Breathless (Merciless 3) - Page 65

My stomach’s still in my throat when I see Eli in the doorway, his figure black and silhouetted by the light from the hall.

“I heard screaming and came up to your room,” he breathes heavily and then steps in, a look of relief settling over his face. “When I got there, it was empty. You scared the shit out of me, Addison,” Eli’s accent is thick as he runs his hand over his face, sleep and worry both evident in his bloodshot eyes.

Addison doesn’t let go of me, she doesn’t move. All she does is look up at him in silence.

“Are you all right?” he asks her, and she shakes her head no.

Her voice croaks when she starts to tell him but then looks at me, “I want to go…”

She holds my gaze and I offer her a small smile, squeezing her hand and sitting back on my heels to tell her, “Go.”

“What’s going on?” Eli asks and Addison hugs me tight. The tears don’t stop when she whispers, “Come with me please.”

The idea of going back to Carter…

“He doesn’t love me,” is all I can tell her, feeling the last petal wither and die inside of me. “There’s nothing for me there.”

Her gaze doesn’t leave mine. Even as Eli walks closer to us, towering over us and waiting for an answer.

“Tomorrow,” she whispers and then hugs me one last time. I can feel her tears on my shoulder and I promise myself to remember this. We’ll share a friendship forever, even if we never see each other again.

She breaks the hug before I’m ready to let go, standing and smoothing her nightgown out before wiping the tears under her eyes.

Rubbing her arm and looking sheepish, she tells Eli, “I don’t want to sleep.”

She walks past him before he can say anything else, slipping into the yellow light pouring from the doorway and going right rather than left, heading to the kitchen, away from her bedroom.

“Is she okay?” Eli asks me in a tone suggesting he truly needs to know; he’s genuinely concerned for her.

I feel the ache deep in my body as I stand up on shaky legs, still cold, still tired, and in the depths of my bones, scared. I don’t like what terrors that drug brings.

Hold him as tight as you can, or he’ll die.

A chill flows over my skin and I look Eli in the eyes to tell him, “She just had a nightmare. It was only a nightmare.”

He doesn’t speak for a moment and I peek over my shoulder to check the time, it’s past three and I just want a few hours of sleep.

“You should stay with her,” I offer him, wanting to be alone and his forehead pinches with a question he doesn’t voice.

He stands there a second longer than I’d like, so I look to the door pointedly and then back to him.

“I can never get a good read on you,” Eli says and almost turns from me to leave, but I stop him.

“What does that mean?”

“I don’t know where you stand and that makes you…”

“It makes me what?” I press him to continue, although there’s a threat in the way I say it. The days of him protecting me are few. I know where I’ll stand when my father’s dead. He’s not my friend. I’m smart enough to know that.

“It makes you dangerous. It makes me not trust you because I don’t know who you stand for or against.”

“I stand for a lot of people. The only ones I stand against are the ones who get in my way.” Walking him to the door, I look him in the eyes and tell him, “Remember that,” before closing the door and trying to shake off the sick, empty feeling that grows inside of me.

Chapter 19


Leaning against the railing at the bottom of the stairs, I keep hearing her say the lie.

He doesn’t love me.

It’s a lie to me, but maybe she truly believes it.

“She certainly has a way about her,” Eli mutters as he pinches the bridge of his nose and slowly sits at the bottom of the stairs.

“That’s one way to put it.” My expression is unmoving, and I can’t control the scowl. Swallowing the knot in my throat is painful.

“I’m fucking tired,” he mutters, and I tell him to go to bed then.

“You staying here?” he asks and I nod. I can’t fucking move after hearing her say that. Addison’s scream woke me up, but she was faster than I was. I couldn’t hear everything, but I got the gist of it: Addison wants to go back, and Aria doesn’t.

My heart feels like it’s been stomped on, driven over by a tank, and then left for scraps in the dirty gutter.

“I don’t know what to do with her,” I speak out loud, not liking where my thoughts are going. I want her back in the cell. The core of my soul is screaming at me to put her there. She’ll be safe, and she’ll forgive me with time. She has to.

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