“She was young, I had the drugs, I couldn’t tell her no at first. She was the first person I told no. The first one where I realized I ruined her life.” I’m staring at this asshole, and he’s not looking at me. He’s whimpering, looking down at his bare feet that are planted on the steel grid beneath him. He’s not paying attention, so I swing the hammer again. Down onto his right foot. Crack! And then the left. The clang of the metal and the crack of small bones ricochets in the room. The black and blue on his skin is instant.

He screams and cries, but all it does is make me angry. He didn’t care that Angie cried. He didn’t care about what he did to her. He can mourn for his own pain all he wants, but it’s not enough.

I have to walk away, seeing Bethany’s face and knowing she wouldn’t approve of this. What alternative is there though? To let this world turn with no consequence?

It’s the fact that we feel pain when others feel nothing. This man feels nothing. The regret is hard enough and the guilt too, but walking around in a world where it isn’t acknowledged, where those feelings travel alone… it’s a hell that hides in every corner.

Hal cusses at me, spitting at my feet and sneering an expression of hate. He can’t hold it long though. I slowly draw the sharp edge of the hammer across his throat as I speak.

“It was my fault, Hal. My fault that she got hooked and when she did, I sent her away. We’d only just begun in this game. We were bound to make mistakes. And Angie Davis was one of them.”

Fuck, the guilt comes back full force just saying her name.

“I told her no, only a few months after I met her. I gave her the sweets, I told her to get better and then she could come back. Instead, she found you.”

If she hadn’t come to me, if Angie had gone to Bethany instead… My fiery woman, she would have known what to do. “Angie wanted help, she really did.” I equate her to Jenny in this moment. Wondering if it really would have been different. If she really wanted help and if Bethany could have fixed her. I wish I could go back.

I can smash this hammer into his head, but I can’t take her pain away. There’s not a damn thing I can do to take Bethany’s pain away

I think the words Hal’s trying to say are, “Please, don’t,” as he spits up blood. It only reminds me of the way Angie said it in the video I saw hours ago. Please, don’t.

“It’s fine to party and have a good time, but she was slipping. She wasn’t herself. Addiction grabbed hold of her and wasn’t letting go. Anyone and everyone could see it.”

“Yeah, I remember,” Seth comments, nodding his head even as looks at me like he has nothing but sympathy for me. Fuck that. I don’t need sympathy. I don’t deserve sympathy.

“I remember. She was clinging to you crying, begging you for more.” Seth still hasn’t accepted what I have. Every word he says sounds like an excuse. “You sent her away with a way to help her.”

Fuck, I should have known better. I wasn’t in it like Carter was. I’d only just started and I didn’t realize the ripple effect and the tidal wave it was capable of creating.

“I was young and I was stupid. I gave her whatever she wanted and however much she said she needed. Even when I knew it was getting bad. It took a long time before I sent her away…”

“Jase,” Seth’s tone is warning, cautioning me in where my mind is going, but I cut him off.

“No.” My response echoes in the room even though it’s pushed through gritted teeth while I tap the hammer in my hand, blood and all, as I add, “I take that blame. It’s my fault. All of it.”

Lifting the hammer up, I point it at Hal. “But you,” I start to speak. I can’t get the rest out though. I can’t voice where this story inevitably turns.

Instead I crash the hammer onto his knees. Bashing them relentlessly. Then his thighs. His arms. Every bone I can break.

Screams and hot blood surround me. The man’s cries get louder and louder. Does he cry in front of me at the memory? Or at the realization that there’s no way he’s getting out of this room alive?

It’s what I’ve wanted for so long, some kind of justice for Angie, but I thought it would feel different. I thought it would feel better than this.

Instead the pain seeps into my blood, where it runs rampant in my body. The memories refuse to stop.


Tags: W. Winters Books Irresistible Attraction Series Books Romance Books
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