Energy rushes through me. It pushes out from the contracting muscles of my heart and madly pulses through my veins. I'm tired. I'm sad. I'm trapped. I'm dirty and beaten and I've been smacked down to a stub of my former self. And I have a wrong to fix.
"We can't just leave her there!" I scream.
"Of course we can! We tried, Nitti. We tried. When I opened that caged door, it was for both of you. But she stayed. She said that she didn't trust us. You did what you could. You can't go return to the awful place!" He yells back, throwing his hands up into the air in frustration.
I climb off the unkempt motel bed and finger the flick under the exposed light bulb before turning it on with a click, covering the surrounding area in a dim sheen. It's something to do, so I can avoid his gaze. I really don't want to go back. I want to forget about that place all together. About everything that happened there. What I really want is to run away, never look back, start fresh.
"You know that I don't like Scylar, but we have to," I say, "I have to. I may not like her, but she's still someone. Nobody deserves that, not even your worst enemy! That place is terrible and sick and disgusting. It's inhumane what they do there," I stomp my foot on the carpeted floor and try to shove all the desperation that I feel into my eyes, pleading with him to understand, "and I have to push past my own feelings. She's a person, Derek. Nobody deserves that."
He sighs and pushes his dark hair away from his forehead. "Nitti - " he begins, but I cut him off.
"Derek. I know it will be hard." I try not to get lost in his eyes. I can't even think about that, him, right now. I have to turn off my emotions and get what I have to do done. No distractions. I have to ignore his hazel eyes, with little golden specks and a few green flecks. Damn!
He closes the distance between us and wraps his seemingly giant hands around my bony shoulders. I haven't eaten much in a while, just the horrid food they fed us; like we’re dogs.
"Nitti," he whispers, his deep voice fiddles on my heart strings like it was a violin, "I lost you once. I don't want to again. Fuck 'hard'. This is crazy. This is stupid. This is dangerous. You could die. No, you will die. And there's no getting you back after that. Nitti. For once, forget what's 'right for the world' or 'for the better' or 'the bigger picture' ”, he mocks things I've said in the past, "and think about me. You. Your mom, sister, friends." A black curl falls into his face and I pretend to be utterly enthralled in it's perfection instead of catching his gaze. I don't tell him that my mother's dead. That I've never had a sister, not until now. That he really doesn’t know me, not at all. Only the words I’ve told him – lies.
His grip on me tightens. "You need to let this go." I find myself melting. Closing my eyes, I relax my muscles and realize how tired I am. How long it's been since I've had a full nights rest. "You can't save everyone. You're not the hero of this story." My eyelids fly open and my lips twist in disgust. All at once, my wall are rebuilt, my defenses called into action.
I wrench myself away from him and out of his grip. "Oh, I'm not? Well then who is? Why not me? And who says I'm this hero? Maybe I'm doing what's right. What I feel is right. Why is this so wrong? Why can't I save someone?" I shake my copper hair until it covers my face, separating us.
Desperate for something, anything, to do, I go over and make the bed. Deliberately, I tuck the starchy sheets under the mattress then lay the red and blue checkered comforter on top. I flatten nonexistent wrinkles and bumps with my sweaty palms.
Derek comes from behind and wraps his strong arms around my waist. Softly, he tugs me back. Or tries to. But I stay strong, my back rigid and my moves forceful as I plump a pillow. "Derek," I growl in warning.
"Yes?" he asks innocently. Sweetly. His teeth tug at the collar on my shirt and his hands move to rub my hips in gentle circles. I feel my resolve melting, beyond my struggles, and before I can register what's happening, our lips collide. They match each other's rhythm, a perfect harmony. Shutting my eyes, I breathe him in but pull back when his tongue begins searching for mine.