Chapter 37

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*NOTE: Check out the Audiobook version of this chapter voiced by kaelking12! Featuring music by Mountains of the Moon, luhx, and OK Go!

Elias

Back at Bellevue, I used to have this ticking inside my head. Some days I could barely hear it. Like background music between my ears.

And other days, days like this one, it'd keep me up.

Just tick, tick, ticking me to the edge of my sanity. Drowning out everything and everyone worth listening to. Drowning out logic. Drowning me in feelings that had me tearing at my sheets, beating my fists against the walls, making myself bleed.

I'd switch from sadness to rage on a dime.

From being someone who was barely holding it together to someone who lost control.

And it all started with her.

The ticking didn't exist until I hung up our first phone call when she asked me the question that set off the time bomb in my brain.

"Do you think you'll ever love me?"

I didn't answer her.

I hung up the phone and replayed her question a thousand times in my head until her words turned into ticking.

Until the weight of my mistakes became a sound. A timer. Counting down until Elias King turned into his shadow.

And now, it's finally happening.

I'm sitting in the middle of a restaurant sinking waist deep into my darkness because of her.

And the only sound in my ears is that that ticking.

Tick, tick, tick.

Boom.

"Elias? Elias, what's wrong?"

Jersey's hand grazes my shoulder, but I barely feel her there. I barely feel anything at all. Not the comfort of her fingers when she takes my face in her hands, not the gentle brush of her lips when she kisses me.

Nothing.

Nothing but the quiet before the storm.

"I'm fine, I was just--gonna check on Lisa. I'll be right back."

I get up from my chair too fast and the edge of my legs crash into the table. Jersey's empty wine glass swivels and then shatters against the fancy plate below it. Glass flies everywhere. I reach out to stop it and slice my hand open.

It's a small cut, but it draws blood.

The table cloth turns red and then Mindy reaches over to "help me." She snatches a napkin before Jersey can blink and tries tying it around my hand.

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