She sounded so small, so afraid. It speared me.

“Wherever you end up, Perry, it’ll be for the best,” Maximus said. I couldn’t believe his fucking audacity. “They’ll make you new again. The doctors will help you. They’ll treat you. You’ll be given medicine and it’ll fix you. Those mental institutions have a bad rap, you know that. But they do more good than harm, especially for people like you. It may be scary at first, but you’ll be fixed. You’ll be as good as new.”

I couldn’t let this happen. He was full of absolute shit. What the fuck did he know about being diagnosed with a mental disorder? Nothing. Nothing.

But I did.

I cleared my throat, the anger boiling up. “Are you sure about that, Max?”

Maximus flinched, startled, and whipped his head toward me. His jaw came unhinged, his face pale with disbelief. That’s right, you red nutsack. Guess who’s here? Your worst nightmare.

Ada brushed past me and walked around the foot of the bed, her eyes on Perry, trying to give her fair warning for my appearance.

“What in God’s name are you doing here?” he exclaimed, blinking hard as if I were an apparition. He’d be so lucky. A ghost wouldn’t kick his fucking ass the way I could.

But I couldn’t concentrate on him. He was only part of the problem. I was here because of Perry, and as he moved over, straightening up to look at me dead on, he revealed Perry on the bed behind him.

And my whole world stopped.

It barely even looked like her. I mean, it was her. Her beautiful, petite face that was so easy to cup in my hands, her long black hair cloaking her like a shield. Her breasts as they filled out her sweater, somehow even bigger than before. But her eyes didn’t look the same, her expression was shocked, just as shocked as I was, but something didn’t match up.

It didn’t matter though. Nothing mattered at that moment except for the fact that the love of my life was in emotional and physical pain, strapped to her own bed, very much like the animal that Ada had said she was. A million things passed between us—love, anger, regret, sorrow. They flew faster than anyone could see, in a language all our own, between my dark eyes and her dark eyes. No, that was it. Her eyes. They weren’t her eyes. They belonged to someone else. My god, what the fuck was going on here? What happened to her?

I snapped. I charged right up to the first person I could blame.

“What the fuck is this?” I yelled in Maximus’s face, throwing my arms around. “What are you doing to her?”

“What the fuck is this? What the fuck are you? Why are you here? You shouldn’t be here!” the Douchefucker yelled back, not backing down, as if he had the right to be mad and not me.

“You should thank your freckled ass that I’m here,” I sniped, coming closer. Did he think I was afraid of him, because I was about to show him how a real mentally deranged person behaved.

“Guys!” Ada yelled. She then looked at Perry nervously. “It’s okay, I invited him.”

“Why would you do a stupid thing like that?” Maximus said to her. Oh, I was so damn close to feeding him his own dick.

“Stupid?” Ada cried out, her hair flying. “I’m not going to sit back and let you tie my sister to her own bed, pretend you know what the hell is going on with her, and then cart her off to a hospital tomorrow when we all know she’s probably not going to be coming back!”

As nice as it was to see Little Fifteen acting so supportive of her sister—especially when I knew how strained their relationship could be at times—she wasn’t my concern. Perry was watching everyone, her eyes darting between the three of us until they rolled back in her head and it slumped into the pillow. She started to twitch. Oh Jesus.

I took a few steps closer, wanting to touch her, to hold her. This couldn’t be possession. This had to be something else. “What’s wrong with her?” I asked.

“I’d stay away if I were you, son,” Maximus said, putting his arm out to stop me.

Son? I bit down on my lip to keep from saying something I really wanted to say and threw his arm off of me. I went over to her and crouched down so that I was at her level. Her head rolled back and forth, as if she was arguing with herself inside.

“She’s not well,” I said stupidly. Did she even really know I was here?

“No shit, Sherlock,” said Maximus.

Her eyes opened for a second, looking at me blankly. Just as I thought, they weren’t hers. They were brown. “Did you notice her eyes are a different color?” I asked Maximus, practically seething at his ignorance.

He snorted. “What are you talking about? No they aren’t, they’re just dilated.”

I shook my head, fighting my anger. “Dilated but the color around them is brown now. Perry’s eyes have always been blue. Like the ocean on an overcast day.”

Ada gasped. “Dex is right.”

Of course I was fucking right. And I wasn’t about to stand here and take this. I reached for the ropes, starting to untie them, wincing at how raw her delicate skin was. I swallowed hard, trying to keep focused and calm, to hold my emotions at bay. I had to get through this, for both of us.

“Dex, don’t do that,” Maximus warned. “She’s tied up for a reason, not for sport.”

“She’s not a fucking animal,” I grunted, ignoring him.

Suddenly, Perry raised her head. “I wouldn’t do that if I were you,” she said in a quiet voice.

I looked at her just as the last knot came undone and our eyes met. I looked deep into her strange new soul. She had to know I was here to help her, not to harm her. I was trying to save her. “It’s me, Perry. It’s Dex.”

She smiled at me. It was chilling.

“Precisely.” A depraved, gravelly voice came out from her raised lips. Not her voice. Not even a human one.

Before I could even process what was happening, she lunged forward out of the ropes and grabbed me by my shirt. Her hands almost burned into me and the smell of sulfur momentarily filled my nose before she flung me across the room. One minute I was at the bed, the next I was thrown, landing on the ground, pain shooting up from my shoulder.

Ada was at my side but it didn’t matter because Perry, that thing that was inside her, broke free out of the rest of the ropes like Bruce Banner on crystal meth. She leaped, fucking leaped, in the air and tackled me back to the ground. I saw nails coming after my eyes and shut them hard before she could get at them. She scratched at them anyway, the skin growing wet with my blood, before she went after my throat, wrapping her burning fingers around it.

I couldn’t breathe. Whoever this was, she was a hell of a lot stronger than me. Devastatingly stronger than me. My heart beat hard as I struggled for breath, my limbs feeling numb as her grip somehow tightened. Her beautiful and deadly face was growing dim as my eyes couldn’t stay open.

But this couldn’t be it. She had to know, even if she hated me so much, she had to know it was me. That I meant something to her at some point. That she meant everything to me.

I managed to open them again, trying to focus on her, trying to get her to see me.

I don’t know if it worked or not, but I swear I saw a flash of her somewhere in those dark caverns. She hesitated for a second, her grip loosening, and in that second she was grabbed by Maximus and ripped off of me.

She cried out, an ungodly noise, as her legs flailed above the ground, trying to fight him. Okay, despite all the crazy ass shit that was suddenly going on, I felt a tiny bit emasculated by the fact that he had no problem containing her super-villain strength.

“Ada, the rope,” he commanded.

Ada was leaning over me, trying to see if I was alive. That was nice of her.

“Leave him. Get the rope,” he boomed. “Get it now!”

Ada jumped up and snatched the ropes off the bed.

And just like that, Perry suddenly fell limp in his arms and Ada hesitantly started winding the rope around her.

“No, onto the bed,” he said to her. They brought Perry to the bed and started tying her up. Despite what happened, I still couldn’t believe it.

I got unsteadily to my feet, feeling around my throat. It hurt to touch, as did each breath I took. How could she have done that to me? I expected a slap, like the one everyone else had given me. Maybe even a kick in the balls. But this…what was I saying about being over my head and head over heels? She meant business and I had no fucking clue what I was going to do. How the hell was I going to get her to Lapwai to get a god damn exorcism when she seemed to have this new desire to kill me?

Ada came to my side. “Do you want some ice?” she asked gently.

I shook my head, unable to look away from Perry’s tired expression, afraid that if I did so, I’d never see the real her again. I didn’t even know who I was looking at.

Maximus folded his arms like he was cock of the fucking walk and strolled into my vision. “I told you so. You’re going to have a heck of a mark on your face there.”

I eyed him suspiciously. It just sunk in that he had a similar looking scratch on his face, as if Perry had clawed him too.

I coughed, trying to clear my lungs. “That how you got yours?”

“She’s feisty.”

I didn’t like his tone. My eyes narrowed some more. “I guess we’ll match then.”

Maximus chuckled to himself. I knew exactly what that laugh meant. It was the condescending, oh Dex, you don’t get it, do you laugh.

“Not quite,” he said and winked at me.

Okay, I definitely didn’t get it now, and what was more troubling was that he wanted me to get it. And as stupid as I was, I decided to barrel on in.

“What’s that supposed to mean?” I asked carefully.

Maximus shrugged and ran his hand through his carrot top. “Oh, nothing,” he teased.

He moseyed to the end of the bed and leaned against the bed post across from me, copying my stance. He smiled, slowly, and way too fucking surely. “I just had no idea she was such a wildcat in the sack.”

What?

“Oh, it wasn’t like that with you?” he asked innocently.

Ada cried out. “What? Maximus!” But I barely heard her. All I heard was my blood pressure whooshing through my body, building into my fists.

I raised my brow, almost unable to comprehend it. “Excuse me?”

Maximus’ smile grew wider. He looked like a fucking redneck Archie Andrews.

“You heard me,” he said delicately, his eyes blazing into mine like he owned the world. “She’s a freaky little one. Good thing I kind of like it rough.”

Wildcat in the sack. He liked it rough.

Perry had scratched him during sex.

Perry had slept with Maximus.

He stuck his dick in her.

I was going to be sick.

I was going to cry.

Oh, wait. No, I was going to BEAT THE LIVING SHIT OUT OF HIM!

I didn’t even need to fully wind up, I just exploded, my fist making contact with his jaw. My knuckles exploded in pain but fuck it hurt so good. It even sounded good, that crack of bone, the wet sound of lips and gums being smashed together. He went stumbling backward from my fist, falling onto Perry’s desk, bringing it all down underneath him.

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