27. Atlas Shrugged

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It had been dark in the room

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It had been dark in the room. But the moonlight, filtered through the curtains, was enough to illuminate the damage.

Peyton had destroyed his room.

Thunder rolled and lightening crashed as the storm raged on, the gusting winds pummeling rain into the room through the mangled balcony doors. Furniture was upturned, paintings torn off the wall, and fist sized holes punctuated the walls.

My God, Peyton, what have you done?

Shards of glass crunched beneath my flip flops on the rain-slicked hardwood floors as I moved deeper into the room. "Peyton?"

"Shit!" I cried, nearly tripping over a golf club that lay beside the shattered TV screen. "Peyton!" I called out again, raising my voice to be heard over the angry thrum of the rain. "Where are you?"


My legs tensed up at the sound of his voice, my body's response to my brain's command to run. A jumble of thoughts flew through my head. Bad thoughts, ugly thoughts.

I knelt and curled my fingers around the golf club.

It's Peyton. You can't possibly be afraid of him, he'd never hurt you.

The golf club clattered back to the floor. Picking up the pace, I stepped into the marbled bathroom. Still in pristine condition - that was a good sign, right? I rushed past it all- sinks, Jacuzzi tub, steam shower then finally stood before the double doors to the closet.

Flexing and unflexing my hands a few times helped calm my raging nerves but it still took me three tries to work up the courage to knock.

"Come in."

His closet was bigger than our entire trailer. It was dark in here too; I couldn't make anything out beside the island in the middle of the room and the silhouettes of sports equipment against one wall - lacrosse, field hockey, crew and tennis. No Peyton.

"Close the door behind you," he said from somewhere deep in the shadows. 

I hesitated. I couldn't help it. I. Was. Terrified. I don't know what I expected. On one hand, I was glad he wasn't a blubbering mess curled up into a ball while sobbing inconsolably. On the other, he seemed so cold and well, sane. Only his tone was arrogant, derisive, and ruthless, a complete antithesis to the Peyton I knew.

He's not going to hurt you.

I closed the door. The world plunged into a suffocating darkness, the windowless room so dark that I could hardly tell if I was right side up or upside down. "Say something Peyton, so I know where you are."

He'd stayed silent. Honestly, I'd felt like a feeder mouse dropped into a snake's terrarium as I stood there, water dripping off my clothes and running in rivulets down my bare legs. "Can I turn the light on?"

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