On Forgetting Ch. 07byewebie©
I submitted this before the previous chapter has posted, so I have no idea how it was received.
I've been travelling and as a result, I haven't been near internet nearly as often or conveniently as the wireless I'm used to. But I am still planning to finish this ASAP.
Happy New Year!
All feedback is welcome and appreciated!
Thanks for reading,
Langdon felt her left foot leave the ground and she knew that her weight was too far back; there was no way she was going to be able to right herself. She tried to twist, to take the impact of the fall on her hip and hands, but her motion was jerked to a stop as Connor's hand shot out and grabbed her by the arm. He pulled as he turned away from the street, dragging her across his chest. He shut his eyes firmly as gust of wind ruffled his hair, accompanying the bus passing inches from his back.
Langdon felt his arms tighten around her, the rapid beating of his heart mirroring her own. Finally, she released a pent up breath and disengaged her fingers from his coat, slowly raising her eyes to meet his gaze. He looked so worried. There was tension in every line of his face, and his eyes were a wild, glinting green and amber. She wanted to erase the panic she saw there, but couldn't think of what say. After a prolonged silence, Langdon released a nervous laugh, glancing around his shoulder to the remnants of the brown paper bag and whipped cream that was splattered on the pavement. "I think dessert is ruined."
Connor forced a smile and wrapped her in a bone-crushing hug. "I'll get you a new one," he murmured against her cheek, not relaxing his firm hold around her body.
"We're going to miss the light."
Connor blinked at her, the expression on his face momentarily blank, and fervently backed her into the concrete wall of the corner building. "I don't care," he growled, planting a hand on either side of her head. "Frankly, neither of those is important to me. You are."
His expression grew fiercely possessive, and Langdon only had time to suck in a surprised breath as his mouth descended upon her, his lips slanting across hers, hot and demanding. Weeks of tension fuelled by the scare he had just experienced flooded through him and he clutched her tightly, kissing her with devastating emotion. She lost track of which way was up, knowing only the solid warmth of his body where it crushed against hers and the stability of his searching hands. Langdon found the lapels of his coat and held on, no longer trusting her knees to keep her upright.
When he finally released her, his forehead rested against hers as they both caught their breath. "I'm starting to think you're a little accident prone," he whispered, his voice hoarse from their kiss.
Langdon barely resisted the urge to snort. "Come on, Connor. You've known me for years. This is just a string of bad luck." A gust of wind caused a shiver, and she slid her hands around his waist and into the warmth of his coat.
"You're going to end up with a chill again," he said softly.
She smiled up at him. "I was about to get into a warm car with 'blasting' heat, but someone wouldn't let me."
He chuckled at the teasing note in her voice, leading her back toward the crosswalk. "At least I didn't have to jump into a river to save you this time."
Langdon froze. "You jumped in?" He nodded absently. She tugged on his arm until he turned back to face her. "What do you mean, you jumped in?" she demanded.
He furrowed his brow, "When you fell in the Liffey, someone had to pull you out."
"And you were there?"
His eyes widened in concern. "Laney, you were supposed to be meeting me. You called me, said it was urgent. We were meeting at Foggy Dew on the other side of Temple Bar. I..." He gripped her shoulders. "Laney, you were late, I went to meet you at the bus stop. I had just made it to the quay..." His hazel eyes glinted with raw fear before he could mask the emotion and turn away. "I don't want to talk about it." He strode into the crosswalk.
Langdon couldn't believe he was walking away from her. "Connor!" she chased after him, catching his hand and letting him tow her across the street to the car. "Connor, talk to me, please."
"Get in," he held the door open for her.
She looked at him with concern, finally dropping onto the bucket seat rather ungracefully. "Connor?" He closed the car door sharply.
She waited for him to settle into the driver's seat. "Connor, talk to me."
He started the engine. "Drop it."
"No." She reached across the space in the car, her fingertips brushing his jaw line.
Connor jerked away from her touch. "Stop it," his voice was both soft and dangerous.
Langdon's brow twisted in confusion. "Connor, you have to talk to me."
"No I don't!" he shouted, the volume of his voice amplified in the small space of the car. Langdon's face turned red. Connor never yelled, and he certainly never yelled at her. She bit her lip and looked down at her hands clutched in her lap. She could feel the tears threatening to spill from behind her lashes and turned to look out the window.
Connor struggled to get a grip on his emotions. He felt raw, striped, and torn in multiple directions at once. He spared a glance at Laney and his heart dropped. She was going to cry; he panicked. Don't cry, please don't cry. Oh man, how could he explain it to her? If he hadn't been there, it was doubtful she would have survived. It terrified him. What if he hadn't been there? What if he had decided to get a drink and wait? What if he hadn't been as fast as he was tonight? He had come so close to losing her, and if he did, it would destroy him.
Another momentary look at Laney and he felt sick to his stomach. She was pretending to be interested in something out the window, her eyes glittering with unshed tears. The thought crossed his mind that it would be his own damn fault if she did start crying, and the truth angered him. Growling to himself, he threw the car into gear and spun out into traffic.
Paul thumbed through a meagre pile of bills, throwing the wallet back into the bag in disgust. A few euros, that was all he managed out his brilliant plan. It was the second time Connor Kennedy had interfered with his job. That man was stuck to Langdon like glue. Why couldn't she be dating someone with slower reflexes?
He leaned back against the brick wall of the alley and slid down onto his haunches. He would have to get her alone, somehow drag her away from Connor. That, or Connor would have to go too. Better the two of them than me, Paul thought glumly. Even if he didn't get it done, there were other people that would. No sense in dying along with them. He tugged the ski mask off and tossed it into the nearby dumpster.
Now the question was how to get her away from Connor... Or how to get rid of them both. Either way, it had to happen soon.
Langdon glumly followed Connor into their flat and watched as he stalked into the bedroom and slammed the door. She dropped on the couch, listening for Connor to return. When the door remained closed, Langdon felt every second weighing on her heart. She slipped off her shoes and coat, leaving them next to the couch and moved cautiously to the bedroom. She peeked in to see Connor sitting on the edge of the bed, his head in his hands.
She pushed the door open far enough to slip inside and with the rustle of her dress against the doorframe, Connor's head shot up. He watched her cautiously for a few moments. The silence had her shifting uncomfortably, but he didn't speak until it was only to effectively cut her off from saying anything. "Look, I'm going to change, and then I'll get out of your way." Connor pushed himself up from the edge of the bed and shed his suit coat, hanging it on the closet door.
"Get out of my way?" she asked softly.
"Yeah," he glanced over his shoulder but didn't meet her confused stare. "I'll just sleep on the couch or something."
"Sleep on the couch?" she took a timid step into the bedroom. "Why would you sleep on the couch?"
"Look, Laney, I don't want to fight right now. I'll be out of your way in a minute." He ran a hand absently through his hair heading back toward the bed, loosening his tie, and unbuttoning the top button of his shirt.
"Fight? Connor, this isn't fighting, this is you shutting me out. What the hell is going on?" Langdon took a few bold strides into the room. "Connor, talk to me." The ache in her voice only wounded him deeper and he couldn't bring himself to face her. He grabbed a pillow from the bed. She bit down on her lower lip to keep it from shaking. "Please, Connor."
Connor spared another glance her way, if for no other reason than to get an idea of how upset she truly was. It was a bad idea. Her body language alone projected a vulnerability that had a wave of fierce protectiveness tensing his shoulders. His brows knit together with frustration and worry and he turned back toward the bed.
She clenched her jaw and stared at the broad wall of his back. She wanted to scream he made her so angry. She finally understood the meaning of the phrase 'seeing red,' and a tremor of rage shuddered through her. She could tolerate a great many things, but this was too much.
Connor ran his palm down the length of his face, his fingertips less than gently tracing the line of his mouth. He didn't know what to say; there was nothing to say. Laney deserved much better than his silence, but he couldn't find the words. He was so lost in thought that he was completely unaware that Langdon's distress had transitioned into full-blown anger. The only warning he had of her ignited temper was her small shriek of rage before he was knocked clean off his feet.
Langdon launched herself at his back, the momentum carrying them into the bed. Connor almost ended up winded as the corner of the mattress caught him in the stomach. "Laney, what the hell?" he demanded, trying to push himself up. Langdon would have none of it. They tussled, wrestling against the bed and she scrambled to put him in a headlock, twisting one of his arms up behind his back. "Damnit, Laney! Let me up!"
"No," she hissed. "Not until you're ready to talk to me."
"What?" he sputtered, twisting in her grip. "No! I don't want to talk, but I'm damn close to paddling your ass. Get off." The fact that he couldn't free his hand surprised him, but her fierce hold did nothing to appease his growing sense of self-righteous anger. "Who the hell taught you to wrestle?"
"I have brothers," she growled.
He scoffed. "Nice, now let me up."
"No," she insisted.
"Laney!" He shoved hard off the bed, and she lost her hold on his arm, stumbling back a few steps. Connor spun to face her, holding his hands up in a conciliatory manner.
Langdon didn't care. She was fuming. She tackled him onto the bed, the mattress knocking his knees out from behind as she used her whole body to pin him down. Connor tried to throw her off. She was half his size, but seemed unmovable. "Damnit, Connor!" she cried. "Why won't you talk to me?" Her voice cracked, and Connor stopped fighting her, finally meeting her gaze for a fleeting moment.
She was shaking, her face flushed, her expression incensed, but the glisten in her eyes betrayed the hurt behind her anger. "Laney," he said softly.
"Don't placate me!"
"Placate you?" his voice rose in irritation. "Laney, you're the one sacking me when I'm not looking."
"What the hell else am I supposed to do?" she shouted back. "You want me, then you don't. You yell at me, then you won't talk to me. I don't have anyone else to talk to, Connor!"
"Why do you have to talk about this?" he tried to wriggle free.
"Why won't you?"
"Anything else," he pleaded. "I'll talk about anything else. Ask me whatever you want."
"What are you protecting me from?"
"You almost died!" his entire body stiffened beneath hers. "I saw you running across the bridge. I only looked away for a second. A second! When I looked for you again you were falling. I yelled for someone to do something and no one moved. No body else did anything!" He couldn't suppress the shudder that ran through him.
"So you jumped in?" she whispered, feeling her temper rapidly wane.
Connor felt her grip on his hands relax and he suddenly shifted, rolling and pinning her shoulders to the bed. "Yes I jumped! And you were blue. And you weren't breathing. And I thought you were dead!"
Langdon watched the expressions wash across his face in rapid sequence: fear, anger, panic, helplessness, more anger. She wanted to take away the pain that had him shaking, that had him holding her in a fierce grip. Everything was her fault. A guilty knot twisted in her stomach. "I didn't know," she breathed.
"No, you didn't know. You didn't remember. I never wanted you to remember. I don't want to remember it."
"I'm so sorry, Connor." She ran her fingertips across his cheek, easing the lines of tension as he softened under her caress. "I wish you had told me."
"It's not your fault," he murmured, pushing himself back up to his knees. He felt completely exhausted. "I just... I came so close to losing you. I don't want... I can't lose you." He dropped bonelessly against the pillows. "I don't know, Laney. I don't know how to deal with this. I'm sorry."
Langdon scrambled up and threw herself at Connor. He flinched, momentarily expecting her to hit him again, and was mildly stunned as she wrapped her arms around him and buried her face in his neck. "You're like my own personal knight in shining armour," she whispered, feathering kisses along the underside of his jaw. "Or a prince charming, or something."
Connor couldn't resist the urge to smile. After the intensity of their exchange, he felt himself dissolve into a fit of laughter. He hugged her fiercely, resting his cheek on the top of her head. "Would that make you a damsel in distress, then? Ack!" he chuckled as she warmly kissed where she had just nipped the side of his neck. "Fine then, princess." He pressed a kiss to her forehead.
"Are we ok?" she asked timidly.
"Are you planning on tackling me again if we aren't?"
She shook her head. "What on earth would make you think I'd do that?"
He smiled wryly. "If you don't tackle me, I won't spank you for it."
Langdon scoffed. "I suddenly wish I could remember where I put those handcuffs Eoin gave me." She sobered and twisted to meet his eyes. "So, are we ok?"
He pinched her playfully. "We're ok. Just... Stay out of trouble, alright?"
"Out of trouble, check."
He pulled her close again, enjoying the feel of her pressed against the length of his body. "Do you mind if I just hold you for the rest of the night? I don't think I could let go if I tried."
Langdon nodded, snuggling into his warmth. "Hold away, Sir. I don't need my arms back until Monday."
After a full week of being banished to the wards, Langdon was chomping at the bit to get back into the operating room. Eoin had volunteered to 'supervise' her while she re-acclimated to the routine of the hospital. She was grateful. Eoin didn't hover or second-guess her, just checked in to make sure she was doing ok, sign off on her charts, have a chat every now and then, and send her home when it was getting late.
Ward work was tedious without operations or Out Patients to break up the monotony. Langdon left the hospital at the end of every shift exhausted from the strain of pretending to know people she couldn't remember and apparently remembering how to do things she just somehow knew. When she had beaten Connor home, she had fallen asleep on the couch trying to wait up for him. She had woken hours later, wrapped in his arms, curled up in their bed. When Connor was off shift before she was, she came home to waiting dinner and his strong encouragement that she get some sleep. And while she did listen to him, she was painfully aware of tension building between them again.
When she had first returned home, Connor's presence in the bed had unnerved her, but Langdon was finding it hard to sleep soundly without his arms wrapped around her. His smell, his warmth, and the solid weight of him next to her managed to calm her near manic thoughts long enough for sleep. More frequently, she woke with the strong desire to have her way with him. Yet somehow, even the knowledge that he felt the same didn't help her find the courage to tell him so. After the fight, they had reached an unspoken truce of sorts, and she didn't want to upset the tenuous peace in the flat. But the sexual frustration that built wound her tight enough to have her on a hair trigger. If she didn't find some sort of release soon, she was going to explode.
Thankfully, her near flawless patient care over the past few days was sign enough to Prof that, whether or not she had regained all of her memories, she was capable of doing her job well. Eamonn had been waiting for her to get back to the surgical team, and Langdon insisted that they clarify a few things before she started working with him again.
"Look, Lang, we're friends now, that's all there is to it," Eamonn said bluntly.
"Eamo, I've never been good at being friends with my ex-boyfriends."
He laughed. "Yeah, well, I'm your boss. You don't have much of a choice."
Langdon narrowed her eyes, studying him carefully. "You could be full of shit, right? I mean, how do I know you aren't just telling me whatever you want me to believe?"
"Honey, if I were lying, I'd come up with something better than 'we're just friends,' ok? Believe me. I'm much more creative than that when I want to be." He managed to draw a smile from her, and threw his arm around her shoulder in a companionable manner. "Come on, kid. We've got some cutting to do."
Langdon grinned. "Finally."
Langdon shifted her stance to keep the blood moving. As much as she loved surgery, there was a good deal of standing around and not moving. "Ms. Murphy, if you could remove the langy-back." She did as the professor asked, wordlessly handing the instrument to the scrub nurse. Prof rinsed out the area and swabbed it once more before turning to the senior registrar. "Mr. O'Neil, if you'd like to close, I think we're done here." Eamonn O'Neill nodded his consent.
She watched the Prof move off into the sluice room, shucking his gown and gloves as he went. Eamonn looked up from the primed suture kit and gave her a wink. "Is he gone?" Langdon nodded slightly as the second set of doors closed behind their boss. "Good," he mumbled, handing her the needle and forceps. "You close, I'll watch."
"What?" Lang looked at him startled.
Eamonn grinned. "I said, you close, I'll watch. Come on, Lang. I've seen you with your practice kit at home. You probably stitch better than I do."
"It's a practice kit, Eamonn!"
"You have to learn sometime, kid."
Langdon blushed. She hated being called a kid almost as much as she hated the way Eamonn was manipulating her. She took the tools from his hands and muttered, "You'll pay for this later."
"Empty threats." He grinned and proceeded to talk her through the surgical closure. Thirty minutes later, Langdon was sipping a steaming mug of tea and relaxing between surgeries. "See," Eamonn winked at her over his mug. "Not that scary."
"Your face isn't that scary," she mumbled, trying not to laugh.
"Is that anyway to speak to your boss?" He pretended to be offended.
"You shouldn't patronize your girlfriend," she whispered slyly.
The pager on Eamonn's waistband went off, beeping offensively in the rather calm break room. "Aw, hell. It's the A&E, go see what they want?"
"Are you asking me or are you telling me?" she quirked a brow.
"Your boyfriend is asking, your boss is telling. Quit being a smartass and go check on the new admit."
Langdon liked the A&E, there was something organised in the chaos of the place. Plus, you would never get bored there. So many different problems, so many different people, so many different procedures. "Surgical got a page," she announced to the triage nurse at the main desk.