Destroy Me (Shatter Me, #1.5)(6)


“Juliette,” I whisper. “What are you doing here?”

I’m half-dressed, getting ready for my day, and it’s too early for visitors. These hours just before the sun rises are my only moments of peace, and no one should be in here. It seems impossible she gained access to my private quarters.

Someone should’ve stopped her.

Instead, she’s standing in my doorway, staring at me. I’ve seen her so many times, but this is different—it’s causing me physical pain to look at her. But somehow I still find myself drawn to her, wanting to be near her.

“I’m so sorry,” she says, and she’s wringing her hands, looking away from me. “I’m so, so sorry.”

I notice what she’s wearing.

It’s a dark-green dress with fitted sleeves; a simple cut made of stretch cotton that clings to the soft curves of her figure. It complements the flecks of green in her eyes in a way I couldn’t have anticipated. It’s one of the many dresses I chose for her. I thought she might enjoy having something nice after being caged as an animal for so long. And I can’t quite explain it, but it gives me a strange sense of pride to see her wearing something I picked out myself.

“I’m sorry,” she says for the third time.

I’m again struck by how impossible it is that she’s here. In my bedroom. Staring at me without my shirt on. Her hair is so long it falls to the middle of her back; I have to clench my fists against this unbidden need to run my hands through it. She’s so beautiful.

I don’t understand why she keeps apologizing.

She shuts the door behind her. She’s walking over to me. My heart is beating quickly now, and it doesn’t feel natural. I do not react this way. I do not lose control. I see her every day and manage to maintain some semblance of dignity, but something is off; this isn’t right.

She’s touching my arm.

She’s running her fingers along the curve of my shoulder, and the brush of her skin against mine is making me want to scream. The pain is excruciating, but I can’t speak; I’m frozen in place.

I want to tell her to stop, to leave, but parts of me are at war. I’m happy to have her close even if it hurts, even if it doesn’t make any sense. But I can’t seem to reach for her; I can’t hold her like I’ve always wanted to.

She looks at me.

She searches me with those odd, blue-green eyes and I feel guilty so suddenly, without understanding why. But there’s something about the way she looks at me that always makes me feel insignificant, as if she’s the only one who’s realized I’m entirely hollow inside. She’s found the cracks in this cast I’m forced to wear every day, and it petrifies me.

That this girl would know exactly how to shatter me.

She rests her hand against my collarbone.

And then she grips my shoulder, digs her fingers into my skin like she’s trying to tear off my arm. The agony is so blinding that this time I actually scream. I fall to my knees before her and she wrenches my arm, twisting it backward until I’m heaving from the effort to stay calm, fighting not to lose myself to the pain.

“Juliette,” I gasp, “please—”

She runs her free hand through my hair, tugs my head back so I’m forced to meet her eyes. And then she leans into my ear, her lips almost touching my cheek. “Do you love me?” she whispers.

“What?” I breathe. “What are you doing—”

“Do you still love me?” she asks again, her fingers now tracing the shape of my face, the line of my jaw.

“Yes,” I tell her. “Yes I still do—”

She smiles.

It’s such a sweet, innocent smile that I’m actually shocked when her grip tightens around my arm. She twists my shoulder back until I’m sure it’s being ripped from the socket. I’m seeing spots when she says, “It’s almost over now.”

“What is?” I ask, frantic, trying to look around. “What’s almost over—”

“Just a little longer and I’ll leave.”

“No—no, don’t go—where are you going—”

“You’ll be all right,” she says. “I promise.”

“No,” I’m gasping, “no—”

All at once she yanks me forward, and I’m awake so quickly I can’t breathe.

I blink several times only to realize I’ve woken up in the middle of the night. Absolute blackness greets me from the corners of my room. My chest is heaving; my arm is bound and pounding, and I realize my pain medication has worn off. There’s a small remote wedged under my hand; I press the button to replenish the dosage.

It takes a few moments for my breathing to stabilize. My thoughts slowly retreat from panic.


I can’t control a nightmare, but in my waking moments her name is the only reminder I will permit myself.

The accompanying humiliation will not allow me much more than that.


“Well, isn’t this embarrassing. My son, tied down like an animal.”

I’m half-convinced I’m having another nightmare. I blink my eyes open slowly; I stare up at the ceiling. I make no sudden movements, but I can feel the very real weight of restraints around my left wrist and both ankles. My injured arm is still bound and slung across my chest. And though the pain in my shoulder is present, it’s dulled to a light hum. I feel stronger. Even my head feels clearer, sharper somehow. But then I taste the tang of something sour and metal in my mouth and wonder how long I’ve been in bed.

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