Stresses of Life & Love
"Is he going to be alright?" Millie asked, huddled in amidst Dr Lang and Hartley outside Liam's bedroom.
"Yes and no. His wound has been taken care of and would need the stitches removed in a couple of weeks but I'm more worried about the toxicity of alcohol in his bloodstream. It is important that we wean him off the alcohol as much as possible, otherwise his liver will cease to continue or it could fatally kill him." Dr Lang said.
"Kill him?" Millie said out loud.
"I've never seen this degree of alcohol in one person's blood stream. It's almost as if he intended to drink this much. I think it very much has a lot to do up here, then anything," Dr Lang pointed to his mind.
"What can we do?" Hartley asked, his hands on his hips. A degree of concern written all over his face.
"There's rehab for a start," Dr Lang replied.
"Rehab? He's not going to want to do rehab," Hartley pointed out.
"Then if this continues, we could very well lose him." Dr Lang replied.
"STOP TALKING AS IF I'M NOT HERE!" came the shout from the bedroom.
They all walked into his bedroom, where he sat up against the headboard, his right hand bandaged and a scowl on his face.
"You have to do rehab. There is no way about it. " Dr Lang said.
"Rehab? Fuck! What do you think I am, an alcoholic?" Liam yelled.
"Denial is one of the..." Dr Lang began before he was interrupted by Liam.
"Don't fucking tell me this bullshit... I like to drink, is that a crime... to enjoy a beer once in a while? Fuck! You're not my mother, I don't have to answer to you..." Liam yelled.
"Liam that is enough!" Hartley bellowed out, silencing Liam but not quite as long.
"Oh what you gonna do? Wrestle me, take my money away from me... what are you going to do?" Liam taunted.
"If you don't get the help you need Mr Blake, we could very well lose you in a few months time, or even a couple of weeks. Your liver is on the verge of collapse and if you don't stop drinking, then you're finished," Dr Lang hit the nail on the coffin, watched as the information digested.
"Excuse me," Millie said quietly and disappeared from the room.
Hartley and Liam watched as Millie left the room and Hartley went to follow her, but Liam had managed to stagger past him in the direction she was headed to. Liam found her in the kitchen, wiping the tears away with the back of her hand, her back towards him. He leaned against the counter as he approached.
"Are you alright?" he whispered.
Her shoulders sagged and she remained where she was, her back towards him, "Shouldn't you be concerned about yourself then me?" she replied.
"No, not really." Liam replied.
"Why not?" she asked, still not facing him.
"What's the point, I don't have anyone to live for," he was surprised by his honesty.
She spun around then, her eyes glazed with tears, "Not even for yourself?"
"What's the point? I'm dying anyway." Liam said, realising he didn't care anymore.
Millie shook violently, grabbing the counter for support as she tried to will the tears away.
"Why are you crying? Why are you even here? What does it matter whether I'm dying or not? As far as I'm concerned you're nothing but a stranger to me... you're dust... you're..." Liam paused, as he watched her face go white.
"You're an arsehole Liam Blake!" Millie kept her voice levelled, "Whatever compelled me to come here and cut off a perfectly great evening reception of a good friend's wedding is beyond me! Maybe deep down, I thought, I could help you... because Hartley begged and I could see the concern and outright devastation written all over his face. He spoke about you, like you are his brother. He was desperate, he was clutching at straws and I couldn't let him down," she held up her hand to ward him off, "I'm not finished! Would your brother be happy to know that you're giving up life so easily now, because you're afraid, that you're wasting your life away... I bet he's looking down from heaven and thinking, gee, Liam... what a way to go!"
"You know nothing about my brother! And don't you dare bring him into it!" he all but screamed at her.
"Yes, I may know nothing about your brother but I know he wouldn't want you to be living the way you are now!" Millie screamed back at him.
"Why is it so important to you Millie, what I do anyway?" Liam asked, "I've asked you this question over and over and you never answer me. Which makes me think... that maybe, maybe you still love me, that you still care. Otherwise, why would you have cleaned my house, took care of me and then cried your eyes out knowing that I could die."
Millie held herself together.
"Why Millie... why the hell are you here?" Liam asked, "Give me a valid reason, why?"
Millie held her hands up, she couldn't take it anymore, "I have never stopped loving you Liam, is that a valid enough reason?"
"Then why did you leave me in St. Lucia then? Why?" Liam demanded.
It was the golden question, why did she leave him. She laughed suddenly, completely out of character. He looked at her, as if she belonged in a mental asylum.
"I wanted you to leave me because I was afraid... because I loved you so much that I thought that love would eventually kill me. In my weird and twisted way, I thought that if I continued to have you in my life that somehow I would be punished for it. The pregnancy, then the assault, losing Lucy, that's what I wanted to call our baby girl by the way, then seeing you again and then the shark attack. It was a lot to take in, in such short a period of time. Looking back on it, I realise how strange it is... how unexplainable my warped way of thinking was. I thought all those things happened because of you, that if I continued to love you, you would continue to punish me... I just didn't think... I don't know... does that make any sense?" Liam didn't reply, he was digesting what she'd just told him, "I started seeing a counsellor and he told me that I was suffering from post traumatic stress, from everything that I encountered, and he assured me it had nothing to do with you, but that I just had a series of bad accidents that I couldn't prevent. I've been getting treatment, it was slow at first because I couldn't accept it but I've been working on it and I realise now that it had nothing to do with you. It was just life.. life happening." Millie said, exhaling, "I'm sorry that I've put you through everything, it wasn't my intention... I wasn't in the right frame of mind."
Liam closed his eyes, "I need to sit down."
Millie went straight for him and ushered him to a seat where he sat down and exhaled a long breathe, "So what are you going to do now?"
"Well, I've got to get my shit together, that's for sure," Liam replied, "Why couldn't you come and talk to me about it?"
"I don't know... I really don't... but I don't want to look back on it, it's like taking two steps back when I really should be taking the steps forward, y'know," Millie said, playing with her skirts.
"Can I ask you to do something for me please, Millie, but don't take it the wrong way," Liam asked.
"Of course," Millie replied.
"Would you leave me alone, just give me time to think things over but I promise you that when I've got my shit together, you'd be the first person I will get in touch with?" Liam asked.
"Of course," she nodded as she stood up looking at her watch, "I guess that's my cue to leave then." She delved into her clutch bag and took out her business card and laid it flat on the table, "Take care of yourself Liam," she said softly, kissing him on the cheek and he watched as she walked towards his front door and opened the door, she stopped, turned around, smiled and closed the door behind her.
The Next Couple of Months
Each day was a struggle for Liam but he treated each day like it was a hurdle in an Olympic race. The first few were hard, he could barely get out of bed because he was so damn tired. Tired of everything. He regularly consulted with Dr Lang, who advised him to take it easy and who referred him to a nutritionist and a counsellor. God, he was a nut job, but he found strength from such an unlikely source, his best friend Hartley, who opened up his house to him. Liam spent most of his time there, taking care of his kids, taking walks out in the park with his family. He even saddled up with Jack McCalister and got to work with him. His wife Frederica was lovely, smart, funny and passionate and he could see what a great match they made. They didn't treat him like he was a lost cause, they treated him like any other person and he appreciated that, he was sane because of that.
The days ran into weeks and the weeks turned into months, yet Liam hardly noticed. The seasons had changed from Spring to Autumn and now they were heading towards Winter. He was getting back to his usual self, gaining his appetite back and he no longer acknowledged the need for liqueur or beer or even a shot of tequila. He watched as Frieda walked into the room with a pen and paper in her hand, she looked up when she saw him and smiled.
"What you doing?" Liam asked.
"Just planning our Christmas party- just thinking who to invite and what food to have. Have you got any suggestions?" she asked, as she sat down in front of him.
"Eggnog, Turkey... umm those sausages with that bacon around it," Liam suggested.
"Pigs in blankets," Frieda replied.
"Those are hot dogs in the States, y'know," Liam laughed, "Hot dogs for Christmas dinner, that'd be great."
"Pigs in blankets, are not hot dogs Liam, they're cocktail sausages," Frieda said.
"But if they're called pigs, why is the blanket made of the pig anyway?" Liam asked, "Shouldn't it be called pork sausages wrapped in bacon blankets or something."
"We could be at this all day y'know," Frieda smiled, "Any other requests?"
"Nah, not really. Am I invited?" Liam smiled.
"Of course, it wouldn't be a Christmas without you," Frieda commented.
"I appreciate everything you've done to accommodate me Freida, I know we've not really seen eye to eye but I'm really thankful." Liam said, as he leaned forward and hugged her. She hugged him back.
"Hey, hey, hey! Get off my woman!" Hartley laughed as he walked through the room and saw the embrace between the two.
"I better make myself scarce, got a lot of planning to do," smiled Frieda as she left the room.
"Wondered what you wanted to do tonight?" Hartley asked Liam.
"What did you have in mind?" Liam said.
"Dunno, meet up with the other boys... been a while since we last had a boy's night out. What do you think?" Hartley suggested.
"Okay," Liam said.
"Come on, show some enthusiasm Liam... this is good for you... this will test your resilience."
"To alcohol, yeah. Or it could set me off... I don't want to go down that road," Liam refused.
"You've come this far not to back down... come on, you can do it Liam. You can... man, I have faith in you." Hartley said, smacking him on the back.
"Yeah, someone has to." Liam exhaled.
Later that Night...
When Hartley said they would be going out for a boy's night out, he wasn't kidding. They pulled up outside a gentleman's club. Or in other words, a fucking stripper's club. They shot through the back door and into the club's VIP room, where they were treated to champagne on ice and an unlimited bar on tap. Liam chose orange juice and was surprised by his reluctance to even go down the alcohol route. He took a seat on their plush black leather couch as beautiful woman clad in next to nothing wandered past them, their sauntering hips and their plush backsides causing quite a stir in the nether regions.
"Goddamn, I wish I was that fucking pole she's sliding on," the remark came from Nate, Jack's brother who had come along last minute. When he'd heard they were going to one of the best Stripper joints, he couldn't pass up the offer.
"Yeah, what you really mean is you wish you had a pole up your arse," Jack his brother snickered.
Nate shoved him and they looked about them, "I could get used to this... this is probably what a King must have felt like?"
"You're in every man's fantasy and you're thinking about being a king..." Hartley laughed.
"Nothing wrong with that! I'm gonna have a lap dance," Nate said, disappearing down the corridor.
Liam gave it about an hour before he gave up, yeah, it was every man's fantasy, but he was bored. He wasn't in the mood, so he said his goodbyes and took a stroll out. It was far colder then he remembered, but maybe that was due to being cooped up in a 4x4 on the way there. He pulled together his jacket and strolled down the road, it was quite a quiet evening for November. He'd expected the streets to be emblazoned with people doing their Christmas shopping. His feet found their way to Chelsea Bridge, he stood there gazing out into the cold black distance. His hands dug into his jacket and his hand wrapped around something thin and hard, he took it out and stared at it. How did it get there? Before he put too much thought into it, he hailed a cab and gave the driver the address.
Liam stood on Millie's door step, hesitant in ringing the door bell. He'd been standing on the front stoop for ten minutes pondering whether he was strong enough to do this but he was here now. As he reached down to press the door bell, the door swung open and she almost tackled him to the floor. She dropped the suitcase and yelped.
"God, you gave me a heart attack..." she said mostly to herself, only then when she looked up, did she realise who was standing in front of her, "Liam?!"
"Hi Mills," he half grinned.
"My God, what are you doing here? I mean, sorry... umm, I'm in a bit of a pickle at the moment... I'm heading to Heathrow."
"Where you going?" Liam asked, as he helped her heave her suitcase down the stairs, there was a black Mercedes parked outside her house and the door opened.
"I'm going to New York for work. I hate to rush you but was there something you wanted? Did you want to come with me, in the car? On the way? I can get Ted to drop you afterwards?" Millie said as she gave her luggage to her chauffeur.
"No, it can wait," Liam smiled, as he stood on the curb watching her. God, she was beautiful. He couldn't take his eyes off her. When she took her cream coat off, she was wearing a red cashmere jumper and jeans that hugged her like a second skin. Her hair, he noticed had subtle highlights in them, which only accentuated her beauty.
Millie dumped her coat in the back seat and turned around to Liam, "If you're sure?" she said. He nodded and what surprised him more was the hug she gave him. There were friendly hugs and there were hug, hugs. This hug, was definitely an 'I've Missed You' hug. They hugged for what seemed like forever and then she was reluctant to leave him, "You look good... actually, you look more then good. You look great. I'll see you when I get back, okay?" With that, she smiled at him and got into the car.
And Liam's heavy heart was restored.