Read Clarity 2 Online

Authors: Loretta Lost

Clarity 2

BOOK: Clarity 2
4.17Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub



Copyright © 2014 Loretta Lost
Cover art by Sarah Hansen of



All rights reserved.

No part of this book may be reproduced, scanned, or distributed in any printed or electronic form without permission. Thank you for respecting the hard work of this author.



Everything is soft, dark, and peaceful. I sway in suspension, comforted by the silence. A sweet, feminine voice calls for me from somewhere distant. Only then do I become aware that I have been sitting on the ground and staring forward vacantly for several minutes. I have withdrawn so deep inside myself that even several sharp knocks on the bathroom door cannot draw me out of my stupor.

“Hellie?” a woman says with a sniffle. “Are you okay? I heard a crash.”

I try to respond, but I am locked inside the maze of my own mind. I try to navigate toward the sound and climb out of my subconscious, but there are thick stone walls all around me.
I keep slipping back down into my quiet, isolated pit of protection. The voices on the outside sound faraway and muffled, and I can’t reach them. I don’t know if I want to reach them; it’s safe here. Still, there is something tugging at the edge of my soul and reminding me that I have an urgent responsibility. I try to remember what it is, but my brain feels like slush. I can’t speak. I can’t think.

“Who’s in there?” Grayson asks. “One of your bridesmaids?”

“No,” Carmen says. “It’s my sister.”

He pauses. “Your s
ister’s here? Your blind sister Helen?”

Carmen huffs in exasperation. “Yes, Gray. Who else would I be talking about? I don’t have any other sisters.”

“I—I just...” Grayson makes a sharp and jagged intake of air. He seems suddenly agitated and alarmed. “You—you said she wasn’t coming. You said you hadn’t seen her in years. You said she wouldn’t...” He gulps so loudly that I can hear the saliva barreling down the tunnel of his throat. I imagine the liquid swirling and sizzling into steam as it mixes with the raging hellfire of guilt in his gut. “You said she wouldn’t be at our wedding.”

“Yes, but she called me last night,” Carmen says softly. “I told her to come home and be my maid of h
onor. Helen!” she calls again, rapping gently on the bathroom door. “Sweetie, is everything okay?”

A searing pain pierces behind my eyes
and abruptly brings me back to reality. I blink rapidly. I lift my fingers shakily to touch the side of my head. There is a bit of warm, sticky moisture seeping between the strands of my hair, and a quickly forming bump just over my temple. I wince, and rest my elbow on the side of the bathtub so I can keep my hand pressed against my forehead.
Okay, Helen. There’s no time for you to fall apart. Get it together. You need to think clearly. Quickly.
Try as I might, I can’t seem to make heads or tails of the situation. My heart is racing, my breathing is labored and uneven, and my whole body is shaking with silent fury.

“I thought you hated your sister,” Grayson whispers. “I thought—I thought you were angry that she left without a word.
She doesn’t give a shit about you! Why would you invite her here?”

“I was just pretending to be pissed to hide how hurt I was. She’s my best friend! I missed her nonstop, every day.” Carmen is close to the point of tears again, and I hear her voice breaking. “What the fuck is wrong with you, Gray? Don’t you know me?”

“I’m sorry, honey. Come here.”

My ears are assaulted with the sound of them embracing again. I can hear him pressing kisses against her face to soothe her, and each time their skin connects, I feel my
insides churning in disgust. The cupcakes in my stomach rebel at being confined within their gastric prison, and fight to make their exit in a gushing eruption.  I clamp my hands around my middle and shut my eyes tightly, trying to avoid duplicating Carmen’s performance from the morning—it will not help this situation in the least if I need to stuff my face into the toilet.
What is happening?
I ask myself weakly.
This can’t be real. Please let this be a nightmare. I’ve had so many nightmares about that man—just let this be one more awful dream that I will wake up from at any moment. I just want to be tucked away safe in my little cabin, light years from humanity... any moment now. I’ll wake up. Please.

“I thought my wedding day was supposed to be wonderful,” Carmen tells her fiancé softly, “but this is just one headache after another. I just want it to be over so we can be together.”

“We’ll be happy—soon. I promise you,” Grayson says to her gently. He trips over his words slowly and clumsily, with the trepidation of a man who is aware that he is one misstep away from unraveling the fabric of his entire life. “Soon—soon, we’ll be family. And nothing—nothing will ever stand between us again. Nothing.”

Family. He’s going to be family?
My stomach lurches again. This is madness. Does he really love her? What is going on? I dig my fingertips into my new head injury, and the pain confirms my darkest dread.

Yes, t
his is a nightmare. The absolute worst kind of nightmare; real life.

I have to struggle to stay conscious. My mind is still reeling from the shock, and is trying urgently to shut down to
shield itself from harm. Sadly, I wish my problems amounted to a simple concussion, but the trauma that’s affecting me is much deeper than the mild impact against my skull. I fight to take charge of my own disengaged faculties. Even my body is no longer under my control; I regretfully acknowledge that I am curled up into a tiny ball and shaking like a frightened animal. I realize this is counterproductive and worthless behavior, and I am furious with myself. I try to gather my wits so that I can pick myself off the ground and deal with this situation.

My sister is marrying my rapist,
I inform myself. These words feel unreal. They sound ridiculous. The sentence does not pierce the murky depths of my brain, and I try to process the information again.
My sister is about to marry the man who raped me.

Before I can form a plan of action, I hear the doorknob being jostled violently. My head snaps sharply to the side, and I am stabbed in the heart with multiple daggers of fear.

“Helen?” Grayson says, in a familiar and deceptively humane fashion. “Honey?”

I grind my teeth together. I would have been perfectly happy if I had never heard him speak my name again
for the duration of my entire existence. The whole reason I changed my name was to escape the vile memory of him repeating it, over and over in a sadistic song...

“Honey, are you okay in there?” he asks again. “Will you come out so that Carmen doesn’t worry about you?”

Pressing my hand against the tub for support, I slowly lift myself off the ground. I find my chest heaving with deep, panting breaths. My tongue circles in the extra bit of sweet saliva that has gathered in my mouth, and all my muscles clench until they grow painfully taut. My body is gearing up for a fight. I don’t care if he’s a two-hundred-pound football player—or ex-football player. This time, I’m going to tear him limb from limb like a savage beast. I have replayed the event from three years ago in my mind several thousand times. Each time, I do something a little better; I’m a little faster, a little wiser, a little stronger. He will never hurt me again. I won’t allow it. But even if he does...

I know one thing for damned certain. There is no way that demon is marrying my sister. He might have
gotten the best of me, but I will never allow him to do the same to her. I won’t allow him to touch her, ever again. I need to kick this man out of my home, and out of my life for good.

The doorknob jostles again, but this time, it doesn’t scare me. I puff out my chest and ball my hands into fists so tightly that my fingernails cut into my palms. How dare he? How dare he violate me and terrorize my family? I remember what my dad said about him being the perfect son-in-law, and my insides shudder with revulsion.

“Excuse me, Miss Winters,” says the makeup artist who has been waiting from somewhere distant in Carmen’s bedroom. I have to strain to hear her words, because she is speaking softly and the syllables do not perfectly carry through the door. Her voice is impatient and tired. “We haven’t finished working on your face.”

“Oh, I forgot,” Carmen says in horror. “
We’re running so late! This is awful, Gray. We’re probably going to have to delay the ceremony.”

All the guests will wait,” Grayson tells her. “You’re worth waiting for.”

Carmen lets out a shaky little laugh. “
At least I cried
my makeup was complete...”

“Honey, your bathroom has an entrance to the adjoining room, right?” Grayson asks quietly. “Your sister’s old room?”

“Yes,” she responds. “Why?”

“Just wait here, love,” he tells her with another kiss. “I’ll go check on Helen. Why don’t you finish getting your makeup done for the wedding photos? Just sit down and relax, honey.”

“Gray,” Carmen whispers. “Just tell me one thing. Are you sure about me? One hundred percent sure about us?”

“I’ve never been surer about anything in my life,” he tells her. “You need to calm down, love. The day will be over soon, and we can curl up in bed and sleep in tomorrow, for as long as we want. We just have to get through these next couple hours, and
satisfy all the family members—we just have to go through the motions for tradition’s sake.”

“Okay,” Carmen says, and there is strength in her voice for the first time in several minutes. “Thank you. You always make me feel better when things get rough.”

“That’s what I’m here for,” he tells her lightly. “I’ll be right back.”

it’s time for action. I move to the adjoining door that leads into my bedroom, and I lock it hastily. I wait until I hear Grayson leave Carmen’s room, and then I burst through the bathroom door into her room, and push past her. Moving as quickly as I can, I run across the carpeted floor, tripping over beauty supplies and knocking over chairs as I rush to lock her door. I turn back to her in righteous rage and terror, my chest still expanding rapidly with my heavy breathing.

“You can’t marry him,” I tell her adamantly.

“What?” Carmen says in surprise. “Why? Oh, Helen, you’re bleeding...”

“I’m fine,” I tell her, gasping for air. “Just listen to me for once in your life. You need to call off this wedding.”

“Why are you saying this?” she asks me, her voice wounded. “First Sabrina is a downer, and now you? Why can’t anyone be supportive of me?”

“I know him,” I tell her, as I continue wheezing. I bend over slightly and place the palms of my hands against my knees to support me.
My hands are clammy and cold against my soft and newly-shaved legs. The salt in my sweat causes a mild burning sensation against the slightly razor-burned skin of my thighs. I realize that I haven’t decided how much I should tell Carmen. It could be very damaging for her to learn the whole truth; that’s why I protected her from it in the first place. But now? Now that she has fallen in love with him, I’m not sure what might be the proper protocol for this situation. “I know him from school, Carmen. He’s a criminal. He’s done horrible things.”

“Stop,” she hisses sharply. “Just stop. I don’t want to hear about it.”

I frown at the tone in her voice. “You’re about to marry this man, and you don’t even know who he is! He’s going to ruin your life. Call it off. Please call it off, for your own sake.”

“I can’t believe you,” Carmen whispers. “Why would you do this to me? You’re supposed to be happy for me.”

“I would be happy if it were almost anyone else,” I say in a deadly serious voice. “Carmen. You need to call it off.”

BOOK: Clarity 2
4.17Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub

Other books

Two Days in Biarritz by Jackson, Michelle
The Seven Month Itch by Allison Rushby
The Shadow Girls by Henning Mankell