Chapter Eighty-Two

After We Fell


chapter eighty-two

 

HARDIN

 

I’m sorry!” Richard says with a ragged breath. A layer of sweat has coated his entire body as he wipes his vomit from his chin. I lean against the doorframe and debate whether or not to walk away, leaving him in his own filth.

    He’s been doing this all day, vomiting, shaking, sweating, whining.

    “It will be out of my system soo—”

    He leans back over the toilet and expels more vomit, like a geyser. Fucking great. At least he made it to the toilet this time.

    “Hope so,” I say and leave the bathroom. I open the window in the kitchen, allowing the cold breeze to waft in, and grab a clean glass from the cabinet. The sink creaks as I turn the faucet to fill the glass, and I shake my head.

    What the hell am I supposed to do with him? He’s detoxing all over my goddamn bathroom. With one last sigh, I take the glass of water and a sleeve of crackers into the bathroom and place them on the rim of the sink.

    I tap his shoulder. “Eat these.”

    He nods in acknowledgment—or from delirium tremens and/or withdrawal. His skin is so pale and clammy, it reminds me of clay. I don’t actually think eating crackers will help him, but the possibility is there.

    “Thanks,” he finally groans, and I leave him alone again to vomit all over my bathroom.

    This bedroom—my bedroom—isn’t the same without her. The bed is never made correctly when I climb into it at night. I’ve tried time and time again to tuck the corners of the sheet under the mattress the way Tessa does, but it’s just not possible. My clothes, clean and dirty, are scattered across the floor, empty water bottles and soda cans clutter the end tables, and it’s cold. The heat is on, but the room is just . . . cold.

    I send her one last text message to wish her good night and close my eyes, praying for a dreamless sleep . . . for once.

    “Tessa?” I call from the hallway, announcing that I’m home. The apartment is quiet; only soft sounds fill the air. Is Tessa on the phone with someone?

    “Tessa!” I call again and turn the bedroom doorknob. The sight that greets my eyes stops me dead in my tracks. Tessa is sprawled out on the white duvet, her blond hair matted to her forehead with sweat, the fingers of one hand gripping the headboard and a fistful of raven hair in the other. As she rocks her hips, I can feel ice replacing the hot blood pumping through my veins.

    Zed’s head is buried between her creamy thighs. His hands roam her body.

    I try to move toward them to grab him by his throat and throw him against the wall, but my feet are frozen to the ground. I try to scream at them, but my mouth refuses to open.

    “Oh, Zed,” Tessa moans. I cover my ears with my hands, but it doesn’t help—her voice travels straight to my brain; there’s no escaping it.

    “You’re so beautiful,” he coos, and she moans again. One of his hands travels up to her chest, and he runs his fingertips over her while his mouth is pressed against her.

    I’m frozen.

    They don’t see me; they haven’t even noticed that I’m in the room. Tessa calls out his name once more, and when his head lifts from between her thighs, he finally sees me. He keeps eye contact with me while his lips run up her body, to her jaw, nipping along the way. My eyes won’t leave their naked bodies, and my insides have been ripped from my body and tossed onto the cold floor. I can’t bear to watch this, but I’m forced to do so anyway.

    “I love you,” he says to her while smirking at me.

    “I love you, too,” Tessa whimpers. She rakes her nails down his tattooed back as he thrusts into her. Finally, my voice comes as I scream, silencing their moans.

    “Fuck!” I scream out, and grab the glass from the nightstand. With a crash, it shatters against the wall.