“It does make sense. Do you feel like because of this new lifestyle with Max, you’ve let yourself go and that’s why you went back to the drugs?” I shake my head and feel tears slide down into my ears. I know what he’s getting at, but I don’t think it’s true. I don’t want it to be true. Max isn’t at fault for my stupidity. No one is at fault for my stupidity other than me. They say love makes you stupid, and it did for me, I just acted on my stupidity. “I don’t know anymore. Max has nothing to do with the drugs, it was the situation surrounding us. I was running from the fear of growing up, and I turned to drugs. Right? That’s what we determined?” I asked as I wiped my eyes and tilted my head to the left to look at him. “Is that the reason you believe as to why you went back to the drugs?” I rolled my head back to stare at the ceiling once again. “I am completely in love with Maxime, and I wouldn’t do anything to jeopardize that, but I did. For some idiotic reason, I did. I overdosed twelve hours after he asked me to marry him. I mean look at me,” I shout as I sat up on the couch and placed my hands over my fuzzy head. “I look like a drug addict. Why is he with me?” Mark folded his hands over his desk and starred at me intently. “He sees something in you that you can’t see. He sees the good, and even through the drugs, and your overdose, he’s waiting for you to return home. I’m going to be straight up with you Lillianah, because we’ve talked about your relationship with Max everyday since you’ve been here. You said yourself that neither of you have been in a relationship and neither of you were looking for love. So if you weren’t looking for love, and he wasn’t either, why are you together?” I run my hand over my head again and the wheels in my head instantly start turning. “When I first met him, I didn’t want anything to do with him. He was just another random guy. Then we started talking, and we spent Christmas Eve together, and hung out here and there, and I found myself thinking about him constantly. Wanting to know what he was doing, where he was, who he was with, how he was doing, if he was thinking of me. He became an addiction.” He nodded his head as he wrote a few things down. Probably assessing just how crazy I really am. “You have an addictive personality, so you think you went to the drugs because your connection with Max wasn’t as strong as it used to be?” Suddenly things were clicking in my mind. That made sense. I don’t know how, or even why, but it did.
After my session with Mark, I headed straight for the sauna. I had a lot to soak in still and my stint in rehab was almost over. Soon I’d be going home, with hopefully a new outlook on life and a healthier lifestyle. I opened the door to the sauna and stepped in to see a man already inside, dressed in sweats, completely soaked. “I’m sorry, did you want to be left alone?” I asked as I stood in the doorway. “No, come on it, it’s alright.” I nodded my head and sat in the corner opposite of him. I pulled my shirt off and pressed my back up against the wood paneling. Luckily I was wearing a black bra, so nothing would become visible to the man across from me. “You’re that chick dating Talbot aren’t you?” He asked catching me completely off guard. “Yeah, that’s me.” “Why are you with him?” He spat out and I instantly frowned. Why was this always the topic of conversation? “I’m in love with him.” “Everyone in western Pennsylvania knows his reputation. Do you honestly think he’s faithful to you?” Who the hell was this guy? Why did he feel like it was okay to attack me like this? My hand flew up to the diamond ring hanging from my neck. My fingers began to play with it as I starred this man down. “He asked me to marry him. The Maxime Talbot you’re talking about doesn’t propose. The Maxime Talbot I know is a one woman man, and he’ll be here to pick me up on Sunday.” His laughter filled the room and it took every muscle in my body to hold myself back from beating the crap out of him. “You might have him whipped, but without you there, it’s easy for dogs to stray back to their normal ways. I’ll be completely shocked if he’s here to pick you up. He probably already forgot about you.” I had enough, I couldn’t listen to a complete stranger talk about Max that way to me. Especially after the therapy session I had. I pulled my shirt back on over my head and left the sauna.
“Excuse me, are we allowed to use the phone?” I asked the nice old lady at the front counter. “It depends on who it is, and all phone calls are monitored.” I could care less about that, I just wanted to hear his voice, and I knew he’d be free. No game, practice would be out by now, he’s probably settling in for a mid-afternoon snack by now. “Maxime Talbot, he’s my boyfriend, he’s also my emergency contact. You should have all of his information on file.” She typed away at her computer before nodding her head and placing a telephone on the counter for me to use. “Just dial nine to get out.” I smiled weakly at her, and my fingers scanned over the numbers on memory. I could feel the excitement grow in my body with the though of hearing his voice at any moment. It rang, and rang, and rang. “You’ve reached Max, you know what to do.” Then the phone beeped at me and I felt my whole stomach drop to the floor. Why did he not answer? What was he doing? Who was he with? Is he with a woman? I hung the phone up and pushed it back toward the receptionist. She gave me a sad smile like she knew. She knew exactly what Max was doing and why he didn’t answer my phone call. I smiled weakly back at her and headed to my room. Now all I wanted to do was just be alone. Try and avoid my thoughts, and wake up on Sunday morning.
“Slow down there Talbo, she doesn’t get released until tomorrow at noon,” Flower chuckled as I sped through my post game routine in Montreal. We had just finished up our regular season with a beautiful three to one win, and tomorrow Lillianah was coming home. So not only was I on an energy high, but I was extremely anxious to get home. “I’m excited, leave me alone,” I shot back at Flower as my whole stall was now packed up, my tie resting around my neck. I looked around the room to see I was the only one shower and dressed, ready to go. “Come on assholes!” I jumped like a little boy who was ready to throw a tantrum. “Calm down son, Flower’s right. She won’t be there when you get home, no need to get your panties in a bunch tonight,” Billy laughed as he clapped a hand down on my shoulder. I winced at the pain but covered it up enough for him not to notice. I couldn’t help that I was excited. I missed her, and I couldn’t wait for her to see the piano in our downstairs. It was beautiful, classic, just like her. It was a perfect fit. I couldn’t wait for her to play me songs, for her to get back into playing. Soft key strokes filling the house. I just couldn’t wait. I knew it was late, but I figured I’d try calling Lillianah back again. I was in the shower when she had called earlier in the week, and I returned the call numerous times, only to be told she was occupied and couldn’t come to the phone. Yet again I was shot down, this time it was after curfew.
By the time we got back to Pittsburgh, I was still wide awake. I headed into the bedroom and unpacked my bag before grabbing my pillow and heading back to the living room. I needed to find a way to fall asleep. The sooner I fell asleep the quicker Lillianah would be back in my arms. It was my version of Christmas Eve. I laid down on the couch and got comfy, pulling the fleece blanket over my body. I had tried on several attempts to sleep in our bed, but I just couldn’t without her in it. It felt too big and cold for one body. My alarm was set, the TV was on a 30 minute sleep mode and I closed my eyes hoping sleep would instantly hit me. Long after the TV had shut off, I was still wide awake, starring at the ceiling. Lost in my thoughts, I couldn’t stop thinking about what she’ll look like, how she’ll sound, how her attitude will be. Has her hair grown out at all? Will she still have that raspy, sexy voice I love waking up to? Most of all, will she be cured of this deadly addiction? I just wanted her back so we could get on with our lives.
Sun beating through the front windows brought me out of my sleep. I looked out to see it was going to be a beautiful day in the city. It was as if Mother Nature knew Lillianah was coming home and she was smiling down on me. I grabbed my cell phone off the coffee table to shut off my alarm, but my eyes grew wide when I looked at the time. 10:45 AM. I had fifteen minutes to get off my ass and out the door. I skipped shaving, skipped the shower, skipped putting contacts in. I looked like a mess. I brushed my teeth as I pulled clothes out of my closet and tossed them on the bed. I glanced at the clock on the wall, 10:49 AM. Fuck, I needed to hurry up. I finished brushing my teeth, and quickly got dressed before heading back downstairs. I wanted to stop by a grocery store on my way to pick her up flowers, so I quickly locked up the house and left. I never felt so rushed before in my life.
Once I was on the road, I was able to calm down a bit. Excitement still ran through my veins, but at least now I was breathing steadily. Once I got off the highway, I pulled into a Giant Eagle and picked up a dozen roses. I knew they wouldn’t last long, but I didn’t want to show up empty handed. This was a big accomplishment for her. What women wouldn’t want to receive roses at the end? I pulled through the gates of the establishment and quickly parked my car and jogged up to the front door. I was ten minutes late, but as they say, better late than never. With roses in hand, I walked through the front doors and was greeted by the same woman at the front desk as the one I met the day I dropped Lillianah off. “Hi, I’m here to take Lillianah Jenkins home,” I smiled at her, bouncing on my heels. Where were they hiding her from me? I just wanted to wrap my arms around her, kiss her and take her home. “Mr. Talbot!” She said my name in shock and with wide eyes. I look at her with my eyebrows raised. “Lillianah left ten minutes ago.” “WHAT?!” “She said you wouldn’t be able to pick her up, so a cab came and got her.” I looked around frantically, this was a joke, right? Someone was playing a sick sad joke on me. “Okay, very funny. Where is she?” The woman tilted her head and pinched her eyebrows together. “I’m sorry Mr. Talbot, but she left. Here, she signed herself out.” She placed a folder on the counter for me to look at and there was her signature with the time next to it, 12:01 PM. “Did she say where she was going?” She shook her head sadly at me and I froze. She left? She was gone?