Fable of Happiness (Fable 2) - Page 117

He wiped his mouth with horror, seeing a past I didn’t want to know. “They arrived and they were so scared and lost and...and I tried to protect them. I got to know them. I loved them, and then running wasn’t an option anymore.” His voice dropped to a harrowed breath. “If I’d run, they would’ve paid the price. They would’ve been beaten, starved, sliced, burned, raped—the list goes on and fucking on. I stayed for them. I stayed because I loved them. So don’t fucking talk to me as if I’m too afraid to fight for love, Gemma Ashford. I’ve been doing it my entire godforsaken life!”

He stormed into me, his chest almost colliding with mine. “You stand there and think it’s so easy for me to remember. That I’m weak because I refuse to go rifling in my past. To you, with your mind full of safety and privilege, of course it’s damn well easy. But what you don’t understand is, I don’t just have my own pain trapped inside my head, I have theirs too. I have all of it. Every fucking tear. Every fucking bruise. Do you want me to admit that I don’t have the stomach to recall their screams? That I’d rather be alone in this valley than live a life knowing I failed them? That I couldn’t protect them? All the nights when a guest wanted them over me, I curse myself. No matter what I did to take their place, sometimes, it wasn’t enough.”

Sweat glittered on his upper lip as he spat, “It’s not just my own torture I can’t face—it’s theirs. I won’t. I can’t. I can never remember how Quell sounded when she was taken by three men. I fucking refuse to recall what Jareth looked like after two weeks of punishments. I would rather die than relive watching Wes be sodomized with the handle of a—”

“Stop.” I tripped backward. “Please stop.”

Breathing hard, he flinched as if he saw his family and not me. His gaze refocused on mine, despair gleaming inside him.

Silence fell for a thick second, clogging up the library.

Finally, he raked both hands through his hair and sighed. “Having you tell me things I desperately want to be true is the cruelest sort of trick. Hearing you say you feel something for me? That something happened between us? Christ...” He licked his lips, shaking his head. “I would kill for that. I would get on my knees and be whatever you wanted me to be if I believed for one second that I deserved it. But you have to understand, I don’t have a fucking heart to give you. You say you have feelings for me? Well, don’t. I didn’t ask for you to care for me, just like my family didn’t ask me to care for them. Love was the one thing we couldn’t get free of. It kept us all trapped here because none of us were willing to hurt the others by leaving. Storymaker knew that. That was why he never needed locks or cages. Love kept us trapped. Love kept us suffering. Love was the most agonizing thing I’ve ever endured, so, my suggestion to you, Gemma Ashford, is to forget about whatever happened last night. Don’t shackle yourself to a memory. Don’t believe in something that will only make you a prisoner. Be like me and erase it because it will only bring you more pain than you can imagine.”

I-I couldn’t—

I couldn’t breathe around the agony that’d replaced my heart.

All my hopes.

All my silly fantasies.

They all writhed and died on the library’s carpet by Kas’s feet.

Not because he didn’t believe me. Not because he didn’t remember.

But because he’d just shared a singular, soul-slicing clue into his psyche.

He wasn’t afraid of what they’d done to him. He wasn’t afraid of his memories of torture.

He was afraid of failing his family.

Afraid of love itself.

Oh, God.

It was suddenly horrendously, horribly clear.

He’d chained me because he needed something to bind me to him that wasn’t love.

He’d hurt me because any sign of affection reminded him of the family he couldn’t protect.

He’d wiped his memory clean of something that had the power to free both of us because it was the scariest thing of all.


An everlasting connection that would have made him become my everything and me to become his...sole responsibility to keep safe from unknown monsters, to protect me from himself, to sacrifice his pain over and over again. Forever the martyr. Always the abused. All because his heart commanded he shelter and guard those he cared for with every breath he had.

We could’ve become everything.

This could’ve become everything.

But in reality, nothing was further from the truth.

Love for Kas was just another prison he couldn’t survive.

I backed away, slapping a hand over my mouth as a sob crawled up my chest.

Tags: Pepper Winters Fable Erotic
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