Chameleon Soul (Chequered Flag) (Volume 1)
I was broken.
Physically, mentally, emotionally…broken.
Then again, after what had happened, I had the right to be.
The repetitive beeps that filled the room with their annoying chime should have reassured me I was okay. That I was alive. Yet all they did was remind me of where I was, what I had gone through, and the part of me I could no longer feel. They reminded me of what I knew I’d already lost.
I’d been lying on the uncomfortable bed, which was harder than a concrete slab, for a few hours, but it doesn’t take that long for a person to know they’re changed forever. The second I woke up, I knew I’d never be the person I once was. A hollowness now filled me, and it had never been present before. It was why I had to end things.
“Are you sure this is what you want, Raine? Maybe you should wait until your mind isn’t clouded by whatever drugs they’ve got you on,” my best friend Dustin said.
He stood over my bed trying to be strong for me, yet I could see the divide in his melancholy gaze. I was asking him to knowingly hurt his family, to be an accomplice in something I knew they’d never forgive him for.
It was unfair. I was aware of that. However, I needed my best friend. If I had any hope of recovering I needed him to stand by me, hold my hand, and tell me I was doing the right thing.
I didn’t even care if he lied.
“Dustin’s right, Raine. You’re not thinking clearly right now. There’s no need to make rash decisions you can’t take back.”
Nadine, my other friend, took my hand, her touch searing against my icy fingers. When she ran her thumb over the back, careful not to touch the IV, I tilted my head to look up at her. Her dirty blonde hair was piled on top of her head in a messy bun, the mismatched clothes signalling she’d been lying around the house when Dustin had called her in. She had red rings around her eyes from the tears I never saw and now, like Dustin, her eyes held a plethora of emotions. Sadness, worry, fear, confusion, disapproval—the list went on and I chose to ignore every one of them.
They could blame the drugs all they wanted; I knew my thoughts were clear. I’d had at least two hours to mull everything over and consider my choices.
I only had two: end things, or stay.
Ending things would cause a brief moment of pain, but Teo would get over it…over me. He was in the middle of starting a new life and I didn’t need to hold him back. That’s what the bastard who did this wanted. Teo was on his way to being a champion and he would never reach that status if he remained with me. He’d be constantly looking after me or worrying, and he couldn’t afford that.
I knew he’d never choose option one. He’d say he could manage both his job and me, but I would always come first.
Most girls would kill to be able to say something like that, right?
That was why I had to cut him free. He needed to focus on his career for a while and I required space to figure out who I was now. Coming to terms and dealing with everything was going to be hard enough; I didn’t need to worry about whether or not I was damaging his chances as well.
I was making the only decision I could, hoping the painkillers they had me hooked up to would also dull the pain of me shattering my own heart.
“Give me the phone, Dustin.” I lifted my hand for the device, albeit weakly.
Conflict marred his gaze. I was splitting his loyalty between his brother and his best friend.
“Please, Dustin. You know he needs this. If Teo finds out about any of this he’s never going to get on that plane. It’ll be the end of his career and he’ll probably end up in jail. You know I’m right.”
“That doesn’t mean you have to send him away, Raine. Just tell him you can’t make it to his house tonight.” Nadine raised her other hand to my face, her fingers brushing the tendrils of my long, brunette hair back like a mother would to their child.
“You know that won’t stop him. He’s not going to leave without saying goodbye and he can’t come here without finding out the truth.”
They both hung their heads and let out deep breaths.
“Please, Dustin,” I begged. “He’ll never know you were involved. Hand me the phone and then you can go if you want.”
“I’m not leaving you, Raine. Neither of us are. If you’re seriously going to do this, then you’re going to need us more than when they brought you here in the back of that ambulance.”
“He’s right, Raine,” Nadine chimed in. “We’re not going anywhere.”
I didn’t argue, knowing they were only speaking the truth. To be honest, I was glad they were staying.
I made a grabbing motion, silently asking for the phone again.
I didn’t expect Dustin to hand it over, so when the cool metal back of my mobile touched my waiting palm it surprised me. By Nadine’s slack jaw and the questioning glare she shot Dustin, she didn’t understand the gesture either.
“Can you guys give me a minute? I’ll text you when I’m done.”
Dustin gave me a curt nod, not even bothering to hide the displeasure darkening his gaze. He turned and left the room, the door clicking shut behind him. Nadine, however, was reluctant to pull away.
“Raine, stop and think about this. Would it really be so bad for him to know?”
“If there was a way I could tell him and not have him give everything up, I would. But there isn’t. He’ll drop everything to be here for me and he’s worked too hard to get to this point just to throw it away. I was there every step of the way thanks to my friendship with Dustin.”
“That’s why you should think this through first.”
“I already have, I told you that.”
Nadine didn’t look convinced. She let go of my hand. “I hope you know what you’re doing, Raine.”
So did I.
When Nadine shut the door softly behind her, I raised the phone so I could see the screen. Ignoring all of his increasingly frantic texts asking where I was and if I was okay, I dialled Teo’s number with trembling fingers.
It was for the best.
He didn’t need to blame himself.
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