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Fractured Things
Author: Samantha Lovelock

 

Poe-logue

 

 

My hands grab for my father’s shoulders in an attempt to pull him off Callum before he throttles the fucking waste of skin. A loud disharmonious racket of voices assaults my ears, and it’s distracting as fuck. Made up of fury and outrage and peppered by the sickening spikes of gleeful laughter from the deranged buffoon in the middle of it all, I have to imagine this is what hell sounds like.

Amid the noise and confusion choking the room, my mind half-registers Callum’s wife gliding smoothly, quietly, and seemingly unnoticed by anyone but me to hover at my mother’s side. Dropping into something resembling a macabre curtsey, she gracefully retrieves the discarded martini glass from where it landed on the plush carpet earlier. With a sort of detached disbelief, I watch as she somehow snaps the stem off, her hands now dripping bright crimson. Eerily calm, she approaches the man she married and jams the glittering jagged end deep into the soft flesh just beneath his ear.

All movement stops, and time seems to stand still, frozen in a single horrifying moment. Then, just as quickly, the moment is shattered by the burbling shriek that slices through the room as Callum starts to jerk like a marionette missing a few strings.

My father stumbles, and I lose my hold on him while Mrs. Torsten calmly returns to her seat and folds her bloodied hands demurely in her lap. Hali stands next to her mother, head cocked at an odd angle as she calmly observes the scene in front of her, disbelief etched across her pretty face. The air quickly fills with a thick, hot, metallic scent, and Callum’s cruel mouth makes awful sucking sounds as he starts to drown in his own blood.

Of course, my mother being the asshole she is, tries to use the situation to her advantage and slink away in the chaos. Luckily, Raff and Payne aren’t intimidated by either her threats or her bared teeth and refuse to let her escape the mess she had a heavy hand in creating.

The need to make sure Stella is okay suddenly pounds through my veins and I swivel my head around to see her standing alone at the edge of the shitshow. Our eyes meet, and my breath catches when I see the fire in hers has gone out. Her features are a waxy, expressionless mask, and her skin even paler than usual. It all combines to give her an almost ghostly translucence, and my heart and throat squeeze painfully.

She looks broken.

Empty.

I start towards her, but my attention is yanked back to Hali and the strange high-pitched keening noise she starts making. Her screams are somewhere between a wail and a laugh, and they’re the creepiest thing I’ve ever heard, making all the hair on the back of my neck stand straight up in response.

Catching a flicker of movement from the corner of my eye, I turn to see an empty space where, just a few seconds ago, the girl I’m already half in love with was standing.

No, no, no.

Shoving my way through the men crowded next to the monster bleeding to death on my living room floor, I look wildly around for Stella. My pulse stutters and jumps when I realize she’s no longer in the room.

Where the fuck is she?

Blindly I run for the entranceway, a sick feeling building in my gut. Just as I get there, the latch of the massive front door clicks shut, echoing through me like thunder.

Fuck no.

My shaking hand fumbles briefly with the slick handle before I manage to throw open the door. Stella climbs into the passenger side of Sunday’s waiting silver Range Rover without looking back, and I lose it. Almost tripping over my own feet, I run down the front steps yelling her name to the wind as they pull away.

Leaving me all alone in the darkness watching their taillights disappear from view.

 

 

Chapter One

 

 

It’s been two weeks since Eleanor Torsten finally had enough of her viciously abusive husband and decided to end him in the middle of my living room.

Two weeks since Stella left without a word and took the still-beating heart she ripped out of my chest with her.

Two weeks of alternating between wanting to crawl into a hole and drink myself into oblivion or fuck my way through all the girls in the senior class just to punish her for leaving me.

I’m self-aware enough to know neither option will fix a damn thing or make me feel any better, but this is a twisted little town, and what can I say? I’m a product of my environment.

Folkestone has always fed on secrets and muddy half-truths. They’re the fuel that drives the dark engine of this town, so of course there would be long-standing contingencies in place to clean up any potentially damaging scenarios. It’s the only reason I can think of to explain how life around me went back to normal so damn quickly.

The Founding Families and their collective money and power efficiently and quietly swept everything under the proverbial rug. Residents outside of our bizarre and entitled circle are oblivious. They believe the party line that the Torstens are experiencing marital issues, and Callum and Eleanor decided to take a little trip to try and sort out their relationship.

In reality, Mrs. Torsten is recuperating from her stabby little breakdown in a facility somewhere deep in the wilds of Oregon. There were no cops, no courtroom, and no trial—nothing but a short ride on a private jet and a lovely room in a hospital resembling a fancy hotel. It turns out Callum had been regularly beating the shit out of his wife. Twenty years of his violent attempts to mold her into an obedient, hollowed-out shell appeared to be successful until she finally snapped on his sadistic, psychotic ass.

We all have a limit—an invisible line that, once crossed, pops the lid on the Pandora’s box of rage and fear and pain we secretly harbor. Hearing her abuser boast gleefully about what he did to Catherine Bradleigh all those years ago finally pushed Mrs. Torsten past hers. When my father found out the extent of the horrors she experienced at her husband's hands, he personally arranged everything for her extended stay at The Pines.

Somebody in the older generation of the Heirs made the almost comical decision to let Eleanor’s sister know Hali would be without parental supervision for a while. Hali’s aunt and uncle flew up from Palm Springs to stay with her and keep her on the straight and narrow. I’m guessing they didn’t know their niece very well before they got here since their arrangement lasted a total of four days. They finally got the hint their presence wasn’t wanted when Hali threw everything they brought with them into the middle of her driveway and set it on fire.

Her little tantrum finally opened our parents’ eyes to what the rest of us have known for years—that she’s a heinous, nasty, cruel individual. Which proves she takes after her father, I guess.

Speaking of her father, Callum, the fuckhead, is still alive somehow. Since the night he was gored by his wife, he’s been in a coma in a private hospital funded by the Founding Families. Not trusting he won’t suddenly wake up and lose his shit, Payne’s father’s security firm has him under guard twenty-four hours a day.

His partner in crime, my mother, otherwise known as Satan herself, has flat-out refused to leave the house since that night. She’s hammered whenever her eyes are open and seems even more determined than usual to drink herself to death. That arrangement works just fine for me; the quicker she pickles herself and shuffles off to hell, the less chance there is of me sending her there myself.

My father is around a lot more since the big revelation, which, I admit, I kind of like. We were super close when I was younger, and I’ve missed having him around the past few years. Can’t say I blame the guy for wanting to stay away though, given the woman he married. When he found out what his wife and Callum did to the love of his life, the wounds ripped in his psyche seem to have aged him twenty years overnight.

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