Read If You Stay (Beautifully Broken #1)(2) online free by Courtney Cole
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If You Stay (Beautifully Broken #1)(2)
Author: Courtney Cole

As if to prove that point, I can’t even think of her name right now even though it only took me one second to recall the name of my car.  I might remember the girl’s in the morning or I might not.  That doesn’t matter to me at this point.  She’ll come back. She always does.

I’ve got what she wants.

I strip off my jacket and lay it on the passenger seat, zipping my pants back up as I watch her stomp away.  Then I open my own door, dangling one black boot over the doorsill, letting the cool breeze rustle over my flushed, overheated body.

The landscape up and down the coast is jagged and rolling and wild.  It is so vast that it makes me feel small.  The night is inky black and there are barely any stars.  It’s the kind of night where a guy can just disappear into the dark.  My kind of night.

I rest my head against the seat and allow the car to spin around me.  It feels as though the seat is the anchor that is holding me to the ground.  Without it, I might drift off into space and no one will ever see me again.

It’s not a bad notion.

But the car is spinning too fast.  Even in this state, I know it’s too fast. I’m not going to worry about it, though.  I simply pull out my vial and take something to slow things down.  My vial is like a magician’s hat.  It’s got a little bit of everything in it.  Everything I need; fast or slow, white or blue, capsule, pill or rock.  I’ve got it.

I wash the pill down with a gulp of whiskey.  I don’t even feel the burn as it slides down my throat.  I consider it for a minute, the speed that things are turning and blurring around me.  I decide I should take another pill, maybe even two.  I put them in my mouth and take another slog of Jack before I toss the bottle onto the passenger side floor.  I realize that I don’t know if I put the cap back on or not.

Then I realize that I don’t care.

The drug-induced fog blurs my vision and all of the blacks and grays swirl together and I close my eyes against it.  I still feel like I’m moving, like the car is spinning round and round.

The night swallows me and I am propelled into the darkness, far above the clouds and into the night sky, sailing through the stars, past the moon.  Reaching out, I touch it with a finger.

I laugh.

Or I think I laugh.

It’s hard to say at this point.  I don’t know what’s real or not real.  And that’s just the way I like it.

Chapter Two

Mila

I love the night.

I love everything about it.

I love how the blackness hides things that I might not want to see, yet at the same time exposes things that I wouldn’t see in the light of day.  I love the stars and the moon and the velvety wetness against my skin.  I love how Lake Michigan turns black in the dark and shimmers like shattered onyx glass in the moonlight.

It always feels a little bit dangerous. Maybe that’s why I like it, too.

I grip my camera as I step over the soft, damp sand of the beach.  The breeze is always cool here, but it’s just because the air is cold as it blows in from the lake.  The water is always frigid, summer or winter, like God dumped a big glass of ice water into it.  I wrap my sweater more tightly around me before I look through the lens again.

The moon is full tonight and it hangs just at the edge of the horizon, right where the water meets the sky.  It’s got a reddish tint to it, something that we don’t get to see very often.  The sailors call it a Blood Moon and I can see why.  It’s ethereal and beautiful; haunting, actually.  It’s why I’m here tonight.

I start snapping pictures; kneeling, standing, then kneeling again.

When a large wisp of fog floats partially in front of the moon, I gasp.  I’ve never seen a more perfect picture.  It will make an amazing painting.  And the framed print will look good, too.  Either way works for me since I’ve got customers for both.

I take at least a hundred pictures before I’m finally satisfied with the light, the luminosity and the angle.  As I tuck my camera into its bag, I take a huge breath of the fresh, crisp lake air and enjoy my walk back along the beach.  I love the way my bare feet sink into the thick silvery sand and I take care not to trip over random pieces of jagged driftwood.

It’s a good night to let my thoughts drift.  The air is so still and the silence is enormous.  Even the seagulls have gone to sleep, so there is no one here to bother me.  Complete and perfect solitude.

As the breeze blows my hair away from my face, I absently think of my to-do list in my studio and what I need to order tomorrow when I re-stock my supplies.  I also wonder if I remembered to lock my house, although it won’t be a huge issue if I didn’t.

In a larger city, I’d have to be more careful about that, and definitely more careful about walking alone at night.  But here in Angel Bay, I’m as safe as I’m going to get.  We have a crime rate here that belongs in a 1950’s Mayberry kind of town.  The most crime we see is jaywalking during peak tourist season.

As I climb over a dune and into the parking lot where I left my car, I’m surprised to find a black, glistening muscle car facing the lake.  It hadn’t been here when I arrived earlier.

I sigh.  My solitude has been interrupted.  But honestly, it doesn’t matter.  I’m leaving anyway.

Slipping my shoes back on, I pad across the pavement toward my car, but as I do, I notice that the other car’s door is standing wide open.  I can hear the dinging sound from here. Apparently, the keys are still in the ignition.

That’s strange and I pause, staring at the lonely car.

I’m uncertain, because it’s dark and I’m alone.  But the insistent buzzing ding of the open car door pulls me to it.  I can only hope that the owner isn’t a mass murderer.  I curl my fingers around the cell phone in my pocket, as if it could actually shield me from danger. Regardless of the ridiculousness of that thought, I keep the phone planted firmly in my palm.

As I draw closer, I see a black battered boot dangling through the doorsill of the car.  It isn’t moving.

Normally, I wouldn’t think anything of it.  I’d think that the person attached to the black boot was just asleep.  But something seems wrong here.  Something tangibly ominous seems to hang about like a cloud.  Not many people could sleep with that annoying buzz coming from the open door.

I creep up on the car and gaze inside, covering my mouth with my hand as I do.  There is an overpowering stench of vomit and I immediately see the reason.  The guy in the driver’s seat has passed out in a large pool of orangey-red puke.  His mouth is slack, hanging open, and sticky tendrils of vomit stretch from his chin to his chest.  I shudder.  It’s definitely not this guy’s finest hour.

 

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