Page 49 of Burned (Ignite #1)

Drawing on every bit of the little strength I had left, I pulled my elbow forward and then slammed it back between Jordan’s legs. He immediately released his hold on my hair and fell to his knees behind me. I let out the loudest, blood-curdling scream I could muster as I dove forward and crawled the last few feet into my spare bedroom, slamming the door closed behind me to keep the smoke out.

The burnt skin of my legs and stomach scraped across the carpet as I inched my way closer to the window. I just needed to get to the window. There was fresh air and freedom through that glass. Tears rolled down my cheeks and I bit back more screams of pain as I collapsed a few feet from the window.

It hurt so much. Everything burned. I was afraid to look down at my body, sure that my skin had melted off by now. I was in agony and the coughs wracking my body from the smoke I’d inhaled amplified the pain until I felt my vision start to fade. I rolled over onto my back and stared up at the window above me, willing the pain to disappear. I couldn’t take it anymore. I just wanted it to end.

From somewhere far away, I heard someone scream my name.

Collin. He came.

The burning of my skin engulfed me until there was nothing left but pain.

I knew he’d come. I knew he’d save me.

I counted my breaths, each one more painful than the last until I felt my heart begin to slow.

Thirteen

Fourteen

It hurts, oh, God it hurts so much.

Fifteen

Sixteen.

My eyes slowly closed as my last breath escaped my lungs.

Seventeen.

I’m screaming. The pain is so great and my voice is so loud but I can’t make it stop, even when gentle hands smooth my hair away from my face and a soft voice tries to quiet me. My eyes fly open and I feel tears pouring down my cheeks as I stare frantically around the stark, white room. An oxygen mask is quickly placed over my face as I’m lightly pushed back down in bed. I sob quietly as the dream comes back to me in flashes.

The fire.

The burning.

The pain.

The words from what must have been my ambulance ride after I’d been rescued from the fire float through my mind over and over and I cry even harder.

There’s no way McDaniels is still alive.

There’s no way McDaniels is still alive.

There’s no way McDaniels is still alive.

Maybe they were wrong. Maybe the drugs they gave me were playing with my mind and I misheard them. It can’t be true.

With a shaking hand, I reach up and move the oxygen mask away from my face as the nurse sticks a needle into my I.V. and pushes the syringe down, the pain medicine quickly making its way through the tube and spreading into my veins.

“Collin, where’s Collin?” I ask her with a raspy voice.

She looks at me in confusion as she pulls the blankets up around my body and tucks me back in. I remember the paramedics saying something about a fall. I remember hearing him scream my name and I know that wasn’t a dream. He was in the house. He came to save me.

“The man who was in the house with me. Is he here?”

I watch the confusion leave her face, quickly replaced with sadness that she’s unable to hide. “Oh, sweetie, I’m so sorry. He didn’t make it out.”

She moves the oxygen mask back over my face and starts talking about my injuries and how long it will take me to recover. I don’t even hear her words. The pain in my chest hurts greater than the throbbing of my scorched flesh. Ignoring my bandaged legs and stomach and the I.V. attached to my arm, I roll over onto my side and curl up in a ball. I never thought my heart could possibly break a second time for Collin, but it does. It shatters into a thousand little pieces when I think of his smile and his touch and how he saved me, in more ways than one. I’ll never recover from this pain. I’ll never be able to put my heart back together again. I squeeze my eyes closed and wish that I had died in the fire right along with him.

Chapter 24—Things We Lost in the Fire

“OPEN YOUR EYES, Lee.”

I hear his voice in my dream and I refuse to open my eyes. I want to stay right here in the haze of pain medication so I can hear him say my name over and over. I don’t know how long I’ve been asleep and I don’t care. I’m not ready for reality, but I know as soon as I open my eyes it will come crashing down around me. I feel a hand rubbing up and down my arm and I want to scream at the nurse to stop touching me. There’s only one person who can ease my pain and he’s gone.

I curl my body into a tighter ball and try to will the tears away, but there’s no use. They stream down my face and soak the pillow under my cheek.

“Don’t cry, baby. Please don’t cry.”

The sound of his voice is so real and so full of anguish that I have no choice but to crack open my eyes. When I see Collin’s crystal blue eyes filled with tears just inches from my face, I can’t stop the sob that flies past my lips. I jerk my body upright, shouting in pain when my bandaged legs brush roughly against the bed. I immediately push the pain away, launching myself forward and into his arms. They wrap tightly around my back as he leans into me, pulling me as close to his body as possible. It’s not close enough. It will never be close enough. The tears fall faster down my cheeks as I press my face into the crook of his neck and breathe him in through my sobs.

“I thought I’d lost you,” he whispers brokenly as he moves his arms from around me and cups my face in his palms, pulling me away from his neck so he can stare into my eyes.

“Oh, God, am I dreaming? Please don’t let this be a dream. They told me you were dead. They told me you didn’t make it,” I whimper, crying so hard now that I’m close to hyperventilating.

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