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Authors: Sheri Whitefeather

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Beautiful Confusion (New Adult Romance) Room 105

BOOK: Beautiful Confusion (New Adult Romance) Room 105
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Beautiful Confusion

 

Room 105 (book one)

 

Sheri Whitefeather

 

 

 

“Whitefeather broke my heart, then rebuilt it beautifully.”
―Laura Wright

New York Times Bestselling Author

 

 

 

BEAUTIFUL CONFUSION is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places and incidents are the products of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual events, locales, or persons, living or dead is entirely coincidental. The Publisher does not assume responsibility for third-party websites or their content.

 

Copyright © 2013 Sheree Whitefeather

All Rights Reserved

Cover Design: Hot Damn Designs

Male Cover Model: Rick Mora

 

 

 

Prologue

 

 

I hated schizophrenia. I hated everything it did to Abby, the sister I adored. With her pixie blonde hair, disturbed thoughts, and enormous blue eyes, she reminded me of a scattered little fairy. Her full name was Abigail Ann Winston, but I’d been calling her Abby for as long as I could remember. As for me, I’d been christened Vanessa Day Winston and no one had ever shortened it to anything. She was twelve and I was thirteen, and although both of us were said to have gifted IQs, our minds were light-years apart.

“My people need a warrior,” Abby muttered, sitting on the floor, rocking her shoulders back and forth, her legs crossed Indian-style.

Abby’s “people” were the characters she created in her head. Some of them weren’t even people, per se. Dingo, the dancing dog, often slept at her feet. And Face, an oversized, disembodied, generic-looking head with hands attached to his chin, sometimes flew around the room, shaming you when you did something wrong. There was also a movie director named Bud and a wild-spirited guy called Smiling Seven who wanted to be a rock star.

Four characters in total, and I knew them almost as well as Abby did. But I couldn’t see them the way my mentally ill sister could.

“You have to create him,” Abby said.

“Me?” I recoiled. I didn’t want any part of the crazy process. My biggest fear was that someday I would develop schizophrenia. It wasn’t a common childhood disease. Most people didn’t show signs of it until later.

Abby rocked a little faster. “Remember when I told you that someday my people are going to get stuck in Room 105? I just figured out that the warrior is the only one who can save them.”

Room 105 was another dimension, a place that was inhabited by everything you could imagine. Abby said it was because all of the beings there
were
imagined, made up by people on earth who brought them to life. She’d never been there, but her people had told her about it. They lived in Room 105 when they weren’t with her.

I thought of it as schizoid central, but Abby claimed that parts of it were beautiful, like dreams from a fairy tale. Of course some of it was ugly and evil, with nightmarish creatures that preyed upon the good. Supposedly it was divided into three realms: the past, the present, and the future. The door to it was in a secret location. Even Abby didn’t know where it was, which was why she’d never been there. Her people didn’t know where it was, either. They traveled back and forth by simply walking across a magical border, but earthlings, like Abby, weren’t able to do that.

“Maybe it will be okay if your people get stuck there,” I said. If they were gone, then Abby wouldn’t see them anymore.

“Noooo.” My sister keened out the word. “If they get stuck there, the monsters that patrol the border will be able to attack them or maybe even kill them. Don’t you see? I can’t live without my people. If they go away, then I’ll go away, too.”

Go away how? Deeper into her madness? I shivered, catching a reflection of myself in the closet-door mirror. Abby and I could pass for twins, except my hair was longer and wasn’t matted like hers. Abby wasn’t very good at personal hygiene. That was part of the illness, too.

I turned away from the mirror. “Why can’t you give the warrior life? Why do I have to do it?”

“I can’t create a protector for my people. Someone else has to do it, and you’re the only one I trust.” She leaned forward. “Carol would screw it up.”

Carol was our overwhelmed aunt, who’d taken us in when our parents had died, nearly five years ago. Abby had been a little odd, even then, but nothing like she was now.

I finally gave in. If I didn’t, this conversation would go on forever. “Okay, fine. I’ll create the warrior. Just tell me how to do it.”

“Make him your age, so he will get older when you get older. And make him handsome so you can kiss him someday. He’ll deserve to be kissed for protecting my people.”

Oh, cripes. “All right. He’s my age and he’s hot. What else?”

“Describe him out loud, exactly what he looks like and what type of warrior he is. And give him a regular job in this world, so he can blend in when he’s here.”

“Why does he need to blend in?”

“Because he won’t be able to make himself invisible like the rest of my people. Now, think. Picture him in your mind.”

I pretended that I was concentrating on the task, but all I wanted was to get this stupid thing over with. The best I could come up with was, “He’s an Indian warrior,” because Abby was still sitting Indian-style.

“What tribe is he from?”

He wasn’t from any tribe, I thought. He was a figment of nothing. But I said, “He’s a universal warrior. He has a little of every tribe in him.”

“Oh, he sounds amazing already. Tell me more.”

Glad that my sister was pleased, I went ahead and pictured him, as I’d been instructed to do. “His hair looks black, but in the light you can tell that it’s dark brown. It’s straight and shiny and falls to his shoulders, but sometimes he wears it in a ponytail. His features are strong and bold, and his eyes are piercing and fierce. But he has a gentle side, too.” I considered what sort of job he should have and what would make the most sense. Logic in the middle of make-believe. “In this world, he’s an artist, and he works alone in his studio. That’s why he’s able to travel back and forth between here and Room 105 and no one notices when he’s gone.”

“What’s his artwork like?”

I thought about it for a while, then decided it should be connected to the place he comes from. “He paints pictures of Room 105. The nice parts of it. He rides a big black horse with a flowing mane. He’s known as the dark warrior there. Not just because of his horse, but because of the darkness of his skin.”

Abby looked as if she’d just slipped into psychotic heaven, dreamy with the details. She was rocking with a gentler sway now.

But suddenly I felt funny inside, as if I really had created him. Fighting the notion that he was real, I pushed away from my chair. A troubling sound, like a brand-new heartbeat, started thumping faintly in my ears.

I had to fix this somehow, to stop him from taking over my mind.

“He should be allowed to die,” I quickly said. “When’s he’s twenty-one.” Last week Aunt Carol had taken me shopping at Forever 21 for my birthday, and it was the first number that popped into my mind. “His warrior work will be done by then and your people will be safe.”

My sister didn’t seem convinced. “Are you sure?”

“Positive. Besides, if he dies for your cause, it makes him nobler, like the martyr of a movie.” An angel of schizophrenic mercy, I thought, as the unnerving thumping grew stronger. This time I almost covered my ears, hating that my imagination was playing tricks on me. “He really needs to be that kind of hero.”

Abby appeared to be mulling it over. After a long pause, she nodded her matted head and said, “Okay.”

Agreeing to let him die.

 

 

 

Chapter One

 

 

The warrior wasn’t real.
Not real. Not real. Not real
.

In the glare of the morning light, I sat up and kicked off the covers. Then I squeezed my eyes shut, waiting for the thumping in my ears to go away. Seven years had passed since I’d “created” him and his heartbeat continued to haunt me. Not all the time, but often enough to make me cling to the hope of sanity.

When the sound finally subsided, I opened my eyes and let out the breath I’d been holding. But it didn’t help. I was still terrified that I would end up like Abby someday.

My sister’s condition wasn’t improving the way they’d hoped it would. Generally, schizophrenics with an early diagnosis stood a better chance of responding to treatment, but that hadn’t happened with Abby. I worried about Abby’s future and how she would survive if Carol and I weren’t around to take care of her.

So a few months ago, I convinced Abby to check herself into The Manor, a private treatment center that specialized in mental illnesses, with the hope that she would develop the skills to manage her disease by being immersed in daily therapy. Abby had agreed to go there because she was growing increasingly paranoid of Carol and wanted to get away from her.

Schizophrenia was defined by a loss of connection to reality. Sometimes it entailed delusions, like Abby’s staunch belief in the existence of Room 105. Auditory or visual hallucinations, like the “people” Abby routinely saw, often factored into it, too. Speech and reason could become disorganized. Paranoia, of course, was another common symptom. In cases like Abby’s, the capacity to care for one’s self was at risk and required more than just medicine.

Abby was still clinging fiercely to her people. She continued to talk about the warrior, too. Although he’d yet to appear to her, she defended his absence, insisting he would show up when the time was right.

For me, the time would never be right.

But by next year, it would be okay. Both the warrior and I would be twenty-one by then, the age of his predestined death, and he would no longer be an issue.

Or so I prayed.

I hadn’t told anyone, not even Aunt Carol, about him. He was a secret that Abby and I kept to ourselves.

But at least I wasn’t hiding from my fears altogether. Instead, I’d taken what I hoped was a proactive approach. I’d joined an online schizophrenia support group, and some of the members were meeting in person this afternoon. I needed an outlet that wasn’t manned by mental health professionals, like the family counseling sessions at The Manor. This would be much more casual.

Exhausted from lack of sleep, I climbed out of bed and went into the bathroom to shower, letting the warmth of the water soothe me.

Afterward, I blew dry my hair and brushed it until it gleamed. I did my makeup, as well, adding precise placements of color to my fair complexion. I was fanatical about my appearance, determined to separate myself from Abby’s unkempt grooming habits.

Next, I searched my closet for something to wear. I chose a bright blue dress that enhanced my eyes, but quickly changed into a minty green one instead. Sometimes when I wore blue, I looked too much like Abby.

I glanced around my room. It used to be riddled with frilly doodads and pop star paraphernalia, but now the décor was sleek and subtle, with natural woods and grown-up accents. This had always been my room, with Abby’s being down the hall, except that Abby always wanted to stay in here, too.

I opened my door and caught the delicious scent of bacon and eggs wafting in the air.

Immediately growing hungry, I entered the kitchen where Carol was making breakfast. Not only did we live together, we also worked together at Carol’s consignment shop. But today was my day off, giving me the opportunity to pursue the meeting.

“Morning,” my sixty-three-year-old aunt said, pushing a strand of graying brown hair away from her eyes. She wore her usual morning attire: a cotton nightgown, soft-soled slippers, and a smidgen of hastily applied lipstick. “Have a seat. It’s almost ready.”

“Thanks.” Although I appreciated her nurturing nature, I was concerned about Carol turning into a lonely old hen. My life wasn’t so great, either. I’d never even had a boyfriend. Like Carol, I spent so much time focused on Abby, I’d missed out on the types of things I should have been doing. The heartbeat in my head didn’t help, either. How was I supposed to think about having a relationship with the warrior rattling around in there?

“Are you going to L.A. today?” Carol asked.

I nodded. I’d told my aunt about the online group, but I hadn’t gone into detail. Carol wasn’t keen on it. Even now she was frowning.

“How many of you will be there?”

“There’ll be four of us, including me. We’re the only ones who live close enough to see each other.” Or sort of close. I was about sixty miles from the gathering.

“Are any of them ill?”

The question made me flinch, along with the ever-present fear of becoming like Abby. “It’s a support group for family members, not for people who have it.”

“How much have you said about yourself?”

“Mostly I just lurk and read everyone else’s posts. But I did mention that I have a sister.”

My aunt hesitated. “Are you sure this is a good idea? Going off to meet strangers and discuss your personal life?”

BOOK: Beautiful Confusion (New Adult Romance) Room 105
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