Authors: Dani Matthews
Tags: #Science Fiction & Fantasy, #Fantasy, #Coming of Age, #New Adult & College, #Paranormal & Urban, #Romance, #Paranormal, #Demons & Devils, #Teen & Young Adult
This book is meant for entertainment purposes only. Names, characters and events are all a product of the author’s imagination. Any resemblance to actual persons or events is purely coincidental. All comments and conversations written within these pages are part of a fictional story and are not meant to be taken in the literal sense. The author retains all rights to this book. Illegal copying or distribution of this book is prohibited without author consent.
For Rianna. You are turning into such a wonderful young lady! My kids have a fantastic role model to look up to, and I am so proud to call you niece.
Table of Contents
I'm running late today, all because I’d avoided my ex at the downtown bus stop this afternoon. The last thing I need is to be late for my part-time job. I can't afford to lose it. Mom and I are just barely making ends meet as it is. After quickly buttoning up my blouse, I rush to the bathroom across the hall and brush my long, blonde hair back into a sleek ponytail. Then, I adjust my black skirt while hurrying back to my room to grab my shoes. If I'm not out of the apartment within the next five minutes, I'm going to be late.
Maybe I should have just dealt with Brad instead of avoiding the bus stop and taking the roundabout way home. A frown mars my face as I slip on my shoes before walking down the short hall into the living room. Brad’s been acting weird lately. We broke up last week, because he’s been getting a bit obsessive and controlling with me. It’s like a switch has been flipped somewhere inside him. He’s always around, and when he’s not, he’s demanding to know where I’ve been or who I’ve been with. It’s odd, because Brad has never been the possessive type. He’s always been laid back, and he’s always given me more than enough room to breathe and be my own person.
We’d discussed his behavior just last month, and he’d been just as frustrated as I had been during that conversation. He has no idea why he’s feeling this way. He can’t explain why he
to be near me constantly. We’d tried to work on the issue, we really had. But last week things went too far when he wanted to have sex, and I hadn’t been in the mood. He wouldn’t take no for an answer, and he’d kept trying to persuade me. I’d broken up with him on the spot and stormed out of his house.
This past week has been extremely difficult for me. Brad seems to be everywhere. He’s always trying to corner me if I leave the apartment, always pleading with me to take him back. I swear there’s something not right with him. He’s also beginning to look scruffier as the days wear on. He’s not shaving, and he has dark circles under his eyes.
And he smells.
I’d noticed that the other day. He’s not taking showers.
It’s time to go to my mom. I’ve been avoiding it, because my mom’s kind of flighty at best. That’s the nicest way to explain her. Her attention span is short. She’s more like my sister rather than my mom. I swear, sometimes I feel like the adult, and she’s the child. But tonight, I have to talk to her. She has to know what’s going on with Brad, because I’m thinking a restraining order might be needed.
As I pick up my purse off the end table, I feel sad and a little bleak. I never thought this would be how my relationship would end with him. It’s not like I’d expected to be with him forever. I’m only seventeen, and I’d looked at our relationship logically. High school romances rarely last past graduation. But what we’d had was good. It had been solid. I’d just assumed we’d be together until things naturally fell apart. But what’s happening now, it isn’t natural. It’s downright strange. It’s almost as if Brad has turned into a completely different person.
A hard knock on the apartment door startles me. My head jerks up, and my heart sinks. If that’s Brad, I’m definitely going to be late. There’s only one way out of this third floor apartment, and that’s through the door he’s standing behind.
I slowly walk over and peer through the peephole. Sure enough, Brad stands there. His short, brown hair is a mess, and thickening whiskers line his strong jaw. As I gaze at him, I see that his eyes look a bit sunken in.
His fist thuds against the door again, making me gasp. “Let me in, Livvy. I know you’re in there.”
“Brad, you need to leave,” I say as steadily as I can through the door.
“Just give me five minutes. Please. I’m begging you, Livvy.” He sounds like he’s about to cry.
I peer through the peephole and see that he’s wiping at tears. My chest tightens. I’ve never seen Brad cry.
“Please,” he pleads. “I swear I won’t touch you. I just need you to hear me out, that’s all. Then, I’ll leave you alone. I promise. Please talk to me.”
“Can you come back later? I have to go to work,” I say cautiously. If he comes back later, my mom will be home.
“I can’t. I have to be home for dinner. Please, Livvy,” he coaxes as I watch his eyes scan the door, waiting to see if I’ll open it.
A soft sigh of resignation escapes me, because I know how this will play out if I don’t let him in. He’s not going to go away, and if I open the door to leave, he’ll just follow me to the bus stop at the street corner. In fact, he’ll probably follow me the entire way to work. “If I let you in, do you promise to leave after you’ve had your say?”
“I promise,” he says immediately.
“Swear it to me, Brad.”
With great reluctance, I unlock the door and swing it open. I’m hoping my boss doesn’t fire me for being late today. I give Brad a warning look. “I can only spare five minutes. I’m late for work as it is.”
He nods, his blue eyes lighting up when he sees me. He smiles hugely. It’s a smile that causes me to feel like I need to stay on guard with him. He looks like he’s entered a candy shop, and he can’t wait to eat everything he can get his hands on. I’m perfectly aware that
the candy. I quickly step back to put some space between us.
Brad steps inside and calmly shuts the door. I watch warily as he turns on me, his eyes shining brightly with crazed happiness. “I knew you’d see me. You still love me.”
I bite my lip. “Brad, it’s over,” I say softly.
“No, it’s not. I can change. I’ll do better. I’ll do whatever you want,” he tells me as he takes a step forward.
I back away from him until I’m in the middle of the living room. “I can’t give you what you need. You need to find someone who can give you…more. I just can’t.”
Anger flickers across his features. “I don’t want anyone else. I want
He begins to walk towards me with bloodshot eyes that don’t seem to blink. They are wide open and locked on me with an intensity that makes my heart begin to pound. “I just want to touch you. To hold you. I just need to
you. I’ll show you just how right it is.”
Panic rises within me, and I dart back, avoiding his reaching hands. “Brad, you have to leave.”
“NO! I will show you that you’re mine.
, Livvy. You can’t just shut me out,” he growls as he lunges for me.
A shriek of alarm escapes me as I scramble to avoid him, but his hand latches on to my arm, and I find myself dragged into his waiting arms. I struggle immediately, trying to free myself. Brad works out at the local gym on a regular basis though, and he’s strong.
His face is now flushed as he peers down at me, fury now replacing desperation. “There’s someone else, isn’t there?”
My futile struggles cease as I look up at him with surprise. “No, there’s no one else. Why would you think that?”
“There is, isn’t there? I knew it! He can’t have you. No one can,” he says harshly. He releases me abruptly, only to place his hands around my neck before I can dart away.
When his hands begin to squeeze tightly, my eyes widen with dismay. Then, it’s quickly replaced with terror. I try to scream, but nothing escapes my throat. I can’t even breathe. I tear at his hands, my nails scratching and tearing open skin, but he doesn’t seem aware of the blood I’ve drawn.
I stare up at him as a roaring sensation fills my ears. His blood shot eyes are focused on mine, and they are now blank. Sweat has beaded across his forehead, and his muscles are tense as he puts all his strength into trying to crush my windpipe.
I’m going to die.
Brad’s going to kill me.
The pain in my throat is what cuts into my panic. It grounds me and calms me, if that’s even possible. It causes me to take a moment to
rather than panicking further. I do the only thing I’ve heard over and over again when people talk about self-defense for women. I lift my knee and slam it into his groin as hard as I can.
Brad howls, his hands immediately releasing my neck.
Precious oxygen floods my lungs, and it hurts, but I ignore it as I turn and race for the apartment door. I’m brought up short when a fist tangles in my long ponytail, causing me to lose my balance and fall to the carpeted floor. I try to scream, to alert the neighbor’s that I need help, but only a croak escapes my raw throat.
Brad is coming at me again, and I quickly kick out at him. Thank God I’m wearing shoes, because I catch him in the face, and it stuns him for a second. I use that second to scramble to my feet and race for my bedroom. I can lock him out of my room, but I’ve realized I can’t lock him out of the main hallway. He could still kill me before anyone manages to intervene. I just barely make it to my room and slam the door shut in time. Brad snarls as he pounds on the door.
What next? My throat is too raw to scream, and my phone is in my purse. Unfortunately, my purse is in the living room.
I dive for the carpet beneath my bed as my door shudders. This place has thin walls and cheap doors, so Brad will be coming in whether I want him to or not. My last chance is the baseball bat I keep on hand in case of an emergency. Mom and I have dealt with some really shady characters in the past when it comes to living in cheap apartment units. It’s come in handy a couple of times before.
My fingertips graze the cool steel handle of the bat, and I grab it. I don’t want to hurt Brad, but if it comes down to me or him, I’d prefer to be the one left standing.
The wood in the door begins to crack loudly.
I rise to my feet, chest heaving as I stare at the door. I’m holding the bat so tightly that I’m sure my knuckles are white. I cautiously inch closer, bat ready to swing. The door shudders, and the lock snaps. Brad bursts through, but I’m prepared. I swing the bat as hard as I can at his head, and when it makes contact with his skull, the impact of it vibrates up into my arms. Brad looks at me blankly for a second before his eyes roll back. He drops to the floor and doesn’t move. I clutch the bat tightly and wait to see if he’s out cold.
That’s when I see the blood.
With shaking hands, I lower the bat and drop it from my clammy grip. I feel sick to my stomach as I force myself to cautiously kneel beside him. He’s bleeding from the side of his head, and I tentatively touch his neck, searching for a pulse. I’m relieved to find one. It’s faint, but it’s there.
I draw back and stare down at him with shock.
This is Brad on my carpet, and I’d just cracked his skull open with a bat. How had this happened? How could things escalate so badly in one month?
None of this makes any sense to me.