Page 95 of Corrupt Kingdom

“How could you?”

He’s quiet. “It’s for the best.”

“For who? For you. You’re taking the easy way out.”

“You need to go home. You need to think about what has happened. You need to be with your family . . .”

The car pulls up to my house, and the door opens from the outside. He doesn’t move. Not one inch.

“This is it?” I choke back the sob that has lodged itself in the back of my throat. It hurts. It hurts so bad I want to scream. I want to shout at the injustice, but more than anything, I want to fall down onto the street and cry. Not only because of Cyrus, but because of everything. The past few months crash into my chest. Beating down on my heart.

“It’s the way it has to be. I took you . . .”

He’s right. No matter how angry I am, I know he’s right. He took me, and this is the only way it can be.

I turn back to him.

To the man who proved himself to me. Who protected me. The man who loved me enough to let me go.

A tear falls from my eyes, then another one as I step out of the car. The door still open as I walk the few steps to the front door. By the time it opens and I’m in Trent’s arms, my face glistens with a never-ending current of tears.

I cry for yesterday; I cry for today, and I cry for a future without Cyrus.

It isn’t until the next day that I finally feel the full weight of everything that has happened to me. It’s not until I’m alone in my bedroom that I stare at the cuts and bruises from everything I went through.

As much as I don’t want to be away from him, I realize now how fucked I am from my ordeal.

I spend the first day crying in bed.

I don’t eat.

I don’t sleep.

I don’t even want to speak.

By day two, things get a little better. I’m now able to look at myself in the mirror without crying. Food has taste again.

I beg for Trent to bring back my mom, but he says I need more time. That I need to be stronger.

It isn’t until day five after my return that my mom walks in.

It’s been months since I’ve seen her. She looks good. For the first time in forever, her hair is brushed, and her eyes are clear.

When she sees me, she smiles, and of course, that makes me cry again. She doesn’t talk, but that’s okay. A smile is enough to bring the light back inside me.

It takes another week before she starts to talk, and when she opens her mouth and says my name, tears fall from my eyes.

We’re outside and the sun is shining bright. She blooms in front of my eyes.

“Your father is gone, you know?” she says and my heart lurches in my chest.

I lift my hand from where it is in my lap and take hers in mine. We’re sitting on the back patio, staring at the flower buds that are growing in our garden.

“I finally feel like I can breathe,” she whispers.

She might be able to, but now I can’t.

* * *

Time passes slowly when you miss someone. I thought that when I left Cyrus behind that day, the empty feeling in my heart would fill over time. But instead, the longer it is, the more my heart feels like it’s breaking in two.

It’s been one month.

I’ve spent my time bringing my mother’s garden and my mother back to life.

With my father gone, my mother has finally gotten to a better place.

It didn’t happen overnight, and maybe the flowers helped, but now, we stand together outside watering the plants.

They are in full bloom now. Spring is thick in the air. The smell of flowers permeates through my nostrils, making me feel alive. But as much as I do feel alive, there is still something missing. My mother is my priority, though. She needs me now. With my father in jail, she can’t be alone.

“It’s beautiful,” she says.

I turn to the flower she’s looking at. “See this flower here.” She points at a closed bud. She must have planted it without me as I haven’t seen it before.

“It’s evening primrose. During the day, it closes. Sometimes it even withers, but that doesn’t mean she won’t flourish.” She holds the closed bud to me. “It’s in the dark when it comes alive. Some of the most beautiful things grow in the darkness.”

I look up to find her gazing at me.

“Go to him,” she says, and I don’t even know how she knows.

“I might not have been here.” She points at her head. “But I heard. Go to him.”

“But who will take care of you?”

“Ivy, when I named you, I would never know how true your name would mean. Do you know what Ivy means?”