Chapter Twenty-Four

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More. More is what I'm begging for. –Jackson Killian

Chapter 24

I couldn't escape the flavor of wine. The idea of it. The reek of it. The rust of it coated my tongue and colored every breath a rotted red. It turned my stomach to sewage, my head ached with it. My dreams were awash in it.

I woke with my frenetic heart pounding, my hands shook when I reached for the glass at my bedside. I sucked in a sliver of water as it splashed against my upper lip.

It was wine, disguised.

I smashed my face back into the bed. It smelled like fermentation; it hurt. I thought of Jack. I blew hot air into my pillow. I thought of Quinn. I threw back the covers.

Every step into the kitchen was unstable, my legs weak and bendy under my weight. All I could seem to think was that the world was chaotic enough, if I needed a reminder of why not to overdo it. Over and over again, on repeat. This is why. This is why. Last night is why.

I used to relish how I could warp reality with drugs and drinking. I didn't understand that person, now. The escape made reality unbearable in every way. Today would be unbearable.

Learn this lesson, Kate.

That was the thing—to not hate myself for last night. To not let my insecurities and weaknesses take hold of me, but rather, to learn from them.

There was a note on the kitchen table.

I took Quinn. Text me when you're up.


The clock on the microwave told me I could go back to bed. I didn't. I ran the shower cold and stood under it, trying to freeze my mind back into place. Trying to expel the hot weakness from my muscles. My knees burned and reminded me of just how ludicrous my behavior had been, how embarrassed I should be. I brutalized myself with the scrubby, scrubbed and scrubbed and tried to loosen the shame that clung to me. Let it run down the drain with the clean white suds.

I worked myself into jeans and a t-shirt. My skull was too small, my heart too big, my shoulders bound together and my spine had all the sturdiness of a flower stem. I shook as I texted Jack.

I'm up.

But then I lay on my bed and fell back asleep.


I woke to Jack sitting on the bed.

"Hey," Jack said softly. "I thought you were up."

"False start," I mumbled. "What time is it?"

"Nearly ten. How do you feel?"

I sat up slowly and considered the question. My head was like the inside of an ancient empty wine barrel, musty and cavernous. A big, echoing bell that clanged and clamored in time with the urge to throw up. My ribs—corroded, bent bars that shivered and flaked against the churn of my sloppy wine-riddled heart. A scared snake for guts and a gunshot belly.

"Like I lived through a battle."

Jack chuckled. "I think maybe you did."

Soft Jack, being gentle with me. "Where's Quinn?"

"Out there. Watching that horrendous program he loves."

I nodded then stretched my neck, pressing my chin to one shoulder, then the other. "Ugh. I think I've ruined rosé. My mouth has been tarnished by it. My whole self."

"That's... that sounds like a hard drunk."

I swung my legs over the side of the bed. Looked at my toes, wiggled them. "A hard drunk is pretty right."

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