Broken Hate


Series: Westbrook Blues #3
Release Date: April 10, 2020
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WHAT'S WRONG BABY BLUE? DID YOU MISTAKE HIS FORCED SINCERITY FOR LOVE?

Every kiss will fade in time.

Every memory will die in time.

Every smile, every teardrop, every wound—it’ll all dry up—in time.

But every lie? That shit only gets bigger and more devastating with time.

In time. . .I’ll learn to let him go, but not without leaving my bitter mark on him like he carelessly ruined my soul with his cold, rough touch.

In time I’ll learn to forgive those that have wronged me as savagely as they did.

In time I’ll rise from the ashes and soar. In time the Blue Boys will learn to take me seriously, come hell or high water.

But for right now, we’re in the final blue act, playing for hateful truths, our audience of two faced snakes cheering for the hate and the breaking.

Resentment, toxic anger, lies and betrayal are the rules of the game.

The price? A bitter ending.

What will break first? My hate or your heart?

Because baby, love means absolutely nothing when it falls on broken, shattered souls like ours.

Read a sneak peek from Broken Hate

WARNING! THIS SCENE CONTAINS MATERIAL THAT MIGHT TRIGGER PSYCHOLOGICAL, MENTAL & EMOTIONAL LAPSES FOR SOME READERS. PLEASE DO NOT READ ANY FURTHER THAN THIS IF YOU’RE BELOW THE AGE OF EIGHTEEN OR IF YOU CANNOT HANDLE IT. THANK YOU!
Love, Thandie.

 

 

ASTRAEA

Two years ago. . .

Astraea, did you know that the sky over Westbrook Blues is starless without you here? It’s almost as if, the lights in the universe went out because you want everyone to be plunged in your darkness. How could you be so selfish? Making sure that everything good dies with your cold, cold heart.

 

I read the note scribbled in a messy, boyish scrawl that I would know from anywhere in the world. It’s not signed or anything, just those words in the middle of the paper, that’s been crumbled and re-flattened one too many times to be readable but I can read the words, boy can I read the hate.

I can feel the venom in his words dripping off of the page like he’s actually speaking the words to my face, with a menacing look on his face. Imagining the look on his face isn’t so hard but at this point in my bleak, miserable life, I can’t imagine his face without the image being distorted with having not seen his gorgeous face for so long.

Breathe, Astraea.

He found out what happened to you and he never wanted you after that. You don’t deserve to feel this kind of pain over this jerk.

I crumble the paper in my hand, intending to throw the note away—just like I’ve done so many other times when I received this note—and just like then too, I can’t bring myself to even complete the act. Instead I unfold the note carefully, flattening it out with shaky, sweaty palms as best as I can.

This is my only connection to him. This is the only evidence I have that he still thinks of me. That I’m not forgotten. And as much as I hate this, it’s the last thing I want to remember before I go.

“She hasn’t eaten anything in days.” The doctor says to the two nurses. They’re all standing in the corner of my room, whispering with their heads bent forward, glancing at me every few seconds as if they’re discussing a mute patient without all her faculties about her.

“Have you tried contacting the mother?”

“She said she can’t be here, and that we need to keep her here.”

“Jesus.” A pause. “What about the boy—her twin brother?”

“I think. . .” They’re voices lower then, as they notice that I’m looking at them, listening to the pity in their voices.

They stand there, unaware that I have half a bottle of pills in my stomach—just waiting to finish the rest as soon as they leave.
Act normal, they don’t need to see anything.
Nothing else matters anyway.

My gut churns, my heart beats painfully in my chest as it works over time, my system half full of drugs that they’ve been trying to wean me off of. I suck in a deep silently, but I can’t seem to be able to stop the shaking as I reach for the second letter that came almost an entire year after the first one.
They always arrive on my birthday.

 

Astraea, you better fucking come back and fix what you left broken here! You have no idea the chaos you left, but then again, you don’t care, do you? You deserve to rot in hell, but that won’t save you from me because when I get to you, I promise you this—I’ll give you sweet pain that you’ll never escape. A kind of nightmare you’ll never wake up from—just like us here.
I’ll be the monster that you used to ask me to check for under your bed each night.
I’ll be everything you wish I wasn’t.
You’ll regret ever leaving in the first place.

Star. . .how could you?

 

This one is even more sinister, filled with anger and hate that I can almost taste. But what I feel deep within with that last line is the hurt that echoes in my soul. The pain in that cancelled out last line is almost so raw, so tangible that my heart twists in my chest, but I refuse to believe it.

How could he say something like that when he sent his mother to send me away?
A chill passes through my body, going up and down my spine, ending in my toes as I read this note for the billionth time, my eyes blurring with unshed tears, clogging my throat as if I’m about to swallow a tennis ball.

I can’t breathe properly.

It’s already starting.

My chest heaves up and down faster as the seconds tick on by, the pain intensifying against my chest with the beating of my heart, each breath bringing me closer to the end but even then, I try to make as little noise as possible.

The third note lies on my dresser, opened. It’s the one I was most excited to receive today and it’s the very one that put me in this mood.

It’s crazy how you can be excited over a hateful note, your heart literally skips a beat when you know exactly who it’s from.

How pathetic is that? Being so lonely that just the vague idea that the boy you’ve been pinning over for years—even when you know better—still thinks of you enough to send you another hateful note? A note that only drives the point of his hate further home?

Only this time, I received the message loud and clear.

I finally got what he’s been telling me—through wicked, sinister actions mostly.

Alexander—Ace to me—hates my guts.

This latest note finally broke me, destroyed me and pushed me further into the brink of what the staff here call, clinical depression.

The note was delivered to me by a smiling nurse earlier—reminding me that today is my birthday but when I read it, a deep nasty feeling took root in me. One that I couldn’t avoid even if I tried. It felt like an icy darkness had fallen over me and no matter what I did, I couldn’t shake it.

Only, I didn’t want to shake it. I accepted it with my empty, worthless open arms which has led me to this. . .

Today might also be my last. It might just be good luck for the next life if you die on the day you were born. Maybe in the next one, I won’t be so alone. I won’t go through all this mess and pain by myself. Maybe I’ll even have friends that stick to their word.

Breathe, Astraea. Just breathe.

I close my eyes but the tears start streaming down my cheeks fast and hot. This time I don’t stop them. I’ve been in this fucking mental institution for over two years now, but this is the first time I’m feeling like. . . I can’t go on anymore.

I just can’t do this anymore.

The nightmares.

The vivid images that assault me at random times of the day.

The looks of pity.

The absence of family and friends around me.

The trauma.

Each time I close my eyes, I see him moving on top of me.

I swear some nights, when I’m alone in my room, I can still hear his groans.
I can feel his disgusting sweat dripping on me, the putrid smell mixing with that of the lingering tobacco as it threatens to suffocate me.
I can sense myself still fighting, kicking and screaming.

Then those images distort, giving way to another one that chills me to the bone, making me cry for days on end.

I hear Denise’s words.

“He doesn’t want you here. Please go away and if you know what’s best for you, don’t bother coming back.”

“No. He. . .he wouldn’t want that.”

I had pleaded my case, the physical pain giving way to some other pain that I’ve never felt before. A kind of pain that I don’t think they have medication for.

“He’ll be fine without you.”

She had said, driving the final nail into my coffin that’s about to be shipped to God knows where.

I shake that memory away, trying to stay in the present as I hear their voices in the corner. They glance at me every few seconds, then they bow their heads together, whispering words that I catch in glimpses.

“She’s got a major depressive disorder.”

“Medication. . .”

“Always sad.”

“Maybe it’s trauma.”

“Rape Trauma Syndrome.”

“Her mother. . .”

I shut my eyes again, trying to block them away as the notes that I received from Ace all flutter to the ground.

“Blank. . .”

“Isn’t present.”

“Or responsive.”

They keep talking and whispering as I lie down on my bed, then pull the covers over me, mentally willing them to get out of my room. I just want to be alone right now.

Just go away.

“Wealthy American family. . .”

“Mentally unstable. . .”

“Problems. . .

“A victim.”

The voices come back then, whispering in my head, darkness swirling through my veins, clogging my chest like thick, dark smoke, suffocating me in the process as chills upon chills pass through my entire body. I start trembling, my entire body now coated with a sheen of sweat. I pull the covers on top of me, securing them more tightly around me as if that will ward off the cold that has since taken root in my bones. But I also want to fool the aids to think that I’m trying to rest so they can leave.

True to form they leave, but not without leaving the bottle of Xanax. Not without checking that half of the contents is gone when they just gave me a full one this morning with instructions to take two when absolutely necessary. I guess they don’t suspect anything, when it took me almost a year to get through the first bottle.

I stare at the bottle, watching it as if it’s beckoning to me to snatch it up.
The Xanny eased the pain in my chest.

It soothed the hurt, the pain, sending me to a space of peaceful but dark bliss where nothing and no one exists. Not even a pair of frosty blue eyes, gleaming with hate and something else that makes my belly flutter.
Xanny eased the memories, until they all become nothing. . .

So, as soon as they shut the door, I grab the bottle, sitting up straight in my bed. I open my mouth and empty the rest of the pills in my mouth.

No, don’t do this.

Do it. . .

You’ll die.

Good, then there’s nothing to live for.

No one wants you.

They all hate you.

They pity you.

You’re a disgrace.

What happened to you is totally your fault.

No one believes you. Not even your own mother.

Where is your father?

This life isn’t worth living.

But I keep going, swallowing as many of the small pills as possible, without water or anything because nothing matters.
My body starts shutting down but I’m still hyper aware of everything around me, yet the weakness is creeping in. My fingers start shaking. I drop the bottle, my eyes now unfocused, yet still seeing. It’s a strange haze that I’m in.

Good. I like it.

I start sliding down slowly, easing into my bed, with all my strength I pull up the covers over me.

From the corner of my tear filled eyes, I see the notes on the floor but I look away, my gaze landing on the locket that I received a few days ago. The locket the boys who I thought the world of, gave me for my birthday when I thought life was full of rainbows, love and laughter.

But here, there’s nothing but darkness.

Darkness and deafening silence.

You shouldn’t have done this. . .

You did the right thing.

I’ve heard some people have done it before. Hell, maybe the lady who lived in here, before me actually did it because I heard that she died.

How did she die? I asked one of the aids that work here.

Suicide.

 

Everything good dies with your cold, cold heart. . .

 

My mind plunges me into a weird state of being. Where I’m not sure what’s real or what’s a nightmare anymore as everything converges together, mixing, blurring. . .until I’m so weak I can only watch as everything falls apart around me as that one sentence plays over and over in my head until all I see is the hate on all their faces as they look at me.

I gasp for breath but I can’t breathe.

End this.

A voice in my head that sounds strangely like Brittney’s, whispers. I don’t want anything. I just. . .can’t take this anymore.

I hear a sound—someone just opened my door.

“Astraea?” Dr Gabby calls out my name as she comes in. “Happy birthday.” She says softy in her British accent.

I look up at her, blinking slowly, hating the cheer in her voice. Hiding the fact that my mouth is full of pills that I’m trying to swallow but can’t, yet I’m sure I’m going to die.

“Your brother is coming soon, he just called to say he’s picking up something. I bet it’s a present.” She says with a smile.

A frantic look crosses my face as my eyes widen. She interprets it as excitement but it’s not. Dread washes over me like thick goo as I realize that George is coming. And he’s coming at the wrong time! I don’t want him to see me dying. That’s a cruel memory to leave on the ones you love. He doesn’t deserve that kind of pain no matter how much I sometimes resent him for not coming with me—instead, choosing to stay behind with the boys that didn’t want me back.
No.

I start looking around, hurriedly and the good, yet blasé doctor chuckles.
“Yeah, you might want to get ready and look presentable.” She says as she starts backing away. “I’ll leave you to it.”

And just like that, she leaves without suspecting a thing.

I wonder how many “patients” they’ve lost in here, because of their negligence. But that’s not my main issue now. I need to. . . I need to get up and try and vomit these pills.

But all of a sudden, I can’t move, paralyzed to the bed.

I start shivering, violently as sweat coats my brow. I feel the poison in my system, can feel it breaking apart each defense system in my body. And why should I be surprised? The xanny is doing exactly what it was designed to do when taken in excess.

To kill.

As the trembling continues, I close my eyes and allow my body to relax, accepting the consequences of my decision to end all this suffering, I remember the last note I received earlier today.

 

You told me that your arms will always be open whenever I needed a hug. Well guess what, I need more from you now than you’ll ever know.

Trust me, I’ll take everything from you and you’ll give it whether you want to or not. Because you and I both know, you and everybody else don’t stand a chance against me when it comes to what–or who–belongs to me!

Truth is, there are parts of me that hurt every single day, because you’re not here. And because of that pain, you enrage me to the heavens and back but I don’t understand why you should. You’re not here and so you shouldn’t affect me so ruthlessly like this.

You lied about a lot of shit, Astraea and I hate you for it. You know what, keep your pathetic hugs to yourself, I don’t need them.

I also don’t need you!

Star, come back.

The boys are falling apart without you.

We’re doing better without you.

No one needs you here.

Don’t come back.

I wish I could get you off my fucking mind.

You’re not in my soul anymore.

I hate you!

I want you back.

But you’re a liar

And so am I.

 

 

God.

Which part did he lie about? Because I never lied. I never lied about anything till today. Not to him of all people.

I hate you!

I whimper, flinching at the harsh words. I’ve always known that he hates me. When he bullied me, when he treated me like I’m filth under his expensive, hand made shoes. I’m the only one he ever took the time to bully, following me around, whispering sinister things in my ear that made my heart pound, my eyes widening with fear, cheeks tinged red with embarrassing excitement that he would chuckle at as we interlocked our pinkies.

“Ahh!”

A howling pain passes through my lips as the memories assault my mind in a slow motion kind of film, behind my eyes.

Ace’s cool smirk when he looked at his handy work. His deep blue eyes fixed on me as he wiped my tears away with a stormy war brewing within him, promising retribution.

Noah’s hyena laugh that made me feel warm even on the coldest of nights.
His jokes that I lived for.

Emmett’s quiet strength that always surrounded me. His kindness that I gravitated towards each time.

Then George, my alpha-protective twin brother, who is on his way now but I can’t help it now.

My heart is beating so fast as if it’s about to give way to the end where it just explodes in my chest but only this time I don’t know if it’s because of the note or the pills.

Maybe both.

“I brought you your favorite fried chicken and guess what, it’s with waffles!”

Oh God, he’s here.

I know I should be elated to hear his voice since I only ever talk to him on the phone three times each week but seeing him here, is getting rare as the days drag on into months, and the months into years. But right now, he’s the last person I want to see, and as I hear his voice now, I curl into myself even more in the dark room.

“Astraea, did you hear what I said?” He sing-songs, with a carefree, happy note in his voice that is evidence of an untouched, undamaged soul. And I’m the selfish twin whose about to imprint an image on his brain where I’m dying of a drug overdose. All that will remain in my name is that, she was too troubled to function. In the end, she took her own life—on the day of her & her twin’s birthday.

Yeah. I was a selfish bitch with a cold, cold heart.

Ace saw that before I ever did.

“It’s our birthday! I know how you adore our birthday!” He says, coming in further into the room. “Wait, that’s not true. You kinda hate our birthday, since we turned thirteen.” His voice grows somber.

Silence meets him instead of my response. I can’t even bring myself to say anything.

“You hate everything now.”

That’s true.

“But no matter, I’m here and we’re going to have the best night of our lives!” He cheers, with a happy note in his voice that I know he forced into it. My brother hates being here but he tries to make it look like being in a mental institution, even if it’s just for a visit to his messed-up-in-the-head sister, who one day up and left because she couldn’t handle it anymore and needed psychiatric attention—doesn’t bother him one bit.

I know better.

That plastic smile melts away into disdain and aggravation as soon as he thinks I’m not looking.

His body is always tense, his fists clenched, when he passes through the fancy, iron gates that cage me in here like I’m a prisoner of my own mind.
He hates it here and I know he’s always counting down to the last second until he can leave. Yet, he’s the only one I truly have left.

But George being George, he still smiles and puts on the biggest, most entertaining show—channeling all the shenanigans he learns from Noah. They were, after all, “soul-brothers.”

A sad smile plays at the corner of my lips as I hear him move, all my senses heightened to a point of pain. Convulsions start like little trembles in the pit of my stomach, a small whimper leaves me but I clamp my lips shut with all the strength I can muster at this point.

“Go away.” I croak, hardly able to say a thing.

“What?” He questions. I think I can hear him moving or maybe that’s my imagination. Hell, maybe he isn’t even here right now and my foggy, shutting down messed up mind just conjured an image of him as if to ease the pain as I slowly let go of this wretched life.

“Why the fuck is it dark in here?” He questions again. “Tell me you’re not sleeping through your birthday, baby girl.” He chuckles.

He noticed how dark it is in my mind? He’s definitely a figment of my own imagination. He’s in my head and just maybe, he’s in my soul as well.

“I don’t know.” I whisper, feeling broken but I try to smile at him. Can he see me? Does he know that he’s in my subconscious?

“Astraea, I’m going to fucking open the blinds. You need some light in here. It’s cold and gloomy as fuck!” He curses and then starts moving around but I still can’t see his face. But I can still feel his movements.

“No, I like it dark.” I croak out.

“Why are you doing this to yourself, Astraea?” I feel the pain in his voice as he speaks. “You can’t even tell me the real reason why you’re here in the first place. Why did you leave?”

Because I had to.

Because he sent me away.

“Because I’m tired.” I croak again, not wanting him to know exactly what happened to me. It’ll be a cruel fate to live with when I’m gone. I don’t want that for my twin turbo.

“Why, Astraea?” His frustrated voice rings clear in the room. “I feel like I’ve been missing a lot of shit for a while now. It’s driving me insane but today I’m not leaving without either of two things. The truth or you.”
God, I can’t hear anymore of this because he’ll leave here with my corpse.

“I had to leave because I couldn’t stay.” I murmur, talking to my brother in my head, giving him the truth, even though it’s half assed. He’ll just have to learn to live with that one.

Sometimes the truth does more harm. . .

I know he deserves more than that, he’s the only who’s stuck by my side through it all, but if our own mother can’t even tell him the truth—or his best friend for that matter, then I guess what happened to me doesn’t really matter now, does it?

“I couldn’t stay anymore.” I whisper, repeating the words I’ve repeated a thousand times to the nurses here, my doctors, or anyone who asks why the hell one so young is in here.

But tragedy cares not for one’s age. It just wreaks havoc as it does best. Destroying lives left, right and center.

“What?” He questions. “I can’t even hear you.”

Okay, here goes nothing.

“Everything is pointless.” I start, straining to get the words past my clogged-up throat, trying to explain it all to him, because I don’t want him to suffer as much when he receives the news that I’m gone—or when he feels it in his soul like I sometimes do when something’s up with him.

“I hate it here. I hate my life. I hate not being with you, Emmett, Noah and even Ace.” I can feel tears now falling down my face just as the sound of opening curtains pierces my dark, empty mind.

“Astraea, get up.” He says softly, but there’s something else in his voice now that I can’t place.
Urgency?

Caution?

Alarm?

“It’s a bright day outside, we can go on a tour of London. This place is creepy as fuck, like somebody died in here. You know today is a good day, right?”

I can hear the forced cheer in his gravely, deepening voice but why is it extra coated today?

“I can’t get up and you’re not here.” I mumble back to him, still believing that he’s not real because everything around me is falling away as the convulsions become stronger, more forceful.

I feel lightheaded, but my entire body is damn heavy, I can’t move anymore.

“Astraea seriously, get up.” He demands and that’s when I feel a nudge but at this point, I can’t be sure.

I feel so numb now and all the pain is dissolving one second, then coming back with an intensity that makes me arch my back as something weird starts happening in my stomach, as if everything is going away and there’s just. . .nothing now but I know it’s something.

“Astraea?” George whispers.”I know you’re not asleep.”

“Just know that I love you. I tried to hold on for you.” I murmur.

“What are you saying?” George’s urgent voice filters through my ears now and then in one move, the blanket on top of me is pulled back with so much force, I feel the chilly breeze.

“Holy shit!” A loud gasp makes my heart flutter for a bit, then it kicks into overdrive as it hammers away in my chest, one convulsion after the other wrecking my body.

George’s voice is suddenly so close like he’s no longer in my head.

“Astraea!” He shouts but suddenly, I can’t respond anymore as a pain so acute, cuts through my mind like it’s being obliterated from the inside, like I’m starting to have a seizure.

I don’t know what’s happening now.

In the distance I hear an ear piercing, high pitched chilling scream but it takes a while for me to realize that that scream, came from me.

“Fuck, Astraea!” The shout is full of pain and shock but I can’t breathe right anymore, I can’t control the tremors or keep the convulsions in check like I was doing before. I can’t do a single thing now.

Everything is so still and right now, I think I need that stillness.

“Somebody help!!!” The voice bellows.

Suddenly, I’m weightless, as if I’m floating in the air but soon I can register the strong, steel arms around me. I’m airborne now, being moved to God knows where, but it’s too late now.

It’s time to go.

But who knew overdosing on xannies would be this painful?

“What the fuck happened?” Another voice joins in and everything in me screeches to a halt as that deep, curt tense and angry voice washes over me like bitter honey.

It can’t be.

“I don’t know. I just came in and. . . fuck get it out of her mouth!” The panicked voice pleads. “What is that anyway?”

“Pills.” The angry, terse but strangely calm voice says. I feel my hair being pushed away from my face as fingers pry into my mouth. I can barely stay awake now, as another shock wave attacks me.

I scream.

“Holy fuck, what’s happening?”

“She’s having a seizure and losing consciousness fast.”

“Shit, shit, shit! What should we do?”

Everything hurts. Then I feel like I’m drowning underwater, my lungs shrinking by the second and I can’t catch my breath.

Silence as fingers probe my mouth. I feel so lethargic, and have no feeling everywhere else. That’s a good thing. All the memories are gone.

“I’m going to get those fucking nurses! I think she swallowed the entire bottle.”

I can faintly hear the pounding of feet against the floor, the vibration rocking through me, as I’m laid back on the floor, dragged out of the ocean of water. I fight to keep my eyes open but at this point, nothing matters anymore.

There’s comfort in the dark, a kind of comfort that I need. Desperately.

“This isn’t how you fucking go, you hear me?” The voice demands and every muscle that’s still working locks up at that voice.

I don’t understand why it’s so. . .cold and angry. So unyielding yet I feel strangely drawn to it with my entire being.

“Why Star?”

Star. . .

He just called me Star! Only one person in this entire world has ever called me that and he isn’t here. My heart starts pounding painfully and I feel like I’m shutting down but in that moment, a burst of energy hits me and I fight to open my eyes.

“Open those gorgeous eyes right fucking now! If you’re going to go, then fucking say goodbye properly!” The voice demands, with so much anger and broken passion but the heavy, weary sadness. . . I can’t get past that.

This person, he talks as if he’s in pain. As if that pain was caused by. . .me.

Oh God.

I struggle to open my eyes as I feel myself being moved. Then suddenly, I feel like I’ve just been laid over something cold. Then I feel a lot of pressure being applied to my stomach.

“Open your eyes, beautiful. Let me see you.” He begs this time, his voice catching at the end. “Let me see those stars.”

Heartbeat.

Heartbeat.

Heartbeat.

“I won’t let you leave me! I don’t fucking choose a life without you in it, even when you did.” He keeps going, pressure intensifying in my stomach. I want to open my mouth and tell him to stop.

I want to tell him that it’s too late.

But as soon as I open my mouth a violent torrent comes up my throat and he flips me over until my head is now stuck in the toilet, retching my guts out. And it’s so damn painful.

“Stop. . .” I protest weakly. I don’t want to do this anymore. I don’t want to feel all the things that I ravage me, tossing me to the violent winds, constantly, anymore.

The intense sadness.

The acute loss.

The grief.

The nightmares.

The darkness.

The heartache.

The loneliness.

“Let me go.” Tears start falling now but I’m moved again, more pressure being applied to my stomach, every part of me now sore, some parts numb and shutting down, others hyper-aware of him. . .

“You’ll fucking stay alive.”

“But you. . .you hate me.” My voice is groggy, doesn’t sound like mine at all.

But the pain? That’s mine.

The hurt? That’s mine, too.

The pathetic longing for affection and attention from a boy who decided long ago that he was going to hurt me? That’s definitely me.

Star. . .how could you?

How could I? How I do what exactly?

“I got your notes.” I start, needing to say this. “I’m sorry, but I did what you wanted.”

“And you of all people know what I want, huh?” His voice is suddenly rough, angry with something else that I can’t place.

“Yes.” I whisper. You wanted me to leave.

“You hate me.” I croak out, not carrying how I might look like to him right now. This isn’t how I wanted him to see me after all this time, but now that he’s here, nothing matters anymore.

That fact reverberates through me, ringing true each time.

“If you fight this, I promise, I’ll leave you alone.” He pleads, anguish coloring his voice. I can detect that kind of soul wrenching pain from anywhere. I’ve felt it all by myself all this time.

“Please open your eyes.” He pleads.

In that moment, I just want to see him. I want to see his gorgeous face for the last time before I go. I want him to see the love in my eyes. I want him to always know that I love him, that I have even when I shouldn’t.
That he’s always been the one, right from the shaky start, even when we were too young to understand that or even appreciate it.

I know it’s Ace. I can feel it deep within my soul that it’s him.

No one touches me like he does. He touches me like I’ve always belonged to him. Without hesitation, but with a sensual gentleness that one so young shouldn’t possess or know so intimately, but he does.

He touches me like he knows I need tenderness yes, but right now a firm denial of our harsh reality is needed.

He touches me like he. . .

No, he doesn’t love me.

But I do. I love him.

But then, no one sees me so clearly like he does. His cold, crystal angry blue gaze looking through me each time, probing my depths like they irritate yet fascinate him. And now as my eyes flutter open, I wonder if he can see that I’ve given up, that I’m done with this life.

“No.” The denial is roughly worded, cutting through the thick slumber that has fallen over me. He sees the turbulent yet defeated acceptance in my eyes.
But. . .he hasn’t accepted it.

“Open them, damn you!” He growls as soon as my eyes flutter close.

My eyes fly open at the vehemence of his voice but then it becomes a fight to keep them open, another struggle not to see the look in his eyes as he looks down at me.

I try to reach up and palm his chiseled cheek, he looks so damn good. Time has been nothing but gracious to him. And why not, he’s a fucking King. Nothing but the best for the Kings.

“I’m sorry.” I whisper, then give him my best yet shaky smile—hoping that he can see everything that I want to say but can’t in my cloudy eyes.

He gasps just as the noise starts growing louder by the second as if an army of people are rushing to invade our personal space but I ignore that, savoring this final, painful moment, icy, cold, captivating blue eyes connected with mine.

They pierce my walls. These eyes probe into me, seeing me and everything that I am. Everything that I lost. Everything that I don’t have anymore.

I don’t have my boys anymore.

I don’t have you. . .anymore.

But then, he leans in as the pain in my stomach intensifies, my consciousness slipping by the second. Darkness clouds in from my peripherals and I can’t keep my eyes open.

“I won’t hurt you anymore, just stay alive. The boys need you.” He pleads, watching me now, pushing tendrils of my hair out of the way. “Keep your heart beating.”

I can’t. I try to tell him. I open my mouth but nothing comes out. He looks down at me and I don’t know what he sees in my eyes but for that split second I don’t want to die.

I don’t want to go.

But it’s too late now.

“Hold on, I’ll make all the fear and pain go away.”

Chaos breaks through our little bubble. But before I lose sight of him, he presses a kiss to my forehead and whispers in my ear, but I’m not sure if I heard that or maybe I wished it as darkness snatches me into its deep depths where nothing but coldness breeds.

“I love you. . .”

God, if that’s true, I want to stay alive for that.

I want that.

The last thing I remember is a hunger to live and a sad realization that I’m so desperate for crumbs from Ace that I wouldn’t mind doing his biding just to hear him say that.

But that’s the thing about love, wasn’t it?

It was all a brazen, seductive figment of one’s imagination. . .


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