Heartless (The Heartless Series)

BOOK: Heartless (The Heartless Series)
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HEARTLESS

Book One

by Kelly Martin

 

This is a work of fiction. Names, places, characters, and events are fictitious in every regard. Any similarities to actual events and persons, living or dead, are purely coincidental. Any trademarks, service marks, product names, or named features are assumed to be the property of their respective owners, and are used only for reference. There is no implied endorsement if any of these terms are used. Except for review purposes, the reproduction of this book in whole or part, electronically or mechanically, constitutes a copyright violation.

 

HEARTLESS

Copyright © 2015 KELLY MARTIN

ISBN: 978-1-942246-75-6

Cover Art by P.S. Cover Design

 

 

 

 

 

To Tia, Casey, KD, Angie, Enika, and Kathy for believing in this book.

I can't thank you enough.

 

To you, the reader.

You are about to start one heck of a ride.

Turn on your nightlights and grab a blankie

in 3… 2… 1…

 

Chapter One

 

J
ESSUP
H
ART
B
LACKWELL ATE MY BRAIN
every night. He also ate my spleen, my liver, and my kidneys. Basically, anything he could get to, he ate. My tongue was his favorite. He said liars' tongues were the best.

The leather straps with the weird symbols on them held me down—and quite frankly chaffed the heck out of me—while he cut and ripped away at every bit of skin, muscle, and cell I had.

All but one.

My heart.

He said it was because I didn't have one.

For years this happened until I finally told my mom who took me to the doctor who in turn gave me some medicine to induce a dreamless sleep and offered the alternative of placing me in a mental hospital if I didn't want to take it.

I chose medicine.

The nightmares stopped.

Until a week ago when I started my freshman year at the University of Tennessee at Crimson Ridge campus.

Last night, Hart brought a friend.

Chapter Two

 

@sullyGray: What ya up to today?

I
SIP MY DECAF COFFEE—WHICH
totally defeats the purpose of coffee, I understand that, but regular coffee gives me worse migraines than I already get—and stare a hole into my monitor. Yeah, I'm still one of those people who have a monitor. I have a desktop, a keyboard, a computer chair, and the whole mid-2000s thing going on in my bedroom/office. It's the one room in the apartment where I can get away from everything. My place to shut the door, turn up the music, and dance if I want to dance. And I do want to dance. Nineties' music is my specialty, and I use that word very loosely.

My room is my place to shut out the world. To stay awake and not sleep. To hide from my nightmares. To hide from Hart.

Every morning for the past week, it's the same routine. I get up and rub my throat, because it hurts like a mother from all the screaming I apparently do in my sleep. As a side note, this is why I try not to sleep now when Sam's here. Which means I don't get a whole lot of sleep, but what's sleep when you are eighteen? Eighteen year olds don't need sleep. We need parties and friends and boyfriends to not think we are crazy.

Oh, I'm sure Sam does, though, because he's caught me on a few occasions. Screaming. Yelling. Trying to fight Hart. Especially that first night. I had the honor of falling asleep in Sam's lap while we watched a movie downstairs. Then, BAM, Hart was there. I was on the table. The same table I hadn't seen in five years. Hart smiled. Hart cut.

Apparently, I screamed.

Sam woke me up, all big eyed and scared. He poured me some red wine, covered my shoulders with a blanket, and waited for me to talk about it. I drank every bit in about three swigs—incidentally, the best wine ever—and told him it had just been a nightmare.

He knows about the five pills I take every night before bed and four I take in the mornings. He doesn't know what they are for. We've been dating for two years, and I haven't felt the need to tell him about it—okay, I'm scared the heck out. I'm afraid he'll leave me if he finds out. Sam is, well, he's Sam. Samson David Asher. He's perfect and good and all that other stuff I'm not. And up until a week ago, he's been wonderful. Bless him…. He tries. He's at Crimson Ridge on a football scholarship, so you know he's athletic. It's just that I don't want to ruin this. He'll think I'm crazy. His father, the therapist, will know I'm crazy. I've met him one time. That was the one and only time Sam took me over to his house. Plenty for me. He spent all of supper not necessarily breaking his Hippocratic Oath, but damn well coming close. He never used names, but I could tell ole Jane Doe was as batty as a belfry.

And Doctor Asher would laugh.

And Mrs. Asher would laugh.

Sam wouldn't laugh.

I'm so glad Sam didn't laugh.

Didn't mean I wanted him to know about me.

At the time, there wasn't much to tell. It wasn't that I was lying. I took medicine to keep the scary dude from eating me in my dreams every night. That's all. And it worked. It all worked. So I didn't have to tell Sam.

That's why I didn't.

Then we moved in together, which my mother hated even though I told her we weren't sleeping together or even in the same room. Even then in the back of my mind, I was scared that maybe the dreams and Hart would come back.

Looks like I was right.

Yay me.

When I finally roll out of bed, Sam's already gone for the morning. He gets up before God and goes running. Then he goes to the gym. Then class. I don't see how he can keep that up for the rest of the semester, but if that's what he wants to do, who am I to complain? Makes it easier to fake being
normal
when I'm alone.

I sit and fidget with my coffee in my hands, staring at the screen, waiting for a reply. I need someone to talk to. Someone human. I've talked to Hart all night. He cut me open and the girl… well, she watched.

You try living with the same nightmare. You try being ripped apart every night in your dreams. For the past week, I've had to do it all over again. I thought it was over. I still take my damn medicine and nothing—he's still there. He's still torturing me, and I have no idea why. It's getting to me, though. Seeing those red eyes in the middle of that boyish face. In fact, it's those red eyes that stand out with Hart. Not sure why I named him that either. He's just always been Hart. Like I've always been Gracen, and Sam's always been Sam.

He's always been my tormentor.

If it weren't for the eyes, Hart wouldn't be very bad looking. Tall, tan, toned, big muscles, which he uses to pull my skin off. By the way he tugs and rips, it seems like difficult work. I have the easy job. All I do is lay there naked and scream.

Hart has longish brown hair, which gets coated in blood sometimes. Lovely. I totally blame him for it. It's longer now that he's been gone for a few years. Funny how the mind thinks of weird things like that.

He isn't real, of course. It's just my brain doing what my crazy brain does. Some people dream of rainbows and kittens. Occasionally, they will have a clown or a possessed doll thrown in for flavor. To remind them that their mind is a pretty screwed up place. Sometimes a person will see themselves hanging down from the ceiling and scream while they sleep. Me? I'd give anything to see a freakin' clown in my dreams. All I have, all I've ever had, is Hart.

I'm a lucky duck.

But, despite all that, I try very hard to be normal. Whatever that means. I smile when I figure I should smile and laugh when it seems appropriate to laugh. Don't get me wrong, I'm pretty socially messed up. I hate crowds, and if I don't have a backspace, well, I'm screwed. Royally. I like backspaces. The world needs a backspace. Imagine how awesome everything would be with backspaces.

For the most part, except for a few glitches—like the
one
time I dated Earl Flynn… and my entire sophomore year—I think I've done rather well for myself in the I'm-just-like-you department. It's been exhausting, worrisome, and entirely too stressful, but I did it. And I'd been fairly good at it until this week. Until I'd moved away from home. Moved in with Sam. Drank a little extra wine every night. Sam offered, and who am I to turn it down even if I'm underage. The
one
bad thing I do in my life. And then I started dreaming of Hart again. My inner demons came out in my dreams. Very deep.

I thought I'd gotten out of the woods. I thought Hart was gone, and everything until the end of time would be hunky dory, all sunshine and roses.

I never should have thought that.

Idiot.

Is Tina ever going to message me back?

Seriously, I have class in like thirty minutes, and I need to finish getting ready. I know she's online. The little green dot tells me that. And yeah, I guess I could wait for her on my phone, but keyboards are so much more convenient. To me anyway.

Tina is from California. I'd think she wouldn't be up at the central time crack of dawn—or seven a.m.—but she is. She's usually up before me. Messaging me. Asking me if I'm okay. If I slept well. Typical friendly Internet banter. A side note: I enjoy typical friendly Internet banter. It's relaxing. There are no expectations. There is no judging. And yeah… backspace city up in here.

Tina, apparently, is one of those up and at 'em folks. I want to be like her someday. She's my happy buddy, which isn't as weird or creepy as it sounds. My therapist actually suggested it once. To keep away the demons, he'd said.

Dr. Sheldon took Hart very figuratively. I don't think he ever thought of him as a person or a thing. Just a crazy hallucination in a crazy girl's mind.

Maybe Dr. Sheldon is right?

My foot will not stop shaking as I scroll down my page, waiting for Tina to pop up. I know she has a life and kids and a family and she's never seen me, but still, I need to talk to her. Talking to her makes me feel less insane.

Talking to a person I've never met in a room, by myself, makes me feel
less
insane. Yep, I'm totally normal…

The world is weird.

The shaking of my foot causes the blanket, the one I always have draped over my legs when I'm sitting at my desk, to fall toward the floor. Thanks to my lightning quick reflexes, I grab it before it crashes to the floor and pull it back to its upright position.

I'm freezing.

Then again, I'm always freezing. Always. I can't ever remember a time when I felt warm. I totally blame Hart—even if he has nothing to do with it. The doctor, an actual medical doctor, said she thinks it's some kind of hormone imbalance. At eighteen?

I'm falling apart.

Because I needed something else to break me.

I don't care though. Not really. I can just keep a blanket on me and live in a world of denial where everybody is cold, and the hot or warm ones are mutants. It would be totally awesome if I were the normal person in the world and everybody else were the freaks. It would make my life.

Anyway…

@tinaM Mornin' Nothing much. Getting ready to head out. You? Everything okay? Did you sleep well last night?

Loaded question. I place my fingers on the keyboard to type out my usual: "I slept fine. I'm fine. Everything's fine. Peachy. Awesome. Couldn't be better." But I freeze. Those words mean nothing to me. They sound like someone who is moving through the motions but her heart isn't in it. And it's not. Not really. I feel deflated. I thought Hart was gone, but he's back. I thought I'd be able to have an awesome life in Crimson Ridge living on my own with Sam. I thought a lot of things. I thought wrong.

"I'm fine" is what humans say to each other if they are dying. Because we are polite and think our problems are nobody else's problems. They are hurting worse than us—or someone in the world always is—so we shouldn't complain. We shouldn't tell anybody what's bothering us. Not at all. Never. In the scheme of things, it isn't important. We aren't important.

BOOK: Heartless (The Heartless Series)
4.63Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

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