Death changes people.
It's a phrase Reeve was all too familiar with. His father uttered those words on a daily basis. Following his parents into the family business had meant being the glue for others who were falling apart after a death... and in this line of work, grief was inevitable.
When Reeve suffers real loss in the death of his best friend and soul mate, he’s left questioning if his entire life was a sham. Consumed by loss and doubt, he detaches himself from reality.
In an attempt to get his son back, his father abandons all he thought he knew about healing, and pleads with Reeve to take on a new case.
But, this wasn't just any case; it was Jessie Case, a woman more mysterious than the circumstances surrounding the death of his best friend.
When these two lives merge, they entice each other into a world of forgotten pain. What they discover is far more haunting than either of them could imagine.
Her voice is thick with emotion as she pleads, "Show me."
Hesitant, I move toward her, holding her gaze in a way that seems to push
My jacket falls to the floor, and I welcome the sharp bite of cold air against my
She gasps, a mixture of fear and awe garbling the sound. Her eyes dip to
take in all I've exposed to her. “Reeve, what have you done?" she whispers.
"It doesn't hurt," I explain, running my fingers along my angry, red skin.
Instinctively, she clasps her hands around her arms, as if to protect herself
her further back with each step I take.
from me scaring her too.
Sweet Jessie. Don't you understand I would never hurt you?
I envision myself saying this out loud, but in this moment, I move closer to
her, lips like a vault, securing all my thoughts around my tongue.
She backs herself into the corner, jaw slack, eyes wide. "How long did this
The first time I'd pushed a needle into my skin was when Cadmium died. At
first, the pain had pulled me out of my grief... made me feel something greater
than the loss of her. But, I'd refused to be the guy labeled as a 'cutter'. No, I was
purposeful with my pain, etching Cadmium's words into my skin. Each promise,
fear, and every other word she had ever spoken was now a part of me.
For a brief moment, I witnessed pity in Jessie's eyes. Pity was for people who
take?" She points to my arms, covered with words.
Flesh of my flesh.
asked for it. I didn't need it or want it.
I move closer so I can lean into her, exhale against her ear and answer,
"Years. But forever wouldn't be long enough to finish what I started."
Goosebumps rise on her neck, her pale skin flushing from her heated blood.
She's psychoanalyzing me. It makes me angry. "Oh, the misconceptions," I
laugh into her neck, then pull back to look in her eyes. "Carved, tattooed, branded;
Pity has fully disappeared from eyes, and now she’s staring at me like I could
be Lucifer. I’m feeding off of her discomfort, so I taunt her. “You disappoint me. I
thought you were a stone pillar with a solid foundation, rooted firmly in your own
resolve." I place my finger against her shoulder and nudge her. "But look how
"Why are you so hateful?" she asks, choking on her question as she shoves
my hand away. Her eyes began to glisten, darting between me and the door.
It's then I realize she's a coward. Escape routes forming in her head, plan B
always set "just in case". I thought she was different. She is, I remind myself. She
just doesn’t know it yet. "You gonna run, Jessie?" I sneer, towering over her fear
"You're a cutter? You do this to make yourself numb?"
any of these would be more accurate, Jessie.”
easily you sway under the pressure. Your core is corroded."
Your move sweet girl.
She squares her shoulders, taking on a challenging stance. "I want to
understand." Her voice is stern, but I hear her insecurities in every word. She
wraps her hand around my forearm, looking up at me as if I might be the savior
she's been in search of. "I don't know you, but I want to. The real you. I've never
been more scared of someone in my life, and not because I think you will harm me.
It’s your thoughts that breath life to my fear, Reeve."