Falling into You Read online

Page 16


“No need to go overboard trying to make up for it,” Colton interrupts.

  I can’t help snapping my gaze to his, searching him, wondering what happened to him to make that such an issue for him. Obviously, someone used to insult his intelligence regularly. For it to be such a huge problem for Colton, there’s only really one probable source. I just can’t see Mr. and Mrs. Calloway doing that. They were always so supportive of Kyle, so loving, so kind. Strict, at times, especially as it came to making sure any publicity was positive, but that’s understandable.

  “I wasn’t,” I say quietly. “I was explaining why I suddenly started bawling like girl. ”

  “You are a girl,” he points out.

  “Yeah,” I say. “But until you badgered me into talking about things, I hadn’t cried at all. I mean…at all. ”

  Colton shifts on the bed to look at me. “You never cried about what happened to Kyle?”

  “No. ”

  “You never grieved?” He sounds almost incredulous.

  “Grieved?” The idea seems foreign. He says it like it’s expected.

  He lifts up his head to stare at me. “Yeah. Grieved. Went through the stages. ” He flops back, rubbing between his eyes with his fingers. “Of course you didn’t. Probably why you’re so f**ked up about it. ”

  I throw an arm over my face to hide my irritation and hurt and the onset of stinging eyes. “He died. I dealt with it. ”

  Colton snorts. “No. You didn’t deal with shit. You’re a cutter, Nell. ”

  “I haven’t done that in weeks. ” I’m aware that I’m rubbing the scars with my thumb, but I can’t help it.

  He takes my hands and forces them apart, traces the pattern of white lines with a finger tip. It’s a tender gesture that sears my heart, makes my jaw tremble. His eyes are mournful.

  “Good,” he says. His eyes meet mine, and they turn firm, hard. “If you ever cut yourself again, I’ll be mad. Like, really really pissed. You don’t want to see that. ”

  No, I sure as hell don’t. I don’t answer him though. I can’t promise that. I’ve managed to not cut in a while, simply because I’ve had Colton on the brain, and that’s enough confusion to take my mind off the urge to bleed myself numb.

  Colton isn’t fooled. He takes my chin in two strong fingers and turns my head to face him. “Promise me, Nell. ” His eyes are cerulean intensity. “Fucking promise me. No more cutting. You feel the urge, you call me. You get me, we deal together, okay?”

  I wish I could make that promise. I can’t. He doesn’t understand how deep the need is. I hate it, I really do. I always feel even more guilty after I’ve cut, which makes the problem even worse. It’s like this habit I can’t shake, but it’s not just a habit, like an addiction I’m ashamed of, smoking or pill popping or whatever. I know he gets the need to cut, but he doesn’t realize how embedded in me the urge is.

  I haven’t answered. I’m staring at the ceiling, shaking. I want to promise him. I want to be healed, to never want to score lines of pain into my wrists, my forearms again.

  Colton sits up, and he’s still naked, not hard anymore and I’m fascinated by his not-erect cock. It’s a distraction, and only momentary. Colton grabs me, lifts me, and I’m on his lap, in his arms, forced to meet his angry glare.

  “Fucking promise, Nell. ”

  “No!” I wrench myself free, scramble away, off the bed, away from his hot skin and hard muscles and angry, piercing eyes. “No! You can’t say that to me, you can’t demand that of me. You don’t understand! You can’t just appear in my life and try to change it like this. ”

  “Yes I can. ” His voice is calm but intense.

  He’s still on the bed, watching me. I’m hunting the pile of clothes on the floor for mine, but I can’t find my shirt or my panties, so I settle for a T-shirt of Colton’s. It hangs to mid-thigh, and it’s soft and it smells like him, which is confusing and comforting and incredible.

  “No. You can’t. You don’t know me. You don’t know what I went through. You don’t know how I feel. ”

  “You’re right. But I’m trying to. ”

  “Why?”

  “Because you should never have been left alone to deal. You should never have been allowed to bury it all and let it fester. Kyle’s death is an open wound inside you. It’s never healed, never scabbed over. It’s all f**king nasty and gangrenous, Nell. It’s rotting. You need to let someone in. You need to let me in. ”

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  “I can’t…I can’t…” I’m running, now. Out of his room, into the kitchen.

  It’s drink or cut. He’s bringing it all up, forcing all the shit I’ve buried to the surface. He knows it and he’s doing it on purpose.

  I’ve kept it all down for so long, and whenever it threatened to come up, come out, I’d drink until it settled back down, or I’d cut and bleed it out rather than feel it, rather than cry or scream or be angry.

  I know he has whiskey somewhere, but I can’t find it. It’s not in the fridge, and I can’t reach high enough to look in the cupboard above the fridge where I know it must be. I climb on the counter, reach for it, and lose my balance. I fall, slamming hard into the floor, and the breath is knocked out of me.

  It’s coming up. It came up when he forced me into tears, when he made me admit I killed Kyle. The guilt came up and out, and that hurt, like knives shredding my heart.

  This?

  This is the grief. The loss. The knowledge that Kyle is gone. Of course he’s gone, I’ve known that. But this is the grief. The hurt. The loneliness. It’s worse than the guilt. I always knew the guilt was wrong and misplaced. The guilt I can’t justify away, can’t shift or explain or bury any longer.

  I’m fighting sobs, fighting the clenching in my stomach and heart.

  No.

  No.

  I won’t let it out.

  He forced out the guilt. He can’t force out the grief. I don’t want it. It’s too much. It’ll shred me.

  A drawer slams open, silverware rattles. I’m not aware of moving, but it’s me digging in the drawer for a knife. Let him be mad. I don’t care. I hear his feet stomping, now. He’d been giving me space to calm down I guess, but now he knows what I’m doing.

  He’s too late.

  The pain is a blessed relief. I watch in guilty satisfaction as a thin line of red wells up on my forearm. The knife wasn’t very sharp, so I had to press. It’s a deep cut.

  “What the f**k?” Colton, wearing shorts, rushing at me, angry, scared. “Nell…what the f**k?”

  I don’t bother answering. I’m dizzy. Bleeding. I look down and see the spreading red, and it’s too much. I cut deep. Too deep. Good. The grief slides away and slicks across the scratched laminate floor.

  I’m in his arms, and there’s pressure around my arm. A white towel, turning pink-to-crimson. He’s squeezing my arm so hard it hurts past the cut-pain. The towel is wrapped around my arm, and then a belt cinched tight.

  I’m between his knees, my back to his front. I feel his hard chest and his frantic, panting breath, his arms around my shoulders. He’s holding the belt in one hand, my wrist in the other. His face is pressed to the top of my head. His breath huffs loud in my ear, on my hair.

  “Goddamn it, Nell. Why?”

  I find my voice. The hurt in his words is palpable, as if I’d cut him rather than myself, and I want to soothe it. Odd. I want to soothe his pain, the hurt over my cut.

  “I can’t take it,” I whisper, because a whisper is all I can manage. “It’s too much. He’s gone, and he’s not coming back. My fault or not…he’s gone. He’s dead. He’s bones in a wood box, a fading memory. Nothing stops that pain. Not even time. ”

  “I know. ”

  “You don’t. ” The last word is growled, rabid. “You weren’t there. You’re not in my head. You don’t know. ”

  “He was my baby brother, Nell. ” His voice sounds almost as broken