Copyright © 2017 by Sarah Lynn
All rights reserved. This book or any portion thereof
may not be reproduced or used in any manner whatsoever
without the express written permission of the publisher
except for the use of brief quotations in a book review.
Cover art: Skyline sketch by Lynn Pyfer, Graphics by Sarah Lynn
Eva was shaking as she looked down and saw his number ring across the screen of her phone for the first time. She accepted the call with no greeting and waited for what would tell her everything that had been kept in secret...his voice.
Only he didn't speak. Instead, she could only hear breathing. Her heart began to pound loudly enough for her to feel, only this time, it wasn't accompanied by the familiar race of butterflies. This time a new feeling began to rise up from deep within her. 5 minutes went by. Nothing. Nothing, but the heavy sound of his breath. She looked around her apartment now engulfed in midnight shadows and realized that something was very out of place. 10 minutes...more breathing. Her stomach dropped as she began to understand it was not the hopeful anticipation of a love reunited that she was feeling as she listened to the sound of his breath through the phone....5 more minutes...still nothing. Eva began to be very aware of the fact that she was alone in her apartment with a possible stranger on the other end of her phone...and she was terrified. He knew where she lived. He knew she was alone. He knew every move she made from the time she woke up in the morning to the time she laid her head down at night. Eva felt something that had never before been associated with him before...danger. She quickly went to press the button to end the call...
It was him...in a text message.
"Hi...Why aren't you saying anything?"
"I can't...please say something."
"No...I can't...it has to be you first. You called me. You speak first. Please."
"Please...we're so close. Please, say something."
"How is it that you're able to text me while we're on the phone?"
"Same way you are...I love you, Eva. I love you so much. Nothing will keep us apart once we're together. I won't ever let you get away. You and I are one. I love you. I love you so freaking much!"
"I know...I know you do. Please say something...you're scaring me."
Eva was shaking as she paced the rooms of her dark apartment.
"Okay...I'm hanging up now. You're really scaring me."
"No! Eva, please don't."
"Then say something. I'm not going to stay on the phone and text you at the same time."
"I'm sorry, Eva." A low and dark whisper came across the phone that chilled Eva to the core. Terrified she quickly hung up.
As the anxiety began to rise, she ran to the front door to lock it, then the windows, then drew the sheers. She climbed into bed and pulled the covers up as high as she could; her eyes now wide and filled with fear searching the black of her room. Something deep inside her soul told her that something wasn't right.
"You hung up on me!" Another text.
"You scared me."
"Eva, I love you. I was just afraid."
"You're frightening me...Please stop texting me...Please leave me alone."
Eva sank into her covers as she tried to slow her own breathing. Try as she might, she could not shake the feeling of doom that was overtaking her. Would he come for her in the middle of the night? He might be angry if he realized he was losing what he deemed "his" property. Would he lose control of himself and try to overtake her? She had seen how violently he could attack with his words...the rage buried deep inside of him...was it only a matter of time before his attack became flesh?
The one who had held her heart for prisoner for so long...would he now come to claim her as his own?...Make that prison real? Out of which she could never escape for only he held the key...which was invisible to those around her. Or would it be too late? She never imagined she would feel unsafe at his hands, but the breathing...his dark whisper...adoration was fast beginning to wane as her heart alerted her to the danger that loomed so close by. She had become his prey. He'd set a trap long ago for not just her, but her mind...her heart...her soul. He'd bound them up tight until it was too late for her to realize she had entered his lair willingly.
Eva opened the drawer of her night-stand and felt for her gun. As much as she hated having one in the house and had protested learning how to shoot, she was glad to have the protection should the need arise for her to defend herself. Eva closed her eyes and prayed and tried not to think about it as she fell asleep, mentally exhausted.
Location: NYC - 5 Years Earlier
"Be there soon."
Eva couldn’t shake the feeling she had. She waited for the check next to her text to confirm that her message had been received…nothing.
Hmm, she thought to herself, That’s odd. He always gets my texts?...Ah, come on Evie, it’s probably nothing but your own insecurity. That’s definitely no way to make him fall for you! He’s probably just busy and not by his phone.
Eva rushed around her New York apartment in her final attempts to beautify herself for her date with Mr. Man, the man that she longed for and yet made her so nervous at the same time. She’d been waiting for what seemed like eternity for this date.
Jet-setter that he was, his travels had taken him out of the city just a week after their first date and left Eva waiting for his sweet return for almost 6 weeks. They had gotten together a few times after he returned from his travels, but something just wasn’t right.
It’s just not the same, she thought as she grabbed her jacket and swept out the door. Thoughts of what could have happened while he was away plagued her mind and she intended to confront him this evening to put those “what if’s” to rest.
Eva hailed a taxi and mentally ticked off possibilities of what she could have done to contribute to his recent coldness. She hadn’t spoken to him much while he was away; hardly at all actually. Not that she didn’t want to. She just didn’t want to seem like one more desperate, needy girl. After all, Mr. Man was a hot commodity in this concrete jungle and for some reason she could not figure out, he had chosen to pursue her. And she was going to be different. None of those old insecurities were going to sabotage this budding relationship and she was going to make sure of it. After all, they were already off to such a good start. Friends first, it had taken Mr. Man a good year before he could work up the nerve to approach her to take the friendship one step further…their first date…and on Valentine’s Day, no less. That alone told Eva this had to mean something.
The city whirled by as the taxi took her from Upper Manhattan down to Lower Manhattan. Eva stared out of the window from the backseat of the yellow cab. The nauseous feeling in her stomach only increased as she neared his street. The cab came to a stop on the corner by his apartment building. She looked down at her phone…still no response, which was so unlike him.
Something’s just not right, Eva thought to herself as she paid the driver, slid out of the cab, and stepped onto the curb. Her long, wavy golden copper hair blowing in the breeze as the cab sped away. Looking up at his apartment, her big green eyes sparkled in the early evening sun (or the “Magic Hour” as they called it in her line of work) as she slowly took one step and then walked closer to his front stoop.
With shaky hands, Eva sent a quick text to let him now she had arrived. "I’m here”…no response. Eva couldn’t deny the sinking feeling deep in her chest as she awaited his reply. He’s probably just on his way down…nothing.
Five minutes later, Eva dialed his number and tried to control her voice. Mr. Man’s phone went straight to voicemail. It’s turned off…
Eva’s heart sank…
this can’t be happening...
It was slowly starting to sink in…he’s not coming…and he doesn't care.
Eva allowed herself a full 20 minutes from the time she got to the sidewalk in front of his apartment until her self-respect gently nudged her to turn around and go back home.
Don’t cry, she told herself, climbing into the cab that had stopped for her. Be strong! Be…Eva couldn’t hold back the pain of rejection any longer. Tears flowed from her mascara fringed eyes like a deluge, blurring the harsh edges of the city through the taxi window...blurring her truth...
"In order to fully express a thought with written words, you have to feel it. You've got to become it."
The Writer's Reprieve was well underway and Eva basked in all of her hard work as she strolled through the room teaching her techniques emphatically to her evening group. It had taken her the better part of a year to get it up and running; requiring much more than the fresh coat of paint she originally had intended. But now a year and many cups of coffee later, Eva was enjoying the fruits of her labor. She even had the upstairs to an apartment converted into a charming private apartment. When she finally felt strong enough, moved out of her father's house.