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Drowning to Breathe

By:A.L. Jackson

I WEPT TOWARD THE SKY.

Hemorrhaging.

Crumbling.

Breaking.

“No…Kallie…Kallie!”

Sebastian’s arms tightened around me as the rain began to pour from above.

A torrent of pain splintered through my chest. As if it were cracking my ribs open wide, every hope I’d allowed myself to have spilling free.

Wind whipped through, like a deranged madness that swept along the ground, chasing after the taillights that blinked out at the end of the street.

Agony.

Agony.

Agony.

“No…please…how could I allow this to happen? Please…Kallie. My baby. My baby. He can’t have her. I won’t let him have her.”

“Shh…” I felt his breath in my hair, the soft kiss at the top of my head. “We will get her back…I promise you, if it’s the last thing I do, we will get her back.”

“She’s gone,” I whimpered.

As the sick realization leached into my bones, I slumped into his hold.

She’s gone.

This…this was my penance. The payment for my sins.

Punishment for every naive choice I had made.

For every deceit I had blindly swallowed.

For every lie that had fallen from my lips.

But every one of them I’d told for her.

To keep her safe.

To allow us a life he would never let us live.

But we can run as hard and as fast as we want, and until we put our pasts to rest, they will always catch up to us.

Now mine had us in its grip.





LIGHTNING FLASHED, AND THE heavens wept their torment from above. A furious fall of rain hammered into my body as harsh gusts blew through the downpour.

A frenzy of earth and wind and sky.

My entire being strained against it. I clenched my jaw as fat rivulets of water gathered in my hair and streamed down my bare chest and back to soak my jeans.

Two feet ahead, Shea stood in front of me. Facing away. Her head drooped between her shaking shoulders. My girl, bent in half, and broken in two. All that blonde drenched, like a swilling river overflowing with pain.

Around us, chaos howled like a demon.

A hurricane.

A fucking devastating storm.

Dark.

Dark.

Dark.

For once, I saw none of her light.

Rage blistered across the surface of my skin. The pain and fear I had for Kallie ate me alive. That rage headed south and twisted through my stomach, inciting the anger of betrayal throbbing from within.

“Who the fuck are you?” It scraped from my throat, low and bitter and confused.

It felt like an eternity passed before she slowly turned around. That face. That fucking gorgeous face I couldn’t erase from my mind looked back on me with misery, and my chest felt like it just might cave.

“I’m just Shea,” she choked out and hugged herself tighter, going back to the same thing she’d told me on the beach two days ago. I’m just Shea. Three little words that should mean nothin’. But they’d sent a ripple of warning through me then, my gut telling me whatever had brought on her discomfort was caused by whoever the fuck had fathered Kallie.

Of course, at that time, I’d been under the very misguided impression he was dead—whoever the piece of shit she’d chosen to keep a secret happened to be.

Now I could only wish he was.

Martin Jennings.

My skin crawled and my teeth ground with the accusation. “You lied to me.”

A sob tore through her. The tortured sound ripped through my insides. “Yes.”

I opened my mouth to make more accusations when I felt the figure approaching from behind.

“Shea,” she whimpered over the driving rain. April, Shea’s best friend, slowly edged down the first porch step, hanging on to the wooden rail as if she might fall to her knees.

More torment made a pass through Shea’s expression. “He took her.”

Every fear Shea’d ever had was wound up in the statement. I heard it. Fucking felt it.

“He took her,” she said again, only this time she was begging, looking to April as if she might have the power to wipe it away.

Holy shit.

April knew.

Of course she did.

I felt like I’d been sucker punched.

Because that’s exactly what I was.

A sucker.

A fool because I’d just let myself go…let go of all my control and gave it to this girl.

The girl I’d trusted with my fucking life because I’d wanted to give her that, too.

I felt like the brunt of a cruel, sick joke. An outsider looking in on Shea’s dirty little secret. A secret kept from me when I was the one supposed to hold all her truths.

But this girl had just given me lies.

“We’ll…we’re going to get her back,” April whispered almost maniacally, her dark brown eyes wide and scared.

“He took her.” This time the words on Shea’s tongue sounded foreign. Faraway. I saw the moment the reality crashed down on her and her knees went weak.

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