I’d let go of his wrist, but still felt him by my side, his body twisting as he searched for a way out. While I tried to slow my breath, I felt his warm hand linked into mine, gripping hard, gripping tight, pulling across my chest. My body followed, feet soon after, if only to stop me falling face first to the tarmac. He took control, had me completely. I gave no resistance as he dragged me toward the row of houses, my feet barely keeping up as we headed to the opposite side of the street to where we’d arrived. To our right the metal fence rang with fingers scratching, hands slapping, shoulders barging as teeth snapped and the metal pulled its grip against the wooden posts rocking, swaying with each wave of effort.
His hand released and I slowed, a weight pulling at my chest as if I’d lost something, some part of me, my gravity. He didn’t slow, raced passed the garden gate, shoulder first. Not stopping to test the handle, he barged at the door. I saw his pain. Saw the shatter of his bones, his agony as the door held, seconds before he connected. What was wrong with me? I’d lost all will. I’d lost all hope, could hardly believe what I was seeing as the door gave, his shoulder connecting, wood splitting at his side as he took the barrage in his stride without a stumble, not faltering, only pausing to make sure I’d followed.
I had and I hated him for it.
Ryan ignored me, stepping past to push what remained of the door back into its hole, rushing back past me to the living room, grabbing at the straight back chair, barely noticing as I moved out of his way and climbed the stairs.
I hated the way I felt. Hated my growing anger. Hated the resentment brewing each time he took control, each time I stumbled, but still the anger rose with each step, the cloud in my head thickened as the seconds ticked by. I knew I should have been alert. I knew no matter what I’d been through these last few days, no matter how wronged I’d been, how unfair the world had been, it owed me nothing. All my life I’d been a strong independent woman who had needed no one else to get me what I needed, to keep me safe, to achieve my goals, the goals I’d set for myself. I’d never needed a man to hold my hand, never needed a woman to take the lead. I’d made difficult choices in my life, but they were my choices and I’m here right now because of me, not because of some woman who’d chosen to bring me into their mess, or some man who thought he was my hero come to save my life and turn me from my current path.
As I reached the top step, I saw the mess. As I reached the top step, I realised how stupid the words sounded in my head. I pointed the gun and tried to push the thoughts away as I scoured the landing, following the trail of blood back down between my legs, following the scarlet track which should have been obvious so much sooner, the volume lessening as it fell. I followed it back up, lingering on the pool of blood just past the top step, soaked into the grey carpet and stepped, the wood creaking with my weight.
I’d made it up in my head. He wasn’t trying to take control. He’d done what any person would have done, any brave individual, any selfless person. I’d frozen, my brain clogged with grief, clogged with too much, with no chance to resolve any of it. Now was not the time, I knew, but I wasn’t in control. I shook my head as I took another step. He wasn’t trying to change my path. I was the first, my head was the first to bring it up. He’d done nothing wrong.
The floor creaked as my foot pressed weight on the carpet. I should stop, I knew, but my brain asked why I should wait for the man to come and take control. I shouldn’t have listened to the voice. My voice in my head. I shouldn’t have kept taking those steps, should have listened to the feet running behind me, shouldn’t have opened the door, should have let go when I felt the handle, sticky with what anyone would know was blood. I should have left it alone, waited, called for his help, he would soon be behind me. I should have left it well alone. I had nothing to prove. I didn’t need to turn the metal I kept in my hand, didn’t need to push open and look into the room, letting the daylight flood into the corridor until the sun shadowed with the lunge of the creature, its teeth sinking deep into my arm.
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Reading out of sequence, here’s the rest of Season Two.
Not read Season One? Here it is.