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Authors: Rachel van Dyken

Shame (Ruin #3)

BOOK: Shame (Ruin #3)
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Shame

Ruin, Book 3

by Rachel Van Dyken

 

This is a work of fiction. Names, places, characters, and events are fictitious in every regard. Any similarities to actual events and persons, living or dead, are purely coincidental. Any trademarks, service marks, product names, or named features are assumed to be the property of their respective owners, and are used only for reference. There is no implied endorsement if any of these terms are used. Except for review purposes, the reproduction of this book in whole or part, electronically or mechanically, constitutes a copyright violation.

 

SHAME

Copyright © 2014 RACHEL VAN DYKEN

ISBN 978-09915872-78

Cover Art by P.S. Cover Design

 

 

PROLOGUE

 

Hope is itself a species of happiness, and, perhaps, the chief happiness which this world affords: but, like all other pleasures immoderately enjoyed, the excesses of hope must be expiated by pain. —Samuel Johnson

 

Lisa


T
ELL ME YOU
love me!” he screamed, fists clenched. He was high on pills; then again, he was always high on pills.

“Tay…” I licked my lips and tried to maintain a sense of calm. “…get down.”

He threw his head back and laughed. “No, no, no, I don’t think so, not until you tell me!” He moved to the ledge of the bridge and leaned over, laughing, swaying, and dipping his feet below the edge, making a giant joke out of nearly killing himself. He turned quickly, almost falling. I gasped, and he righted himself and stared me down, his face twisting with rage. “Say it.”

“Tay—”

“Say it, damn it! Say you love me! Say it, say it, say it, say it!” His voice went hoarse from screaming as he pounded his chest.

Things hadn’t always been like this.

I used to think we were in love.

I used to think our relationship was… just passionate.

“I’m going to jump if you don’t say it, Mel.” His smile was cruel. “Do you really want that on your conscience for the rest of your pretty life? Do you even realize who I am? What my death would do to you?” He laughed again as tears streamed down his face. “I may as well be a god to you. That’s how much I own you. I’ll always own you.”

“Tay...” I stepped forward, my heels clicking against the cement. “…I love you, I love you so much, now please…” my voice shook, “please just get down.”

“I always knew this moment would come.” He went completely still; the wind blew his dark, wavy hair across his forehead. “When I wouldn’t be able to control it anymore, when you’d finally try to run away,” he sneered. “When you’d lie to my face!”

I shook my head, panic rising in my chest. He’d always been dramatic, controlling, bat-shit crazy, but recently he’d been threatening to kill himself more and more. He’d almost succeeded the month before. “Taylor, please baby, I love you. I can’t live without you!” I held out my hands in front of me. “Just come off the ledge.”

He threw his head back and laughed, almost losing his footing. “It’s hilarious how much I control you. I’m going to ruin your life, you know that?”

“Taylor!” I yelled. “This isn’t funny! This isn’t a game. Just get down!”

He did a little jig on the ledge and laughed harder. “I took care of everything, you know… everyone will find out. I took notes. It was too easy… too easy to take you, but you made me feel, and I don’t want to feel, Mel. Not anymore. It hurts too bad. But you know what? In a bit it won’t hurt anymore, and I’ll be happy knowing that I’ll haunt you for the rest of your life. You see, even in my death, your soul is mine. Your body is mine.”

His smile was cruel. I fought the urge to throw up as each word pounded into my brain — as absolute truth.

“I own you,” he whispered. “One more chance, Mel. Do you love me?”

His head tilted so far to the right I thought he would lose his balance.

In that moment, the hate won over the fear. I was so tired of being afraid, so tired of being controlled, just so, so tired.

“No,” I whispered. “I hate you.”

He closed his eyes and whispered, “Finally,” before falling backward off the bridge.

 

****

 

Pieces of my life were falling slowly, painfully. Falling like snow falls onto the ground. Frozen pieces dissolving into nothingness as the ground sucks in the water and the process repeats.

More snow falls.

More water soaks in.

And after the snow has fallen.

After the ground has drunk its fill.

All you’re left with is a beautiful landscape of white; the type of white that, as a little kid, you can’t wait to run out and play in.

I used to have that type of excitement. I used to imagine my life was like that, a fresh blanket of snow. I’d always been close to my mom, and whenever it snowed, she was always a fan of making me wait. She said that I needed to be patient, I needed to allow the rest of the world to see the beauty of the snow. So I’d wait, tap my foot, wait some more, complain, and finally, laughing, she’d let me run out into the white perfection.

One day, Mom stopped me. She pointed to the snow and said, “Honey, this is your life, a blank canvas. Follow your destiny and know that each step you take will be another footprint made in the snow, but make the footprints strong. You want them to lead somewhere. You want the footsteps to have meaning.”

I never thought much about her words — I was a kid. All I cared about were snow angels.

And as I grew, I lost interest in the snow. My interest was darkness, not white.

They let me go.

They let me run in the opposite direction.

Funny, because that’s how I found
him
. He promised to walk along with me in the dark, promised to entertain, promised to be by my side. And I trusted him. So when he told me to do things I knew I shouldn’t…

I did them.

When I wanted to run back to the snow, when I felt like reverting back to that same excitement of childhood, he’d show me one more thing that pulled me to the other side.

He pulled me.

He pushed.

Until I had nothing left.

And in the end, I ran away. I ran away from the dark and promised myself to start over.

Gabe helped with that — my best friend. I did everything in my power to help save him,  because in the end, by saving him, I was saving me.

Unfortunately, the thing about running, the thing about trying to start over — eventually that hope is dashed by your past coming up to greet you like the fires of hell.

My past came knocking sooner than I could have imagined.

In the form of a ghost.

A person I had no idea existed.

A person who knew my shame.

A person I fell in love with.

My college professor.

Don’t roll your eyes. You don’t know my pain. You don’t know my story. You don’t know the hope I’ve held in my heart for years. Hope that one day I would be different. Hope that one day the person I chose to give my heart to would see me as beautiful, pure, like the snow. And wouldn’t look at the darkness and walk in the other direction.

“Tristan?” I sniffled. “Say something!”

“You want me to say something?” he sneered. His blue eyes might as well have been steel as they pierced through every inch of my body. “Fine.”

I braced for impact.

“I hate you.” He said it slowly as if he wanted me to hear each word and commit it to my memory. “I love you.”

“What?” Tears fell across my lips. “What did you say?”

“Both.” He put his hands on his hips. “I feel both.”

I took a tentative step toward him. “Which wins?”

“The one you give power to,” he said seriously. “The one I choose to give power to.”

“Love?” I begged, pleaded, my voice hoarse.

Tristan’s smile was sad as he took a step back and gave his head a solid shake. “No, sweetheart. I’m sorry, but no.”

He left.

Hope died in my chest.

I stared down at the ground, closing my eyes, wishing for snow, wishing for a do-over. Wishing I could go back and make the footprints straight in the snow, wishing I wouldn’t have chosen death.

But that’s the thing about choices; you don’t regret them until after they’ve been made. It may be a second later, or a year.

Shame always comes.

And you’re about to know mine…

 

 

CHAPTER ONE

 

Simple fact about me: I get bored easy, and she was an easy target. Young, beautiful, with the fiery eyes of a temptress. “Impress me,” I’d say, and she’d laugh and go about doing exactly that. My body liked it, my mind craved it. She forced the demons down better than any drug, and I freaking worshipped her for it. —
The Journal of Taylor B.

 

Lisa

I
RAN BACK TO
my dorm and nearly collided with the door before I was able to grab it. I hated having to dig through my purse to find my stupid key card; it seemed like it always hid for at least ten minutes while I pulled out my keys, my wallet, my gum, my cell, that little tiki key fob I still hadn’t added to my main ring of keys yet. I mean, the list went on and on and on. Finally, of course, I’d realize I kept my key card in my back pocket only to have stood in front of the damn door while it rained!

Ugh. College.

I took the stairs two at a time and unlocked my dorm room.

“Loser pants,” Gabe said from the couch without looking up. “You left your door open again.”

“I gave you a key.” I rolled my eyes.

“You gave Saylor a key,” Gabe grumbled. “I had to freaking steal that thing, make like seven copies, and return it.”

“Seven?” I put my bag on the counter and walked around to the mini-kitchen to grab a bottle of water from the fridge. “Why seven?”

“Fun story about marriage.” Gabe thrust his finger into the air as if letting me know he was about to make a speech. Though by now I knew his speeches bordered on inappropriate most the time; hence the dread pooling in my stomach. “Saylor loses everything. It’s like sex…” He paused. “Sex with me, mind you, not any other dude because let’s be honest, when it’s from me, it’s just—”

“Gabe,” I sighed. “Get there faster.”

“Right.” He turned off the TV and turned around to face me.

God, it was still weird seeing him with blond hair. A few months ago his whole
secret
identity had come out. Ashton Parker Hyde, the pop star and actor who was the object of every teenage dream five years ago, had gone into hiding, and since I’d been his closest friend, I’d followed him. My reasons were different from his, obviously. He was escaping a painful past. I was trying to forget mine

We’d both been famous, but I was a child model, easily forgettable. He had been a god. No seriously, ask social media. They stalked him like crazy. You’d think he’d dye his hair back to black just to get a break once in a while, but nope, as far as he was concerned, Ashton was here to stay, though he went by Gabe. He rationalized that just made everything easier for his professors and new wife, Saylor, who, because of his hidden identity, had nearly castrated him.

But that’s another story. I shook my head, clearing the cobwebs, and threw him one of my waters. “You were saying?”

He grinned. I had to look away. He was too pretty, and I kind of hated how both he and Wes, another Lifetime-Channel-story-come-to-life, were both the happiest people on the planet, while I was living by myself and receiving stalker hate mail.

“She’s forgetful.” He shrugged. “So I keep seven of everything.”

“Again, why seven?”

“It’s the number of completion.” He rolled his eyes. “Duh.”

“Is there a reason you’re here and not home? With Saylor?”

He looked guilty down at the couch. “I, uh, cable was out?”

“Try again.”

He looked behind me and pointed. “The, um, fridge light needed to be changed.”

I grinned. “It’s fine.”

“And—” He shot up from the couch and ran to the door, opened and closed it. “You need grease in the, er…” He scratched his head. “…hinges.”

“Wow!” I clapped twice. “You know what a hinge is.”

He flipped me off.

I stuck my tongue out.

In two steps I was in his arms, my cheek resting against his muscled chest. Two tattooed biceps squeezed tight around me as he rested his chin on my head. It was comforting just being in his arms.

I’d missed him.

I hadn’t been without him for years. It had always been us against the world. Then he’d gone and gotten married, and I’d felt truly lonely for the first time since leaving LA.

“I’m worried about you,” Gabe whispered, pulling back and cupping my face with his hands. “You need… a… bodyguard or something.”

I closed my eyes and shook my head. “No, I’m fine.”

“You’re too pretty.”

“I’m fine!” I laughed again and stepped out of his embrace. I didn’t want him to know how freaked out I’d been the last week. The hate mail — aka fan mail — had gotten worse. I kept changing my PO box, and people kept discovering it. I mean, it was the usual stuff, the
you’re so pretty and I watch you
stuff, which I could deal with — mostly. But a few of the letters had had pictures of Taylor.

BOOK: Shame (Ruin #3)
13.55Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
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