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My brother was right. I always wanted my own Willow Girl.
What happened on that island didn’t break me.
Although, I guess it’s true what she says. You can’t become something that wasn’t inside you all along.
This was always going to happen.
For months, I’ve been waiting.
And tonight, everything will change.
Author’s Note: Twisted is a standalone dark romance, no cliffhanger!
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He says that together they twisted him.
Made him the monster he’s become.
But you can’t become something that wasn’t inside you all along.
A tear drops to the sketchbook on my lap, the blob smearing the lead. I wipe it away with the tip of my finger and watch the stain spread to the edge of the page.
I can’t seem to stop drawing that night.
The night when the Scafoni brothers stalked into our home and we were made to wear those rotting, disgusting sheaths and forced to stand on those ancient blocks as Sebastian Scafoni, first-born bastard, looked us over like we were cattle.
I can’t stop drawing the look on his face when he saw Helena.
Even if she wasn’t bound like she was, she’d have stood out.
She always thought herself the ugly duckling but she’s the most beautiful of all. She’s special. Always was. Different from us. And so much stronger.
I swipe the back of my hand across my nose and listen to the sound of tears drop fat and heavy onto the page and this time when I lay my hand on the sketch, it’s to smear the wet across like maybe I can wipe away that night. Rub it off the page. Erase it out of history like it never happened.
“Oh, now look what you’ve done,” he says. His voice is deep and low, and I swear I can feel it as much as hear it.
He takes my hand with his gloved one and pulls it away.
I look at him. I finally make myself look at him.
“I hate you.”
He grins. Shrugs a shoulder, his grip growing infinitesimally harder.
I glance at my palm—it’s black from the pencil—and look down at the page in front of me.
He’s right. It’s ruined.
But it doesn’t matter. I have dozens like it.
I can’t stop drawing that night.
Can’t stop it from happening.
Can’t stop the Scafoni bastards from walking into our lives, upending everything. Coming into our home like kings, like they owned the place.
Although, I guess they did.
They owned everything. Our house. Our land. Our parents.
I force myself to meet Gregory Scafoni’s dark eyes with their strange turquoise specks and wonder how I’d ever thought he was an angel.
When all he is, is the devil.
I’ve been watching her for weeks.
Following from the shadows. Always nearby.
Lurking, like a ghost.
And it’s a good thing for her because I’m not the only monster on these streets. She seems to attract them like bees to honey.
Sweet, sweet honey.
She feels my presence. I know it.
I see it in the way she looks over her shoulder when she steps out onto the street. The way she scans every room she enters.
Even inside her borrowed apartment, she knows she’s not alone.
It wasn’t hard to find her. To arrange everything for her.
And tonight, after all the preparations, all the waiting, I will reap my own Willow Girl.
I choose a seat at the darkest corner of the bar, look at my phone for the signal that she’s on her way, check my watch when I still don’t have it.
But she’ll be here. She has no choice.
The bartender appears with my drink. He gives me a nod of untrusting acknowledgment. I’ve become a regular of the hundred-year-old bar over the last weeks. It’s one of the last that still allows smoking. I do enjoy a cigarette now and again, but even I hate the lingering stale smell and constant fog of smoke. I don’t know what it is that’s drawn her to this place.
Or maybe I do.
It’s so opposite who she was.
Or who I thought she was.
I wonder if the night of the reaping broke her or if she was broken all along.
I check my phone again. Still, no message. I text Matteo.
I swallow my drink. Signal for another.
The door opens then, and I swear every time she enters a room, something shifts inside it. Like there’s a charge of energy, a wire, live and dangerous, sparking electricity.
It’s almost palpable, that shift.
And I know in an instant how she slipped unnoticed past Matteo.
The bartender does a double take. He smiles.
She makes her way to her usual spot as he sets a drink in front of her.
I hear her quiet voice from here. See her hold up her hand, signal the number three.
The bartender raises an eyebrow and she tucks her hair behind her ear and nods. The tips of her fingers are black. She must have done it herself.
A moment later, three shot glasses are lined up and tequila poured. The most expensive bottle he has.
In the months she’s been away from home, she’s changed. The docile, meek Barbie-doll is gone. Was she ever that? The darkness inside her, it’s on the outside too now. She took care of that tonight.
She drinks the first shot, pushes one toward the bartender. He likes her, I can see it. He’s probably the only guy in this place who doesn’t look at her like he wants to eat her alive. Although he’s also about eighty-years-old.