Kylie twirled around on her Reeboks, probably leaving skid marks on the wood floor, and started out of her room.

"Don't go," Lucas said. "Please! You're going to have to talk to me sooner or later."

Later would be really nice. Then anger made her clutch her hands. It wasn't right. She stared at the wall, still not wanting to face him. "Why? Why do I have to talk to you? I don't owe you anything. Not an explanation, not an apology. I'm not the one who..." Her throat tightened and she just shut up. She heard him shift behind her.

"I know ... I screwed up. I admit that. I ... should have told you. No, that's wrong, I should have never let it go that far. I should have told my father to go screw himself in the beginning. I'm at fault here, but I didn't do anything ... else. I didn't sleep with her. I kissed her twice. You saw one of those times. And both times I was put on the spot. I only did it to try to convince my dad that I would go through with the marriage. But I never, not for one damn minute, planned on marrying her."

That knot in her throat tightened. Her eyes stung right along with her heart. She shook her head, and managed one word. "No." She wasn't even sure what she was saying no to. Then she turned and faced him.

It didn't matter what she said, because he wasn't listening to her. He stood there staring at her in his own world of hurt and pain.

"You love me," he said. "I know that."

Now was when she should be saying no, but she couldn't get the word out. Oh, it sat on the tip of her tongue, but it felt super-glued in place. Sure it would have been a lie, but wasn't it okay to lie at times like this? When the truth was just too painful. When the truth felt like it could tear you apart.

"I also know you're punishing me. And it's working, because I'm hurting like hell. Not that I don't deserve it." He reached up and ran his hand over the back of his neck.

Kylie blinked away a wash of tears. Even in the darkness she could see the bruises around his neck.

Bruises she'd put on him. She gripped her hands at the memory of just how close she'd come to crushing his windpipe.

"I didn't mean to choke you," she spit out. "It was a trick on ... Mario's part. I don't know how he did it but-"

"I know that. I don't mean ... punishing me with this." He ran his hand over the bruises. "This isn't anything compared to what I feel inside. I'm talking about you not wanting to talk to me, not wanting me close to you. You have no idea how much it hurts to stand right here, this close ... Can you even imagine how hard it is to stand here and know you don't want me to touch you?" He moved in a step as if testing her.

While it was only a few inches, his scent came with him. She remembered inhaling his particular smellwhen she walked in. She should have known. Should have known that part of the scent of home that had welcomed her, was his essence. He was home to her. Or he had been.

Now she felt homeless.

He must have gathered a bit more courage because he took another step closer.

She inched back. And that little inch said so much.

"See," he said, and his intake of air sounded painful. "But I know you still care because ... because you saved my life. You could have stepped out of the way and just let Mario kill me. You didn't. You caught the fireballs that were meant for me."

His emotion echoed in the room, and she'd give anything if she didn't have to feel this. How much more emotion could she take in? Wasn't there a limit? Surely she'd reached hers.

"Yeah, I saved your life, but don't make me regret it." She waved toward the door. "Leave. I don't want you here." And it was the truth. She didn't want Lucas, the guy who'd betrayed her, here. She wanted the guy she'd trusted, the guy she'd thought would go to the end of the world to protect her. And yet they were one and the same.

He took one more step. She saw his Adam's apple go up and down. It looked painful to swallow.

"I hurt you," he said. "I know that, and I'm willing to take whatever it is you want to dish out at me. I deserve it. That's what I came here to say. That I accept what I did was wrong. But I didn't do other things that you might think I did. And when you're over being mad, I'll still be here. I don't care how long it takes."

She glanced away, remembering him standing up in front of his family and friends. He'd worn a fancy tux and looked so handsome, so much like a man and not a boy. The image of him reaching for Monique's hands played across her mind and she heard the promises he made. The kind of promises you didn't break.

A wave a fresh pain washed over her. She looked at him again. "You gave her your soul."

He shook his head. "No, you're wrong. I didn't give her my soul. I lied. I couldn't have given her my soul. Because my soul was already given away. You took it when I was seven years old." His voice shook. "And if I had any of it left, you took the rest of it when you walked into Shadow Falls that first day.

In the were culture, it's believed that there is only one soul mate. And you are mine, Kylie Galen. I knew that then, and it hasn't changed."

Her vision blurred with tears. She inhaled, hoping to get her watery weakness under control. But she felt a tear slip from her lashes onto her cheek.

She swiped it away. Her breath shuddered as she drew needed oxygen into her lungs. Why did it hurt to breathe?

You are mine, Kylie Galen. His words echoed in her heart. She couldn't deny that part of her wanted to go to him, to make him say that over and over again until the pain bubbling in her chest went away. Until she could look at him without remembering how it had felt to see him making promises to someone else.

But she couldn't go to him, because she knew the pain wasn't going to go away.

Not now.

Maybe not ever.

She couldn't be sure.

He paused and she saw the same pain she felt in her chest reflected in his eyes. Her own pain doubledknowing she hurt him. But wasn't that his fault? Why should she feel guilty that he was hurting now?

"I'm sorry that I caused you this hurt," he said. "And as mad as you are at me right now, you need to realize that I'm madder at myself. I did this to you. To us. I hurt the most important person in my life. If someone else had hurt you this badly I'd rip their heart out."

He stood there and just stared. The silence in the room seemed too loud. Or was it the pain echoing in the room that pierced her ears?

"I'll go now," he said, and she couldn't remember ever hearing him sound so defeated. So lost. "I've said what I wanted to, and just know I'll give you all the time you need to forgive me. But not forgiving me, that isn't an option. Because I love you."

She moved out of his way and he walked out the door. She went to the bed. Sat down. Kicked her shoes off. "Kitty, kitty?" she said, wanting something to hold on to. But Socks didn't come out. He really didn't like weres. Right now, a part of her agreed with him.

She brought her legs up, hugged her knees to her chest so tight it hurt.

Then she waited.

Waited for the tears to flow full force.

Waited for some of the pressure building in her heart to fade. But the tears didn't flow. The pressure remained.

Closing her eyes, she bit down on her lip. Why couldn't she cry? Was she just too emotionally exhausted?

And confused?

Yes, she was so damn confused.

How could Lucas suddenly see how wrong he was now, and not have seen it earlier? How could he have stood up there and vowed his soul, promised to marry someone else if he loved Kylie?

But why would he lie? Why would he come here and tell her all these things if they weren't true?

She sat there in the dark room for several long minutes. She felt alone. Lonely.

A crazy and somewhat childish thought ran though her head: I want my mama. But her mama wasn't here. Not at Shadow Falls. Not even in the country. Her mom was in England banging some guy that Kylie hated.

But she could still call her. Heck, maybe she'd even cause a little hiccup in John's plans to seduce her mother. That made calling even more tempting. She wanted John to know that her mom wasn't alone in the world.

She reached for her pocket and then groaned. She'd left her phone at her grandfather's.

"Damn it," Kylie muttered. As the frustrations of her lost phone bounced around her brain, her thoughts went to Jenny, to her conversation about talking to Hayden, and to some of the accusations she'd made about the elders. Were the young chameleons really being forced to live in a world of isolation? That seemed so wrong.

Just like that she felt compelled to find Hayden Yates. He would have answers. Maybe he could even assure her that her grandfather wasn't behind this. Popping up, she started out, then immediately slowed down when she got to the door. Oh, just friggin' great! She was supposed to be shadowed.

Burnett would flip if he thought Kylie was out wandering alone at night. But damn it, she needed answers. And sometimes you just had to break the rules. She went outside, quietly shutting the door so not to wake Miranda. Moving down the porch steps, she started toward the path that would lead to Hayden'scabin. He'd probably still be asleep, but she didn't care.

She only got a few feet when she saw someone move out from the trees. Her breath caught in her throat when she saw who it was.

The thought that came to mind was a phrase her Nana had often said when she'd found herself in a bad situation. She was up shit creek without a paddle.

"I ... I'm sorry," Kylie mumbled.

"Don't you even try to talk your way out of me being pissed!" Burnett growled. "Not a word!"

"I just..."

"That's two words and I said not one!" he snapped, and he swiped his hand through the air for emphasis.

Kylie bit down on her lip, and wouldn't you know that's when the tears started flowing. Big, fat, and fast tears. She sniffled and wiped her cheeks with the back of hand. Her breath caught in her chest. But damn it. Why couldn't this have happened when she was alone?

"Those tears do not affect me, young lady!" He pointed a finger at her. While she couldn't hear his heart beat to the rhythm of a lie, she heard it in his voice. They did affect him. Not enough to stop him from him being mad, but enough that his voice tightened with emotion.

And knowing she'd disappointed him added another layer of pain to her chest. Just what she needed ...

more pain.

She hugged herself and tried to stop crying. But the tears kept coming. He didn't say anything. Just paced, back and forth in front of her.

Back and forth.

Back and forth.

Staring at her with complete discontent and disappointment the whole time. She started to move back to her cabin, and he growled. Just a growl. No words, but enough inflection to know he didn't want her moving. Obviously, her punishment was to stand here and accept the fact that she'd let him down.

In the back of her mind she wondered if this was how Lucas had felt.

She swallowed another trembling breath. "I just..."

"Did I say you could talk?" he asked. He did three more pacing laps, as if working off steam, before he looked at her again. "Where were you going?"

When she just looked at him, he bit out, "Answer me."

"You said I couldn't talk." She wiped at her cheeks again.

"Where were you going, Kylie?"

Dear God, she didn't know what to say. She couldn't tell him the truth. She'd made a promise to her grandfather never to give up Hayden Yates.

Yup, she was really up shit creek and not a paddle in sight.

"Were you going to see Lucas?" Burnett asked.

She started to nod, but felt her heart race at just the thought of a lie.

"So it wasn't Lucas," he seethed, obviously hearing her heart and knowing her temptation to spout out untruths.He stepped closer and his dark eyes studied her. Studied her too closely. Up close, she saw again the disappointment in his eyes, and the knot in her throat rose again.

She tried to think of what to say, something to help this, something that wouldn't give anything away.

Something that wouldn't be a lie. "I just-"

"Don't talk to me if you're going to lie."

Okay, so her heart wasn't going to even let her white-lie her way out of this one.

"I want the truth," he said. "Were you going to meet your grandfather?"

"No," Kylie said with honesty, and with it came an enormous amount of relief.

He studied her closer. His eyes tightened. "Okay, I'm going to ask you a direct question and I want a yes or no answer. Don't you try to talk around the truth, because I'll know." He paused for effect, or maybe just to collect his thoughts. "Were you going to see Hayden Yates?"

Kylie's mind raced. What did Burnett know? When her grandfather had told her that Burnett believed Hayden's lie that Kylie had simply tricked the teacher into thinking she had permission to leave, she hadn't believed that Hayden had fooled Burnett.

He knew something. But just how much, and what he knew, remained unknown.

"Okay, your silence pretty much answers it for me. Come on." He motioned for her to start walking.

"Where to?" she asked, afraid of what he was going to say.

"You wanted to see Hayden, so let's go see him. And then you two are going to tell me what the hell is going on, or somebody's ass is grass! And I'll be smoking it!" Copyright 2016 - 2024