“He put a hand on his throat, as though trying to stop the words, but they came anyway.
"You're home. To me.”
“Ember, you're the only piece of me I have left. Everything else-my family, my home, my soul- they're all gone. I don't know who the hell I am anymore. If it weren't for you... I don't know.”
“It was you," I say softly. "It's always you I think about."
The intensity in his gaze took my breath away. I could feel him. Every part of him. His soul was sewn to mine. His heated blood flowed through my veins. I'd thought that I had been close to my mother, and I was, but not like this. Chase and I barely touched- our hands, mouths, knees- but there was no part of me that was not his.”
“He was my anchor in the hurricane, yet at the same time, the hurricane itself, so that I nearly always felt safe and afraid simultaneously. There was nothing in the world as confusing and powerful as being close to him.”
“You married me while I was sleeping?" I asked in amazement. They sky was beginning to bruise with the purple haze, and in it, I could see Chase's face glow a little deeper copper.
"You hit me for kissing you. It seemed in my best interest to marry you while you were passed out.”
“I could not fall back in love with Chase Jennings. Doing so was like falling in love with a thunderstorm. Exciting and powerful, yes. Even beautiful. But violently tempered, unpredictable, and ultimately short-lived.”
“Losing your family….it puts fear in a different perspective,” he said. “Besides, I got by all right. I stayed on the fringe around Chicago, hoped around tent cities and Red Cross camps. Worked for some people who didn’t ask questions. Avoided case-workers and foster care. And thought about you.”
“Me?” I huffed, completely unsettled. In awe at how vanilla my life seemed. In awe of what he’d endured, He turned then, meeting my eyes for the first time. When he spoke, his voice was gentle, and unashamed.
“You. The only thing in my life that doesn’t change. When everything went to hell, you were all I had.”
“Don't do that again! Not ever again!" I told him.
"I should say the same to you," he said. I could feel his breath, warm on my neck.
"Promise me!" I demanded.
"I... I promise."
"I can't lose you.”
“The fear, momentarily paused, returned with full force, and in this frantic, baffled state I ran to him, and leapt into his arms.
He seemed surprised at first but soon was squeezing back.
"It's all right," he soothed. "No one's hurt. You're okay."
His words sliced through me, and for the first time since he'd taken me from school, I knew the truth about us: I could not be okay if he was not okay. Pain, nightmares, fighting- all of it aside- he was a part of me.”
“There were plenty of ways to hurt someone without using your fists.”
“I'm not fine," he said. "Not without you.”
“I promise I'll come back. No matter what happens." Though his voice was only a whisper, there was a fierceness behind it. I believed him completely.
"I'll wait for you," I told him.”
“I jerked instinctively. I couldn't stay here. I couldn't die in this closet.
"No one is going to touch you," Chase murmured into my hair.”
“Still, his scars, combined with the serpentine wound now visible without the bandage covering his shoulder, made him all the more dangerous.
He was, to me, terrifyingly beautiful.”
“I wondered what he'd done that had been so terrible that he wouldn't accept even an ounce of kindness from another person. It seemed impossible just then that I could ever hate him more than he hated himself.”
“He tilted his head, eyes peering deep inside of me in a way that made me feel exposed, like I'd never really been seen before, yet at the same time safe, like he'd never tell a soul what he'd found.”
“You won't forget me, right?" I tried to play it light so maybe he wouldn't see just how scared I was for tomorrow.
For a second, the corners of his eyes pinched. Then he sat up, and I backed onto my knees. His hands straightened my T-shirt, tugging it down.
"No," he said. His face darkened. "I don't think it's possible to forget you.”
“It's them, Miller. Not us. It's the FBR that should be sorry.”
“How cold and foreign this city seemed, that even death could pass unnoticed.”
“Once he'd been an open book and the days had been too short to hold all our words.”
“Losing your family... it puts fear in a different perspective, Chase had once told me.”
“I knew the truth about us: I could not be okay if he was not okay. Pain, nightmares, fighting- all of it aside- he was a part of me.”
“His green eyes blazed with desire; such a different look than I'd known before. Chase had studied me, reading my feelings. Tucker was only trying to see his own reflection. Disturbing on several levels.”
“Lean the way I lean. Don't fight me.”
“He sensed my sorrow and turned to face me
you know what I remember after the police came
you sitting on the couch with me
you didn't say anything
you just sat with me”
“I focused on the gun. I would show what him what needed to be done. Like you even know what to do with that, mocked Tucker.
I glanced dwon, flicking the safety off. It's a nine millimeter, isn't it. I just pull back the slide, aim and fire. With a steady hand, I chambered the first round. Click.”
“We were safe and together, and that was all that mattered now.”
“It bewildered Ig, the idea that a person could not be interested in music. It was like not being interested in happiness.”
“However long the moon disappears, someday it must shine again.”
“They really kicked me out?"
"Refunded the tuition and everything."
Julie blinked a couple of times coming to grips with this tidbit. "So what happens now?"
"I expect you'll be a bum. Homeless and jobless begging on the street for a crust of bread..."
"Oh, alright, I suppose if you come by the office once in a while I'll give you a sandwich. You can squat in the office on the floor when it gets too cold outside. We can even get you a little blanket to lie on...”
“By the summer I turned nine Daddy had given up about having a boy. He tried making me do.”
“Life was a battle, and Mother a tired and bitter captain”
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