Chapter One

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Eventually I learn how to block out my dad and aunt's persistent questions. Every one of them sounds the same anyways. I turn towards the window and watch raindrops stream down the cold surface. It's started to rain heavily in the last ten minutes. The weather is imitating the storm brewing within me, and all I can think is: at least they won't be able to tell the difference between my tears and the raindrops.

Every single moment we shared: every moment, touch, kiss, and everything in between was fake. I'm the biggest idiot of the century for believing everything we shared was genuine.

As the taxi driver turns down another brightly lit avenue, I feel aunt Lyra gently touch my shoulder. "Honey, you have to tell us what's going on, we're worried about you." Her voice is gentle, like she's trying to avoid hurting me even more. But what she doesn't understand is: Nothing can top the pain I am feeling right now.

"Yeah... is it that Blue boyfriend of yours?" Dad asks. "Did he do something to you? You can keep quiet all you want; your silence won't stop me from jumping out of this car and beating him worse than that guy friend of yours if he did hurt you." I expect his anger but hearing the promise behind his words makes me snap out of it, slightly.

I face them, gauging Lyra's sympathetic frown and Dad's furious scowl. "You don't have to do that, dad." He is very protective of me, and I appreciate it, but I got myself into this mess, more or less. I trusted Blue. I denied looking at the signs of his deceit. I fell in love with him.

"What? Of course, I have to. I'm your father, I am your protector. I won't let anyone get away with hurting you, butterfly." His voice softens but his cerulean eyes don't let up from their hardness.

"I'll help your dad kick that kid's ass. I didn't take three years' worth of taekwondo," Lyra adds, and I chuckle quietly. "We're serious, and you know we are... Please tell us what just happened."

I wish I could tell them both why I'm so heartbroken, but I can't. Not only would they go through with their violent promises, but they'd realize what a damn idiot I am. Anyone would have been able to see through Blue's lies and manipulation, but I fell right into the palm of his hand, played to his hauntingly beautiful tune. I rather not tell them anything, but I have to relieve some of their concern or we won't leave New York without them enacting vengeance in my name.

"Blue lied to me... lied about who he really was," I offer the short version, which is such an understatement.

"And who is he really?" Dad asks.

"He's... he is a... He's—he is—" I stammer, unsure of the exact words to describe him. He is more than all of the words running around my mind. His viciousness is too advanced for me to even comprehend who he really is.

"Don't stress about him anymore," Lyra says quietly, "we're going to get you a room at the hotel, and we'll fly back home in the morning. He won't be able to hurt you anymore in Georgia."

Ha. He would find a way, and he's trying to right now. My phone won't stop buzzing; it hasn't for the past twenty minutes of this bumper-to-bumper traffic. I don't have to look at the screen to know he's calling me. He's just that cruel to keep calling me after all that's been revealed.

I silently nod in response to Lyra and turn off my phone.

Dad's arm stretches behind Lyra's back to rest on my lower back. "I'm sorry about this... It's taking every bone in my body not to stop this car and go after that damned boy, but I will protect you now. We will," he corrects himself, and Lyra nods with an encouraging smile.

I smile despite the hurt raging inside of me, and murmur a soft, "thank you," before laying my head against the window. I close my eyes and focus on dad and Lyra whispering about what to do. I'm not surprised they're frantic and unsure of how to go about this. I've never been this hurt before because I never let anyone into my life. But the moment I let Blue in, he ruins me, and now they don't know what to do from here. Neither do I.

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