Authors: Pepper Winters
Copyright © 2014 Pepper Winters
Published by Pepper Winters
All rights reserved. No part of this book may be reproduced or transmitted in any form, including electronic or mechanical, without written permission from the publisher, except in the case of brief quotations embodied in critical articles or reviews.
This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, businesses, places, events, and incidents are either the products of the author’s imagination or used in a fictitious manner. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, or actual events is purely coincidental.
This book is licensed for your personal enjoyment only. This book may not be re-sold or given away to other people. If you would like to share this book with another person, please purchase an additional copy for each person you share it with. If you are reading this book and did not purchase it, or it was not purchased for your use only, then you should return it to the seller and purchase your own copy. Thank you for respecting the author’s work.
All music lyrics used in this book are written by Pepper Winters.
Published: Pepper Winters 2014: [email protected]
Publishing assisted by Black Firefly: http://www.blackfirefly.com/
(Shedding light on your self-publishing journey)
Editing: Jenny Sims from Editing For Indies
French Translation: Louise Pion
Cover Design: by Ari at Cover it! Designs: http://salon.io/#coveritdesigns
Formatting by: http://www.blackfirefly.com/
Images in Manuscript from Canstock Photos: http://www.tagxedo.com/
For all the believers in Happily Ever After
The blackness tried to swallow us whole, kill us, ruin us, capture our soul
’m not marrying you for the pleasure of calling you my wife,
. I’m not marrying you because it’s the evolution of a relationship. I’m marrying you so I have claim on you forever. Your soul will be mine for eternity. In sickness and in health, in life and in death, you will belong to me. And I will belong to you.”
Q brought me closer, whispering his passion into my mouth. “Don’t think this is a contract between two people in love. Don’t think this legal document is something flimsy and insignificant. By marrying me, you’re taking all of me. Everything that I am. All that I will be. You’re accepting my lightness, my darkness, my fucking eternal spirit. By signing your name to mine you are no longer Tess Snow.”
“What am I?” I murmured, accepting his feather-soft kiss.
“You’re Tess Mercer. Now and for always. Forever and ever. It’s done.”
But our demons didn’t play well with others, the beast broke free to make them suffer
. Kill her.”
“No! Stop this. I’m done. No more—”
“Yes, more. Every night, you’re ours. Every time your pretty fucking eyes close, we’re waiting. Every time you succumb to sleep, we’re waiting to drag you into insanity.”
It’s not real. It’s not real.
No matter how many times I screamed the truth, the dream would never free me. Leather Jacket somehow tricked my mind into leaving the sanctity of Q’s presence, yanking me into the depths of despair.
“Please don’t hurt me,” Blonde Angel moaned.
I didn’t want to. I never wanted to hurt another living thing again.
“Don’t think about disobeying,
. You know what happens.” Leather Jacket flickered into two monstrosities: one moment the man I knew—the man who’d tortured, hit, and taunted me—then another moment, the drooling carnivorous Jackal who’d raped Blonde Angel only minutes before Q found me.
The smog, the fog, crept over my mind, swarming around me with sickly warmth. “No! Not that.” I never wanted to be held hostage by chemicals again. Drugs made me forget. Drugs made me become
“Do it, precious. Otherwise I’ll do something worse,” Leather Jacket cooed.
My heart sank into the depths of my soul. Every night they visited. Every night they shattered my healing, throwing me back to a past I couldn’t forget. Every night they reminded me that pain was atrocious. Pain was the devil. Pain was horrendous and terrible and cruel.
I shook my head, standing over Blonde Angel. Our eyes met—just like hundreds of times before—and I wordlessly shouted my grief, my sadness, my lifetime of apologies.
But it made no difference.
Just like the drugs made me incapacitated in Rio, the dream had power over me in the present. I wouldn’t be free until I gave into the inevitable. I wouldn’t wake until I killed her.
A heavy crowbar rested in my sweat-slippery hands. I tried to scuttle backward but some ominous force pressed against my shoulders. The phantom pressure raised my arms against my will—stealing all motor control, leaving me screaming until my throat rivered with blood and rawness.
Mildew and reeking rubbish clouded my nostrils even though I knew it wasn’t real. The only scent I should inhale was the comforting notes of citrus and sandalwood of my master sleeping beside me.
The master who swore to protect me from everything. The master who failed every night. How could a man fight nightmares? How could he slay men he’d already killed from taunting my mind in slumber?
Simple. He couldn’t.
Every night was the same. Q fought to save me from demons he couldn’t fight, and I fought to stop dreaming.
Once the nightmare claimed me, I couldn’t get free until the horrible conclusion. It happened differently every time. Sometimes by bullet. Sometimes by axe or blade. But no matter how I did it, committing murder was the only way to hurtle me back to consciousness.
If I concentrated hard enough I could
him. If I squeezed my eyes and searched for the tether to my mortal body, I knew I wasn’t lying quietly and serene. My body was sweat-dewed and thrashing in tangled sheets; my cheek smarting from a stinging slap as Q tried to rouse me.
Pain on top of pain.
It all had to stop, before I went mad.
“Little girl, I won’t ask again,” Leather Jacket sneered.
The crowbar was no longer heavy in my hands; the unseen malicious entity arched my back, swinging the weapon, high and deadly.
No. No, no, no. Not again.
Close your eyes. Don’t look. Don’t fill your mind with yet more killing.
Blonde Angel crawled backward, cradling her already broken wrist and knee. Her mouth twisted into pleas. “Don’t. Please don’t. Haven’t you done enough? You killed her! You killed the other girl. Do you have no mercy?” Her eyes were wild, green and clear as cut glass. Her blonde hair no longer shone like gold but hung in bloody clumps.