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Captured by Mr. Wild: Chapter 24

Daisy

    swallowing the lump in my throat before I say the next words. Before I admit what I’ve been too ashamed to tell him.

“It was Rocket,” I whisper. “He was the bait dog that night. I got there just in time to see the fear in his eyes before his throat was ripped out.”

Look what you’re responsible for, Daisy.

That’s what Mick said to me afterward. Before he laughed. Before the smell of blood reached my nostrils, searing into my memory forever.

The last time I ever wanted to hear the name Daisy again.

Blake’s standing on the top porch step, staring at me. Betsy’s by his side, her tail between her legs. There’s an unreadable expression on his face. He must see it now. See me for who I am. Someone who’s responsible for death and suffering.

Someone weak.

“They wouldn’t have given Rocket to me if Mick were there. I think he knew that. That’s why he sent me on my own.”

“It’s not your fault, Daisy.” Blake steps forward, about to come to me.

It’s the last thing I want. For him to hold me in his arms and tell me it’s not my fault. That it’s okay.

It isn’t.

It never will be.

I don’t deserve his understanding. His kindness. His reassurance that I’m not to blame. That’s why I must go back and give evidence in person. I’m done running. It’s too little, too late, but at least I will be doing more than hiding out here in denial. I need to do this. And he needs to let me.

I need to make him let me walk out of here.

Whatever it takes.

“Stop!” I scream. “Stop calling me that! I am not that girl anymore. You still think I’m seventeen years old. But that girl, she’s gone. Accept it!”

He stills, and his eyes turn dark as he stares at me, his jaw tense. I can see the anger building in his chest as he stands rigid, watching me. I’d rather he be angry at me than tell me I’m not to blame one more time.

“I’m leaving, Blake,” I tell him again, ignoring my heart constricting in pain in my chest.

He throws his hands up by his side. “So, what? You think going back will magically change everything?”

“I have to try! I thought my statement would be enough with the evidence. But it’s not. I have to do something.”

He takes a step toward me.

“Let me come with you.”

“No!”

“Why not?”

Another step closer.

“Because I said so, that’s why!” I take a step backward and almost bump into his trash can.

“What’s so frightening about me coming with you? We’re friends, after all. Aren’t we?” His lips turn down as he says friends, and then he takes another step.

“Yes, we’re friends. Just friends.” I glance into the trash can as I side-step it. There are several small plastic bags tied into knots at the top.

Just friends? Jesus Christ, Daisy!” he yells as his eyes burn into mine.

“Really? Daisy again! How many times, Blake?” I feel my blood boil at him calling me Daisy again. Is he doing it to prove a point or can he just not get it into his thick skull that I don’t want to be called it anymore?

“Do it, then. Go back for the trial. And then come back.” He practically growls at me.

I shake my head as I look at him and my heart constricts as I realize… coming back would mean being someone else. The person he still thinks I am. The person he wishes I still was.

The thought of him finally accepting what I’ve been trying to tell him all along—that she doesn’t exist anymore—makes me sick to my core.

He won’t look at me in the same way he has been doing ever since I came back.

He’ll see me for what I am—someone responsible for allowing horrific things to happen.

He won’t want me.

“I can’t.”

His eyes are darker than I’ve ever seen them as he glares at me.

“Then you’re still hiding. And you’ll be hiding for the rest of your life. Blaming yourself for something that isn’t your fault. Choosing to be the person who fits inside the warped box you’ve created inside your head.”

Anger fires inside me and courses through my veins. Who the hell does he think he is to make out I’m hiding by leaving? Being here is hiding. Coming to Hope Cove was hiding.

I’m going home to do everything I can to put Mick away.

“You’re one to talk, Mr. Wild.” I sneer as the pain in my chest turns to adrenaline. “Don’t tell me I’m the one hiding when you’re just as bad.”

“What the fuck you talking about now?”

I see the muscles in his arms ripple as he clenches his fists by his side.

“You hide behind your humor.”

“Bullshit!” he fires back.

“Uh-huh.” I point at him. I’m on a roll now and nothing, not even a nuclear bomb, can stop me. “You hide it so well that no one notices. You’re all jokes and bravado, running your training lessons, doing your programs where you help others open up to their fears. What about yours?”

He folds his arms across his chest, his legs spread wide.

“I don’t know what you’re talking about.”

“Oh, I think you do. Your photographs?” I raise an eyebrow. “They’re incredible. And people want to buy them. But you? You’re scared because they show a part of you that’s more than skin deep. You can’t hide behind jokes in a photo.”

I watch as he bristles and juts his chin out.

“You’re wrong.” His mouth pulls into a grim line as he scowls at me.

“Am I?” I smile in mock sweetness. “I don’t think so. I think you fear feeling exposed. What did you say? It’s not about being perfect, it’s about capturing what’s real and right in front of you. Well, how real are you, huh? Or was that just some shit you made up?”

Blake’s eyes are like a storm tearing into the earth of my soul. He lifts a foot, taking another step toward me.

“Don’t come any closer. I’m leaving, Blake. And I don’t need your permission.”

A bead of sweat runs down my back. I know if he reaches me, it’s game over. I will fall into his arms and cling to his belief in me. Hoping it’s strong enough for the both of us.

But it isn’t.

I can’t do that to him.

I reach into the trash can and I grab hold of the knotted top of one of the small bags.

“I said stop.”

His eyes hold mine as he purposefully takes another step toward me. Despair and anger flood my veins as I draw my arm back and hurl the bag at him. He sidesteps it easily and we both watch as it slams into the side of the house and then falls to the floor with a dull thud.

“You did not just throw a bag of my own dog’s shit at me?” His face is wild as he turns back to me.

If it wasn’t so horrendous fighting with him like this, then it would almost be comical.

“Looks like I did!” I glare at him before I spin on my heels and stalk off.

“You want to know what’s real?” he yells after me.

“Sure, why not?” I shout back over my shoulder, trying to bring my breathing back to normal. I can’t hear footsteps, so I’m pretty sure he isn’t following me.

“How much I love you!”

My step falters, and I gain my balance quickly before I topple. My heartbeat pounds in my ears as I fight the desire to turn back. To turn back and look at him. Turn back and see if he means it.

If his eyes tell me that it’s true.

I swallow the giant dry lump in my throat as my fingers tremble.

I don’t need to turn around.

I’ve known Blake almost my entire life.

If he says something, he means it.

“You hear me?” His voice sounds angry, but it’s drowned out by the sob that escapes my lips. I suck it in, hoping he can’t hear.

“That’s what’s real! How fucking in love with you I am!”

Keep walking. Keep walking. Don’t turn around.

“Daisy!” he yells again, desperation creeping into his voice this time.

I draw in a steadying breath.

And I keep walking.


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