Made of steel (made of s.., p.42
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       Made of Steel (Made of Steel Series Book 1), p.42

           Ivy Smoak
 

  Chapter 33

  Monday

  I double checked that I had typed Mr. Crawford's name into my new phone correctly and pressed save. Even though I had put Kins' and Eli's numbers into my phone too, Mr. Crawford's was really the only one that mattered. The rest of the numbers were fleeting because I'd forever be a flight risk. Don would find me and I'd have to leave and start over again. Hell, maybe he already had found me.

  I opened up Google on my laptop and typed in his name. There was no more new information about the case. He was still out on bail. It didn't make any sense. How had he gotten that money? I stared at the small article from the Colorado Post. They hadn't even set a trial date yet. Didn't they realize that they were making it impossible for me to move on? Just thinking about having to see him at trial made my whole body feel cold.

  My fingers traced the scar on my stomach. It didn't really matter that Don was in a different state. It didn't really even matter if he ended up going to prison. I'd never truly be rid of him. The scars were a constant reminder. But at least the bruises were fading. I was finally rid of my hoodie. I looked down at the summer dress that I was wearing for my date with Eli. It almost felt strange. I was used to having the hoodie to hide behind. I suddenly felt exposed, like Eli would be able to truly see me for the first time. There was no way I could wear this in front of him. I couldn't let him see the real me.

  I stood up to change when I heard a knock on the door. Who was that? I quickly closed my computer. I was supposed to meet Eli in just a few minutes. My heartbeat quickened. Kins would have just walked right in. So, there was really only one person it could be. Miles. I hadn't seen him since he had wanted to walk me home. Thinking about him made me smile, even though I knew better than to let it. It didn't matter if I was head over heels for Miles or not. Sadie Davis could never be with him. And Summer Brooks had lost her chance. I ran my fingers through my hair despite the fact that I shouldn't care, and looked in the mirror. The long chain of the pendant was visible but not the pendant itself. I ran my fingers down the chain. Miles was the only piece of Summer I had left and I wasn't sure how that was supposed to make me feel. All I knew was that this pendant had given me strength, and despite what I told myself, that was mostly because of him. I took a deep breath and opened the door.

  Eli was standing there with a bouquet of flowers in his hand and a huge smile on his face.

  "What are you doing here?" I didn't mean to sound rude, but I was finally going to get to see his place tonight. That was the whole reason I had agreed to miss out on work.

  "I wanted to surprise you." He walked into my room without waiting for me to invite him in. "You look gorgeous, Sadie." He leaned forward and kissed me on my cheek.

  Fire. I awkwardly folded my arms in front of my chest. "I was just about to leave. Should we head over to your dorm now?"

  "I'd rather stay here." He handed me the flowers.

  They really were beautiful. I knew very little about flowers, but I recognized more daisies and some carnations. "Thank you. But I was really looking forward to spending some time at your place." I looked around for something to put the flowers in because I didn't own a vase. Finally, I settled on separating the bouquet into a few water bottles. I turned back toward him. He was smiling at me. "What?" I tucked a loose strand of hair behind my ear. His gaze was making me nervous.

  "Nothing, I've just never seen you look more beautiful than you do right now."

  I swallowed hard. He was changing the topic. I couldn't shake the feeling that he didn't want me to see his place because he was hiding something from me. And it shouldn't have upset me, because I was hiding something from him too. I would never be able to tell him the truth. I'd have to lie to him my whole life. I was being a hypocrite and guilt was slowly creeping into my stomach. "Are you sure you don't want to go to your place?"

  "Trust me, it looks almost exactly the same as yours. Except Patrick and Kins are there right now. And I was kind of hoping to spend some time alone with you."

  That was a good excuse. God, maybe it wasn't an excuse at all. He was just telling the truth. I suddenly felt even more guilty. I just wanted to go to his place to look through his stuff. I really was losing my mind. He was a good guy. A good guy that was looking at me with lust in his eyes. He wants to be alone with me. I wanted to reciprocate his feelings, but all I could think about was the scar on my stomach. If he saw it, it would just end in yet another fight. I was tired of fighting with him. I was just tired in general.

  "Plus," he said as he pulled out a brown paper bag from behind his back, "I come bearing gifts. You didn't get a chance to see the movie showing the other night and before you left you had seemed excited to watch it."

  I opened up the bag. It was a DVD of Frozen and a bottle of wine. Something seemed to constrict in my chest. Eli was the sweetest guy I had ever met. He wasn't a vigilante spying on me. He wasn't someone who could ruin my new identity. Maybe he could help me get over my hate of Disney movies. Maybe he could help me get over all of my issues. "Thank you, Eli. Let me just get the TV set up..."

  "I got it. How about you just grab us some glasses and get comfortable?" He knelt down by the DVD player.

  I smiled as I looked around for something to use for glasses. I settled on two mugs, poured some wine into each, and sat down on my bed. I just wanted to be in his arms. I had missed the feeling of security he had given me. There wasn't a doubt in my mind that I'd been sabotaging a good thing. A week ago I had been falling for him. My paranoia was getting in the way of me being happy. But I didn't need to be paranoid. Don was in Colorado. I was safe here. Especially if I stopped pushing Eli away. I took a sip of the wine. With each sip, it felt like my worries seemed to dissipate.

  When Eli sat down next to me, I immediately rested my head on his shoulder. He wrapped his arm around my back and pulled me even closer. He definitely didn't smell like the vigilante. He smelled like citrus and sunshine, not expensive cologne. But it was Eli's familiar scent that always seemed to calm my nerves. Yes, the idea of the vigilante was exciting, but I didn't need any more excitement in my life. I wanted normalcy. I wanted to be content and safe and whole. God, I was so tired of feeling broken.

  "Do I even want to know where you got this?" I asked as I lifted my mug. The last thing I needed was to get in trouble for underage drinking and draw attention to myself. But I appreciated his effort.

  "I have my ways." He kissed the side of my forehead.

  "Very mysterious."

  He laughed. "A little mystery never hurt anyone."

  "Cheers to that." I tapped my mug against his and he laughed again. I liked his laugh. It made me smile. We both watched the movie and drank the wine from our mugs. One mug turned to two and I could feel myself getting more comfortable in his arms. We seemed so normal together. I never wanted this moment to end. But it wasn't long before the parents' deaths in the movie. I waited with baited breath. No matter how hard I tried to hold them back, silent tears still fell down my cheeks as I watched the parents' boat sink in the movie. I let myself feel the heartache. I let myself remember.

  But my tears weren't silent at all. Eli saw them. His fingers brushed underneath my eyes, removing any trace of my tears. "You're incredibly cute." He didn't ask what was wrong. He probably thought he knew. But he didn't know all of my demons and I didn't want him to. I wouldn't want to burden anyone with my past.

  "And you're way too good for me," I said. I meant it. He should be with any other girl on campus other than me. I'd never be enough.

  "Really? I was kinda thinking we were just right together." His voice was so sincere.

  Just right. I exhaled slowly. "I like the sound of that."

  He put his hand on the inside of my thigh.

  Fire. I tried to swallow the panic rising in my chest.

  His hand slid up until he was absentmindedly playing with the hem of my dress.

  "I'm falling for you, Sadie."

  I should have immediately said I was
falling for him too. But the way he was looking at me and the sincerity in his voice just made me realize I wasn't there yet. For some reason, no matter how badly I wanted to, I couldn't say it back. I wanted to fall for him. I so badly wanted to be able to. But the truth was, I didn't think I'd ever fall in love again. I didn't think I'd ever be able to trust someone enough. Don had ruined me. No matter how many times I told myself that Eli was good and sweet, I couldn't believe it. His touch still felt like fire. It should have mattered that he was holding me while I cried. Him being there when I needed him meant a lot to me. But all I could think about were the times he wasn't there. He had left me waiting. He had left me alone.

  I stared into his brown eyes and all I could see was how he'd eventually hurt me. How he'd put his hand over my mouth to stifle my screams. How he'd laugh at my pain. How he'd hold me down. How he'd break me when I was already so broken. I couldn't breathe.

  "It's okay, you don't have to say it back if you're not ready," he said and gently touched the side of my face.

  It burned. His fingertips were scorching. He didn't understand my silence. He'd never understand.

  "I know you said you wanted to take it slow. And that was probably a little heavy so soon." He pushed his lips to the side.

  It was the expression that reminded me so much of Miles. Why was I drawn more to Eli when he did that? If I wanted Miles, he was right down the hall. I could have him. Or I could have Eli. But I didn't want any of that. I didn't want someone who wanted to get to know the real me. I needed someone who wouldn't ask me questions. Someone who'd accept me the way I was. Someone who didn't care if I was broken. The vigilante.

  I'm losing my mind. Or maybe I had drunk too much again. A minute ago I had thought the alcohol had calmed me down, but now my mind wouldn't stop racing. "Do you want some air? I feel like I need some air."

  Eli smiled. "I'd rather stay in." His hand slid underneath the fabric of my dress.

  I was being engulfed in flames. "I'm actually not feeling very well." It was the truth. I felt like I was running a temperature.

  "Sadie, I consider myself a patient person, but you're driving me crazy." He leaned forward to kiss me, but I ducked out from under his arm.

  If I got any closer to the flames, I'd surely burn. "I'm sorry," I said as I slid off the bed. "I need some air." I frantically searched for my flip flops.

  "What's wrong? What did I do?"

  I don't know. I needed to calm down. I knew how frantic I looked, but I couldn't help it. I needed to be outside. I needed the stars.

  "Sadie, talk to me..."

  "I just need some air." Finally, I found my flip flops under my desk. I slid my feet into them and swung the door open.

  "Sadie!"

  I was already walking down the hall. The flames were stealing all the oxygen from my lungs. I felt lightheaded as I began walking faster.

  "Damn it, Sadie." Eli grabbed my arm and forcefully turned me to look at him.

  You're hurting me.

  "I don't know what you want from me. I'm doing everything I can to make you happy. And every time we hang out, you seem to push me away even more."

  "I'm sorry," I whispered. Let go of me.

  "I don't want you to apologize. I just want you to talk to me. You can't act like this and expect me to never ask another question. I'm trying, but you have to stop pushing me away." His fingers seemed to dig into my skin.

  You're hurting me. My throat was constricting. "Stop." I was surprised by my own words. But I seemed to breathe a little easier after I had said it.

  "Stop what? Stop caring?" His fingers were burning me. "Is that really what you want?"

  Tears pooled in my eyes, but I blinked them away. Stop hurting me.

  "She said stop."

  I didn't need to look to see who it was. I'd recognize Miles' voice anywhere.

  Eli didn't let go of my arm. "This isn't any of your business, man." He didn't even look at Miles. "You said you wanted to go outside, so let's go outside, Sadie." His hand gripped me even tighter.

  "You're making it my business." Miles pulled Eli off of me.

  I immediately grabbed my arm. I hadn't imagined it. There were red spots on my forearm where his fingers had been.

  "Get the fuck off of me." Eli pushed Miles' hands away and shoved him hard.

  Miles grabbed Eli's shirt and pushed him against the wall. His arm was pressed against Eli's throat.

  "Please stop." I didn't want them to fight. I just needed the stars. I just needed to breathe.

  "If I see you touch her like that again, I will end you." Miles immediately released his grip on Eli's shirt.

  "Sadie, come on, let's go," Eli said a little more calmly.

  I didn't want to go with him. I didn't want him to touch me.

  "Get out of this dorm before I write you up," Miles said.

  "We'll finish this conversation later, Sadie," Eli said. His voice didn't sound threatening. It sounded defeated.

  I watched him walk away. Each step he took I seemed to breathe a little easier. And with each step, I realized that I could never love someone. I'd never be able to. If I could, I'd love Eli. I'd want him to touch me. I'd want to be with him every second of every day. That was never going to happen. He deserved better than me. I wrapped my arms around myself. It was my fault. All of this was my fault.

 
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