FUNNY HOW LIFE plays practical jokes.
The past few days—that had to be a fucking joke, right?
No logical answer would make sense of what I’d seen, heard, and lived the past seventy-two hours.
My best friend and twin.
This was what she’d been living with? This was how she’d been treated?
This was what she wanted to return to?
Motherfucking why? Why would she ever want to return to this insanity?
We’d been raised in a broken home, chained to an empire that absorbed us right from birth. But we were kept safe, warm, and loved. We grew up together. We shared everything.
But now…I had no fucking clue who my sister was.
But then she came to me.
A woman I never knew existed.
The most stunning creature I’d ever seen.
Only she didn’t come to me on feet or wings of an angel. She rolled into my life and demanded my help.
And for better or for worse…
I helped her.
“LET ME GO!”
Daniel cackled like a mad hyena, his fingers stabbing into my bicep. Without breaking his stride, he stole me further away from the parlour and into the bowels of the house.
I didn’t want to go. I didn’t want to go anywhere with him.
“Take me back!”
He can’t be dead!
Just because he lay unmoving and bloody didn’t mean he was gone.
That’s exactly what it means.
I shook my head¸ dislodging those awful thoughts. He’s alive. He had to be.
I couldn’t tolerate any other answer. I refused to live in a world where evil triumphed over good. That wasn’t right—life couldn’t be that cruel.
It’s always been that way.
My mind filled with images of my mother. My father’s desolation. My broken childhood. Evil had puppeteered us from day one. Why should now be any different?
He’s not dead!
I swallowed a sob.
Please don’t be dead…
I fought harder. “Let me see him. You can’t do this!”
Daniel cackled louder. “Keep begging, Weaver. Won’t do you any good.”
He’s not dead!
I locked my knees, fighting him every step. “Stop!” Looking back the way we’d come, the door to the parlour seemed so far away—a bright beacon at the end of a festering corridor. “They were your brothers, you insane psychopath. Don’t you feel anything?!”
Please let me go to him. He has to be alive…
Please let my twin stay alive…
Let all of this be a nightmare!
I couldn’t cope with Jethro murdered; I’d go clinically insane if they killed V, too.
“I feel relief. I no longer have to put up with their simpering bullshit.” He flashed his teeth. “Cut did us all a favour.”
Cut will die.
He was evil incarnate. He deserved to die in excruciatingly painful ways.
I refuse to believe they’re dead.
“I said stop!” I wriggled harder, only succeeding in Daniel’s fingers tearing into my flesh. Goosebumps covered my skin while ice steadily froze my veins. Every second was endless torture. I couldn’t live without Jethro.
It can’t end like this!
“You won’t win, Weaver.” Daniel tugged harder. “Accept what’s fucking happened and obey me.”
The vacantness I’d endured when Jethro and Kes collapsed hadn’t lasted long. The moment Cut had given me over to Daniel—the exact second he’d delivered my life into his sick son’s control—I’d lost that blanket of numbness.
Agony I’d never experienced cracked my heart into tiny irreplaceable pieces. My every thought bled with murder and death. My wails had mixed with Jasmine’s. Vaughn’s curses and shouts drowned out by grief.
It was a never-ending loop.
He’s left me.
God, I wanted it to stop. I wanted this to end—for the curtain on this madhouse production to fall and for the director to shout ‘cut.’ For it all to be make-believe.
But what if it’s true?
He’s abandoned me.
I sagged in Daniel’s hold, bombarded with incapacitating sadness. If it was the truth, what else mattered? Why did I care what my future entailed when I no longer had anyone to fight for?
Vaughn…fight for him.
Tex…fight for him.
My lungs crushed. I could fight for them—but ultimately, they didn’t need me. Not like Jethro had needed me. He’d finally opened up to me—finally let me in and given me a new home in his love. But now I’d been cast out all over again; I couldn’t stomach the empty wasteland without him.
I tripped, succumbing to the weight of the boulder on my back, the rock of eternal grief. I didn’t bother trying to stabilise. I wanted to curl up into a ball and never move again.
“For fuck’s sake.” Daniel hoisted me on to my feet. “Get a grip! Walk. Do what I say or—”
“No!” My voice ripped down the corridor, frigid with fear. Somehow, my mourning lashed into a violent whip, lacerating my insides with fury. “I’ll never do what you say. You might as well end it now because I refuse to listen to scum like you!” I scratched his hand holding my arm, but just like Cut when he’d dragged me from Jethro’s bedroom, he didn’t twitch or respond. “Never! Do you hear me? I’m done.”