Home > Tied (All Torn Up #2)(13)

Tied (All Torn Up #2)(13)
Author: Carian Cole



age sixteen

She’s hovering by the door, looking at the floor, out the window, at her hands. She’s looking everywhere but at me, and she’s sticking by the door like she’s going to bail any second. All I want is for her to come closer. I need to see her smile and feel her hand in mine. I need just one thing to feel normal right now. I’ve waited days for her to visit me and assumed she was waiting until my family and friends weren’t piling into the room so we could be alone.

“Come here.” I try to hold my hand out to her, but the IV in my wrist and the bandages covering most of my hand make it hard to move.

She continues to look downward, peeking up at me from beneath her long bangs for a moment before looking down again.

“Please?” Weak is not a role I play well.

She crosses the room painstakingly slowly and stops next to the bed, but she doesn’t touch my waiting hand. For the past year, her hand has been intertwined with mine whenever possible—until now.

“I’m sorry,” she whispers.

I try to force a smile, but the pull of skin and muscle on the left side of my face makes me grimace in pain. Everyone that’s come to visit me has said they’re sorry—an offer of pointless consolation. “It’s okay. I’m pretty fucked up, but the doctor says it’ll get better. I don’t think I’ll be taking you to the prom, though, unless I wear a mask.” My teasing tone reeks of desperation in the tense space between us.

“I can’t see you anymore.” She’s whispering toward the floor, but I hear her perfectly. My body lurches in an attempt to sit up, but the pain that sears through my body immobilizes me. The edge of my vision hazes, but I fight it. I’m not going to pass out like a wuss.


She sniffles and rubs her nose with the back of her hand. “I’m so sorry, Tyler. I just can’t look at you…like this.”

My heart plummets like a rock into the pit of my stomach, and I feel like I might throw up. “It’ll get better. I talked to the doctor today. It’s not as bad as it looks right now. I can have surgery.”

A tear falls off her cheek as she shakes her head violently enough to rattle her brain. “I just can’t. I can’t do this. I’m sorry. I know I’m a shitty person…”

I grind my teeth through the pain, which has doubled in intensity since she started talking. She’s supposed to be making me feel better, not worse. Isn’t that what you do for the people you love?

“Wendy, you’re not. I know this is hard for you too. Just give it time. It’s only been a fucking week.”

She turns away, and I want to grab her face and force her to look at me. To see me, still in here under the ugly burnt flesh.

“I have to go, my mom is waiting for me. I’ll miss you, please believe that. I just can’t deal with all of this.” Her long auburn hair flies behind her as she bolts from the room, taking her broken promises with her. I’m a friggin’ idiot for believing she loved me enough to stay with me through this.

“Fuck you, Wendy!” I roar after her. My lungs burn, my eyes sting, and white-hot pain shoots through my skull like a dagger, but I don’t care. Nothing fucking matters anymore. I rapidly jam my thumb into the patient-managed painkiller button, begging for another shot of magical liquid to be shot into my vein—it will never reach the pain that’s now got its grips on my heart. Pain of the flesh is one thing, but pain of the heart, that’s an entirely different animal, which is now going to ravage my life. Wendy just took the last shred of hope I had out the door with her.

A week ago I had everything. Straight As. Popularity. Great friends. Dating the prettiest girl in my class. On my way to getting a lacrosse scholarship. My life was great and only getting better.

And now, I’m a charbroiled mess lying in a hospital bed, watching it all slip away as I melt into a morphine-induced haze.



Every morning, for the rest of October and November, the first thing I do when I wake up is stare at the pictures of Christmas trees hanging on the wall next to my bed. Something about them makes me feel happy inside, and that’s a new feeling for me. I decide I’m going to leave them up when the holiday season is over.

Boredom has been settling in for the past few weeks, making me restless. Even though I clean the apartment every day, including Feather’s room, take walks on the Merryfield property, work in the garden, and visit with my one of my counselors, I still feel like there’s a gaping hole in my life. Since Feather and I became roommates not long ago, I’ve watched her get a part-time job, start a relationship with a guy, and get a car. I can see progress with her. But with me? Not so much. My life still feels very much like it did when I was captured: each day the same and going nowhere.

Last week, I asked my parents again if there was any way I could get my driver’s license and learn to drive a car, but they were adamant I should wait until summer and give myself more time. I’m not sure what that means exactly, but I do know I’m tired of more of my life ticking away, so I’ve taken to going for longer walks every day, outside the perimeters of the Merryfield property line.

When I told my mother over the phone, a few days ago, that I’ve been walking farther each day, she became very agitated, and while I can understand why she’s nervous, I’m making this decision for myself. My father, luckily, jumped on the phone extension and sided with me, agreeing walks might be good for me, but I think it was just his way of appeasing me since he won’t agree to my getting a car.

I know my parents worry about me but, as Zac said two months ago, I’m going to be twenty in a few weeks. I’m an adult. And I am determined to do something on my own, even if it’s just walking. I need to test my boundaries like other girls my age.

At first, I only walked down the street and back to Merryfield. I had to force myself for a few days, until I felt comfortable, and I gave myself pep talks to walk a block, then another, and another.

My sense of adventure increased quickly. Being free was addicting. Each day I walked a little farther, blocks turning into miles. This morning I walked to a small park a few miles away, and I realized it was the exact place I had been taken, halfway between the school and my parents’ house.

Wow. This town really is small.

I freeze to the spot on the sidewalk with the deep zig-zag crack that I always avoided stepping on as a little girl. I had been stepping over it when the man had grabbed me, my pink sneaker in mid-air. The crack is wider now, with moss growing between its edges, weathered from time. My head swims and I sway slightly in the wind as my stomach clenches and threatens to empty here on the sidewalk. I swallow hard and step over the crack.

I make it to the other side, and I grab the hand of the little girl in my memory and pull her with me where she belongs.

My eyes scan the area, my heart pounding. It looks harmless. Like a typical park, with benches, swings, and paths. It’s empty at the moment, except for some birds hopping around on the ground. The only thing that’s different from that day is the season. Today, the leaves have already changed colors, the grass has turned brown, and the sky is dark with the promise of icy rain. I huddle inside my fall jacket as a breeze whistles down the street behind me. That day, the sun had been out and white fluffy clouds had filled the sky. Monsters don’t come out in the daylight, right in front of butterflies and blue jays, in a tiny town where everyone knows everyone.

But, in fact, they do.

I sit on a bench nearby and stare at that place on the sidewalk for a long time. My memory of being taken is both fuzzy and clear. The feelings are more vivid than the actual events. I can still feel how hard my heart pounded in my chest, how his fingers dug into my arm when he grabbed me. I can’t remember what my best friend, Sammi, and I were chatting about. Nor can I remember what the man was wearing, what color the car was, or if anyone else was around.

I shrieked. Sammi screamed. I was yanked backward. Sammi ran. A hand covered my mouth. The car door slammed. A man laughed.

It happened so fast.

In a matter of mere seconds, I was taken. Stolen from my own life.

And it was easy.

I’ve never been told the details of my case or the technicalities of all the crimes committed. All of that was kept from me by my parents and various psychologists and therapists. Feather says I could probably find out most of it by searching the Internet, but I don’t want to know. I lived it. I know enough.

There are only two things I want to know in relation to my past. The first is to find out where Poppy is. The second is to find my prince. I already know his real name, as I overheard one of the detectives talking about him when I was being questioned. Tyler Grace. Feather says she could find him in about two seconds, but I’ve told her no. In the books, the princess doesn’t go hunting for the prince. He finds her. Or they find each other. I’m afraid if I do it wrong, I’ll ruin the story.

I’ll ruin our story.

And if I do that, the happily ever after may not happen, and that’s something I cannot begin to accept. That’s the only thing that kept me going for all those years I was alone in that dark room. The mere idea of it not happening is unthinkable.

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