Made of steel (made of s.., p.52
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       Made of Steel (Made of Steel Series Book 1), p.52

           Ivy Smoak
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  Chapter 42

  Thursday

  It felt like my chest was going to explode. He saw my scars and he kissed them. He saw my pain and he took it away by putting it on himself. He understood me better than anyone. And if I kept my promise to him and stayed, it would kill him. If I left, he claimed it would kill him. I had doomed him either way. I shook away the thought. He'd be hurt if I left, but it wouldn't physically kill him. I needed to get Don to follow me out of the city. I needed to take the darkness with me.

  I started pacing at the bus stop terminal. Saying goodbye to Miles seemed like the right choice. I felt like he was better off without me. I felt strong for being able to say goodbye. I felt good about my decision. Selfless. Saying goodbye to Kins was an easy choice. I was just putting her in danger. And I cared about her. She was my best friend. I didn't want anything bad to happen to her. Or maybe she was trying to hurt me. I felt crazy.

  I put my forehead in my hand. But the vigilante? I couldn't feel good about that decision. Wasn't he in danger either way? What if Don didn't follow me? He'll follow me. He wants my life. I had to go.

  My heart was torn. No matter how much I told myself I was making the right choice, it killed me. All of it. Miles, Kins, the vigilante. I'd miss them. I had somehow made roots in a city where the stars were barely visible. I had felt more free here than I had in the past five years. I forced myself to sit down on the bench, but then my knee started bouncing uncontrollably.

  If I stayed, what was the worst that could happen, really? I closed my eyes and took a deep breath to try to help clear my mind. Blood. I immediately opened my eyes. That's what I had brought here. I needed to rid the city of darkness. I needed to be as strong as the vigilante thought I was. Made of steel. I nodded to myself. I could be that for him. Yes, we had both given into desire, but that wasn't what he truly wanted. What he wanted was for me to stop thinking about him. He had even told me so.

  I thought giving myself completely to someone would ease my fears, but for some reason it made them stronger. It was easy for me to put myself in his shoes. I looked down at my Converses. What if he left me like I was about to leave him? I knew what it felt like to be abandoned. I thought about the way he had put his hand on the center of my chest, absorbing my pain. I placed my hand where his had been.

  And my heart stopped. Where was my Sagitta pendant? It felt like my throat was constricting. I checked the pockets of my hoodie and shorts. Had I been wearing it in Central Park? Or the hospital? Jesus, had Miles seen it when I was wearing the hospital gown? I couldn't remember the last time I had felt it around my neck. Had it slipped off before my run last night? Was I wearing it when I went to Eli's? What about when I was at the restaurant last?

  The bus pulled into the terminal. I couldn't leave this city with a part of me missing. Shit! I had to leave. I stood up and watched as other people climbed up the bus steps. My feet, however, stayed firmly planted. I had to go.

  But my gut was demanding that I stay. I shook away the thought. I'd just stay to find the pendant. It wasn't like I didn't have enough money to buy another bus ticket. I'd just get one once I found it. I nodded to myself, like that plan made perfect sense.

  I was supposed to be forgetting my past. But my past was exactly what made me watch the bus pull away. I touched the center of my chest. I needed the pendant. I couldn't explain it. It wasn't just Miles or my parents or my youth. It meant everything to me. It meant as much to me as the stars in the sky. It had been with me through everything. I had to find it. And then I'd leave.

  Don's here. Just thinking about him made me want to run after the bus. But I had already made up my mind. I'd just have to retrace my steps. Where was the last place I had seen it? I knew it had been around my neck in the bathroom at the restaurant when I had changed into running clothes. Had I lost it on my run? It could be anywhere by now.

  But I'd find it. I didn't have a doubt in my mind that I could find it. If I looked hard enough, I could always see the constellations. Besides, it wasn't like it was an expensive diamond. It meant a lot to me, but in reality it was just an old keychain from a vending machine at a grocery store. I just hoped that no one had thrown it out. There was a lost and found at the restaurant. I could check there first.

  It only took me a few minutes to run to the Corner Diner. The door was marked with a closed sign, but I could see Joan sitting inside the diner going over the books. I knocked on the door.

  She immediately looked up. She seemed surprised to see me. And she should have. It was almost midnight.

  "Hon, what on earth are you doing here so late?" she asked as she opened the door.

  "Hey, Joan, I'm sorry to bother you. I just, I lost my necklace and this was one of the last places that I remembered having it..."

  "Come in, come in. Why are you up so late?" She looked at my backpack.

  Could she tell I was fleeing the city? "I was just studying at the library."

  She nodded kindly. "Okay, hon. You look a little pale, though. Let me get you something to drink. Sit down."

  "Oh, no, that's not necessary. I really need to get back home. I'm exhausted."

  "Well, at least sit down for a moment. I'll go grab the lost and found." She disappeared into the kitchen.

  I sat down and started nervously drumming my fingers on the table. Please let it be in that box.

  She came back out with a glass of water and the lost and found box. "Drink. You look dehydrated."

  In a lot of ways, she reminded me of my grandmother. She was a little rough around the edges, but had such a good heart. I took of a sip of the water. Why was I lying to her? She was one of the nicest people I had met. I didn't want to leave her in the lurch. "Actually, Joan, I need to give you my notice. I'm sorry it's not more time, but I'm dreadfully homesick..." I let my voice trail off.

  "You're leaving?"

  "I'm sorry, I know you require two weeks, but I can't stay here any longer."

  "Are you sure? Is there something I can do, hon? I know moving to the city is a big adjustment. Maybe you just didn't give it enough time?"

  "No, I'm sure. I really am sorry."

  "That's really too bad. I loved having you here. Honestly, you were the best help we've gotten in a long time." She pushed the box toward me. "I can't remember finding any necklaces recently, but maybe someone else put one in here."

  I sifted through the contents. My necklace wasn't here. Damn it. Maybe I had lost it on my run? I bit the inside of my lip as I pushed a few more things around. At the bottom of the box there was a blank white card, almost identical to the one I had gotten with the slippers. I lifted up the top flap.

  "You're terrible at this game, Sadie." My name was in quotes again.

  It felt like all the air had been knocked out of my lungs. I lifted my eyes to Joan.

  "Sorry, hon." She looked over my shoulder.

  Before I could turn my head to see what she was looking at, I felt the barrel of a gun press into the back of my skull. I swallowed hard when I heard the person behind me cock it.

  "Joan?" I hated how desperate my voice was. I wasn't going to beg her for my life. If she wanted me dead, there was nothing I could do. All I knew was that it wasn't Don behind me. If it was, I wouldn't still be breathing.

  A smile curled over her lips. "You think I would normally hire someone with no references at my establishment? You think I'd give someone with slippery fingers a second chance? There are no second chances in the real world. My great grandfather built this business from nothing. I would never jeopardize his legacy."

  I thought Eli was the bad guy. I put so much of my energy in to proving he was out to get me, that I hadn't seen the signs pointing to Joan. She was right in front of me the whole time and I had been completely blind. I trusted her. "Why?"

  "Don's a friend. I promised to keep an eye on you."

  "If you knew what he did to me..."

  She laughed. "You think your pain makes you special? It just makes you human."

/>   I swallowed hard. The things he did to me weren't human. "But he wants me dead. Why didn't you just kill me?"

  The barrel of the gun seemed to press more firmly against my skull.

  "Change of plans, hon. He's setting up shop here. But your friend seems to be messing up all of his plans."

  I started to shake my head but immediately stopped as the gun nestled down to my neck. "I don't know what you're talking about."

  "The only person Don wants dead more than you is that pesky vigilante."

  No. "I don't know him."

  "We'll see if you change your mind about that once you see our leverage."

  "You can do whatever you want to me. But I don't know the vigilante."

  "There's three reasons why that isn't true. Eli." She put one finger up. "Miles." She put up a second. "And Kins." She put up a third.

  My roots. I had finally made friends and she was going to kill them. Please, no. I tried to put on my best poker face. "You're lying."

  The smile returned to her lips. "Where's the fun in that?"

  I held my breath. For one second. I had brought darkness here.

  For two seconds.

  And I was too late.

  For three seconds.

  I was the fire that destroyed everything in my path.

  For four seconds.

  I wasn't made of steel at all.

  For five seconds.

  She nodded to the person behind her.

  It took me five seconds to finally realize that the present was more precious than the past. Five seconds to realize that the people I had here meant more to me than I ever realized. Five seconds to realize that I had just broken everything. I was five fucking seconds too late.

  My head slammed against the table as the butt of the gun hit the back of my skull.

  THE END

  Liked this book and want more? Book 2 of the Made of Steel series is available now:

  Forged in Flames (Made of Steel Series Book 2)

  I remember when I thought my life would be like the fairy tales I read about. I'd do anything to go back in time when everything was so simple. When my knight in shining armor had a face and a name. When my biggest secret was that I snuck out at night to watch the stars.

  I'm worried that there's a sickness in me, swallowing me whole. I don't understand what's happening to me. I don't understand why the only person I can find solace in is someone I can't see. I should want justice. But I don't. I want revenge. I need vengeance like I need the air I breathe.

  No one can feel my pain. No one can see just how badly I've been burned. I've danced in the flames my whole life. I know how to live in the fire. But I've never come out unscathed. A piece of me always turns to ash and there is no going back. I can never be that little girl again.

  I'm no princess. I'm the villain. I've been consumed by the flames, and I want everything in my path to burn.

  Get it now!

  And don't forget to leave a review! It's anonymous and helps Ivy sell more books, which is important because if she doesn't, she'll end up homeless and won't be able to write any more steamy books for you.

  Read More

  Don't want the sexiness to end? It doesn't have to! Join Ivy Smoak's newsletter to get a FREE copy of her sexy short story, The Tutor.

  The Tutor

  Let your imagination run wild...in the new sexy short story THE TUTOR by Ivy Smoak.

  Sophia has had a crush on Wyatt ever since they met. Tutoring him at the library once a week has been the highlight of her semester. But their sexual tension is slowly torturing her. Wyatt is sexy, funny, flirtatious, and as far as she can tell - completely unattainable.

  When it is time for their last tutoring session, she worries it will be the last time she will ever get to see him. She's determined to not let that happen. Dreaming about him and watching him from a distance at his baseball games isn't going to cut it.

  Will she have the confidence to confess her true feelings?

  Join here to get your FREE copy!

  ARC Team

  Want to be the first to read new books by Ivy Smoak? Then joining her ARC Team is for you!

  You'll receive free advance copies of all her books in exchange for posting honest reviews on the launch dates. For more information about the ARC Team and to join, click HERE.

  Also by Ivy Smoak

  Like this book? Want more? Check out these other books by Ivy Smoak!

  The Hunted Series

  Temptation (Book 1)

  Addiction (Book 2)

  City of Sin (Book 2.5) - Mason & Bee's Story

  Eruption (Book 3)

  Third Chances (Book 3.5) - Rob & Daphne's Story

  Devotion (Book 4)

  Missing Pieces (Book 4.5) - Tyler & Hailey's Story

  Made of Steel Series

  Made of Steel (Book 1)

  Forged in Flames (Book 2)

  Standalone Novels

  Playing a Player

  Going for Gold

  Novellas

  Emergency Plan F

  Layla's Forecast

  Blue Parrot Resort

  A Christmas Wish

  To connect with Ivy, check out her Facebook and Twitter.

  Copyright

  This book is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents are fictitious. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, events, or locales is purely coincidental.

  This ebook is licensed for your personal enjoyment only. No part of this text may be reproduced, transmitted, downloaded, decompiled, reverse-engineered, or stored in or introduced into any information storage and retrieval system without the express written permission of Ivy Smoak.

  Cover art copyright © 2017 by Ivy Smoak

  Cover photos:

  Man photo by conrado/Shutterstock.com

  City drawing by Petrenko Andriy/Shutterstock.com

  2017 ebook Edition

  Copyright © 2017 by Ivy Smoak

  All rights reserved

 
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