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Permission (Perversion Trilogy #3)
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Permission is the conclusion of Grim and Emma Jean’s story.
War breaks out in Lacking. The streets aren’t safe.
When an unexpected person from my past arrives in town, I’m forced to make a choice between the life I’ve always wanted, and a life I never knew I could have.
I didn’t know how strong I was until I met Grim.
But am I strong enough to live without him?
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“Nobody can hurt me without my permission.”
– Mahatma Gandhi
There’s a certain beauty in death, in witnessing life leave a body. One cycle ends while another begins. Like a decaying flower shedding its last petal, or a dead, rotting animal, feeding the trees that take root in its bones. I don’t claim to know where anything goes after it dies, or if once a final breath is exhaled, it’s just like it was never there at the start.
Being on the giving end of death has always been easy for me. Thrilling even. I’ve never once watched someone die (who isn’t part of my family or Bedlam) and thought, No, they should live.
The bleeding girl I’m carrying is different. This feeling inside of me is different. I want for her to live. Demand it. Will it even. I want to see her open her eyes, hear her take a motherfucking breath. To speak a fucking word, goddamnit! Not because I care about her, but because she’s essential to Tricks’s happiness, which makes the girl important to me.
It’s a strange fucking feeling. Caring by association. I don’t even fucking know the girl. Never spoke a word to her. Yet, I hope and wish with everything I am that Gabby will live.
There are so many things beyond a living breathing best friend that I want to give to Emma Jean Parish. I want to give her a life. A real life. A place of our own with a big kitchen, a huge workshop in the garage, and a writing room for Tricks.
Ever since she first told me about the stories she made up to escape whatever terrible fucking things were going on in her life, I pictured her hovered over a laptop late at night, typing furiously away on the keyboard and blowing locks of honey blonde curls from her face. She could write children’s fairy tales or even a story based on her life. Trick’s imagination is something not of this world. It should be shared instead of being limited to just conning people. Although, Trick’s cons require both her brilliant imagination and a ridiculous amount of natural and learned talent. Her books could entertain people. Help them even. Whatever she wants to do, all I know is that she was made for something more in this world. I want her to thrive and succeed and be more than…well, me.
Another thought comes to mind. I want to run toward the image as much as I want to shake it away. Tricks, growing big and round, carrying what would be sure to be our hellion of a child. But could we raise our baby in Lacking? A place where kids only play outside when they’re at school, hidden behind tall cement fences, far enough away from the worry of being hit with a stray bullet.
I could take Tricks away, leave Lacking. And I would do just that, even though it would mean leaving my brothers. All things considered, it seems like the best idea of them all, but giving up Bedlam and leaving Lacking city limits, doesn’t automatically mean all vendettas against me vanish with us. I could still be sought out for one reason or another, and again, Tricks’s life would be in jeopardy, along with the imaginary kid. The one I’m currently having delusions about as blood spills down my leg, staining my bright white sneaker with red streaks.
I want to give Tricks that kid and that life. I want to make it possible for all of her dreams to come true. So far, all I’ve given her is heartache and fear, along with an inability to protect her from the people destined to make her life a living fucking hell when I’ve never known someone who deserves heaven more than she does.
Even if Marco wasn’t around to threaten our every move, what kind of life could I really give her? I’m Bedlam, always will be. Sure, I’ve got money, a lot of it, stashed away in various places, but money doesn’t buy safety or freedom, or peace of mind.
The thought of not having Tricks by my side for the rest of my fucking life hacks into me like a hatchet to my throat, hurting worse than the fucking bullet lodged in my leg.
Every time I take a step, it’s as if someone is chipping away at my thigh with a fucking chisel.
I can’t let my pain, physical or mental, stop me from getting to the reservation hospital. I’ve let Tricks down too much as it is.
I can’t let Gabby die.
Without a free hand, I kick open the double doors of the reservation hospital. They bang loudly as they crash against the walls. I carry Gabby into the small waiting room where Sandy and Haze look up from their pacing.
I hand Gabby’s limp little body off to the waiting doctor and his team. They lay her on a stretcher and shout orders at one another as they race her back behind a door with the words RESTRICTED painted above the frame.