Read Fractured Online

Authors: Erin Hayes

Fractured (4 page)

“Yeah, I don’t normally do things like that, but I figured, eh, why the hell not? We’re in town for the night.” He nodded to a tall black man behind him talking to another guy. “I brought some friends along. Hope you don’t mind.”

As long as they were busy talking to other people, he could have brought an elephant and she wouldn’t have cared. She nodded and grinned, grinned and nodded, not caring if she looked stupid.

Lily,
the voice chimed again.
Do it. Make him love you. He’s the one.

He was here. That was all that mattered. From this point on their lives were going to converge. Her happily ever after would begin from this point on.

“There you are!” a familiar voice exclaimed. “It’s like you’re trying to avoid me.”

Lily’s hopes ran cold. She turned to see Bash standing next to her, holding out a mojito. Her sister looked ethereal and beautiful at the same time, like some sort of goddess. Lily snatched the glass from her and took a swig before thanking her, hoping that would deter Bash’s influence on the situation. All she wanted was for Bash to go away. Before...

Before...

It was too late. Seth was looking at Bash and it looked like he was seeing an angel. It looked as if every fiber of his being became consumed by her presence. He was absolutely entranced with her.

Lily’s heart shattered.

“I’m Seth,” he dazedly told her.

“You must be Lily’s date tonight,” Bash said. She seemed oblivious to his change in nature and grinned easily.


Friend,
” he insisted quickly. “I’m a friend.”

“Oh?” she asked, puzzled. “Really?”

Lily wanted to scream. There was still time. Bash hadn’t picked up that he was head over heels for her yet. Her twin sister grinned and held out her free hand for a handshake.

“Nice to meet you, Seth,” she said. “I’m Lily’s sister, Bathsheba. My friends call me Bash.”

“Bash,” he repeated softly. “What a cool name.”

Stop them, Lily. Stop them before it’s too late.

Lily couldn’t.

As if in slow motion, his hand met Bash’s. Heartbeats passed as Bash’s playful expression dissolved into one of wonder at the contact.

Yes, she felt exactly what Lily had felt with this stranger. Lily could almost imagine the electrified touch going between them, that sense that their lives were starting that very moment, not very different to how she felt when she first met him.

This was definitely
not
how her night was supposed to go.

Bash and Seth left Lily and went off to talk about anything and everything. Lily glowered at them in disbelief that this was how her future was going to be ruined. She had seen Seth first. Not Bash.

It wasn’t fair.

Lily drank more that night than she had ever drank. She got so wasted, she went home with another stranger, someone who couldn’t hold a candle to Seth’s perfection, someone to dull the pain of loneliness. She snorted a line of coke in his bathroom, took a tab of Ecstasy, and had done things to him that she shuddered to think about. She woke up the next morning feeling thoroughly shitty. She was so badly hung over and sore the next two days, she didn’t make it into work. By the time she was able to get back to her job, her boss had fired her.

At least she had forgotten about Seth, if only for a moment. She could numb the knowledge that someone else—her own twin sister—was living in a fairytale with her soul mate. Because Lily’s life had no purpose now.

It was all ruined.

Later, Bash had asked if it was all right to date Seth. After all, she said with a sad, contemplative frown on her perfect face, Lily had spotted him first.

Ignoring the screaming voice in her head to not allow it, Lily had said it was fine. She honestly didn’t know what else she could say at that moment, because it was the truth. It hadn’t been a date, and she and Seth hadn’t been together. She also didn’t think it would last. While he lived at Fort Hood for the Army, Lily and Bash lived in Dallas. Long distance relationships never worked, right? Her friends later said that Bash was a bitch for taking Seth. The voice in her head agreed. But Lily had allowed it, and Bash and Seth were happy. She should have taken some comfort in the fact that they were happy, yet she couldn’t.

She loved him too much to move on.

She remembered all of this bitterly as she walked. It was too fucking cold, and she didn’t have the cash to call a cab to her apartment. She was either going to have to walk to a bus stop and wait for the services to start running, or call someone to pick her up.

There was only person she could call, and right now, that person was the last one she wanted to contact.

She glared at her phone for a few minutes, debating whether or not to call. Finally, her miserableness won and she hit SEND.

Miles away, probably nestled in Seth’s warm embrace, Bash answered her phone.

“Hello?” she asked dreamily.

“Bash?” Lily asked through gritted teeth. “I assume you’re with Seth?” Bash made a tired noise that sounded like a “yep” and she grimaced. “Can you two pick me up in Oak Cliff?”

 

 

 

 

CHAPTER TWO

 

What are you doing to yourself, Lily?

Bash sat in the passenger’s seat while Seth drove from her little apartment by the university to Oak Cliff. While it was only a thirty-minute drive, they weren’t ready to start the day at five in the morning, especially after the night they had.

Thinking about that part, Bash blushed deeply and sighed. Seth’s hand on her lap squeezed tightly.
I’m here for you,
he silently told her.

She closed her eyes, feeling the weight of his hand against her thigh, a comforting anchor in whatever turmoil was swirling around in her life.

Really, she was empowering Lily to continue her self-destructive behavior by picking her up. Bash could never drive, and before she knew Seth, she’d always call a taxi to pick up her sister wherever she was (because Lily’s wild nights usually meant she didn’t have enough money to get home), and then Bash would have to pay once Lily showed up at her apartment. And it didn’t help that on a lot of these occasions, Lily had no idea where the hell she was.

Bash blamed herself for her sister’s behavior. She felt overprotective of her troubled twin. Even though Bash was the blind, sicklier girl, Lily seemed unable to function in society. Oh, people liked her—a bit too much actually, because Lily attracted all sorts of people and not always the right ones—and she was unable to hold a job, go to school, or reach any sort of goals in life. It seemed like she had never grown out of being a spoiled child. She had always been that way, especially after the accident that killed their father and left their mother in a nursing home.

Meanwhile, Bash was working on her a master’s degree in music and worked part-time as a music teacher at a local school for the blind. It wasn’t great money, just enough to support a student’s lifestyle, and she could even help out Lily when her twin was between jobs.

“What’s wrong?” Seth asked, his voice cutting into her thoughts.

Bash opened her mouth to voice her frustrations, but what came out was something else entirely. “I think we should hold off telling people about our engagement.” She didn’t know where that came from, but as soon as the words left her lips, she knew deep down that it was the right thing. After all, Lily still acted so strangely around her and Seth.

“Why?”

Seth sounded hurt, which broke her heart. However, what she had said just
felt right
, like it was fate and destiny tying them together.

“It’s not the right time,” she whispered softly. “I mean, I don’t want to tell Lily right after we picked her up from...from one of her bad nights.” She clasped his hand with both of hers, brought it to her lips and kissed the back of his hand. “We could tell everyone when we’re in Colorado.”

“Colorado? That’s two weeks from now.”

“Yes. It would be perfect. All our friends together at once—our last week before...before you’re deployed. No one gets to hear the news first or last. All at once. Plus,” she added, the excitement falling from her tone, “it would give me a chance to tell Mom in private.”

Luckily, they had left in such a hurry, Bash hadn’t remembered to put on the ring he had given her earlier. It was still sitting on the nightstand, waiting to be worn again and shown off.

Seth paused, considering. “All right,” he whispered back. “We’ll wait.”

She trailed her fingers up his arm, locating his face just by touch and kissed him on the cheek. “You won’t regret it.”

“Already regretting it,” he replied, although there was amusement in his voice. He was playing with her now, and she laughed. “As long as we
do
get married.”

“Of course,” she told him. “That’s what soul mates do.”

“I love you,” he said.

“Ditto.”

They drove in silence for a few minutes, the car humming along the highway. She relished these moments that held no distractions. It was just the two of them enjoying each other’s company. They didn’t have to say anything to be comfortable. Simply being together was enough.

It was still too early in the morning for her to take her anti-epilepsy medicine. The more she thought about it though, the more she considered not taking it. She’d been on one form of medication or another since she’d woken up from that first incident, yet she hadn’t had an episode since. Even though she was blind, certain triggers could theoretically set her off on another seizure. Every year since then, doctors would prod and poke her to see how her brain was responding. The tests never revealed anything, but because of the severity of her one seizure, they’d kept her on some sort of antiepileptic if only to prevent from her losing more function in her brain.

She could swear it was keeping her mind under a fuzzy, sedated cloud. She’d been on it most of her life, but she could feel the effects of the drug kicking in and the effects as it wore off. She’d only go through the cycle again when she took another pill.

Could she stop taking her medicine and essentially reboot her life? She’d heard of withdrawals from other patients who had stopped taking their antiepileptics, but really, she was on such a low dose now, she doubted it was actually doing anything.

Besides, she wanted to relish every last moment she had with Seth without that fuzzy cloud of medication, the upcoming ski trip included. The two weeks they had between now and then would help her gauge if she’d be okay. Her doctor would tell her not to risk it and would probably even reprimand her for doing it, but she didn’t want to lose these next memories in a haze of mind-altering side effects, no matter how low her dose was.

And there was the possibility that she could have been pregnant, and she didn’t want the pills affecting that at all. She’d heard how bad even aspirin messed up pregnancies. She had more reason than ever to try something new.

She still didn’t want to think about that. She’d confront it when it was time. For now, she just wanted to enjoy life.

“So Lily’s stranded. Again,” Seth stated, breaking into her thoughts.

Bash closed her eyes. “I know.”

“You can’t keep helping her like this, Bash,” he said gently.

Bash’s sighed and leaned back in her seat. “She’s my sister, Seth. I told Mom I’d take care of her.”

“I’m not trying to be an ass...”

“I know you’re not,” Bash quickly admitted. “And I agree with you. Just...not now. Our engagement is going to be enough of a shock to Lily.”

“Heh. Yeah, it will be. That’s all on her.”

“Seth.”

“Hey, it’s your sister that has the problem.”

Coming from anyone else, that would have pissed her off. There was so much humor in his voice though, she had to grin, despite that truth. It was true, that ever since the first night they met, Lily seemed to have some sort of bone to pick about Seth. While she had begrudgingly given them her blessing for them to start dating, Bash’s relationship with him did little to ease the hostility between the sisters, and much of Lily’s apparent dislike for Seth was redirected towards Bash. In the last six months, the two sisters had drifted even further apart. It seemed the only time that Lily ever talked to Bash was when she needed to be bailed out.

Like now.

She felt the movement of the car slow down before Seth announced their arrival.

“Found her,” he declared.

The rear passenger door opened and shut quickly as Lily climbed inside the small car.

“Thanks,” she said. She exhaled a big puff of air and settled into the backseat.

“You should really think twice before doing shit like this, hon,” Bash told her.

Lily glowered.

Bash sighed, wondering once again what to do with her twin. She didn’t want to nag and she didn’t want to lecture her. She just wanted her sister to make good choices every once in a while, which Lily
never
did. It baffled her.

“Where should I take you?” Seth asked, his voice even and calm, although Bash could sense his underlying tension.

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