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They say time heals all wounds, but they fail to mention it's a bitch of a journey.

I'm twenty-nine years old and feel I haven't really lived yet. My life up to now has been filled with lies, loss, death, betrayal, and heartache. After several months of hell, I'm finally over the worst of it, and now I'm starting to mend, slowly pulling my life together and picking up the pieces.

It's time to way...

J.L. Drake

Chapter One


I close the door behind Keith, and watch him disappear down the hallway. I lock the two deadbolts, chain, and latch, and breathe a sigh of relief. Keith installed them all the night I arrived, while I pretended to act like I was fine without them. Not true. He spoke with the man at the front desk about keeping an eye on me, and also put sensors on all my windows...I live on the fifth floor.

After I grab a quick bite to eat, I head over to the mirror, checking my outfit and smoothing my hands over my hair. I can do this. I pick up my keys after a little mental pep talk and head out, pushing myself to move forward. The painfully slow elevator calls me, but I opt for the stairs instead. It's been a week since I left the safe house and moved here, a week since I've seen Cole. Keith keeps finding odd jobs around my one-bedroom apartment that he can only do during the night, since he has to work through the day. I know he's nervous to leave me alone, and frankly, I like having him on my couch. Of course I keep telling him to leave and stop babying me, but that's just another lie I add to the already long list.

Secretly, I'm worried my friends back at the safe house are growing tired of me, so I'm trying to act as independent as possible. That's why I'm walking three blocks to Zack's restaurant, knowing that Keith is sitting in the coffee shop across the street, watching me to make sure I get there all right. I smile to myself and pull out my sunglasses. Who knew scary old Keith would end up being a protective older brother?

I grin, thinking about the other day.

My apartment is quiet, something I don't enjoy anymore. Melanie is out with friends and wanted me to join them, but all I want to do is watch old reruns of Lie to Me. Maybe I'll learn something. Resting my glass of wine on my leg, I pull the covers over me more. It's cold, and I'm too stubborn to turn up the heat. I don't want my electric bill to be too much. Daniel is trying to pay my bills, but I'm determined not to have that happen. I'll be making enough when I start my new job in a few days. I don't need much.

I'm not sure what time it is when a light knocking wakes me. Oh, wow, I must have dozed off. I pull my lazy ass off the couch and trudge to the door, looking through the peephole to find Keith staring back at me.

After I unlock all five locks, I open the door. He is holding a plastic bag.

"I got you a fish." What?

He holds up the bag, showing me a purple rainbow fish staring back at me through the plastic. Ewww.


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