Because of You

EPILOGUE

PLAYING WITH FIRE, #3

Thank you to Max – the best editor and friend a girl could have. You put up with a gazillion texts on a daily basis and my complete stupidity when it comes to tenses without wanting to stab me (I think) and I love you for it.

Thank you so much to my awesome beta readers: Madison Seidler, Amanda Clark and Tressa Sager. You are the best cheerleaders and I love you all so much for taking time out of your lives to help me.

Thank you to Tiffany King and Ana Ivies for reading this early, being amazing and boosting my ego without me having to pay you!

Thank you to my Street Team for all of your hard work and support, especially my head honcho, Angie West-Ellis, who never hesitates to jump in and help me out. I love all of you and I’m so glad to have you on my team.

Thank you to Trish Patel-Brinkley for practically being my own personal signing planner! You are wonderful and I can never say enough good things about you for all of the hard work you’ve put in to each of the events this year.

Thank you to Rose Hunter for the quick, last minute legal advice!

Thank you to my “Wicked Girls” for being the best friends ever and for GOAT SCREAM.

Thank you to Jasinda Wilder, Katie Ashley, Raine Miller, RK Lilley and C.C. Wood for dealing with my swift ninja skills and knowing just the right words to yell to bring me to the yard.

Christina Collie – this one’s for you. And you better finish it, bitch! I love you!

Present day…

In the dark, cold room, I blink my eyes to focus, but all I can think about is the pain. It hurts to breathe and every inch of my body feels bruised and battered. Probably because it is.

Oh God! Why is this happening to me?

I try to move, to get up off of the hard floor, but my broken body isn’t cooperating. I need to find a way out of here or I won't survive this. I know with every part of my being that if I don’t leave this room, I’m going to die here. Alone.

The tears run down my face, and I can’t even move my arms to brush them away; something is holding them in place.

I slowly turn my head to the side, trying not to throw up from the pain that rushes through me with that one simple movement. I’m tied down to something, but I can’t make out what it is. The only light in the room comes from a street lamp right outside, which throws a thin ray of light through the small window close to the ceiling.

With all of the strength I can muster, I try to pull one of my arms free from whatever is holding me in place, the bindings cutting into my wrists and pain instantly shooting up my arm that's most likely broken in several places.

My scream echoes through the empty room and my throat aches from all the screaming I’ve already done…yesterday? The day before? I’m losing track of time.

Oh God, this is the arm I play with. This is the arm that cradles the guitar to my side and the fingers that strum the notes that take me away to another place. Notes and melodies that bring me back to life and allow me to be who I really am.

I know I’m going to pass out again soon. My vision is swimming. Spots flash before my eyes as I struggle to remain conscious.

Flashbacks of the past few months