The energy drains from my veins, leaving extreme pain in its wake. I sag against Vlad's arms. Dragging my feet, he pulls me across the room, up the stairs, and into Blake's bedroom. Standing in the middle of the room, he steadies me, keeping his arms firmly around my waist. The door slams and I jump at the sound.
"Dresden, call Monroe in the morning. I want Jax gone," Blake snaps, his voice full of anger.
"With pleasure," Dresden says.
"Vlad, let her go," Sammi says softly.
Slowly, his arms release me and I stagger forward, putting my hands out to hold myself up against the wall next to the bathroom door, my vision interrupted by black, dancing spots.
Fuck, I hate this.
I lift my head, slightly, noticing a glass vase atop the dresser to my right as my head clears. I grab it, spin around and throw it, hitting the closed bedroom door— sinking to my knees, fisting my hands in my hair.
"I can't do this anymore," I whisper.
"Lily," Blake breathes.
"I should’ve eaten a bullet years ago."
"Oh, Lily, don't talk like that," Sammi gasps, sinking next to me. "We know you're hurting, tell us how to help, please."
"I need to do something."
"Okay, what do you need to do?" Dresden says, apprehension saturating his tone.
"Keep count," I whisper, shakily getting to my feet. "Blake, where's my duffel bag?"
He raises his eyebrows. "In the closet."
I turn and stumble to the walk-in. My bag lies just inside the door. I squat down, yanking open the zipper. From inside, I pull out a silver ring with a plain cross on it. I turn and briskly walk from the bedroom, stepping on broken glass. With the others on my heels, I trudge into the kitchen, ignoring Teresa and the team.
Stopping in front of the stove, my foot slipping slightly as blood seeps from my heel, I turn the gas burner on high, the bluish red flames dancing. I drop the ring into the fire and watch as it heats.
"Lily, what’re you doing?" Fear is back in Dresden's voice.
"If any of you touch me for the next ten minutes, I swear to god, I’ll slit your throats in your sleep."
The ring glows a light red color— almost ready. I step back from the stove, and pull my left leg out of my sweat pants. Flipping off the burner, I grab two towels and pull the ring out using one of them. Sinking to the floor, I stretch my leg out, and position it just below the last brand on my leg.
"Jesus Christ, Lily, what the fuck are you doing?" Dresden yells, stepping forward.
“Let her be, Dres,” Jameson says softly but with more authority than he ever has. He walks over to me and squats down, taking the second towel in both hands, and stretching it out in front of my face.
Just as I press the hot metal to my skin, Jameson moves the towel forward for me to bite into. I press down harder, grinding my teeth into the towel, muffling the scream pushing out of my throat. Dropping the ring on the floor, I sag against the cabinets and he pulls the rag from my jaws, my breathing heavy. I close my eyes as the new brand pulses.
My breathing finally falls to a normal rhythm. I open my eyes and slide my leg back into my pants, wincing as the cotton rubs against the burn. I glance up to several pairs of eyes staring at me in mixtures of horror and pain. Strangely enough, Jameson is the only one looking at the brand and not my face.
Hi, this is the real me. Nice to meet you finally. I chuckle at the thought.
"What's so funny?" Shannon sinks next to me on the floor as Jameson stands and tosses the towel on the counter before going to stand with the rest of the team, his face stoic and unreadable.
I give her a sad grin. "They all thought they knew me." I reach over and wrap my hand in hers. She squeezes it tightly. "But in truth, those two months with you, was more the real me then the ten years with my team or the short time with your brother before coming into that auction."
"I don't think that's true," she says looking into my eyes. "I think the woman that saved me and endured hell, the hard, calculated woman your teams knows, the woman my brother is apparently in love with . . . " she shakes her head in disbelief. "The woman I watched hug a young girl yesterday like it was her lifeline . . . they're all one in the same. Facets of a shattered personality that needs to find a way to heal and be one amazing individual again."
"People don't fix shattered things, they throw them away," I whisper, running my free hand through my hair.
"Look around, Lily. No one's throwing you away, but you have to try to let us in, let us help you, no matter how hard it is."