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Dark Endings
Author: Bella Jewel

 

PROLOGUE


WILLOW

 

 

GRIEF, THEY SAY, COMES in five stages.

The first: denial; the stage where a person will continue to tell themselves they feel fine, they’re going to recover easily, nothing is happening.

The second: anger; how could I let this happen? How could they let this happen? I hate everyone, they will pay for this.

The third: bargaining; I’ll change my life, I’ll fix everything, I’ll change who I am just to make this better. I’ll do whatever it takes, anything in the world, to make this go away.

The fourth: depression; I can’t live, I can’t breathe. The days are long, the nights ... longer. Nothing feels right. Everything is empty. The bottomless pit that is your stomach goes on, and on, never seeming to let up. It’s like you’re drowning.

The fifth: acceptance; I can’t change this situation. Pure and simple. I live with it, or I choose not to live with it. Either way, it is what it is.

Right now, I’m at stage four: depression. I’ve been at stage four now for about six months. I can’t seem to move past it. I lost myself when I was returned home. In the beginning, I was determined, I did everything possible to try and resolve the situation. I made calls, begged gang members, bribed people for information, and did everything in my power, at that point, to save him. Then I got angry—blinding rage filled me day and night, and I couldn’t move on, I couldn’t stop blaming myself, and everyone else for what happened. Then came the bargaining, I tried everything to make myself feel better, to ease the pain inside. I begged, I pleaded, offered to lay down my life to ensure someone helped me, but no one did.

Nobody knew how, that’s the brutal and honest truth.

Now, depression. I’ve lived with depression before, so it’s nothing foreign to me. Oddly, I’m dealing with it better than the previous three emotions. In fact, I’m dealing with this stage quite well. I was sure when I got back that I’d crumble and fall back into my old ways, and, for a while, I did ... until Cody. He changed my life, he made the sun begin to shine again. He gave me a reason to live. He gave me a reason to push myself from my bed each day and put one foot in front of the other. He gave me a reason to breathe. He became my everything, and I would fight to make sure nothing ever happened to him.

Cody is my son.

I didn’t know I was pregnant when I first returned. In fact, I didn’t know for three months. It wasn’t until I snapped out of my grief and realized it had been a while since I’d had a period. When I did the test, I sat staring at the two pink lines for over three hours. I was numb, I felt nothing. The usual ‘how did this happen?’ or ‘how will I break the news to him?’ didn’t pass through my mind. I had no one to break the news to. I had no emotions. I couldn’t think about anything except the tiny lines in front of me.

The two lines that would change my entire world.

Ava and Jenny were my rocks through my pregnancy. They took me to my appointments, fed me well, made sure I took my vitamins, and held me when I let everything shut down because I just couldn’t take it any longer. When labor came around, they were both by my side as I welcomed Cody into the world. Cody became my sunshine. He’s gorgeous and a spitting image of Jagger. His eyes are that beautiful light blue, and his hair is dark and thick. He has my lighter skin, and he is the happiest little soul I’ve ever met.

During my pregnancy, I couldn’t cope living where I was, so we packed up everything and moved to the beach. To the ocean. To a place where I’d attempt to find myself again. I really tried, I chased down everything I could to get Jagger back, but it was of no use to me. The gang wouldn’t support me; instead, they supported their bosses words. Their loyalty won out, and I was on my own with no other choice but to do as Jagger asked—run away and forget about him. I’d never forget about him, but I also knew there was no other option.

Right then, I needed to be what my son needs.

Ava and Angel had a huge falling out right before we left, because she wanted him to come with her, but he refused. He chose his gang over his girl, and it broke her heart. Not that I could blame her, but I understood Angel wasn’t going to leave at a time like this. He couldn’t just pack up and run. I told Ava to stay, but her mind was made up and she’s more stubborn than anyone I know when she has decided something.

So, we packed up everything and moved. I haven’t seen or heard from the guys since, and that alone is enough to break someone’s heart, not to mention living with the daily thoughts of what could be happening to Jagger and how there isn’t a single thing in the world I can do about it. That pains me, deep into my very soul, and I don’t think I’ll ever recover.

The images in my mind stop me from sleeping most nights, which is okay since Cody is a restless baby during the evening hours, much like his father. I lie awake more often than not, staring at the stars from my window and listening to the waves crashing against the shore. I don’t even know if Jagger is still alive. That thought makes me sick, it rips down to the very core of me and eats away at it, slowly but surely.

I don’t know if I’ll ever be okay again.

Not without him.

He is my missing piece and, without him, I’m simply not whole.

 

 

1


SIX MONTHS LATER

 

 

“Hey, my little munchkin,” Ava croons, swooping down to scoop Cody up into her arms.

He smiles at her. He has this big, beautiful smile that puts sunshine back into all our lives. He’s gorgeous, everything about him is pure perfection and beauty. He’s six months old now and the happiest baby under the sun. He reaches out and clutches Ava’s necklace, and she laughs.

“No, baby, that’s Aunty Ava’s special necklace.”

Like he cares. He pops it into his mouth and drool runs down Ava’s chest.

“You’re the only man I’d let drool over me.” She frowns, but the love in her eyes tells me she doesn’t care how much he drools on her.

I watch them, and my heart warms. Ava tells me that I don’t smile the way I used to anymore but my face lights up when Cody is around. That is more than a little upsetting, because I want my son to see all the beautiful things in me, all the pieces that I’ve squashed down. I want him to know joy.

“He’s a charmer,” I say, stroking his soft, dark curls.

“Oh, he’s a charmer alright. Where’s Jen?”

Ava puts Cody on the floor and hands him a pacifier, which he drools all over and then tosses on the floor with an angry expression. Yes, he’s like his father in that sense. The boy has anger issues. He’s calm and chill until he doesn’t get his own way, and then he turns into one hell of a fighter. He’ll go head to head with me, until I either cave and give him what he wants or out stare him and force him to accept defeat.

He's strong. I love that about him.

“I don’t know.” I shrug. “She got a call and she rushed out. Maybe work?”

Ava nods, walking into the kitchen and pulling out a bag of grapes. She pops one into her mouth and chews, looking thoughtful. She ponders something for a minute and then leans her butt against the kitchen counter and looks to me.

“Do you think she’s seeing someone?”

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