Epoch (The Transcend Duet Book 2)

By: Jewel E. Ann

CHAPTER ONE





It’s not nice to talk about someone behind their back. That’s what they’re doing. Griffin, my mom, his parents … they’re in the other room, jotting down my straitjacket measurements between hushed words.

Swayze had a breakdown.

Swayze thinks Doug Mann killed Erica.

Swayze thinks Doug Mann killed some girl named Morgan Daisy Gallagher.

Shh … don’t speak too loud. We don’t want to wake her.

The police didn’t believe me. I know I sounded crazy, but I’m not. I can’t remember all the details, or even most of them, but he killed Daisy. And he killed Erica. Not all truths can be explained.

The door eases open.

“You’re awake.” Mom smiles the kind of smile one gives an unstable person. It’s the don’t-break-the-good-China smile.

I sit up, leaning back against the creaky headboard. Something between utter shock and complete numbness settles along my body. “I’m awake.” Glancing at the nightstand, I frown at the pill bottle. “I don’t think Dr. B would approve of you sharing your sleeping pills with me. They’re prescription.”

“Griffin didn’t want to have to call your psychiatrist yet, so we just gave you one to help you calm down. You weren’t yourself. The things you said didn’t make any sense. I think the news of Erica and seeing her body triggered something. How do you feel now?” She sits on the edge of the bed, taking a hold of my hand. Her fingers trace the diamond of my engagement ring.

Mom, I’m engaged.

Oh, Swayze! I’m so happy for you.

We can’t have that conversation now. Pain burns my eyes as the vision of Erica’s body continues to brand a permanent place in my memory. I can’t erase the picture of Doug’s bloodied face or Daisy falling. I don’t even know what universe I’m in. I feel like I know more than I should and yet nothing at all. It’s so messed-up. I’m so messed-up.

In love.

Engaged.

Angry.

Confused.

Terrified.

“What time is it?”

“Eight-thirty?”

“It’s late. You should get home. I’m fine.”

“Eight-thirty in the morning, Swayze.”

My attention shifts to the windows. Light seeps in through the holes in the blinds. Bright morning light. Not the dim evening sunset.

“I’m late.” I toss back the covers. “Where’s my phone? I need to call Nate.”

“Swayze—”

“My phone …” Jerking open the door, my feet slap against the wooden hallway floor. “Where’s my purse?”

“Swayz, what’s wrong?” Griffin jumps up from the sofa.

I spot my purse on the table and retrieve my phone. There are three missed calls from Nate and two texts.

Professor: You’re late. That’s not like you. I’m worried.

Professor: Taking Morgan to work with me. Please call me as soon as you get this. I’m worried.

“Swayz—”

I yank my arm away as Griffin’s hand rests on my shoulder.

“I’m late. How could you let me oversleep?” I call Nate, taking long strides to distance myself from Griffin, his parents, and my mom without acknowledging them before locking myself in the bathroom.

“Jesus, Swayze! Are you okay?” Nate answers.

“I’m so sorry. I’ll be there in thirty minutes. Something happened yesterday and I … I … I’m sorry. I’m on my way.” Perched on the cold toilet seat, I run my fingers through my hair and close my eyes. Even darkness won’t eradicate the haunting images.

“I have to get back to my class. Morgan is in my office. My colleagues are taking turns watching her. Are you okay? You don’t sound okay.”

The door handle to the bathroom rattles. “Swayz, open the door.”

“I’m on my way.” I end the call and open the door. “You can’t just drug me. I have a job. Responsibilities.” Shouldering past Griffin, I tear through every dresser drawer, looking for my clothes. I’m still not used to where my stuff is in his house—our house.

“You’re not going to work today. Have you forgotten about yesterday?”

I shove my feet into my jeans. “In spite of your efforts to drug me, no, I haven’t forgotten about yesterday.”

“It was one pill. I thought it was a better alternative than letting you self-destruct in front of everyone. I didn’t shove it down your throat. I handed it to you with a glass of water. You willingly took it.”

I hook my bra and tug on my T-shirt. “Did you tell me what it was?”

“Yes.”

I stop my frantic movements long enough to study him. He’s not lying. I can tell. It pisses me off that I can’t remember him handing me a sleeping pill. It pisses me off that I can’t remember what I did that warranted him feeling the need to sedate me like an out of control animal.

With the heels of my hands, I rub my eyes, shaking my head. “I’m sorry … I have to go.”

Griffin bends forward, putting us at eye level while sharing his minty breath with me. “I took the day off to be here for you. How can I do that if you’re not here?”

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