Here Comes the Easter Bunny…

It’s Easter soon.  With it comes Easter bunnies, chicks and chocolate.  I am, actually, looking forward to it.

 

Often, in here, a smidgeon of effort is thrown at holidays and the like.  If that smidgeon sticks, bonus.  If not, as is usually the case, it misses, leaving only a trace of said effort.  The trace generally tends to be a bit too gloopy and so slides off leaving a pool of wishful thinking on the floor at our feet.

 

This Easter, however, Jeremy is involved.  Much, I’m sure, to the irritation of Connors, Jezzer wants to put a smile on our faces.  The weather outside has been as dismal as the food inside – grey and bland and uninspiring – and this has affected our moods.  Now, you may think we’re all happy and smiling and a-dancing all the day.  We’re not.  Sorry to disappoint.  Likewise, we’re not entirely miserable, staring into space (or corners), staring at each other, not staring at anything because our eyes were closed and we were shambling about the Recreation Room bumping into thing.

 

That last one was Penny Pocket, the riotous rocket.  She thought it would be funny to close her eyes and pretend she was blind.  She shuffled around, not looking or caring where she was going.  This was fine and even humorous until she happened to stand on Jersey’s toes.  Jersey, a dirty oil rag of a man and one of the more unpleasant orderlies, pushed her back with an angry shout and an angrier look.

 

Penny fell back, eyes still closed, laughing.  Then she stumbled against one of the chairs.  As they’re bolted to the floor, the chair didn’t move, so Penny fell sideways, her body twisting.  She hit her head as the rest of her hit the floor.  Penny Rocket was no longer as riotous as she had been.  She also didn’t need to pretend to be blind.  The blow to her head had sorted that one for her.  How generous.

 

Jersey thought it served her right.  We all thought Jersey should be served.  To a lion.  Or cannibal.  Or a rumbling volcano.

 

But good ol’ Jeremy has come to our rescue this Easter.  He, personally, bought everyone an Easter egg.  Even when chocolate eggs can be had three for a fiver nowadays, it would still have been a substantial purchase.  He’s even gone so far as to remember Chloe is dairy intolerant so has to have a dairy free one and Boris Phenaligan, ex-pentathlete and substance abuser, only likes dark chocolate.  Jeremy is like that.  He knows you.  He wants to know you.  He wants to make your stay comfortable and as happy as it can be under the circumstances (you’re in an asylum, fed slop and ‘care’ is something you’ll have to look up in the dictionary)..

 

Jeremy knows I liked Minstrels.  He’s bought me an egg which comes with two bags of the sweets.  Easter Sunday, when he’ll give us our eggs, seems forever away.

 

Not only that, but he has organised an Easter hunt.  I have no idea how he’s managed to garner permission for such a thing, but little fluffy chicks and rabbits – not real ones, of course, are going to be hidden around the asylum.  The Recreation Room, canteen, even the toilets will host tiny balls of fluffy fun.

 

Of course, this could backfire.  I don’t want to be pessimistic, simply realistic.  We’re dealing with people who, in many cases, are a little unhinged.  The doorways to their psychoses are hanging wide open and anything could trigger those doors to slam shut unexpectedly.  One person finds a chick and another wants it.  One finds a bunny and another thinks the bunny is whispering to them.  As Jeremy has announced a competition where the one who finds the most wins a prize (another egg), fisticuffs could break out among even the most placid of patients.

 

On the other hand, it may well be a roaring success.  The competition could be viewed as everyone is a winner purely because we’re able to do this in the first time.  The eggs might be consumed without incident – no stealing, dropping, hoarding or coveting.  It potentially could put a smile on our faces which will remain for quite some time, before Jersey, Connors or one of the others decides to do a little metaphorical dusting and wipes it off.

 

Who knows?  Ask me another.

 

Either way, I like Minstrels.  I’m happy.  I hope you enjoy yours too.

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The Voices in my Head…

Sometime last year, I was approached by Cherry Hill Publishing to ask if I’d be interested in them producing an audiobook of Sin.  I immediately responded with a resounding YES!  I was flattered and so pleased to be asked.

But…  What do you do when the voice in your head is going to be someone else’s?  Sin is my creation.  He’s a huge part of me – you’ve seen me refer to him as my ‘Dark Half’.  Of course, in my head, he sounds like me.

The original idea was for me to narrate myself.  That sounded like great – Sin would sound, pretty much, how he was meant to.  Unfortunately, I had sinus problems.  I had nasal polyps and obliterated sinuses.  As such I could only speak for a short time before needing to take a drink or blow my nose.  Trying to narrate a book like this was not a good idea.  Also, as I know the story and the character, I also read it too fast.  I didn’t pace myself.

R.D. Watson to the rescue!


Roger, a grammy nominated record producer who has worked with The Beatles, Roy Orbison, Tina Turner, Billy Idol, Tim Rice and Blondie to name a few (and pretty much discovered Huey Lewis) is the voice of a great many television adverts and much more.  He’s also a well spoken southerner, whereas I’m a decent enough (I think) spoken Northerner.  As I mentioned, Sin sounds a certain way in my head.  It wasn’t like Roger’s voice.

There were a couple of test goes, where he laid a smidgeon of accent over his narration, but it sounded a bit ‘Yorkshire’ for my liking.  I’m from Grimsby.  I’m not entirely sure how we come across to others, to be fair, but Yorkshire is a wee bit too strong for Sin.

Roger was intent on getting it right.  We spoke on Skype a number of times so he could find out who I was, who I perceived Sin to be and what my own voice was like.  Then he ran with it.

I was excited.  I was nervous.  Apprehensive, in fact.  What would it come out like?  Would Roger really just not suit Sin?

Well.

I know Sin is my own book.  I know the narration is the narration of my own book.  But I love it!

If you don’t know how I speak, you may have no preconceptions of how Sin should.  Granted, Sin is a narration in itself – he’s telling you his own story.  As such, you will probably already hear him yourself, as I do.  Don’t worry.  Remember Sin is part of me.  Before very long I was completely drawn in by Roger’s telling of the novel.  His voice has a warmth and… gravity to it which adds depth and I love how he adds in little laughs and stumbles deliberately to show how Sin is feeling.

Most importantly, Roger gets Sin.  This is important, to me at least.  You can’t simply read the words.  You have to know how he feels when Sin is talking to you.

Even my 80 year old grandmother-in-law, who doesn’t ‘do’ paranormal and the like, was enjoying listening to the audiobook as I had it playing in the car.  My ten year old daughter too.  Roger’s voice draws you in.  It makes you feel comfortable whilst talking to you about people dying.  I was genuinely not looking forward to coming to the end.

I don’t know how other authirs have felt when a voice is put to their work, and that voice is not their own.  Did you meet with the same trepidation?  Did you end up thinking you’d made a mistake, or something wonderful was created?  I have to say the latter.

Yes, it’s my book, but I don’t have to like the audiobook.  The fact that I think something wonderful was created, is a bonus!

I have to thank the lovely Connie J. Jasperson for her amazing review.  Here’s a couple of snippet:

Today I am discussing the most recent of my audio-book purchases, Sin. I have in the past referred to the written version of this book by indie author Shaun Allan as “One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest meets Finnegan’s Wake.” Beautiful plays on sarcastic, witty words formed into lyrical, wonderful prose. I thought the written book was wonderful, but I am here to tell you, the Audio Book as read by R.D. Watson is nothing short of AWESOME!

R.D. Watson’s reading of Allan’s shining, witty, prose is moving and brilliant in every aspect. He gets into Sin’s head, and you are completely spellbound.”

This book is a roller-coaster ride from the start to the finish, and I give it 5 stars for originality, and if I could I would give this audio-book version TEN!”

What can I say, except Thank You!
If you wish to take a peek, and would like the voices not to be just in Sin’s head, you can get the audiobook in a multitude of places:
I hope, like me, you enjoy the ride.  A massive thanks to Rick at Cherry Hill Publishing, and to R.D. Watson for giving me such an epic gift.

Oh, and watch out for Dark Places, coming soon!
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The Stray Ally Blog Tour!

Stray Ally by Troy Lambert - sm banner

And after our wildly successful launch day for Stray Ally, the Finishing Fairies are now delightedly hosting a small tour for the very same book.  Since it’s launch it’s garnered some great critical acclaim, and currently has an average of 4.6 stars on Amazon.com (as of April 3rd). The tour, from the fourth (here) to the 11th, is on some great blogs, with all unique content, and a great view of the inner workings of Troy Lambert, rescuing animals and the writing habits of a great author. blurbblack
Stray Ally by Troy Lambert - 500A strange accident on the freeway, accusations of murder, and an encounter in the Idaho wilderness all propel Todd Clarke into a new friendship with a dog named Sparky. But Sparky is no ordinary dog, and there is more going on than Clarke could have imagined. A military commander he investigated for Aryan activity and links to domestic terrorism is after him, and he’s not sure why until another chance encounter provides the answer. With Sparky and the help of his canine friends, will he be able to figure out the Colonel’s plan and stop him in time? All Clarke knows for sure is none of it would be possible without the help of his Stray Ally. Buy the book here, from the Tirgearr Publishing.    


My Current Stray Ally
Labs are possibly the greatest dogs ever bred by man. Maybe that is just my opinion, and as my wife and I age and the children leave (or are propelled) from the nest, I’ve started to look at smaller dogs as we start to look at smaller yards and a desire to travel.
But labs have it all. Loyalty, strength. They have an insane desire to please, a great fetching instinct, and a desire to be with you all the time. I call mine my Velcro dog, always stuck by my side. They also have the ability and desire to wrestle. The first time you wrestle with a Corgi when you are used to a larger dog you will feel horrible when it goes rolling across the carpet, trying to gain its almost non-existent legs. I’ve heard anyway. No such issue with larger breeds.
Not that they don’t have challenging habits. A lab never grows up: they stay in puppy adolescence until about five and a half years old, and mine, nearly ten now, still acts like a puppy, just one that wears out a little faster with a little more white around his snout. He once ate part of a peach pie off the counter, and still from time to time sneaks a loaf of bread if it is left out. (Yes, I said a loaf. Buy me beer sometime, and I will tell you stories.)
The best thing about him though? He knows my moods, can tell when I am down or angry, when I need him near, and when it is wiser for him to avoid my path. In short, he is in tune with my emotions just like Sparky from Stray Ally is in tune with Clarke’s. Why then is the book dedicated to my dog Houston?
Because when Houston passed, I had Indie. If I hadn’t, I might not own another dog yet. I loved my old dog dearly, and his sudden death crushed my spirit. But Indie was there. He knew my mood, and sometimes just pushed his head under my hand or my leg, letting me know things were okay. He seemed to miss Houston too. So this work is dedicated to Houston, a little dog that helped me through some really rough stuff. That doesn’t take away from the role of my current Stray Ally though.
I just don’t want to dedicate a book to him yet. I can’t imagine being without him. Who’s your Stray Ally? Tell me here, or e-mail me your story at author_at_troylambertwrites.com. I’d love to hear from you.


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Troy works as a freelance writer, researcher, and editor. He writes historical site characterization reports for those performing remediation on former resource extraction sites, software instruction and help guides, and edits the research of others as well. His true passion is writing dark, psychological thrillers. His work includes Broken Bones, a collection of his short stories, Redemption the first in the Samuel Elijah Johnson Series, Temptation the sequel to Redemption, along with the horror Satanarium, co-authored with Poppet, a brilliant author from South Africa and published by Wild Wolf Publishing. His next novel, Stray Ally, will be published March 4th by Tirgearr Publishing. The final in the Samuel Elijah Johnson Series, Confession will be published May 1st.
Troy lives with his wife of twelve years, two of his five children and two very talented dogs. He is a skier, cyclist, hiker, fisherman, hunter, and a terrible beginning golfer.

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Appearing….
April 4th –The Finishing Fairies  Introduction
April 5th -The Horror Tree   Guest post
April 6th – Authors you want to read   Top Ten
April 7th – Danielle DeVor   Guest Post
April 8th – Shaun Allan  Guest post
April 9th –Diane Nelson  Guest Post
April 10th – Donna Augustine  Guest post
April 11th – Michael Melville  Top Ten
April 12th – Deborah Carney  Animal rescue post
April 13th – Author Interrupted  Guest Post
 April 17th – AtoZ special post – Wilderness Apocalypse
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Head on over to The Finishing Fairies for tour central, information and more!
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Promotion of Stray Ally Launch Tour is brought to you by:
Join us for other tours, social media and community management at The Finishing Fairies mailing list!
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A Rae of Sunshine

It seems an age since I dropped by this blog.  Did you miss me?  Well, aim better next time.  Here’s another ‘SINful’ interview to brighten up your weekend.
 
What’s your name?
Nikki Rae
 
Hi Nikki.  Where are you from?
New Jersey
 
New Jersey?  Isn’t that were Danny DeVito comes from?  Do you know him?  No, of course you don’t.  But…  Do you? Lol.  By pure coincidence, Living on a Prayer has just come on.  Do you like living there? If not, where would your favourite place to live be?
It’s okay. I’d rather live somewhere where there are more bookstores and more cats.
 
Bookstores and cats.  An interesting combination.  I was always a dog person, until my pet Persian, Magic, came along.  Now I love cats too.  You don’t get many in the asylum, however.  Shame.  It might calm some of the more… energetic patients.  If you’re a writer, is this your ‘day job’?
My day job is a student and I also work at Petsmart, selling animals to people. : )
 
Or, finding people for your animals?  Tell me about your latest project.
Sun Damage is the third and final installment of The Sunshine Series and this is where things either come together or fall apart for the characters, depending on who they are. It’s bittersweet, saying goodbye to all of them, but the ending is worth it.
 
It must be difficult saying goodbye to people you’ve spent so much time with.  I won’t let my writer, Shaun, let go of me.  He’s stuck with me.  MWAHAHAHAHAHA!  Anywho.  How do you feel about bacon? A crazy person once said it was the food of the gods. OK, I admit that person was myself…
I don’t know.  I haven’t had bacon in over twelve years. lol. I hear it’s really good. But piggies are too cute for me to care about bacon.
 
Well, piggies are cute, but bacon is bacon!  What is your favourite film?
The Rocky Horror Picture Show.
 
Good choice!  I went to the 40thAnniversary tour.  It was brilliant!  Have you always wanted to be a writer, or is it something you found yourself doing one day?
I think I always had it in me to be a writer, but I never took it seriously until a lot of people started to read my work and tell me it was good. Then I began to become interested in being published.
 
Being told your work is good is a bonus.  I’m pleased you wrote anyway, even before you were told that.  Do you have so many ideas they dribble out of your nose if you don’t get them down, or do you have to hunt around the floor and the back of your sofa to find where your Muse is hiding?
I think I’ve experienced both, but mostly the first one. I have ideas in my sleep, while I’m eating or in the shower, while I’m out with friends or when I’m trying to watch TV. Whichever one grabs the most of my attention is the one I usually work on first.
 
It sounds like they spin around in your head, making a whirlpool you get caught up in.  You should maybe stay a little longer in here!  If you were in an asylum, what would your particular delusion or psychosis be?
Probably Schizophrenia. I talk to different “people” all the time, so I guess that one would fit the most. 
 
Do you argue with them, or do they each take a piece of the pie indicidually, I wonder.  What genre(s) do you write?
Right now, I write dark paranormal romance, which is mainly categorized under the New Adult Genre, but I’m working on a horror/suspense novel, a sci-fi story, and even maybe dystopia in the future. I’ll try anything once.
 
That ideal could get you into trouble!  I know a guy, though, who is similar.  He writes whatever is in his head at the time.  That’s how come he can write horror and then move onto children’s poetry!  What genres(s) do you read?
Mainly horror/fantasy/paranormal. And I’m a girl, so some romance is always nice too, but I’m really picky with that one because of how cheesy it can be.
 
Being not a girl, romance literature has never really taken my fancy.  I’m with you on the horror/fantasy/paranormal bit though.  I suppose I’d have to be, wouldn’t I?  If these are the same, what attracts you to them. If they’re different, why do you think that is?
I’ve always loved the idea of out of the ordinary or scary things happening to ordinary people, so I guess that has something to do with it.
 
Well, I just wanted to be ordinary.  It’s not my fault people died.  Well, it is… but I didn’t want it to happen.  So.  Bacon – just cooked or crispy?
Are you trying to make me puke? ; )
 
Listen.  Bacon.  It’s good for you.  Honest.  Would I lie?  Now you’re in the asylum with me, how do you aim to get out? Do you have an escape plan?
I plan on acting as normal as possible, maybe stop talking to myself. They’ll let me go. I’m pretty convincing.
 
You’d think so, but I wouldn’t be so sure.  Look at me – I’m perfectly normal!
 
So that was Nikki.  I think she belongs here more than she might think.  Either way, this is the bit all about her…
Nikki Rae is a student and writer who lives in New Jersey. She is an independent author and has appeared numerously on Amazon Best Seller lists. She is the author of The Sunshine Series and concentrates on making her imaginary characters as real as possible. She writes mainly dark, scary, romantic tales, but she’ll try anything once. When she is not writing, reading, or thinking, you can find her spending time with animals, drawing in a quiet corner, or studying people. Closely.

Here’s an excerpt to wet your appetite!

I can bring her back.
Those were the first words that came to mind.
I watched her for years, never intending to do anything but watch. Then she bumped into me at the hospital, like fate, luck or just the opposite had slammed us together. That’s when I first saw it. It didn’t matter that I couldn’t slip inside the hard shell of her mind. The darkness pushed through her every emotion and sensation, enveloping her and trying to hold on. If I could have climbed the wall around her thoughts, I would have only found thick, black spiders within. I felt each one webbing their way through her annoyance at me for touching her shoulder and asking if I should get a doctor. I could sense deep fear and agitation rather than embarrassment when her sunglasses slipped down and her reddened eyes stared at the floor beneath her boots.
But there was something else. A sliver of something powerful and beautiful. A shard of the person she once was—could be. As she slid her glasses back up the slender bridge of her nose, pushed me away, and murmured a half-hearted “thanks”, the thought remained the same: I can bring her back.
I never wanted to drag more darkness into those eyes but that is precisely what I have done.
Maybe it would have been better when we first met to have just turned away. I could have left her on the ground, never entertaining the fantasy of talking to her and knowing about her life. I could have stayed in New York, coming back to check on things in New Jersey once every few months like I always had. I could have chosen not to enroll myself in her school. I could have never introduced myself. Known her. Loved her.
Would I have been able to live that way?
Michael would have eventually found her whether I kept my distance or not. He would have tried to kill her anyway; I didn’t have to intervene. He would succeed without me trying to stop him and he would have made it look like an accident or a suicide. She would be dead now.
At least this wouldn’t be happening. She wouldn’t be going through the pain of being dragged deeper into the darkness in order to transform into something like me.
Myles. Evan’s voice breaks through my walls every time. I don’t want to keep him out but I don’t want to talk either. I still haven’t forgiven him for what he’s done. I know he was trying to help by forcing this situation on us and make it so neither Sophie nor I had a choice.
It was hard not to be angry with them both when I found his mark on her stomach but none of that matters now. It’s done, and everything that’s been done can’t be taken away or changed. I understand why he did it. He wanted to see for himself.  I was curious once too. The only difference is that I had enough self control. Even when Sophie was bleeding in front of me, I never gave in. She is more important to me than what is pumping through her veins. As long as her it keeps pumping. As long as she’s alive.
Even when I did bite her, it wasn’t hunger that drove me. It wasn’t curiosity. It was love. I wanted to keep her close to me. I wanted to be entwined.
Now we are. More than any two beings can ever be; I hate myself.
I know you are still angry. The thought is too loud and causes my temples to twitch under the weight. You should be.   
I squeeze my eyes shut and discover I have enough strength to block him off for one silent minute. Then my walls give way and he’s back, this time, slightly quieter. I can hear him moving, the sound of his pants as his legs rub together. Let me help you. I stretch my stiff arms above my head, making sure the pain in my mouth and stomach has subsided.
He thinks I’m still ignoring him, so he repeats, Myles.
When my eyes open, I train them on him. Evan stops trying to communicate to watch what I’ll do next. My arms seem to be working again; only a dull ache emanates from my elbows and wrists when I lay them at my sides. I can’t move the rest of my body from the recliner he helped me sit down in when my limbs started to feel numb.
I try to speak, but I can’t open my mouth just yet. Yes, Evan?
He’s kneeling, placing a hand on my arm. This is the most physical contact we’ve exchanged in quite some time and his walls are completely down. He’s scared that I’m really hurt this time.
I’ll be fine. I tell him. We’ve been through worse together.
Evan’s thinking about numerous things at once but he’s doing a good job at keeping them roped up tight so they don’t flood in and overwhelm me. What keeps seeping through is how sorry he is, how worried he is for me, and then his concern for Ava slips in as well. She had another attack this morning. He left her upstairs so he could take care of me.
Go, I tell him.
His expression leaves no doubt in my mind that he knows I’ve heard what he was trying to keep from me. “I do not want to leave you,” Evan says out loud as if the sound will emphasize his point.
I want to speak back but my jaw is still numb. Ava needs you more than I do.
“You are my maker,” he says, his back straightening with pride.  “You come first. I am not leaving you.”
I’m not alone.
Even now, with Sophie’s polluted blood mingling with mine, pumping through me, stabbing outward and trying to stay inside my body at the same time, I can hear Alex and Adrienne in the next room.
They’re arguing yet again about what a bad decision this was. Before I fell asleep, Alex was insisting that Sophie would be able to do this. She believed that I would recover in a few hours and everything would be fine. Now both of them doubt all those things.
Evan speaks again when the silence has gone on for too long. “Ava is fine.”
I know she’s not. She’s only been getting worse. He knows I can see that like it’s drawn in the carpet but he wants to stay with me, the one who’s taken care of him from the beginning.
No, I say again. I can feel the energy I gained during my short rest draining out of me.
Evan leans down and places his hand beside my knee on the couch cushion. He’s about to argue further, but a soft knocking outside distracts him.
I try reaching out with my mind but I fail.
“Sophie,” Evan says, already standing. I try to move as well but my wrists won’t support my weight and my legs won’t move.
There’s some shuffling then the door opens. “Sorry,” Jade, is saying. “You told me she wouldn’t wake up.”
I hadn’t realized I closed my eyes. They open when he says that.
Jade enters the room, looking just as tired as I am, stubble roughening his face and dark circles make shadows under his eyes. “She wants you,” he says. It takes me a few moments to realize that he’s talking to me. She wants you and not me, is what he doesn’t say out loud.
I didn’t want her to see me like this. Weak when everything else around us is breaking. But I knew she wouldn’t be able to rest for long without me near her. I had planned on only being gone fifteen minutes but it’s been close to an hour now.
Evan, I force out of my mind. Help me up.
He wants to argue; he knows he can’t.
Evan wraps an arm around me and I sling myself over his shoulder. Leaning my weight into him, I stand on shaking legs. I’m surprised when Jade is next to me, mirroring Evan’s position on the opposite side of me in order to hold me upright.
This is so fucked up, he thinks. How did this happen?
I can’t disagree. I can’t help asking myself the same question.
The walk back to Sophie’s room isn’t long but my body fights me every inch, bones threatening to snap, muscles starting to bend in ways they shouldn’t. I’m so relieved to be in the doorway once we reach it that I pay no mind to Evan or Jade, breaking free of them and stumbling to the bed where she is.
I remember having Alex change the blankets for me so Sophie wouldn’t have to see the blood and she lies among the clean, white sheets. Her hair is messy, falling in pink waves that crash around her face and shoulders.
She is beautiful. She is always beautiful. When I notice her staring at the wall, there is no life behind her eyes. Her skin is grey and her cheekbones stick out. 
It’s all my fault but I can’t shatter with her here.

I climb onto the bed gently, trying not to disturb her. She doesn’t look like she’s in pain yet, but the transition stage will soon hit her, and I know that any movement holds potential for agony. Once I’m next to her, she is drawn to me like the ocean to the shore. She places her head to my chest, and I am home.
Evan covers us both with another blanket.
“Is she…” Jade whispers and my eyes open. He can’t finish the sentence except for in his thoughts: Is she a vampire now?
“No,” I say out loud, my mouth filling with sharp needles. “Not yet.”
“This is normal,” Evan says for me so I don’t have to keep talking.
Yeah. This is an everyday goddamn occurrence. Jade sits down in the chair beneath the window. I want to say something to help him through this, but even if I could, what good would it be? It’s my fault someone he loves is dying in front of him. That he will have to see it happen again.  There are no words. Just the reality of what’s happening to his sister and who has done it to her.
Evan leaves us, and soon, I hear her Jade’s even breathing. He’s fallen asleep in the chair, exhausted.
Sophie’s skin is cold against mine as she shifts her arms around my waist. My muscles are sore but her touch soothes me. I can smell dried blood on her chest, rust mingling with the faded flowery scent of her shampoo.
“You left,” she whispers into my neck, her breath wet and warm.
I will my fingers into her hair. “I know,” I whisper back, my jaw aching only slightly now.
“You left,” she says again, pulling herself even closer.
“I’m here.”
We both give up on remaining conscious then. I close my eyes and allow the dark blood to swallow me up again and she does the same. We are part of the same darkness now, yet we drift separately to a place where I will have to find her.

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