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Authors: Ashley Beale

Tags: #Romance, #Contemporary

Illusion

BOOK: Illusion
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ILLUSION

Illusion
© Ashley Beale, 2014.

 

This publication is protected under the US Copyright Act of 1976 and all other applicable international, federal, state and local laws, and all rights are reserved, including resale rights. You are not permitted to give or sell this book to anyone else. Any trademarks, product names, service marks, or named features are assumed to be the property of their respective owners, and are used only for reference. All rights are reserved.

 

This book is a work of fiction and any resemblance to any person, living or dead, any place, events or occurrences, is purely coincidental. The characters and story lines are created from the author's imagination or are used fictitiously.

 

Published by: Ashley Beale

Edited by: Amanda King

Cover image © iPhotostock.com

 

ISBN-13: 978-1494334109

ISBN-10: 1494334100

 

 

Dedicated to everyone that has supported me, and continues to do so, with my publications and following my dreams! I couldn’t be anywhere without any of you, and I appreciate it greatly! Thank you.

Black has never been my favorite color.

              As I lift my veil, everything that surrounds me remains dark and lifeless. I feel like I'm in one of those old movies that has no sound. The kind where everyone's mouths move and you can understand their emotions, but since there is no color you automatically feel glum.

             
I stand back and watch the train wreck happening before me. Peggy-Sue falling to the ground, begging and pleading the Lord above. Colt giving her the only comfort he knows how as tears fall down. Momma and Poppa watching me close, believing it's only a matter of minutes before I snap. Emi sobbing next to me, trying to be strong, but we both know it's useless.

             
Everyone keeps hugging me close, patting my back, giving me their condolences. I've been given flowers and food in attempt to feel better. It's no use. None of it.

             
My eyes feel like they're full of sand. They're swollen and red and they itch. It takes a lot of effort to keep them open, even now as I watch the flag get folded by the soldiers in white gloves. I didn't know my heart could break any more than it had. Once again, I was wrong. Isn't the American flag supposed to represent freedom? I don't feel very free right now.

             
I can't hear the last words said by the pastor, and my body doesn't jump during the three-volley salute. What finally makes noise, what is screaming, what is yelling, what is horrifyingly loud, is when that black casket is laid into the ground. The man that has been my heart and soul, my other half, my everything, is being laid six feet under. And there is not a single thing I can do about it.

             
As the crowd clears out, I watch all the different wet faces give me concerned looks. I don't say anything to anyone. I don't think I could speak even if I wanted to. My eyes remain focused on the black in front of me, disappearing lower and lower until it's no longer in site. Everyone walks off and I'm left standing here all alone.

             
All alone.

             
My feet manage to pull my body forward until I'm at the giant hole in the ground. I look down as I toss the rose in my hand. The single white flower lands with a few pebbles of dirt, but it doesn't look white at all. It looks wilted and gray, kind of like my life. A few of my tears meet it as I say a silent goodbye.

             
Closing my eyes, I lift my head to the sky the same time it opens up and rain comes pouring down. There is no irony behind the storm. I already know he is fighting like hell to come back to me, but he can't. I can feel it. I know it. I hate it.

             
Emi pulls on my arm and yells something when I open my eyes. I can't hear it. I'm being pulled away from him. I don't want to be pulled away. It isn't fair. My body is too weak and I can't fight her off, so I leave him behind.

             
I'm not sure when the pain inside my chest will stop. I guess whenever someone finds the blade shoved deep inside my heart. I wish it were as easy to shut out these feelings as it was to shut off the thoughts in my brain, but as I've already learned one too many times; things in life are never easy.

             
Once I'm pushed into Emi's passenger seat and buckled in like I'm some kind of toddler, I close my eyes to try and remember his face. His eyes. His laugh. His smell. His something. His anything.

             
But all I see, all I hear, all I feel, is black.

             
I hate the color black.

             
"I forgive you."

             
I look down to where I'm met with silence. Where Kirt now lays. Where a piece of me is buried beneath the ground.

             
"I want you to know that before I leave."

             
Closing my eyes I'm reminded of everything that I've been through. I'm reminded of a past where I was truly and hopelessly loved. I'm reminded of the pain and suffering I've been through this last year. I'm reminded of the promising future I once had, that vanished exactly one year ago today.

             
I'm reminded of my shattered world.

             
"I'm leaving today. You don't have to understand why, but I hope you do."

             
A few tear drops fall down my cheeks when I open my eyes and stare at the dark, cold gray in front of me.

             
"I'll always love you, Kirt, always. There will never be anyone who can take your place in my heart. I am truly sorry that I have to leave you right now, but my parents keep telling me if I don’t, I'll keep suffering. They know just as well as I do that I'm not healing. They don't understand how hard it is to be away from you though. But I'm going to try. I need to live. You'd want me to. I'll be back at Christmas."

             
I kiss the tips of my fingers and run it along the script that says,
Kirt Parsons.

             
"Watch over me Kirt." My voice becomes weak with my final words.

             
I stand up, take one last glimpse of the headstone that now replaces the man I was supposed to marry this summer, then I turn and leave.

             
I've been suffering from losing Kirt for one year now. In reality, it's been longer than that, because he left for the war three months prior to being killed. That doesn't count the days he was away from me training. The first day he got sworn into the military, claiming it was best for us and our future, was the day I truly lost him.

             
I always knew deep down something was going to happen, but everyone assured me he'd be fine. Everyone said my fears were normal, like everyone else’s that has a loved one in the military. Sadly, everyone was wrong- my gut feeling was right. I wish it hadn’t been, I wish it every single day, but wishing can't do anything. It can't bring Kirt back, and it can't heal my pain and suffering.

             
I got a job offer in New York City two weeks ago, that I hesitantly accepted. I work for the fashion magazine, In-and-Out, down here in Atlanta. They just opened a new marketing branch in New York City and I was recommended for a position there. I think with all honesty that my boss was on the verge of firing me for my severe depression, but since she legally can’t, she is sending me up there to either heal or to simply get away from her.

             
The only reason I accepted the position was because my parents and sister kept begging me to go, telling me this is the only way I'll ever heal. Heck even Peggy-Sue and Colt have, which are Kirt's mother and brother. I figured I may as well give it a go. I do want to get better. I do want to start being the old, carefree me. I just don't know how to live my life without Kirt. We were together for thirteen years, since our freshman year of high school.

             
Last week when I took the job and my mom realized I'd be living in a large city alone, she set me up with a new doctor to talk about antidepressants. He went over a few things with me and started me on something that already has seemed to help. The first and only time I've cried since starting them was just now while leaving the grave. And that was only a few tears. Usually I'm in hysterics when I go see Kirt. It makes me wonder why she never forced me on them before.

             
Then again, I haven't exactly been willing to accept much from anyone.

             
My father gave me a pistol, even though I don't have a concealed weapons permit, just so I'll stay safe. He has brought me to the shooting range enough times to know how to use it. My sister bought me a pink bottle of mace that comes with a key ring, along with a rape whistle. They're all a little over protective of me, but I appreciate it. You never know when I'll need one of those things.

             
Everything is already packed and ready to go, as well as placed in my trunk. I had made sure to finish last night. A few boxes are being shipped up once I leave, since I can’t bring everything with me on the flight. I had to pack light, but managed to bring my essentials.

             
My sister, Emi, is waiting on the front porch when I pull in. She hops off the step and nearly skips to my car, which will be hers while I'm gone. Hers has been having transmission problems, so I told her she could drive my car while I'm away, but one day I'm going to come back and claim it again.

             
She settles into the passenger seat and gives me a small hug. I used to be this lighthearted and happy. I used to smile and hug a lot. I used to be grateful, silly, and crazy. Not anymore. Sometimes it's hard not to smile around my sister, who is three years younger but acts like a teenager still. I'm completely envious of her and the fact she's never been through any hurt and pain. Not that I ever want that for her- ever!

             
We make it to the airport in record time and I park the car. My work set me up with a furnished apartment in the city, so all I really need right now is my clothing and basic needs, which consists of two larger bags and one carry on. Emi helps me bring them in the airport, and sits with me for a little while, helping me keep my anxiety minimized.

             
She doesn't say much and neither do I, instead we both just people watch. All I can think about in this moment is how incredibly weird people dress sometimes. I guess it probably has something to do with the fact I work for a fashion magazine, but I just don't understand why people can't look around and see they're decades behind on their clothing choice.

             
A women's voice comes over the intercom, announcing my flight. I give Emi a large hug and she kisses my cheek, giving me well wishes. I inhale her scent, forcing my memory to never forget it. She is going to visit me when she gets a vacation from her job in about a month, but until then I'm going to miss the heck out of her. She is the biggest reason I didn't take my own life a year ago. I owe her the world.

             
The plane lands sometime later. I didn't pay much attention to how long the flight was because I knew I'd have an anxiety attack putting too much thought into it. Instead, I read a book I stole from Emi. She's the little book hoarder and will probably scream at me for touching something in her collection, but I knew I'd need the distraction.

             
A cab is waiting for me and I take it to the address I'm given. Walking into my new apartment, that is mine for at least the next year, I'm pleasantly surprised. It's a one bedroom studio apartment on the third floor. It's small, that much is for sure, but it's perfect for just me. There is a lot of white in the living room-slash-kitchen, between the walls and the couch, and the floors are an old hardwood. My bedroom is only large enough for a stand up dresser, a full size bed, and a night stand. It's manageable.

             
The bathroom is the only room that I'm madly in love with. There isn't a tub, but the shower is all glass and silver, the mirror above the sink is three times the size of a normal mirror, and everything in the room is a deep, dark purple. It's simple yet beautiful.

             
Unpacking all my bags as quickly as I can, I realize that I'm in serious need of food. Of course they wouldn't have purchased any for me, I never thought twice about that fact. I rummage through my wallet and see I have enough for a week’s worth of food, and still enough for cab fare and my morning coffees. I look in the address book left on a microwave and find a local grocery store's address.

             
First thing I learn about New York City, is hailing a taxi is a lot harder than I'd ever imagine. They're not kidding in movies when they wave and whistle and still no one stops. I don't even understand it. It's getting cold quickly, something I'm not quite used to yet, and I'm exhausted. I just want to get to the store and back. I start looking around to see if maybe, just maybe, I'm lucky enough for there to be a store nearby.

             
Just then a girl comes up and puts her hand on my shoulder. "Miss, do you need help with something?" In other words, I look like a lost freak.

             
I become so thankful by this woman. "Yes," I breathe out. "Do you know where I can find a grocery store close by?"

             
"Yes, of course." She hands me a map and points out a subway I should take, where the station is, where to get off, and where the cheapest, best local grocery store is. It seems like a long distance to go for groceries but since I don't know the city very well, I thank her and make my way.

             
Most people seem to just be getting off work, either that or it's always busy at the station, but either way I make my way exactly to where the lady told me. I squeeze in the sub train and have to stand up. Thankfully there is a pole for me to hang on to. The train jerks a little as it starts moving and even though I'm hanging on, I fall backwards and land smack into something else.

             
Or someone else.

             
I turn around and spot an amused man, probably around my age, maybe a little closer to thirty. I smile at him and apologize, which he just shakes off and helps me stand again.

             
For some reason I can't help but look back at him once more. He is staring at me intently, making me smile a little. No one has made me smile quite like this in a long time and I don't understand why I suddenly would. There is something about him I can't quite put my finger on, but my heart is pumping just a little harder.

             
His gray eyes twinkle as he looks my body up and down, heating it up under his gaze. "I'm Harvey,” he claims in a sweet yet gruff voice.

             
I swallow before answering, feeling extremely nervous all of a sudden. "Zoey."

             
He holds out his hand and I take it, giving it a firm shake. The voice over the intercom sounds blurred and ragged and I can't understand what it says. Harvey seems to notice my confusion. "He is preparing people for the next stop."

             
"Oh, gotcha. Thanks." He smiles and continues to stare at me. I get even more nervous and turn from him. The train squeals as it slows down, coming to a rough stop. I turn to wave bye to Harvey but he isn't there. Hmm, oh well, I think to myself. I get off the train and make my way up the steps.

             
The street isn't as busy as the last and I quickly find the little grocery store the lady told me about. The groceries really are discounted and definitely worth the extra trip. I manage to get enough that'll probably last me two weeks, which means I don't have to waste my next paycheck on food.

             
A cab is outside the store, which is awesome because I don't think I would've done well bringing all these bags on the subway with me. I wasn't thinking much about that while loading my cart up. I make it home in a matter of minutes. I guess I wasn't as far away as I thought but the subway was unquestionably the cheaper way to travel.

             
After getting the food put away, I make myself a small salad, call my parents and sister, then I shower and go to bed. Tomorrow I have a day off to explore the city, then I start work the following day, which happens to be a Thursday. I have a nice short work week, then I'll be back to my forty-to-fifty hour work weeks starting on Monday.

             
The first thing that I want to discover is the quickest route to work and the best coffee shop. I don't care if I have to stop at seven, I like routines and things to be the same. The unknown terrifies me now more than ever. This morning I had mapped out three possible routes that I can do by walking, since I would enjoy walking on these warmer days. When I'm ready for the day, I head out the door, taking the first route.

BOOK: Illusion
2.57Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

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