Shattered KingBy: Sherilee Gray
I came to say goodbye.
Walker James Correctional Facility, NY
The metal seat was hard and cold, its chill seeping through my favorite faded jeans and the plain black T-shirt I’d blindly grabbed from my dresser that morning. The place smelled like a hospital, that strong aroma of disinfectant.
I hated hospitals.
But not as much as I hated prisons.
A shiver raced through me, and I dropped my gaze from the dull gray walls, down to my clasped fingers.
My hands felt oddly numb, almost like they weren’t attached to my wrists. My legs weren’t much better. I couldn’t feel my toes. Inside though, I was on fire, burning up, twisted in knots. My heart was about to burst through my chest. I wanted to scream and cry and hit something until my hands were bloody and raw. But I couldn’t do any of those things. All I could do was sit, and wait.
I was here for one reason and one reason only.
To say goodbye.
Somehow, I had to walk away.
The buzzer sounded and the door opened. I sucked in a breath as different emotions welled inside me. I sat frozen in my seat as inmates entered the room, moving quickly to their loved ones, giving their wives, girlfriends, kids, hugs and smiles. Happy to see them.
Hunter walked in last.
I swallowed, forcing down the anguished sound trying to crawl up my throat. Seeing him again was a kick in the gut. Somehow, I kept my ass glued to the seat instead of rushing to him and wrapping myself around him. Begging him to forgive me.
There was no smile curving his lips as he scanned the room, and when his clear blue eyes found mine, they were cold, completely devoid of emotion. There was none of the warmth, the heat that had always been there for me. It was gone, completely. I curled my fingers into fists as he moved toward me, so hard my nails cut into my skin.
Hunter was tall, over six feet, leanly muscled, hard and strong. The white T-shirt he wore stretched across his chest and shoulders, showing off the ink covering half of his arms. Ink I’d traced with my fingers a million times. Ink I’d kissed. He usually got me to give him a buzz cut every few weeks, but we’d missed the last one for some reason that I couldn’t remember now. I had no idea what happened with hair in a place like this, but it still hadn’t been cut. His hair was almost black, and the longer length made his striking blue eyes stand out even more.
He walked toward me, those eyes, that hard gaze, pulsing right through me, like an electric current, never leaving me once.
Finally, he was there, sliding into the seat opposite. I couldn’t meet his stare, not yet, not when he was so near. I looked at his lower lip. The plain silver ring that had been there when I last saw him was gone. The piercing had been on the right side, close to the corner of his mouth. It drove him crazy when I slid my tongue over it, tasted him. He’d growl and kiss me back, hot and hard. God, he had beautiful lips.
His strong nose had a bump in the bridge, from where it’d been broken by his asshole father more than once. I hated the way he got it, hated it, but weirdly, it suited him. I couldn’t imagine him without it. His cheeks and jaw were covered in a day’s growth. I remembered how those whiskers felt against my fingertips.
On a shaky breath, I lifted my chin, my gaze finally colliding with his.
He gave me nothing.
My toes curled in my cherry Docs, and my pulse beat hard enough I could feel its thick, steady rhythm at the side of my neck. I opened my mouth, but words wouldn’t come out. His stare got harder and, though I didn’t think it possible, colder. My fingers flexed against my still flat belly. I wanted to reach across the table and take his hand. I wanted to tell him about the baby growing inside me, tell him how scared I was. I wanted to tell him the truth. That this was the only way I knew how to keep him safe, that I loved him more than anything in this world. But I couldn’t say any of those things. I opened my mouth again. Closed it. My throat felt dry, like I hadn’t had a drink in a week.
He sat forward suddenly, forearms going to the small metal table between us. “You got nothing to say? Nothing? Seriously?”
I flinched. I couldn’t help it. Oh God. I knew he hated me. I did. But seeing it, having it directed at me, I didn’t know if I could take it. Not when I loved him so damn much. I wanted to drop to my knees and beg him to forgive me, beg him not to stop loving me.