Stutter(Bleeding Hearts Book 2)

By: A. Zavarelli


A Bleeding Hearts Novel


Chapter One


Ryland




Obsession was a fickle beast.

One minute, it was bloodlust, and the next it was sunshine wrapped in silk. I’d never been one for poetics or waxing philosophical, but I could write a bible about Brighton fucking Valentine. The red-headed bombshell came into my life and tipped the whole world on its axis.

Obsession.

It clawed at me and burrowed deep into my skin, eating at the layers of self-entitlement I’d constructed over the years.

I was entitled to my rage. My hatred. I was entitled to purge the world of the very life essence I despised with the fire of a thousand suns. And, finally, I was entitled to her.

But in the end, she had been right. I couldn’t have them both.

Cue the cruel and mocking laughter from the puppet master of this fucked up sideshow.

My plans had been derailed and replaced with something else. For purposes of description, I’d call it an unexpected hiccup. But not weakness. Never weakness.

I fucking despised weakness. Weakness was my father, Michael Lockhart. Weakness was the man I’d been six years ago, unable to save Sophia. Weakness had no place in my heart or my mind, and that was the conundrum. In this case, x plus y did not equal z. There was no simple solution. There were no trivial plot points in Brighton and I’s story. No insignificant drivel to drive a wedge between us. Only the hard shit. The impossible choices.



To be horrifically frank, there was only one solution that gave me what I wanted in this scenario. It involved sacrifice. And if you were familiar with my shenanigans and had a lick of sense about you, you’ve surely surmised that I was a selfish bastard by now. You’d be right. A man like me didn’t make sacrifices. Not anymore. Men like me took. And the world bent over and gave it up without a fight, because, well, we were just that goddamn charming, right?

I was raised in a good family. Practically came out of the womb with a silver spoon in my over-privileged mouth. Michael groomed me to be an esteemed businessman like him, all the while my mother doted on me and told me how handsome and sweet I was. I had it made.

But it was an illusion, you see. They had it all wrong. I wasn’t sweet. And I would never do business like my father.

When they were dead and buried in the ground, I’d embraced a new motto in life. Fuck anyone who gets in your way before they can fuck you first. Ruthless. Those were my business practices. I ruled with an iron fist in my personal and professional life. I was accustomed to getting my way by now and I wasn’t at all ashamed of it. Why should I be? After all, everybody secretly wants things to go their way. Spare me the self-righteous bullshit and just acknowledge it’s a cold, hard truth.

I’d always had a dark side. Dark fantasies. When my grief was so thick I could practically choke on it, I used it as an excuse to indulge. A nip here, a belt mark there, a little rough spanking every now and again. It was all child’s play until Brighton came into my life.

She made the beast rear its ugly head. Stirred fantasies in my mind I would have never otherwise entertained. Owning her wasn’t enough. Controlling her didn’t douse the inferno blazing inside me. No, I needed more from her. I needed everything. Body, mind, soul.

Cruel?

You’d be the judge on that. Was it cruel if someone asked for it? Begged for it, even? She always begged. Even now, I could hear her whimpering for me. Christ, those noises she made. A one-way ticket to heaven.

If we were going with cheesy metaphors, Brighton was undoubtedly an angel. That milky skin, those rosy cheeks… the way her lips parted just so when I touched her in all the right places. And where did that leave me for wanting to corrupt something so pure? Surely, that would be the devil.

I’d tainted her. Debased and degraded her. And I’d enjoyed every moment of it. I wouldn’t lie about that. My moral compass was broken, sure. But there was something still intact. Something that I’d sort of wished would disappear. Most people would call it a conscience. To me, it was nothing more than a hindrance.

But that was neither here nor there.

Truth be told, none of it made a lick of difference anymore. Good, bad, right, wrong. It all faded and blended together into one giant hole of blackness since she’d gone.

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