Resurgence (Heart of Stone #9) (2 page)

BOOK: Resurgence (Heart of Stone #9)
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“This is just the coke talking,” I declared as I
scrambled from the bed and took hold of his arm.

Shaking me off, he dragged the large bag from the top of
the wardrobe and started to fill it with his clothes. “No, this is me talking.”

“Mason, please.”

“I can’t face what you did, Ava. I can’t deal with what
you did on top of everything else.”

Slumping on the bed, I sobbed, resignedly watching him stuff
more and more things into his bag. “I’m sorry,” I choked out. “I’m sorry.”

Leaning into me, he placed a soft kiss on my forehead. I
inhaled sharply, dragging his scent into my body. “Me too,” he whispered before
he kissed me harder.

And then left me.

Through it all he’d never left me. Even after Kade, he
still came back, and he never completely left me. But now I felt the abyss
between us threatening to suck me into its dark chambers.

And I had a feeling, that this time, even Mason and I
would struggle to climb our way out of this one.

Two
Mason

 

They always say that your true colours come out in the
wash. Well, as I stood there, alone, in a random hotel shower with the torrent
of blistering hot water pummelling my already broken skin, every colour that
had lived within me washed away down the drain. My heart, my soul, my emotions
and all the very things from life that gave me substance ran down the plug and
left a sketch with no defined edges, a blurred outline filled with nothing but
muted shades of rage and hatred.

There was nothing left.

Vomit burned my throat when vision after vision assaulted
me, stinging my eyes and charring my throat. Puke hit the drab cream tiles and
slid down the wall, the whisky I’d consumed filling the steam with pockets of
stench and revulsion.

I watched it disappear with the rest of me, the lumps and
slime refusing to fucking go and sticking to the plughole, taunting me with the
disgust that lived inside me and wouldn’t ever fucking go away!

“I’m sorry,” she choked out. “I’m sorry.”

Ava’s whispered plea in my head had me squashing my skull
between my hands, pressing my palms to my ears as I tried to banish her soft
voice.

“Why won’t you let me touch you?”

More vomit trickled down my chin and I stumbled from the
shower, holding onto the walls to keep me upright. I was so pissed. So high. So
fucking done.

Violence slithered beneath my skin. The anger that was
always rumbling away with a fury called out to me, taunted me, haunted me!

My knees hit the floor with a thud and I crawled over to
the low table, quickly fixing a line on the mirrored surface. My eyes laughed
at me as I bent and snorted, the fierce greyness chilling the marrow of my
bones as I made my way through three more lines.

Until the mirrored glass held nothing but my sickening
reflection.

I was sure even Satan didn’t hold this much ugliness.

I’d gone to hell and even the fucking devil himself had
exiled me.

Dragging my finger across the longest scar, I watched the
skin pucker in the reflection. And another. And another.

George’s laugh stabbed at me, the echo of his cold eyes
staring back at me through the image of my own.

Glass shattered under my fist, mirrored shards
catapulting across the room with the force of my blow.

But it wasn’t enough. It wasn’t ever enough.

My body vibrated with aggression as I yanked on some
clothes, any clothes. My teeth trembled in my jaw and my blood spat and fizzed deep
inside my veins as I tore through the hotel and out into the openness. The
openness that held some fucker. Any fucker. Any cunt that would crumble under
the weight of my insanity. Only blood would sate this damn fucking rage.
Whether it be mine or anyone’s, I didn’t care. So long as it stopped the
never-ending scream that ricocheted off every inch of my broken skull.

 

~~~

 

Groaning, the sound of a phone humming in the background,
I turned over. My face felt sticky, my mouth and nose clogged and thick. My
body was heavy, my muscles coiled tight with anger. Yet I didn’t feel as though
I was there. Or anywhere.

Another shrill tone pulsated through my thumping head and
I swallowed the stale bile that congested my airway.

My eyes peeled open enough to focus on the screen of my
phone. Missed calls. Unanswered texts. Numerous inbox messages. All from Ava.

Guilt filled the empty space in my chest, the pain inside
me desperate to cut through the organ that wasn’t there anymore, and placing
the phone back on the nightstand, I stared at the dried blood that coated my
hands. I couldn’t even remember what, or why it belonged there. It dyed my
skin, tainted my soul, blemishing me with the evil that was me.

“Honey?”

Her saccharine voice made me baulk and I flipped over.
Her eyes widened on me when I pressed the palm of my hand against her
Botox-filled lips. “Shut the fuck up!”

Tears filled her wide blue eyes and she nodded wildly,
the fear in her another spark to the underlying fury beneath my skin.

“Get out!”

She didn’t wait to be told twice. Scooting from the bed,
she snatched up her clothes and fled, the door slamming shut behind her before
she’d even finished getting dressed.

Stumbling into the bathroom, I turned on the shower and
once again stepped inside.

They always say that your true colours come out in the
wash. Well, as I stood there, alone, in a random hotel shower with the torrent
of blistering hot water pummelling my already broken skin, every colour that
had lived within me washed away down the drain. My heart, my soul, my emotions
and all the very things from life that gave me substance ran down the plug and
left a sketch with no defined edges, a blurred outline filled with nothing but
muted shades of rage and hatred.

There was nothing left.

Nothing.

Three
Ava

 

Greg didn’t look pleased to see me. He stood staring at
me while I stood on his doorstep, patiently waiting to see if he would accept
me in or not.

Eventually, he sighed and shifted to one side.

Little Mason was sat in a small playpen in the corner and
I immediately went over to him, scooping him up to inhale his scent of baby
powder and milk. His simple word of ‘Mama’ had me cursing under my breath and
closing my eyes for strength.

“What do you want, Ava?”

Kissing Mason’s forehead, I returned him to the pen and
turned back to Greg. He wouldn’t look at me. I could practically see the rage
pouring from him like a waterfall of fury, spreading into the air and making it
difficult to breathe under the potency of his hatred for me. “I, uhh, came to
see if you needed anything.”

He scoffed, shaking his head and biting into his lip. “I
don’t think so.”

Nodding, I moved my eyes to the fireplace. Pain seared
through me and I bit back the ache inside when Courtney’s huge smile shone from
hers and Greg’s wedding photo. It had been such a wonderful day, a perfect day.
The happiness that had radiated from my best friend that day would never leave
me, it was buried in the box of happy memories I had come to rely on more and
more in the last few years. “I miss her,” I whispered with an overwhelming
sadness, unable to stop myself.

I gasped, rearing back when, before the words had completely
left my mouth, he was on me. I took his anger. I relished in it, because it was
justified, granted in a strange fucked up way.

“You have no fucking right to miss her!” he screamed at
me.

I curled in on myself, trying to shield my body from his
beating while with each breath I accepted it. I deserved it. I earned every
crack of his fist in my face, every vicious word he spat at me, every tear that
leaked from his crazy eyes and dropped onto my skin, searing me with his
blistering pain.

“You killed her! You, your fucking husband, your sick
fucking son. Your fucked upped life killed her!”

“I’m sorry,” I repeated, over and over, until the pain
rendered me mute, and the heartache from the truth broke my will to breathe.

I felt myself being dragged through his house and the
cool air outside hit me, stinging the open wounds on my face when he flung me
onto the path.

“You’re no longer welcome here. You and your fucking
family. Stay away from me before you take what little I have left!”

For the first time in a very long while, loneliness crept
in. Ice trickled through my veins, chilling my bones with the heaviness of
guilt and despair.

I sat for a very long time, outside my dead best friend’s
house, in a pool of my own blood. Mason hated me. Courtney was dead. My son was
dead. Nate and Liv now lived in America, so far away that I knew deep within me
that I wouldn’t see them again. Kade loved me but relied on his wife for
strength and fuel, as it should be. My life had taken my daughter’s husband
from her and all that flowed through her now was a need for revenge. Vengeance
for something that my fucked up life had started.

They had all gone. My friends, my family – my glorious
bastard. Misery was as hurtful as loneliness. And loneliness was as consuming
as guilt.

Love. That’s all I had lived for. But in the very end, it
was the very thing that would kill me.

 

~~~

 

“Hey,” Kade’s soft voice through the phone filled a
little of the emptiness that had grown within me.

“Hi. Are…”

“Sweetheart,” he called away from the phone. I heard
Grace’s gentle laughter in the background and I cringed.

“I’m sorry, you’re busy.”

“I’ll call you back later, Ava.” He laughed, Grace
squealed and the phone went dead.

Silence poured through the cottage, icing the chill that
had already settled inside me. Placing my phone on the table, I picked up the
glass of vodka and cranberry and took a large mouthful, the burn in my throat
satisfying.

Various photos were scattered on the table, and smiling,
I picked up one of the twins. They were around five, both of them sat in their
underwear in the sandpit. George was laughing and Katie was looking over at
Mason who squatted beside them both, scooping sand onto a spade.

“I’m so sorry,” I whispered as I ran my finger over
George’s happy face.

My heart hurt so much, the pain indescribable as a
tortured sob tore from the very core of me.

“My beautiful baby boy.”

I just prayed that he had found his peace, that his
demons had allowed him rest. I had to take responsibility for what George had
done. I was his mother, the person that guided him through life, taught him
right from wrong. Yet, what he had done was unforgivable. He had broken my
husband, his own father. And he had done it in ways that were not only
horrific, but reprehensible.

It had all gone wrong. Twenty-five years had gone in the
blink of an eye. My heart was full of memories, some good, some bad. I thought
of my mother as I picked up the only picture I had of her. What would she have
said about my life now? Would she have been proud of me? I very much doubted
it.

My thoughts shifted to Dane. Had I been so corrupt that I
had made him like he was? Had it been my fault after all?

 “Tell him… tell him it was fun. Tell him he was my
brother and I loved him.”

His very last words trickled into my box of memories and
I shut it closed quickly.

There was nothing left, or what was left was so broken
that it would take me years to sift through the debris. What had once filled my
heart had gone on to massacre it.

Tiredness grew within me, not just a need for sleep, but
an exhaustion that desecrated every fibre of my being.

Taking a cigarette, I lit it, inhaled and blew the smoke
into the air, my eyes focusing on the grey circle as it rose and dispersed into
the darkness of the room. I hated that I had started smoking again, yet, I
didn’t care. Cancer had fed on me once, and now, well now there was nothing
left for it to devour.

I had to wonder what was next – what was left.

I would never survive this life without Mason. And if I
was being completely honest, I wasn’t even sure I wanted to endure it. With or
without my glorious bastard. Life had taken so much from the both of us that
the horizon appeared forever black.

Stubbing out my smoke, I grabbed my drink and climbed the
stairs. My body was weary, my bones aching with surrender and, exhausted, I
entered the bathroom and preheated the shower.

Peeling off my clothes, I stepped in and stood under the
river of heat. My muscles creaked, my stiff frame the only thing holding me
together now.

Looking down, I placed a kiss on the tips of my fingers
and pressed it to my
‘Mrs Fox’
tattoo that rested just above where my
breasts used to be. Remembering Mason’s face when he saw it for the first time
on our wedding day, I couldn’t help but smile. The awe on his face, that I had
branded myself to him, was placed into the same box of memories I had set the
image of Courtney’s wedding day into, along with so many more.

Turning my face to the spray and taking the razor blade
from the shelf, I twisted it in my fingers. It held the only hope I had left.
The only future I could envisage.

“I nearly slept with someone else.”

Mason’s voice made me jump and I spun around, dropping
the blade into the shower tray below my feet. He stood, watching me, leaning
against the vanity unit as his eyes roamed my nakedness. The darkness on his
face made me, for the first time ever, wary of my own husband.

“Nearly?”

“Mmm.” He stepped towards me and I held firm, bracing
myself when his dark expression turned into something quite sinister. He was
drunk, very drunk. He was also high. Many times I had beheld Mason fuelled on
coke and God knows what else, and I had always stayed above water. Yet, this
time, I had a feeling things would go very differently. That my own husband
would drown me.

“She had big tits, Ava. Huge tits. Like yours. Well, like
yours used to be.”

My gut twisted and I clenched my fists. Ready. Prepared.

Slowly, he lifted his eyes to my face. The horror, and
the pain, and the defeat in them made me physically wince. “And then I realised,
tits or not, there’s only ever you that touches me.” He pointed to the centre
of his chest. “Here. Where it matters.”

Tears burned my eyes as I witnessed my glorious bastard
crumble and break before me. His face screwed up as he sank to the floor, his
broken sob tearing at my heart.

“I can’t hide, Ava,” he cried as I scooped him into my
arms, dropping to the floor beside him. “It won’t let me hide. I don’t want to
see. I don’t want to feel this anymore. Why did he hate me so much?”

“He didn’t hate you,” I whispered. “He just didn’t know
how to love you.”

“I loved him, Ava. So much. I did try, I tried so hard to
make him love me.”

I nodded, pressing him against me, praying that it was
time for the truth. But when it came out, I wasn’t prepared for it, not in the
slightest.

“I didn’t fight back because I know he deserved his own
retribution. But I thought,
prayed
, that if I allowed him that, then he
would love me. I just wanted him to love me. Like he loved you, Ava.”

Shaking his head, he grew angry. “How can someone be
jealous of their own wife, envious of the relationship they have with your kid?
Does that make me a bad person?”

“No, it doesn’t make you a bad person. It makes you a
parent, a father who loved his children no matter what.”

“You have to believe that I loved him, Ava.” He was
desperate, clinging to me to make me see.

“I know,” I urged, nodding wildly. “I know.”

He was silent for a moment and I swallowed my nerve.
“What happened, Mason?”

He winced, hiding his face from me.

“Did… Did someone… rape you?”

He stiffened so much that I didn’t need a verbal answer.
My heart shattered and I clawed at his face, making him look at me. “You
remember after Dane? How you told me that whatever I had gone through, it was
only to make me stronger, that no one could touch my heart and soul because
they belonged to you?”

He nodded, the tears in his eyes making my soul drop down
and weep.

“Well you belong to me, Mason Fox. Your heart, your soul,
your love, your anger, your wounds, they all belong to me. No one can take them
from me, ever. I will fight in this life and the next for you. Don’t you ever
forget that.”

“He laughed, Ava. My own son stood there and watched them
rape me, over and over. How is that not wrong? How can I even…”

“It is wrong. George was too far gone for help, from
anyone, baby. He was so lost in his own hatred that he would never have been
able to come back from it.”

He paused, swallowing, before he turned his eyes to me.
“Are we so lost that there’s no coming back?”

Without thought, without consideration, and with complete
honesty, I nodded. “Yes.”

Slowly, he nodded. “Are you tired, baby?”

“Very.”

“Secretly,” he whispered. “I hoped he’d end it for me. I
can’t do this anymore. You wouldn’t let me go, in the hospital,” he confessed,
his weary eyes finding mine once more so I could see the truth in them. “And
for that I hated you. I hated you, Ava.”

“I know.” I nodded. Because I did know. I knew all too
fucking well.

“I don’t ever want to hate you like that, baby. Never.
This heart of mine could never live through that.”

“Sometimes,” I whispered, “I want you to hate me.”

He nodded. He understood. “But I can’t.”

“I know you can’t, and that makes me love you all the
more.”

Leaning my back against the bath tub, I sighed. “Sex,
love and hate, that’s all we’ve ever known, Mason. But each one of those is so
damn powerful that it gives us strength. Love breathes for us. Hate fights for
us. And sex joins us, in ways that nothing else can. And we’ve come to live our
lives with those three simple things. But I’m scared that one day they’ll be
gone.”

“And then what do we have?” he finished for me.

Tipping my chin back with his finger, he very gently
placed a kiss to my nose. “I’ll always love you, Ava. But hate, no, I don’t
want that.”

“And that’s just the thing. You couldn’t even hate your
own son for what he did. Without hate, there’s nothing Mason, nothing. There’s
no fight, no passion. We just move forward, oblivious, ignorant. I don’t want
to live like that. I want the passion, the pain, the thrill. But it’s gone. And
now there’s nothing left.”

Standing, he leaned down and took me in his arms,
scooping me against his strong chest. Carrying me through to the bedroom, he
lowered me onto the bed and came over me. “I want to love you so much.”

Cupping his cheek, I smiled sadly. “But you’re scared.”

“I’m so fucking scared,” he sobbed. “I can’t. Not
anymore. They took so much from me, Ava. Even that. Even my physical love for
you.”

And now I understood.

Sex, was Mason and I. All of us. Every fibre of us. And
now he’d lost that, he was so empty. So tortured by his inability to make love
to me.

“Then love my heart,” I whispered. “Just love me.”

Dipping down, he kissed me. His lips were so soft, his
kiss even softer. Passion was gone, but dear God, did my man love me with just
his kiss. He worshipped me with just the touch of his mouth, caressing me with
every part of him. He made me feel him, feel his love, his pain, his grief. I
felt it all.

“I want to go home,” I told him when he pulled back. “To
Portugal.”

He nodded, closing his eyes in relief at my words. “I
love you, baby,” he breathed against my ear.

“And me, you,” I returned as I snuggled into the crook of
his arm. “So damn much.”

BOOK: Resurgence (Heart of Stone #9)
13.4Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

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