MC-125 Ch. 14byLordRaven©
The following month John and Samantha saw more of one another, scheduling what time they could around their busy lives to be together. Brianna also saw more of John as Samantha now called on him more often to take care of her when she had a late night at the office. Things were moving along wonderfully until John again broached the subject of running more tests on Samantha.
“Just drop it, John,” she answered him for the third time emphatically as she shuffled around paperwork. “I’m not going to let you scan me and poke me to your scientific delight. I’m not a lab rat.”
“I didn’t say you were. But there is something different about you. You react differently to my touch; in a way that could never predict according to my original formula. I need to find out what makes you so unique. You hold the key, Samantha.” John paused as he thought about his next words. “And I think you already know what it is.”
Samantha froze. Her eyes grew taught with an internal conflict that John was now beginning to understand the scope of.
“This has something to do with Jeff, doesn’t it?” John stopped himself, not willing to push Samantha on such a sensitive subject. He let out a breath he didn’t know he had been holding. “Look, if you really don’t want to then don’t. I just…never mind. Look, I better go pick Brianna up. I’ll see you later tonight.”
“Yeah,” he cut her off on his way out. “I know.”
John tucked Brianna in and turned off the bedside lamp. He looked at the sleeping child and thought about her mother. Perhaps there was a connection to Brianna’s peculiar silence and Samantha’s guilt. He didn’t know. Samantha held onto her pained past even more than she did her daughter it sometime seemed. John shook his head. At any rate, he would simply have to wait until Samantha was ready to reveal just what had happened to her all those years ago. She was a distant woman for a reason.
John rubbed his leather clad fingers together, feeling the smooth slickness of the material, and thought of his own barriers. Was he right in exposing himself to Samantha? So far he had been the only one forthcoming with the secrets. He had revealed much and she very little. Just then he heard the now familiar sound of Samantha’s keys jingling faintly at the front door. John took the stairs down to the foyer and greeted his lover as she came in, giving her a gentle peck on the cheek.
“You know, these late night hours are starting to take their toll on you,” John commented.
Samantha gave a noncommittal grunt and slowly made her way to the kitchen for her customary cup of tea. John joined her and proceeded to warm tonight’s leftovers in the microwave.
“It’s time for our quarterly report and I have to make sure everything’s in order for the more meticulous of our investors. Plus a listing of future prospects and funding. Then there’s the…”
“Then there’s a daughter who stays up as much as she can to see her mom before she goes to bed.”
“Don’t patronize me about my own daughter,” she snapped. “I know very well that this is taking time away from her. But the investors wait for no one, that’s the speed of business. Not to mention I have to explain where the sudden shift in funding is going concerning your project. Some of the other chairpersons buy into the whole secrecy bit but not all of them.”
The microwave dinged and John got up and fetched Samantha her dinner. “Yes, secrecy,” he said simply, but the double meaning that reflected their earlier conversation suddenly loomed over them. John sat down across from Samantha and silently watched her eat, waiting for her next move. As intriguing and mentally titillating as it had been in the beginning, the emotional chess game between them was now becoming more of a hindrance.
John was now growing tired of the large block of her past that intruded. John had given it some thought. He normally wasn’t so intrusive but there was something about Samantha’s time with Jeff that kept bugging him. The few times from earlier in their relationship, when John had inadvertently touched her mind, had left lingering impressions on him. Even now he could remember the frightening tempest that rolled in her psyche. He wanted to help her. That she was now also tied into his research made John think more about it.
“You’re tired of waiting aren’t you?” Samantha’s words broke through John’s contemplation.
“I just care about you, that’s all.”
The remainder of the meal proceeded in silence, both of them unsure where things were going. John helped her wash the dishes and then headed for the front door like he did at the end of every night when he took care of Brianna.
“Wait,” Samantha spoke into the muted darkness of the foyer as John’s hand touched the doorknob. “Could you maybe stay the night?”
John paused, the cool of the metal seeping into his fingertips. “I don’t know if that would be such a good idea…”
The doorknob began to warm to his touch. “I don’t think it would be wise,” he answered after some more thought. “I can’t control myself in my sleep, in my dreams. It wouldn’t be safe for you, for me.”
The outside handle to the front door chilled John’s fingers as he pulled it closed behind him.
John didn’t hear from Samantha for the next week nor did he try contacting her. He didn’t have anything more to say. Samantha already knew everything there was about him: MC-125, his year of exploration, and Cassandra. What had she told him of her willingly? Very little in comparison. John had been patient with her but after being with her for a several months she had divulged very little willingly. Even Brianna’s introduction was an accident. At times John wondered when Samantha would have told him about her.
Behind him, John heard keys rattle at the door to his lab. He turned around to find a subdued Samantha walking slowly into the lab. At last, John thought. He hated having to play this waiting game with her; he missed her a great deal over the past week and could tell from looking at her that she felt the same.
“Could we sit down and talk a moment?”
John nodded and gestured to his desk where there was a pair of actual chairs as opposed to the usual stiff stools that dotted the rest of his lab. John sat down at his desk and waited calmly for Samantha to do the same. She surprised him and sat in his lap instead, John’s arms reflexively wrapping around her waist to prevent her from slipping off.
They stayed like that for a moment before she finally spoke. “This is really difficult for me so please be patient.” John didn’t say a word and just held her. He felt her tense body and knew how vulnerable she was. “Like always, you were right. I am different, because of Jeff, because of what he did to me. Because of what I let him do to me.” John raised a hand gently stroked her hair to comfort her. “It wasn’t only that he had me totally played for a fool, he had gotten me involved in other things. I told you my family was rich, and that they had disowned me. But I still had my trust funds. But that too dried up quickly. Money tends to do that when you’re feeding you addiction.” John’s hands stopped in surprised before continuing. This was her story. “Jeff not only was a charming bastard, he was also a pusher. He got me into cocaine and then I was truly hooked. It was one of the ways he kept me under his thumb. I was dependent on him for my next fix. I even experimented with heroin once. I really messed up my life. I was gone, a junkie. Then my bank account hit zero and Jeff disappeared. Not soon after I discovered that I was late for my period. Apparently I had accidentally skipped a pill. Everything changed. Jeff was gone, my steady fix was gone, and now I was supposed to be a mother.
“That last part was what really turned me around. If it weren’t for me having Brianna things would have turned out very different. But now I was responsible for someone other than myself. That was it for me. I quite cocaine.”
Samantha shuddered in John’s arms and he could hear her sniffling, he could smell her tears.
“You have no idea what’s like trying to quite cocaine. All the little things in life are unappealing. Food tastes bland, nothing has any meaning. You can’t feel good about anything, especially about yourself. Even when I gave birth to Brianna I didn’t feel happy.”
Samantha broke down at this point. John clutched onto her, trying to shield her from memories. “I was so indifferent at first, can you believe that? I was an automaton, without feeling, without joy. Life was hard but something kept me going. I put my degree in business administration to use and was able to find a job. In time, after about Brianna’s first birthday I started feeling better, I could love Brianna for starters. She’s wonderful isn’t she?”
“She’s beautiful,” John replied as he gave her a gentle, encouraging squeeze.
“But later I realized something wasn’t right about Brianna.”
“She didn’t talk.”
“Yeah. I took her to the doctor but I already knew what he was going to say. Brianna can’t talk. My drug addiction cost my baby her voice. Cocaine messes with the neurochemistry of the user. It affects the baby too if the mother is an addict, like I was. There’s so much they still don’t know about the long term effects on…on crack-babies.”
Samantha broke down again in a fit of sobbing and John held her, tears rolling down his own cheeks. John knew a few things about cocaine. It was a dopamine transport blocker, inhibiting the natural dopamine recycling process in the brain. Dopamine effects the pleasure centers of the brain and the resulting buildup of it from cocaine caused the familiar ‘rush’ that addicts were hooked on. Unfortunately, the body would learn to cope with the unusual circumstances and build a resistance to the dopamine buildup. Normal levels of dopamine from simple joys would no longer be enough to trigger the pleasure response and hence the addiction. Drug addiction was a scary world and leaving it was just as frightening.
“And that’s another reason you scare me so much, John. When I’m with you, when I kiss you, I can feel it deep down, like before. I haven’t felt so much pleasure in such a long time. You make my body ache when you want it to. That first time at the Chinese restaurant… What you did to me was indescribable and every time since then too. You have no idea how much that frightens me. I want you so badly. My body wants you. And I can’t have that. I can’t face another episode like before. But dammit you make it so difficult because I know you’re different from Jeff. I can feel how honest you are. That first time you touched me, when you first explained MC-125, you took the pain from the memories away. I don’t know what you did, but it felt good. It scared me. You scare me but at the same time I can’t help falling…”
John kissed her then. He didn’t want to hear those words from her. Not yet. He opened up his mind to her, bared his soul, and felt her twisted agony like their first time. But this time he held her close, clutched her to him and held on. Storms raged, the skies wept, the seas thundered, and still he held her. He took her pain and pulled it into himself; she had suffered enough, too much. Somewhere in the dark depths was the woman he loved and he wrapped his presence around her and held on to her, protected her until the waves grew calmer and furious winds died down to a gentle breeze.
Slowly, John extricated himself from Samantha’s mind and found her asleep in his arms. He smiled at her now peaceful features. He cradled her in his lap and thought about her story. All the missing pieces were finally revealed and John now had a sense of just how strong a woman Samantha was. She had a hard life. Not only was she a single mother, but trying to do so while kicking an addiction to cocaine at the same time was something phenomenal. And Brianna…John felt only sorrow about that wonderful girl, sorrow and love. She was a remarkable child, but it would appear she would always be a mute because of her mother’s victimization. John thought about that some more. Yes, Samantha was a victim. John knew there were people like Jeff, preying on the innocent then tossing aside the dried husks when they were through.
John felt Samantha stir in his arms and he looked down at her. Slowly her eyes cracked open and she looked up at him. “You did it again, didn’t you. Like the first time.”
“I seemed to have put you to sleep. I didn’t realize I was such a crappy kisser.”
Samantha smiled at him lazily and kissed him. “Hardly,” she stated and kissed him again. “You never let me finish my sentences.”
“You talk too much,” he lightly jibed.
They held one another quietly for awhile until Samantha decided to get up. “So when do you want to begin the tests?”
John quickly looked at his watch. “Well, we have to pick up Brianna soon. Would tomorrow be good for you?”
“No, I’m completely booked with meetings tomorrow. How about on Friday, the day after?”
“I have a teleconference with that Swedish team.”
“No, I’m reserving that for you and Brianna.”
John thought about that. “That sounds okay. Next Tuesday it is.”
“Can you stay the night tonight?”
“Let me think about it. Like I said before, I don’t know what would happen. It could be that you’re partially immune to me, which would explain a lot. But let’s wait until I run my tests before we come to any conclusions.”
“Are you always this careful?”
“Only when it comes to the important things. And you and Brianna are as important as they come.”