Ashes to Memories
Kyle reaches for me, lifting me from the seat and maneuvering my body under the spray while he holds me to him. I try to concentrate on the feel of his skin against mine, but a flash of red catches my eye. Even with my clothes gone, I’m still covered in blood. The steam billows as the lava hot water rinses the scarlet gore from my skin. I watch the water run red for a moment before diluting to a wispy pink and then finally running clear.
Watching it run from my skin causes something inside me to break, and I heave a breath before shattering. I feel it all over again, Talia’s broken bones, my breath lodging in my throat when all I wanted to do was scream, the dizzying realization that I might be dying, and my heart…
I feel wrong in my own skin, feel like I’m wrong. And if I am the one who is different – if I am the one who caused all this mess – how can Kyle want me this close to him? How can the rest of them? Baron and Bella wanted intel on me. They still need me for something, and even though I told them why she was hurt, I don’t think they grasp what Baron and Bella will do to anyone in their way.
Oh, god… I have to go. I have to leave. I can’t be here anymore.
“Breathe, Shortcake,” Kyle demands in my ear, and it is like he has said the magic words and my lungs begin their torturous slog of hauling air to my bloodstream.
I can’t help the shiver of fear that whips across my skin. Kyle hitches me up his body, my feet leaving the tiled shower floor to wrap around his back. He tightens his hold on me, and for a moment, I feel safe. My breath slows, and I make a concerted effort to bury my nose in his neck and inhale his scent. He is warm where I am cold, he is strong where I am weak, he fills in the gaping gaps of my soul.
My lips find the skin of his neck without prompting from my brain. I need him so much – probably more than he needs me, but I don’t care.
“I don’t think you realize that your life is precious – that the very breath in your lungs and beat of your heart is a relief to me. I don’t know what’s going on in your head, and I don’t know what happened to Talia. Honestly, when it comes to anything but you, I really don’t care. You have to start thinking before you act, Nicola.”
“I didn’t mean to…” I try to break in, but he isn’t having it at all.
“It doesn’t matter that our lives are tied together. I knew what it meant to be your husband when I bound you. Hell, I never even expected you to wake up at all, so I knew what I was getting into. But you are worth more than my life. You are more important than just me. You have saved more lives than I could ever hope to count. You’ve done more good than I could ever hope to do.”
Whoa, whoa, whoa. Wait a minute.
“What do you mean our lives are tied, Kyle?” I ask, pulling back to look him in the eye and fight against a full-scale panic attack.
“Exactly what I said. My life is tied to your life. If your heart stops beating, my heart stops beating. When you were in the hospital, I bound you to me knowing that I didn’t want to have a life at all without you in it. It was reckless of me, but I don’t regret it,” he replies, his fervent whisper lashing my heart like a whip.
How could he risk himself that way? And for what? A wife who didn’t even remember him when she woke up? If I didn’t love him so much, I would knock some sense into this man.
“Why would you do that? My God, Kyle! People want to kill me. How could you?” I plead with him, grabbing his face, so he’s forced to look at me. The chocolate of his irises bleeds back and forth from black to brown as if he can’t decide which form he wants to take.
“I’m not living without you, Nicola,” his gruff whisper hits me as his lips brush mine.
© Copyright 2017 Annie Anderson