It’s an echo in my head.
How could this happen? How could Alex do what he did? How could he hurt me… there’s so much pain inside. I hate it. Hate him. Hate myself for being so stupid and trusting him. There’s so much loathing and anger inside me that I feel like I’m rotting, spoiled, decaying on the inside and turning into something morbid that no one wants. The vile feeling spreads and the weight of it crushes me. I open my mouth to scream, but my lungs burst and bleed out; at least that’s what it feels like. At least I want them to because it will take away the agonizing pain inside my heart.
I'll never trust anyone in this world again. I'll never get crushed. I'll protect myself at all costs; that is, if I ever get out of this darkness.
Then suddenly my head starts to buzz like a Goddamn bug trapped in a light, over and over again. It just about drives me crazy; it’s to the point where I feel like I’m going to gouge my ears out. I seriously consider it, too, but I can’t see past the darkness—I can’t see light.
My skin swelters with invigorating warmth, my body peacefully relaxing as the ground below me becomes soft and inviting. I feel content, blissfully and almost alarmingly content. Feel? What the hell… I’m supposed to be dead, or at least locked in a coffin within my own head.
My eyes shoot open as I bolt upright, but as the blood rushes from my head, I collapse back onto the mattress. I swiftly glance around and my jaw drops. After the dream I was having, I had expected to be buried in water, however I’m dry and breathing. Alive. Unlike my mom.
I try not to choke on the image of her drowning in the water, the Water Fey dragging her down, and I take in where I am. I’m lying in a bed in a room with pale purple walls and a small window that lets in minimal sunlight. The view outside is painted with colorful lights and flamboyant buildings that stretch toward the skyline.
“I know this place…” I gradually sit up, clutching my throbbing head. “Vegas… I’m in Vegas.”
“It was the safest place I could think of.” The sound of Alex’s voice sends a chill down my spine, but then electricity counteracts it and my body erupts with heat, awakening my heart from a very deep slumber.
He ambles through the doorway, taking tentative steps as he inches toward the bed. Emotions of hate mixed with lust amplify and every image of the last time we were in bed together flashes through my mind; the way he’d made me finally feel like I was breathing. Then he stole it all away, betraying me, ripping my heart out of my chest and shredding it to pieces; he probably still has my blood on his hands.
“Are you okay?” He comes to a stop at the foot of the metal-framed bed. He’s wearing a black t-shirt and a pair of loose-fitting, dark blue jeans and his brown hair is disheveled and damp. He also has a black smudge on the center of his forehead, like ash or charcoal. He almost looks like a normal guy, completely harmless, yet his welcoming demeanor is just an illusion. I know this—I’ve learned better.
I throw the blanket off me and swing my legs over the side of the bed. I’m not wearing the same clothes; a pair of boxer shorts and a t-shirt that don’t belong to me have replaced them. I don’t even want to think about how I got changed while I was blacked out. One of my wrists is bandaged up... the one I had slit myself when my emotions had gotten the best of me… I can remember. I can remember? “Stay away from me you asshole.”
“Gemma, I’m not going to hurt you.” His voice is as smooth as silk as he winds around the bed, his radiant, green eyes fixed on me. “I promise I won’t hurt you. Everything’s okay.”
I laugh sharply as I put weight on my weak legs. “That’s the biggest lie I’ve ever heard come out of your mouth, which says a lot since you’re the biggest liar I’ve ever met.”
Alex stops dead in his tracks, his skin tinting red with his anger. “What the hell is that supposed to mean?”
My knees shake as I square my shoulders and find my stability. “It means your promises are bullshit. At least, the ones you make to me.” I fling my arms out to my sides. “You told me once that you made me a promise that you would never to hurt me, but I’m finding that hard to believe since you keep hurting me over and over again.”
A condescending look appears in his eyes. “My promises got you to Adessa’s, safe and sound.”
“Safe and sound doesn’t exist.” I step back toward the wall, dropping my hands to my sides. “And I’m not stupid enough to believe otherwise.”