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The Jaded: Unveil Me Part 20

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I gather her in my arms and bring her body up mine. Her limbs hang like dead weights and her head rolls to the side. I bury my face in her hair and breathe in her unique scent. Even through the filthy smell of the bastard, I still smell my Anna.

I gently rock her back and forth, waiting and praying she comes back to me. I know in my head it's in vain, but the place where my heart is supposed to be won't believe it.

"Please come back to me," I murmur in her ear, my tears soaking her hair. "I can't do this without you, Anna. Please, baby," I continue begging her, but she stays quiet in my arms...

I jerk awake and snap up in bed. My chest heaves up and down from the hard work of trying to pull air into my lungs. My heart's pounding so hard I can hear the thump-thump in my ears. Breathing in through my mouth and out through my nose, I try to settle my churning stomach. I release the death grip on the sheets, lean back on my hands, and let my head fall back on my shoulders.

That damn dream is going to be the death of me. I squeeze my eyes closed, trying to push back the images. It doesn't work. They slip through the cracks and crevices I never manage to seal shut when I sleep.



"Fuck!" I snarl to the ceiling.

Frustrated, I yank the damp sheet off my lap, swing my legs over the side of the bed, and plant my feet on the floor. I lean forward and drop my head into my hands, squeezing my hair so tight I feel the strands biting into my knuckles and hear the pop of them coming loose of their follicles. My body is covered in sweat and the cool air in the room sends goose bumps across my skin.

No matter what I do, I can't escape the visions. I've relived Anna's death hundreds of times and each time it feels like the first. I wake up smelling her scent, and I swear I still feel her limp body in my arms. Memories of her still body play out in my head over and over again, bringing the crippling pain of losing her to the forefront.

I lift my head and look around the barren hotel room I'm in. Overall, it's a shitty room with its germ-infested linens, outdated TV, stained carpet, and a shower and toilet that barely function. I can afford better accommodations, but with what I plan to do in these rooms each time I rent one, this type seems to fit more.

I look to my right and see the single bullet and 9mm pistol I have lying on the nightstand. Picking up the gun first, I release the clip and let it slide into my hand. The metal is cool and smooth. I reach over without looking and pick up the gold-tipped silver bullet. I flip it around a few times, before I push the bullet into the clip. The clip slides smoothly into the gun next, with a click.

Memories of Anna sitting on the tire swing I have in my backyard flash through my mind. She always loved that tire swing. She used to say when we got married our kids would play on the same swing. At the time I could picture Anna pushing a little girl with sandy-blonde pigtails.

Another memory surfaces of Anna and me playing house in the fort we built in her backyard. I built the unsteady frame out of leftover two-by-fours from my house and sheets and she decorated the inside with unused items her mom let her have. We even had hand-drawn family pictures hanging from the walls. Most boys my age at the time were out playing sports and riding their bikes, and sometimes I was, but I always made time for my Anna.

From the time I reached twelve years old, I knew I was going to love Anna. She was my everything. She was the air I breathed, the reason my heart beat, and everything I saw. She was the first thing I thought of when I woke up and the last thing I saw before I fell asleep. She was my sunshine, my moonlight, and my stars. There was absolutely nothing I wouldn't do for her, and nothing I wouldn't give her. She had my heart so tightly wrapped around her, I'm surprised it didn't suffocate her. Anna was my reason for living, and with her gone, I no longer have anything to live for.

Looking down at the gun in my hand, regret and guilt churn in my stomach. I flat-out lied when I made that promise to Anna two years ago. I promised her I'd be happy, knowing I never would be again. But I had to give her what she needed. Knowing deep down she was saying good-bye and that was the last time I was going to see her beautiful face, I said the only thing that would give her peace.

It's been over two years since my heart turned cold and stopped working properly. Two years since I've seen Anna or held her in my arms. Two fucking years since I've looked into her bright blue eyes. Two years, and it still feels like yesterday. Some people say I should move on and let my grief go. But it's not just the grief I hold on to. It's the guilt of lying to Anna and not keeping my promise. The regret for not being there when she needed me. The rage for not killing the bastards that took her away from me.

Yes, I still grieve for her with my whole being and have not let go of her, but she hasn't let go of me either. It's like there's still a connection between us that can't be severed.

I grip the cool black metal in my hand tightly and bring it closer to my face. I flipped the safety switch so the little red dot is visible. Red means fire. With shaky hands, I bring the barrel of the gun up under my chin. My finger slides across the trigger and rests there.

Of their own accord, my eyes flicker over to the picture I have on the nightstand. It's of me and Anna. I have my arm wrapped around her neck. Her head is tilted up, while mine is bent toward her, our foreheads resting against each other's. I had just pulled away from kissing her.

I squeeze my eyes shut and try to block out the picture, but it's no use.

I take a deep breath and apply light pressure to the trigger. I know at this point asking for forgiveness is useless, but I still send up a silent prayer, asking Anna to forgive this one last sin.

Gathering my courage, I squeeze the trigger the rest of the way...

Click.

All I hear is a fucking click.

I pull the gun away from my chin and look down at it. I didn't chamber a damn bullet.

A big rush of air leaves my lungs, and I glare down at the gun. Knowing that I won't have the courage again tonight, I put the gun back down on the nightstand and pick up the bottle of Jack instead. Uncapping it, I take a big swallow and relish the burn it leaves in my throat.

Anger and disappointment rush through me. With a roar, I rear back and throw the half-empty bottle at the wall. It connects with a loud crash and the amber liquid goes everywhere.

I'm angry because I couldn't follow through. My beautiful Anna is dead, and I'm left here. I was the one who was supposed to protect her. I should be the one in a cold grave. Not her. I'm the one who failed her.

I get up from the bed, ignoring the mess across the room, and walk the short distance to the bathroom. Once I'm in front of the mirror, I grip the edge and look at my reflection. I look like shit. My eyes are bloodshot with shadows under them from drinking too much and lack of sleep. My face is pale and gaunt. My eyes travel to my naked chest and stomach, and I notice that I've lost weight. The muscles are still there, but not as bulky. My stomach is starting to sink in.

I release my grip and turn to the shower. Once the water finally turns hot, I pull the shower curtain back and step inside. The hot water does nothing to settle my nerves or help the never-ending sorrow.

Knowing I need to present myself halfway decently, I start the task of doing just that. The last thing I need is people knowing just how dark my world has become. I have to mentally prepare myself for what's to come and the pitying looks I know I'll receive.

Because tomorrow I go home.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR.

Alex Grayson is originally from the south, but has recently moved to Northern Ohio. Although she misses the warmth of Florida and often detests the cold of Ohio, she absolutely loves living in the north. She and her husband bought a house on two acres of land and live there with their daughter, son, one dog, two cats, and eight ducks, and four chickens. She hopes to eventually get a couple of goats to add to their country way of living. Besides her family and home, her next best passion is reading. She is often found with her nose obsessively stuck in a book, much to the frustration of her husband and kids. On more than one occasion, Alex found herself wanting a book to go a certain way, but it didn't. With these thoughts in mind, she decided to start writing stories according to her own visions. Although this is a new endeavor for her, she hopes that readers find her concepts on romance intriguing and captivating. Alex welcomes and encourages feedback, of any kind..

end.

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The Jaded: Unveil Me Part 20 summary

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