INK: Abstraction, (Book 3)

By: Bella Roccaforte

Prologue


Shay

There are times throughout our existence when we are so tired and beaten that we feel as though we’ve already lived a thousand lifetimes. It’s then that we justify to ourselves that it’s okay to give up and stop fighting. When you know you’ll never feel the kind of real happiness that you read about in books or see in movies. Me? That’s where I am at this moment. Can my happiness ever outweigh my misery?

Doubtful at this point.

I miss that innocent simplicity of childhood when, if something didn’t make sense, Daddy could tell you it was okay and it really was. When a hug chased away the boogie man and every other scary or sad thing; but as I’ve grown, so has my sadness. My ability to love has grown, but it’s matched pound for pound by pain. I’m only one person, one soul, yet it would seem I’m destined to love two hearts, two separate and unique men who both love me.

Part of me wonders if it’s because it’s all we’ve ever known. They have been a part of me since the beginning. I don’t remember a time without Eli or Aiden being in my life. They are two forevers that I desperately want to hold, but I just can’t make it work. There’s no way that my love for them both can exist in this world.

It’s not about letting either of them go, it’s about love. It’s about admiration and care. I know that both of them would die for me, kill for me. But are either of them able to be complete without me so that we could be whole together? Would either of them make the necessary changes in their lives?

Would I?

My love for them is undeniable; it flows through my body with every breath that I take and rides encoded on every blood cell. It’s simply part of who I am. Loving them is who I am. It resonates, reminding me that it’s there even when I’m not thinking of them.

Could I really choose between them if I had to? Probably not, but who would I choose? Do you choose an insane chemical reaction that drives you to madness and bad decisions? Or do you choose the safety and comfort of someone who adores you more than life itself?

I don’t know, I may never know. It’s thoughts like these that make me want to give up. Give up so I don’t have to choose, and in this moment, surrender would be a sweet relief.

I’m continuously being judged by how I grieve for those I’ve lost and for loving two men. That sometimes I’m too weak or too stubborn. My brain can hardly process all of the loss I’ve had in such a short time. How could anyone possibly know what I'm going through? How I feel?

People try to tell me how I’m supposed to grieve for the loss of Elise, but has it ever dawned on them that I’ve been grieving her loss my whole life? No. Because they aren’t inside me, they don’t know my pain. I’ve lost friends, co-workers, my mother, my sister and Aiden.

Aiden.

I’m driving myself to distraction, using the quandary of Eli or Aiden. The epiphany strikes in my mind when I realize that’s what I’ve been doing my whole life. Am I living a lie so that I don’t have to face the truth?

Is it so I don’t really have to grow up or choose? Is that why I sought solitude to find happiness without them? Was I simply trying to fool myself into believing I didn’t need them?

Probably.

But the simple fact is that I do love them both. Yes, doomed to live in this limbo, doomed to never love one of them enough to let go.

It’s ironic that now, in my terror, and what are likely my last hours, sorrow and regret are all I have left to hang on to. That now in the end, I finally have the clarity to grieve.

It would be so easy right now to succumb to the darkness tugging me into the depths of anguish. Just let go and will myself to cease. My own breathing is paired with the breath of another.

Someone who previously was not enjoying the quiet comfort of just being tied up, gagged and blindfolded. His ragged cries tear through me until they finally stop with a faint gurgle. His breathing has slowed and our tormentor has left. We're alone, it's just us.

Just me and my companion.

The death rattle has never been something that I gave much thought, but the relief I hear when he expels his final breath is inviting. He makes it sound so good, so enticing. If only I could blow out my last breath and feel his relief. Feel the absence of pain, both emotional and physical. What would that be like?

To no longer feel pain or have to eat anguish and uncertainty for breakfast, lunch and dinner? What does peace feel like? What does it taste like? It has to be better than the combination of chemicals, fabric and vomit that I taste now.

The room feels darker, colder and I notice that my companion’s breathing has completely ceased. I lament the loss of his unspoken companionship in captivity and torture. The duct tape across my eyes becomes slippery with the sweat and tears accumulating behind it. The realization hits me and despair rips through my being, dragging the truth in its wake. For the first time in a long time I don’t want to be alone. I miss him, whoever he was. I wish he would come back, and as selfish as the thought is I can’t stop it from consuming me.

Remorse can’t win this battle of fear and desperation. I try to call out to him, to bring him back, but the cries get caught in my gag. My unspent screams gnaw at my resolve.

Trying to refocus on getting out of here I work on the binds on my hands. I chant over and over in my head I have to get out of here.

My hands are slick with blood and sweat, but it feels like the rope is just swelling with the moisture, making it impossible to slip free. My thoughts come full circle back to just giving up, back to the only way I can think of getting out of this. Only in death will I find peace from all that troubles me, least of all the binds on my hands.





Chapter One

Hoe


Eli

Harry’s holding it together, but barely. Shay is all he has left, and she’s gone. Actually gone and in certain danger. There’s no question in my mind that if we don’t find her soon she’ll be gone forever. She has everything going against her. The bastard that took her killed the security guard, proving he has no problem taking a life. He took her from the original location, which almost never ends well. We have no real pathos on this guy and nothing to go on. No surveillance video, no contact or note, nothing. Not a word. It’s been four days of silence.

“Eli, you need to eat.” Harry puts his hand on my shoulder.

“I’m fine. But you should get something. When was the last time you ate or slept?” I know he hasn’t slept for at least two days, unless you count five or ten minute naps scattered throughout the span of days.

McNab and Carl come in the house dragging a dark cloud of doom behind them. The look in McNab’s eyes tells the story that they have no news. He looks at me and subtly shakes his head, confirming that he’s got nothing.

Miranda has all but taken over my office; you can cut the tension between her and McNab with a knife. I’m not sure what the story is there, but whatever it is, it runs deep.

Carl sits on the couch and puts his head in his hands, blowing out a frustrated breath. “McNab, I think it's time we faced some hard facts. It's time to start planning—”

“What plans?” Anger pierces me sharply at the implication that we start making funeral arrangements.

“Eli, she’s been gone for four days.” McNab stands in front of me. “We need to start making some decisions on what we are willing to do to get her back.”

“Anything, I’ll do anything,” I answer desperately.

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