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(Read by Author Esther Mitchell)

He was losing his grip on sanity. Why else did he keep pushing her away, when all he wanted to do was pull her so close she was forever a part of him, and he could never lose her, again?


Oh, yeah... Because she didn't want him being an overprotective asshole. But he couldn't help his fear. Not after two years of being unable to touch her, or talk to her. Damn it, she was more than just his wife. She was his best friend, and the only woman he ever really loved. Any distance between them was like a slow, torturous death. And he'd lived it for two years.


The last thing he wanted was to watch her put herself into the middle of a situation that might have already cost one woman her life.


Rick scrubbed his hands over his face and stared morosely at the door Tamia just stormed out -- again -- as he faced the truth.


Jean was right.


He was sabotaging himself with his secrets and fear. Not that he ever wanted to keep secrets from Tamia -- it drove him insane when he sensed she was keeping them, years ago, and he knew their relationship was a two-way street. Always had been.


Just like he knew he was hurting her, right now, even as it tore him up inside.


"Fuck," he groaned in frustration, the heels of his hands digging into his eyes.


"You sound like a man with problems."


Rick sat upright, lowering his hands, at the sound of the concerned, southern-accented voice behind him. Turning, he shook his head at Kathy Terrell, the Underground's media darling. "Just trying to figure out how badly I've screwed up my marriage."


Her expression softened with compassion. "Give it time, Rick. Give her time. It wasn't an easy few years."


He laughed hollowly. "Tamia isn't the problem. I am."

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