I believed in happy-ever-afters. I did. Maybe not the kind most people dream of, but my life wasn’t like theirs. Okay, in the beginning it was, I was an ordinary girl from an ordinary world living an ordinary life. But that changed, in a heartbeat, and my ordinary life suddenly became extraordinary; dangerous. Deadly. Anyway, it’s a long story, and I’ve already told it once, and that life, I walked away from it. Because I found my happy-ever-after. But it didn’t come without a price. It wasn’t something that was gifted to me, I had to fight for it. We had to fight for each other.
Was the pain worth it?
Was the loss of life that came with that fight something I regret?
Maybe a little, I try not to think about it too much.
Was my happy-ever-after perfect, once the pain had subsided?
But nothing is forever.
No-one stays the same, no matter how much they think they do. They don’t.
Everyone has secrets. Everyone tells lies. People start wars without realizing what they’re doing. It happens, even in a world you thought was safer.
We can never stray too far from our past, even if we feel like we’ve left it behind us. We haven’t. We can’t. Even fairytales suck, believe me, I know. I know.
But sometimes we need to go back. We have to, go back. There are reasons, ones you never saw coming, they hit like a punch to the gut; they make sure you have no other choice but to fight again. And you can’t ignore them. You can’t do that, even if you want to; even if starting that fight threatens everything, you have no choice. The person you were before, you have to bring them back, and that’s what I was scared of. What we were both scared of.
I thought my future was certain. That was my first mistake.
I thought nothing could touch us anymore. That was my second.
I thought love could overcome anything, and I don’t want to be proved wrong, but I might be. I might be…
I guess what I’m trying to say is, I became too complacent. Too relaxed. I took my eye off the ball, and going back there… Fixing that… Well, that just might be the thing that breaks me. Us. All of us.
My name was Olivia Delgado.
And my story’s not over yet…
The air is thick with smoke, black and heavy, but it’s the silence that’s unsettling. It’s like the world just ended, but it hasn’t. Not yet.
“Are we done?”
I nod, tucking my gun down the back of my jeans. “We’re done.”
But we don’t make any attempt to move, not even when we hear the wail of sirens growing closer.
“We should get out of here.”
Yeah. We should. We’ve done what we needed to do, seen what we needed to see, we don’t need to hang around.
We run to the beat-up black van parked just around the corner, jump in, and drive off, just as three police cars pull up outside the smouldering wreck of a building. They didn’t see us. They were never going to see us, they never do. But even if they had, we’ve done them a favor. Saved them a job.
“Do you think she’s okay?”
“She’ll be fine.” I grip the steering wheel tighter as we turn the corner and head back toward the clubhouse. “She knew what she was doing.”
Pulling into the compound, I breathe a sigh of relief as I see her standing outside the workshop, drinking beer and laughing at something Eddie’s just said, it’s like nothing’s happened. Like she didn’t just risk her life to do something only she could do. If I could’ve swapped places with her I would’ve done that, no question. But we needed her to do it. I couldn’t protect her from that.
“She got here in one piece, then.” He gets out of the van, but I sit there for a second or two, and I think I can probably breathe now. Maybe. She’s okay. She got back, unscathed, I hope. But there’s this dark, desperate churning in the pit of my stomach when I think about what she might have had to go through before this point. And I know I can’t think like that, I can’t let those thoughts take over, we all knew this was the way it had to be. She knew the risks, we all did, but that doesn’t make me feel any better. I should’ve been able to protect her. That’s my fucking job…
Sighing heavily, I drag a hand through my hair and get out of the van, and the second she spots me she smiles, she comes over, and she takes my hand, squeezing it tight.
“Are you okay?” I reach out and gently push her hair aside, I need to see her face.
I cock my head slightly and frown as I take a look at her neck. “Who did this?”
She reaches up to touch the faint red marks just below her jaw line, some bastard’s had his hands around her, I swear, I can’t be done with this yet. I can’t let it go…
“It’s okay. Really.”
She can tell what I’m thinking. She knows what I want to do, but we both know I can’t. I can’t do it…
“Who did this?” I repeat, but she just shakes her head and pulls her hair back over her shoulder.
“It doesn’t matter. It’s done now. It’s over.”
I throw my head back and let out a loud, frustrated sigh, because she’s right. It’s over.
“Go inside, get a drink, and let’s just enjoy the fact that we won. Alright?”
She smiles at me, and I still can’t believe how beautiful she is, but that’s the problem. She’s too beautiful. And that shouldn’t be a problem, but it is. For me.
“I’m not sure alcohol is going to help.” I murmur that almost to myself as I glance around the compound, everyone’s in a party mood. Except me. I think, finally, everything we’ve done, everything we had to put her through, it’s catching up with me. And it fucking hurts.
“Try and relax, please?”
I look at her, into eyes that are begging me to put this behind me, so we can move on. Except, I’m not sure I want to. I’m not sure I can.
“Please?” She’s pleading with me, and I can’t let her down again, I won’t do that, so I suck it up and throw her a smile before I head inside. But I’m no sooner through the door than the sound of tires screeching; guns firing off round after round, the air’s filled with a terrifying noise and I race back outside, yanking my gun from my back pocket, just as she’s being bundled into the back of a white van that tears out of the compound as quickly as it arrived, and I drop to my haunches, my head in my hands, and I let out the longest, loudest howl…