Destroy Me (Shatter Me, #1.5)(2)

“A car,” he says quickly. “A car was reported stolen, sir, and we were able to track it to an unidentified location, but then it disappeared off the map. It’s as if it ceased to exist, sir.”

I look up. Give him my full attention.

“We followed the tracks it left in our radar,” he says, speaking more calmly now, “and they led us to a stretch of isolated, barren land. But we’ve scoured the area and found nothing.”

“This is something, at least.” I rub the back of my neck, fighting the weakness I feel deep in my bones. “I will meet you in the L Room in one hour.”

“But sir,” he says, eyes trained on my arm, “you’ll need assistance—there’s a process—you’ll require a convalescent aide—”

“You are dismissed.”

He hesitates.

Then, “Yes, sir.”


I manage to bathe without losing consciousness.

It was more of a sponge bath, but I feel better nonetheless. I have an extremely low threshold for disorder; it offends my very being. I shower regularly. I eat six small meals a day. I dedicate two hours of each day to training and physical exercise. And I detest being barefoot.

Now, I find myself standing naked, hungry, tired, and barefoot in my closet. This is not ideal.

My closet is separated into various sections. Shirts, ties, slacks, blazers, and boots. Socks, gloves, scarves, and coats. Everything is arranged according to color, then shades within each color. Every article of clothing it contains is meticulously chosen and custom made to fit the exact measurements of my body. I don’t feel like myself until I’m fully dressed; it’s part of who I am and how I begin my day.

Now I haven’t the faintest idea how I’m supposed to dress myself.

My hand shakes as I reach for the little blue bottle I was given this morning. I place two of the square-shaped pills on my tongue and allow them to dissolve. I’m not sure what they do; I only know they help replenish the blood I’ve lost. So I lean against the wall until my head clears and I feel stronger on my feet.

This, such an ordinary task. It wasn’t an obstacle I was anticipating.

I put socks on first; a simple pleasure that requires more effort than shooting a man. Briefly, I wonder what the medics must’ve done with my clothes. The clothes, I tell myself, only the clothes; I’m focusing only on the clothes from that day. Nothing else. No other details.

Boots. Socks. Slacks. Sweater. My military jacket with its many buttons.

The many buttons she ripped open.

It’s a small reminder, but it’s enough to spear me.

I try to fight it off but it lingers, and the more I try to ignore the memory, it multiplies into a monster that can no longer be contained. I don’t even realize I’ve fallen against the wall until I feel the cold climbing up my skin; I’m breathing too hard and squeezing my eyes shut against the sudden wash of mortification.

I knew she was terrified, horrified, even, but I never thought those feelings were directed toward me. I’d seen her evolve as we spent time together; she seemed more comfortable as the weeks passed. Happier. At ease. I allowed myself to believe she’d seen a future for us; that she wanted to be with me and simply thought it impossible.

I’d never suspected that her newfound happiness was a consequence of Kent.

I run my good hand down the length of my face; cover my mouth. The things I said to her.

A tight breath.

The way I touched her.

My jaw tenses.

If it were nothing but sexual attraction I’m sure I would not suffer such unbearable humiliation. But I wanted so much more than her body.

All at once I implore my mind to imagine nothing but walls. Walls. White walls. Blocks of concrete. Empty rooms. Open space.

I build walls until they begin to crumble, and then I force another set to take their place. I build and build and remain unmoving until my mind is clear, uncontaminated, containing nothing but a small white room. A single light hanging from the ceiling.

Clean. Pristine. Undisturbed.

I blink back the flood of disaster pressing against the small world I’ve built; I swallow hard against the fear creeping up my throat. I push the walls back, making more space in the room until I can finally breathe. Until I’m able to stand.

Sometimes I wish I could step outside of myself for a while. I want to leave this worn body behind, but my chains are too many, my weights too heavy. This life is all that’s left of me. And I know I won’t be able to meet myself in the mirror for the rest of the day.

I’m suddenly disgusted with myself. I have to get out of this room as soon as possible, or my own thoughts will wage war against me. I make a hasty decision and for the first time, pay little attention to what I’m wearing. I tug on a fresh pair of pants and go without a shirt. I slip my good arm into the sleeve of a blazer and allow the other shoulder to drape over the sling carrying my injured arm. I look ridiculous, exposed like this, but I’ll find a solution tomorrow.

First, I have to get out of this room.


Delalieu is the only person here who does not hate me.

He still spends the majority of his time in my presence cowering in fear, but somehow he has no interest in overthrowing my position. I can feel it, though I don’t understand it. He’s likely the only person in this building who’s pleased that I’m not dead.

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