"It's not your fault." That's what they kept saying. They could have said it a million times and it wouldn't have changed anything. It was my fault. I froze. All that time I spent acting like a badass and talking a big game and when it came right down to it I froze. No matter how many times people told me it wasn't my fault I couldn't believe them. Standing at the funeral, Jesse and Simon were on either side of me with their hands on my shoulders, I was busy crying myself to death.

I loved her. We met when we were in high school, senior year. She was just a friend then but in collage was when we started dating. Six years. That's how long we were together, six of the best years of my life without so much as a bump. She was perfect, she was beautiful, long dark brown hair and an angel's face but what I really loved about her was how she acted. She was the nicest girl you would ever meet, and she was always really shy and soft-spoken. But in a second she could go from being the shy little girl to just a non-stop chatterbox who got lost in her interests. She always got embarrassed whenever she did and would blush like a beat. She was so adorable. Her name was Shay and she was just too adorable. I didn't deserve her.

Everyone always made jokes that we were destined to get married and while we laughed it off a lot we had actually talked about it, maybe even having kids. We both made good money and were never happier than when we were with each other. Anytime kids came up I could see a light in her eyes, she had dreams of being a mother just like I had dreams of being a father. Those times were nothing but smiles and sweet nights. God how I want those times back.

I had already bought a ring. She didn't know it yet. We were shopping one day and we looked at bunch of rings when she found one she adored. A small clear diamond set in the tiny gold ring. She ogled over it and was all but bouncing in joy when the manager let her try it on. When I laughed at her for being so happy she got shy again and started making excuses why she couldn't ever get it. Before we left I whispered to the owner to hold the ring and I would be back for it. I went back in a few days later and bought the ring, now I just needed the right time.

It was two weeks ago, we were on our way back from a nice dinner I had dragged her out to. If I had just let us stay in, maybe she would be ok. Simon had driven us there but he didn't stay so we were walking home instead, the restaurant was two blocks away and the air was refreshing and chilly. I didn't propose in the restaurant, I thought about it but it just didn't feel right so I held off. If I had maybe we wouldn't have left so quick, maybe we would have stayed and it never would have happened.

We were laughing to each other and swaying in each other's arms. I kept telling her how beautiful she was and she was hiding her face in her hair every time I did. Everything she did made me smile and every time she kissed me I didn't feel worthy of such love. I wasn't watching where I was going very well since I was too focused on her so when I bumped into someone I turned to apologize when I saw the silver knife in his hand.

And I froze.

"Your money! Wallet, purse all of it! Give it to me!" the haggard man snapped brandishing his blade.

For over ten years I studied various styles of martial arts. I knew how to win any hand to hand fight, block all manner of attacks, disarm a gun, knife, bat, or club and yet I froze when it mattered the most.

Shay threw him her purse but I couldn't move. My hands refused to cooperate as I stared blankly. I was such a fucking idiot.

Everything snapped on at ounce and I reached to pull out my wallet but I guess I moved too quick or too sudden because our attacker freaked out and grabbed my shirt holding the knife closer to me. Shay panicked along with him and grabbed at his arm to keep him from stabbing me. Me? I was lost in a haze, but when Shay came up I tried to push her back so she wasn't near the armed man.

The next thing I knew I was on the ground, a sharp pain in my face and as I rolled and looked up I saw what I can never stop seeing. I can't ever forget how her eyes shot wide as the blade sank into her chest. She didn't scream but her mouth fell open in a silent howl. The bastard pulled the blade out and stabbed her again and the second time she did scream. I had never heard her scream like that and the sound haunts me like a banshee. She started crying then and so was I.

"Shay!" I howled so loud I felt my voice crack. As I got on my feet the mugger turned and came at me but weather from anger, fear, rage or whatever caused it I was all instinct in that moment. I deflected his knife with my left hand and the bridge of my right hand crashed into his throat so hard I felt his airway crack under my hand. He fell on the ground gasping for air he wouldn't get.

I dropped next to Shay and we were both crying but I wouldn't let it end. "It's gonna be ok honey. It's gonna be ok." I tried to sooth her while I pressed to stop the blood. No matter how much I pressed she wouldn't stop bleeding and all I could do was watch as she cried in pain and blood ruined her shirt and jacket. I was screaming for help but no one was coming. She started shaking and was trying to talk but her words only dissolved into quiet whispers and cries of pain. I was bawling over her and pulled her closer to me, holding her in my arms. Three years as an EMT and I couldn't do anything to save her.

She died in my arms right there. I felt the life leave her like something that no matter how tight you hold on, you can't stop it. She looked at me just before she died her green eyes still as beautiful as ever, even when she was crying. She smiled at the last second and I couldn't do anything but kiss her and hold her tight as she left me alone on the street.

The mugger didn't make it either. By the time the paramedics and cops showed up he had already suffocated on his own broken throat. They never charged me, but sometimes I wish they had. I felt like I needed to be punished for what happened. I didn't care what had happened to him, the bastard died just like he should have, but Shay was still gone. I would never see here again. And it was my fault.

My friends didn't let me go home after the funeral, didn't think I should be alone. They were right. My gun was at home, and it would have looked really friendly with how I felt then. Every time I close my eyes all I see is shays face as the knife dug into her, like a ghost that can never be pushed away. I screamed and cried when I was awake and according so Jesse whose couch I was on for a week I did the same in my sleep. There was no escaping it. I would always have a ghost with me.

Simon took my gun before they let me go back to my place. I was pissed he broke in, but a few days later I thanked him. He did the right thing and I told him so after I calmed down. Life was grey again, like it was before I met her. I lost her, and it was my fault.

I didn't drink as much as people thought I would but I did drink. Shay and I drank a bit but neither of us ever really liked getting really drunk and we only ever got drunk once. I went out one night and got so wasted Simon and Jesse had to carry me back to Jesses on their shoulders. I was still crying the whole time, the booze didn't help. Apparently I took a swing at Jesse that night and gave him a good black eye. I didn't even remember. He told me to remember Shay and how she felt about alcohol. I did and so I kept away from the stuff, never got drunk again.

The time after that was nothing. It was grey and empty. I went back to work after a while, I moved out of the old place. There were too many ghosts there for me to stay. I kept the ring though. I don't have a fucking clue why but I kept it. Put it up in my closest, still sealed in its little velvet box. Simon only let me have my gun back a few days after I moved and he still didn't seem to trust me with it. I thank him and Jesse both for being there for me. They kept telling me, "It wasn't your fault." I kept telling them, "I know." Lying to their faces. I told myself the truth every night when I cried into a sleep.

So that's part one. There are going to be two more parts to this story so please stay tuned. If you feel the need leave a review I always like to hear reactions to what I read.