I can’t breathe, but I still move forward.
Blood. There’s blood on his shirt. That’s blood, isn’t it? Fear wriggles its way deeper inside of me, like a parasite taking over.
“Jase,” I barely speak his name while taking a small step forward. My gaze moves from the blood on his clothes piled on the tile floor, to his naked body seated on the edge of the tub. He’s covered with the way he’s sitting, and his head’s lowered, hanging heavy in front of him. I’m not sure he heard me the way he’s sitting there. Like he’s stunned, like his mind is elsewhere, lost in another place or another time.
Despair is crippling and I swallow hard. My trembling fingers reach out to pick up his shirt, wanting to believe it’s not blood. There’s not a mark on his skin, no cuts or bruises that are fresh. The cut I gave him is scabbed over.
The warmth of the air flows around me as I step closer and lift the shirt off the floor. It can’t be blood, Jase isn’t injured. Jase is fine.
But it looks like it. I don’t understand. There’s so much blood, in different patterns. Smeared and stained into the undershirt. I still don’t want to believe it. I wish it would be anything else. My head spins as I grip the shirt tighter, staring at it as if it’ll change, it’ll go back to being clean if only I look at it the right way. But it’s blood. There’s so much blood, my hands are wet with it.
“Bethany.” Jase’s voice catches me off guard and I scream, pulling the shirt into my chest out of instinct before shoving it away when I realize I’ve pressed the bloody clothes to my own.
I could throw up with the revolting disgust and fear that sink into my bones. The blood is on me.
“Whose blood is that?” The question tumbles from me as I take a step backward and Jase stands up tall. My hands grip the doorway and my fingers leave a trail of blood.
There’s a look in his eyes I will never forget when my gaze finally reaches his.
A darkness I haven’t seen before and the fear that accompanies it is all-consuming.
In sharp spikes, the chills take over and I take another step back. Out of the bathroom and away from him.
That piece of my soul that was warning me before… it wasn’t about the blood, it was about Jase. I know it to be true when he takes another step forward, so much larger than mine with his hands raised and he tells me to calm down.
If I could speak, I’d tell him he’s crazy to think I should calm down. If I could speak, I’d scream at him, demanding he tell me what he’s done.
But I can’t. Every syllable catches in the back of my throat in a way that feels like I’m choking.
“Let me get a shower and we can talk,” Jase states calmly, the savage look in his eyes just barely dimming.
My head shakes, all on its lonesome and I turn and run. As fast as I can, I run away from him.
“Fuck,” I hear him mutter as I bolt to the door, sweeping myself around it and crashing into the hall wall. I don’t stop running, even though I don’t hear him behind me.
Thump, thump, thump, thump. My heart pounds faster than my heels, ushering me away.
As I reach the door, I hear him call out. With my hand on the scanner, I turn around to see him with a pair of sweats, walking toward me, not running.
Maybe he thought that would keep me from leaving. Maybe he thought I wouldn’t be threatened or I wouldn’t be scared.
But he was wrong.
So fucking wrong. The second I swing the door open, I hear him scream my name and start running. I slam the door closed knowing he’ll have to use the scanner too. It’s another second I have ahead of him. Only seconds.
I scramble to my car and to find my keys. With terror raging through me at Jase getting his hands on me and forcing me back inside, at not knowing what he’ll do to me or what he’s capable of, I shove the gear into drive and reverse out of the driveway. I’m senselessly speeding away with the sight of him swinging the door open the moment my car hits the gate. Crashing it open and denting the hood of my car.
Even as I scream, I keep my foot on the gas, not caring about the damage, just needing to leave as quickly as possible.
I need to run and never stop.
Run far away and not look back.
The car jostles as I go over a curb and then another, my tires screaming as I race out of the long drive and backroads to get to the busy streets.