifted his beer bottle up in a salute and tipped his chin toward me.
I ignored him, remembering his arms around Maddie. Yeah, so they were friends but hell, I was friends with Maddie and look what we did. Brody better damn well keep his hands to himself from now on or he would meet the business end of my fists.
I pushed myself between a blonde and a redhead at the bar. Shit, it sounded like the beginning of a bad joke. Built, stacked like porn queens, and wearing next to nothing, the two girls smelled like a mixture of cheap perfume and tequila with a side of sweat added in for good measure. A year ago, I would have been all over them, but I wasn’t that man anymore. I never wanted to be that guy again.
I pulled out my wallet and reached inside for a ten as I ordered a longneck and a water for Maddie. When I went to grab the drinks from the bartender, I noticed my damn hand shaking. I cussed my weakness, knowing who was causing it.
Stuffing my wallet back into my jean pocket, I ignored the girls next to me and lifted the bottle to my lips. Keeping my eyes on the bathroom doors, I drank slowly as I waited to see if Maddie emerged. She had left upset and that was tearing me up inside. Since we were little kids, I hated to see her unhappy but knowing I caused it was killing me, eating at me from the inside out.
Chugging the beer, I hoped it would help me forget the shit rattling around in my head. But I knew from experience, no amount of alcohol would remove Maddie from my mind.
Reaching into my pocket, I pulled out my phone. Staring at the lit screen, I debated whether to text her and say I was sorry. I wanted to tell her that I was scared shitless because I knew what I wanted from her - everything.
As I stared at the phone and debated my sanity, the light blinked then faded. I punched a button but nothing happened. Piece of shit, I thought, stuffing the phone back into my pocket.
I lifted the longneck to my lips again but never got a chance to take a drink.
The club shook violently, shaking like it had just got a bad taste of something and was getting ready to spit it out.
What the hell? I sat my beer and Maddie’s water on the sticky bar and watched as the drinks vibrated.
The glasses of alcohol sitting behind the bar made a chinking sound, bumping against each other. The building moaned in protest, making one or two of the bottles fall to the floor and shatter. The girl next to me screamed, the sound so high-pitched that it killed my ears even over the music. Damn girl, put a fuckin’ sock in it, I thought, giving her a look of annoyance. It was just an earthquake.
Earthquakes in Texas weren’t unheard of but if this was one, it was the mother of all earthquakes.
Suddenly, the club shook again. I mean, I felt like I was on a fucking carnival ride and I hated those damn things.
I grabbed onto the bar just as the lights went out. The club went pitch black, leaving us in nothing but complete darkness. Left blind, I couldn’t see two feet in front of me. The feeling wasn’t a good one.
People screamed from all over the club. The two girls next to me took off, holding onto each other and screaming like they were being chased by the devil himself. But only one person was on my mind.
Pushing away from the bar, I fell into the crowd of people pushing and shoving to get outside. Screaming and yelling made thinking impossible but I was nothing if not focused. Like a man possessed, I tore through the mob, looking for the only one I cared about.
The bathrooms were right by the exit so that’s where I headed along with the masses of pressing, screaming people. For the past few minutes, I had kept my eyes on the bathroom and Maddie hadn’t emerged. If she was still in there, I could grab her as she came out.
Then we would run like hell.
I tried not to push anyone out of the way with my big size but desperation was making me frantic. I pushed some guy out of the way when he smacked into me. He toppled forward but regained his footing and took off. Some girl bumped into me and almost fell but I reached out and grabbed her arm, keeping her on her feet as I shoved through the crowd.
When I was near the bathrooms, I stopped and looked around, my heart beating a mile a minute. Long hair brushed against my arm, sending a tingle up my spine. Feeling desperate and a little crazy, I grabbed the girl and jerked her toward me. It was dark and I couldn’t see shit but I knew as soon as the girl slammed against my body that she wasn’t Maddie. She was too tall and lacked Maddie’s curves. I let her go and felt her rush off, screaming the whole time like she was in hell.
Standing in one spot, I let people push against me as I looked right then left. Where was she? Where the hell was she?
By now, my eyes had adjusted to the darkness but I wished I was still blind. Holy fuck! People were everywhere, pushing and shoving to get out. Men were pushing women to the floor. People were getting trampled and stomped over. Chairs and tables had been turned over, blocking the path and making the club into a dark obstacle course.
All the blood left my face. Maddie was small and she was somewhere in this killing spree of a crowd. She’ll never survive this madness.
Out of the corner of my eye, I saw a tall blonde heading out the door. Eva. On one side of her was Brody. On the other side, a girl with long dark hair. Maddie. Thank God!
I joined the crowd rushing toward the door, trying to keep an eye on Maddie as she rushed outside.
Thick, humid air hit me as soon as I passed through the doorway. The hot air filled my lungs as I took a few deep breaths, trying to slow my heart rate down and think straight. Hell could freeze before I would admit to being scared.
Getting my shit together, I ignored the terror and screams around me and jogged over to Eva and Brody, needing to wrap my arms around Maddie and make sure she was okay.
But there was one person missing.
“Where the hell is Maddie?” I asked, stopping in front of Eva and Brody.
Eva’s terrified eyes looked up at me, widening in fright. I felt my life fall apart in that second.
Grabbing her upper arms, I shook Eva, making her teeth snap together.
“Where is she? She was just with you?” I yelled, shaking her again when she started shaking her head.
“No, no,” Eva repeated over and over, dazed. She glanced back at the club, looking frightened. It was then that I knew; Maddie had never made it out. My eyes had been playing tricks on me.
“She was never with us,” Brody said. “We thought she was with you.”
Those words were like a punch to the gut, hurting me like no fist ever had. I felt as if I had just been filled with buckshot from my dad’s old 12-gauge shotgun and left to rot under the hot, burning sun.
My eyes scanned the people pouring out from inside. They were screaming and running, shoving to escape. A few looked hurt. All of them looked scared.
None of them were the one person I cared about more than life itself.
Without thinking twice, I took off running. I could hear my own lungs working hard to breath in the humidity. The blood pounded in my ears. Feeling as if I was swimming up a swift river, I rushed toward the club, shoving people out of the way. I heard Eva scream at me to stop but I didn’t. I couldn’t until Maddie was safe. Nothing else mattered but her.
The screams around me didn’t register in my mind. The men and women shoving to get out the door didn’t stop me. Like a bulldozer clearing a path, I knocked people out of the way as I went back into the hellhole.
My life. My soul. My entire being was in there somewhere.
I don’t pray. I think it’s a waste of time, but at that moment, I sent up a silent prayer begging God to keep her safe. He could take me, make my heart stop and strike me dead in my tracks, as long as Maddie was safe. Because if she wasn’t, I had no life left in me. No reason to go on.
I was nothing without her.
Taking a deep breath, I tried to clear my mind and think straight. Stepping into the darkness, I let my eyes adjust. The heat inside was ten times worse than outside. My shirt instantly stuck to me, sweat beading along my upper lip.
Being so tall, I could see over most people’s heads but there was nothing to see but throngs of people full of confusion and hysteria.
Shoving forward and trying to avoid running anyone over, I headed for the bathrooms.
“MADDIE!” I shouted over the screams.
There was no answer. A chain wrapped around my heart, spiked with poisonous darts that pierced me. She had to be here! God, if she wasn’t...
“MADDIE!” I roared, feeling angry and desperate.
“RYDER!” a voice answered near the bathrooms.
It sounded weak, but nothing had ever sounded sweeter.
A growl ripped from my throat as I shoved my way through the crazed crowd, ready to go psycho on the mob of people to get to Maddie.
“RYDER!” she called again, pain and fear in her voice that made me hurry.
I jumped over a man who had fallen. I pushed between four people who were screaming and clinging to each other.
By now, my eyes had adjusted and I could see her. Huddled against the bathroom doorway, she held onto the wood frame with all her strength.
The chain around my heart disappeared. I could breath again. My mind cleared. My purpose became clear; get her to safety. In seconds, I was in front of her.
My hands found her face and felt the tears on her cheeks.
It was then that I knew the truth. I couldn’t live without this woman. My heart was hers. My body was hers. My entire being was hers to have and keep.
I wasn’t lost anymore.
I was in love.
Thank you so much Paige for taking to time to write this extra POV for us!! <3
Thank you so much Paige for taking to time to write this extra POV for us!! <3