Sam urged her car on. It was on empty, but she urged it on with hope and prayer. Behind her, her son screamed and cried. “I know, baby, I know.”
The car wasn’t going to make it. She pulled over, and just in time as it officially cut her off. Sam turned to see Derek screaming his head off. He needed to be fed and changed. She needed to get home and get washed up from the long day at the hospital.
Sam climbed out of the car and gathered Derek and his car seat. She walked down the road, hoping to find a gas station nearby. When she spotted the first station, her heart sank. It was Marv’s Auto Repair.
Why did it have to be Marv’s? Though Sam had driven by Marv’s a million times, and thought of Eli a million more times, she knew it was too late. She knew she could never show her face to him after what she did. And from everything she heard, he was moving on. Sam was happy for him in a sense, but still any time one of her friends spotted Eli out on a date, that green eye snake bore its way into her heart. Shouldn’t she be happy for Eli? She would always regret what she did.
Sam couldn’t take Derek’s screaming, and with no other alternatives she headed inside. Please don’t be at work, she begged inside her head. It was one thing to drive past, and another thing to think about the what-if’s, but this…this was going to hurt her if Eli was working there.
There was no one at the counter. Figures. She placed Derek’s car seat up and called out,“Hello?”
“Marv? You here?” Please be here, Marv.
“Eli?” Don’t answer, please don’t answer.
A curse and what sounded like a clank of tools came from the back. Crap. It took a few minutes, but Eli eventually entered the room through the back door. His eyes shined, and Sam hated herself for putting those tears there. “Sam?” Then his eyes fell onto Derek, who was still crying.
Sam’s heart pounded. Shit, why did she come in here. She never contacted Eli about Derek. A part of her wanted to, but another part of her, not to mention her asshole father, didn’t want him to be in Derek’s life.
Eli glanced over to her. “You here to torture me, or do you need something?”
Ah hell. What did Sam expect though? A smile, and a hug? Eli wasn’t like that when he hurt, and she knew that. He was hurting too, and Sam’s guilt piled on her heart more.
“My car died again,” Sam said, hoping that he would at least help her out of this jam. She really needed help with the car. “I just need some gas, I think.”
Eli didn’t respond. His eyes fixated on Derek. Then he smiled at his son. Sam did notice that tears fell down his cheeks. How could she have done this to him? She may have been pissed and said some unforgivable shit, but she never meant to hurt Eli like this.
“Eli,” she bit her lip. She did need her car fix, and she wasn’t sure if she could take much more heart ache, and was sure he couldn’t either. How did she fuck up so bad with him?
Eli finally met her eyes, and she tried to keep her own tears back. “Let me guess, you ran out of gas?”
“Yeah. I was trying really hard to get it to a gas station…but…” she shrugged.
“Okay. I’ll go fill her up and bring her back here. But Sam, this is the last time. I can’t do this. I can’t have you keep coming here like there’s nothing wrong.”
“Okay,” he said in a whisper. He headed to the back of the garage and returned with a gas can in hand. “I’ll need the keys, and you need to tell me where you parked the car.” He spoke to her, but he was more fixated on his son again. Sam really hated herself. Derek deserved a father, and Eli…damn, but Eli would have been the best father to him. He still could. Sam knew that wasn’t an option, not if she wanted to keep peace between her rocky relationship with Dad.
Sam handed him the keys. The small tingle of their touch made Sam want more of his touches. Why was her life so screwed up? She could have had him. “It’s about a mile down Sixth. I left it just off the side by that old brewery.”
“Got it.” He turned and for the first time gave Sam a genuine smile. “I’ll be back in a few. If anyone stops by just tell them to give me like five minutes.”
Sam fed Derek while she waited for Eli to return with the car. Her mind fixated more on that smile he had given her. Eli had been the perfect man for her. He still could be… Sam knew that time had passed though. Eli was moving on, and considering how he spoke to her, he didn’t want anything to do with Sam. But Derek…maybe she could make something work.
Sam smiled down at her son. “You want daddy in your life?” Derek answered in a gurgle sound as he continued to suck on the bottle. Eventually, Eli did return with the gas can in hand.
“Car’s filling up at the tanks.” He placed the keys down by the car seat and then the diaper bag he must of pulled out of the car. “I didn’t think you wanted the bag in the car.”
“Thank you, Eli.”
“Yeah, whatever.” He headed behind the counter and rang her up. “It’s going to be about forty for the tank of gas.”
Sam dug out her wallet out of the diaper bag and handed him the cash. She held Derek tight to her chest. “I’ve missed you.”
“Sam, just don’t, okay. It’s killing me that you’re here. And I know from where that car was parked we’re the only place around for miles both ways, but…dammit, why couldn’t you just fill up the car for once?”
Eli wiped his tears. “Yeah, well, I don’t even know why you were driving around here. This isn’t the normal route you take from your work to your apartment.”
Sam didn’t want to tell him she drove by almost daily. It wouldn’t do much use. So, she lied. “I had to pick Derek up from Dad’s. This is just a shortcut from there to my apartment. I moved.”
“You let that asshole watch my son?”
Sam winced. She didn’t blame Eli for calling her father an asshole. She called him the same thing when she found out about what happened.
Sam had been eating ice cream and crying at the stupid romance movie that was on TV when there was a hard pounding at her door. He pushed past her and from the looks of it he was enraged.
“What in the actual fuck, Samantha!”
Sam had no fucking clue as to what he was raging about. “Dad, you okay?”
“Am I okay? Am I okay! You tell me! I just got my ass chewed out by the Chief after I got in a confrontation with this piece of shit kid I locked away years ago.”
Shit. He knows. Sam covered her face and kept the tears back. This was not happening. “Eli. You’re talking about Eli.”
“How long, Sam! How long have you been lying to me?” His shouting was getting out of control. Sam had never seen Dad so upset, so mad. He never shouted at her. Sure, he was overbearing and protective, but this was a side of Dad Sam never saw nor wanted to see now.
“How long, Samantha?”
Sam knew there was no point in lying anymore. Eli was out of her life. She made sure of that, and regretted it daily. “A year. We were together a little over a year.”
“A year! A whole fucking year! Samantha…” He took a couple of deep breaths. “And he’s the father? Am I right? He’s not some fucking drunk one-time mistake that you’ve been telling me. God dammit, Sam. What the fuck were you thinking? He’s a fucking convict. A convict, Sammy. Do you realize how dangerous he is!”
“He’s not,” Sam defended Eli. “He wouldn’t hurt me, Daddy.”
Dad got into her face. “Yes, he would. He’s just like the rest of them, and you know it. But, it’s okay. It’s okay, because I took care of it. He’ll never bother you or your baby again.”
Sam backed away, her eyes widen. “What did you do?” Then she remembered he said something about a confrontation with Eli. “Daddy, please tell me you didn’t hurt him.”
“Not yet. But if he comes near you, I won’t make that mistake. He’s to stay away from the both of you. I am not going to let him ruin yours or my grandchild’s life. Not any more.”
Sam broke into a sob, pointed to the door and yelled, “Get out! You fucking asshole, get out of my apartment and get out of my fucking life!” When he didn’t budge, she pushed him out of the apartment, screaming at him and calling him things she never thought she’d say to her own father.
Sam didn’t speak to him again until the night she went into premature labor, and he was the only person she could call. And when Dad held Derek for the first time, he made amends to Sam, and she apologized to him. Still, she knew that her father would hurt Eli if Eli ever returned in her life, and so for the past few months she kept her distance to protect the man she loved.
“I heard about what he did. I’m sorry, Eli. He should have never done that.”
“He threatened my life. He told me if I came near you or my child he’d make it impossible for anyone to find my body. He’s a real keeper, Sam.” He rolled his eyes.
“Why’d you go up to him?” she asked. That was the one thing she didn’t understand. She spoke to some of the guys that had been there, and they all told her Eli confronted Dad. “Why would you do something like that?”
Eli shrugged. “I was an idiot, a heart-broken idiot. I thought, maybe, if I could talk to him and get him to be okay with us, then maybe you’d take my calls again, that you might actually text me back. I wanted you, Sam. I loved you so much…Hell, I still love you, and it breaks my heart that you’re standing here like we didn’t have some connection.”
“But…I thought you were dating?”
Eli snorted. “I get around, but there hasn’t been anyone that sparked my interest after a single date. No one compares to you, Sammy, and never will. I’m trying to move on, but I doubt I’ll ever find anyone else.”
Sam didn’t even try to hide her tears. She fucked up. Here was the man she wanted to spend the rest of her life with, telling her he was still in love with her. How could she have done this to them? Eli wasn’t the same person that her father arrested. Maybe she should give him the second chance he deserves… Maybe he’d give her same chance to make things right.
“Eli?” Sam teared up. “Would you like to hold your son?”