The words I gave to her, she saw it here. I wonder when she read it. Which came first. Not that it matters. None of it matters anymore.

I don’t know why I bother to keep reading when it only makes me sad inside. When I know there’s no message buried beneath the black and white letters.

It makes no sense at all, either, that I reach out to the phone to text Miranda, Jenny’s friend who gave me the book.

I want to text Jenny and I’m conscious of that. I nearly do. I nearly text her, Why this book? What did you want me to get from it?

I’m not that crazy yet, so I text Miranda instead. Or maybe that makes me crazier. I’m not sure anymore.

Thank you for giving me the book.

It takes a minute before my phone vibrates in my hand with a response. Bethany?

Of course she wouldn’t know it’s me. Feeling foolish, I answer her, Yes, I’m sorry to message, I just wanted to make sure I’d thanked you.

You should know, when I saw her with that book and she was underlining it…. She said you would understand better then. She said you’d be happy.

I’d be happy?

Miranda is no one to me. I’d have been just fine never seeing her again… until my sister died. That changed so many things. She’s a person I would never confide in, yet here I am, not hesitating to bleed out my every thought and emotion without recourse into a stream of texts. I’m anything but happy. Maybe if she was truly invincible, I’d be better.

Feeling the need to explain, I follow up my messages. Sorry, it’s a line in the book. She keeps saying she’s invincible.

I stare at her next message, reading it over and over. So that’s where she got it… she was saying that for a while before she packed.

Packed? I think to myself. Why would she have packed? Jenny didn’t tell me that before.

I text her back, Where did she go?

Her answer is immediate. I thought she went home to you. She didn’t tell me where. I just assumed she was going back to you because she said she needed help.

Jenny always said she wanted help, but she didn’t really mean it. She only said it to get me off her back. It was always lies she told me.

But maybe that day, she was coming home. Maybe she finally wanted to get better. It’s the sliding doors of life. If only one thing had changed, everything would be different. Maybe she was coming back home. Maybe that’s when they got her. Maybe I was only minutes away from being back with her and they tore her from me.

I drop the phone onto the nightstand, not bothering to reply anymore.

Hating all the maybes, all the possibilities that could have, should have happened.

Everything stills for a moment, going out of focus. As if forcing me to embrace only one thing: She’s gone. My sister is gone. My sister is gone, and I have nothing left. No one left but a man who I know is bad for me and one who will never love me.

The first tear that comes, I thought I could control. I can feel the telltale prickle, and how the back of my throat suddenly goes dry in that way that I know it’s coming. I think I can keep it from slipping with a single long, deep breath. I think I can stop it and be just fine. I don’t need a moment.

I thought so wrong. The first sob comes and in its wake and my failure to control it, heaving ugly sobs come bearing down on me. They’re reckless, and unwarranted. Turning to my side, I bury my head in the pillow, wishing I could suffocate the sniveling wails that come from me without any consent at all.

I hate crying. I’ve always hated it.

The tears are hotter and larger as they slip down my heated face. Falling to my chin just below where my bottom lip quivers.

Jenny is gone. Such a simple thing, something I deal with constantly in work and have dealt with all my life. She’s gone and there’s nothing I can do about it.

The nightmares aren’t real. She isn’t hiding somewhere waiting for me to save her.

The book is only words; there’s no deeper message within. It’s only words, meaningless like Jase said they were.

It all means nothing.

I have nothing and I feel like nothing just the same. But why does nothing hurt so much? Why does it hurt this bad when you give up hope?

Something must find its way into hope’s place in your heart. And that something feels like burning knives that keep stabbing me. I just want it all to stop. I want this chapter to end. Fuck, I need it to end. I can’t live like this. I can’t live in constant, all-consuming pain with nowhere to run.

W. Winters Books | Romance Books | Irresistible Attraction Series Books