The Shatterproof Heart (Sophie Shields Book 3)

By: Loretta Lost

Chapter One

Sophie Shields, 2016

I wake up to find metal shackles around my wrists.

Somehow, I’m not surprised.

Moving my hands slowly, I pull at my restraints. My senses are dulled and there is a thick fog on my brain. When I open my eyes, the world spins. I try to look around, but a groggy sensation causes my head to roll from side to side uselessly.

There is something soft and pillowy underneath me. I feel like I am floating on a fluffy cloud. Where am I? My body might be out of commission, but I still need to think clearly. Using a great effort to look at my surroundings, I see that I am sprawled out across a bed with metal rails.

My legs are spread wide apart, and my ankles are shackled to the bedposts.

Groaning at this, I try to bend my knees and slide my feet out of the restraints. I find that my ankles are already raw and sore, as though I have struggled quite a lot—although I do not remember this. The skin has been rubbed clean off the protruding bones of my ankle joints, and the metal shackles sit painfully against my exposed flesh.

Just another day, I tell myself as I look up at the ceiling in exasperation. Just another wonderful day to be alive. I will get through this, somehow. Stay calm.

I am not sure why my vision is so blurry and my body feels so buzzed. I feel as though I have been drinking, smoking pot, and doing heroin, all at the same time. I only did heroin once or twice, when I was around twelve years old, so that I could steal an addict’s identity. I tried to remain unaffected so I could focus on my purpose, but the blissful sensation was hard to forget. Glancing at my arm, which is extending up above my head, I search for needle marks on the inside of my elbow.

Sure enough, there is a red and inflamed puncture hole there.

Frowning, I try to lift my head again to see more of my body. As awareness begins to wash over me, I start to feel various types of pain. My skin is chilled in the cold air, and my limbs are stiff. It is hard to see any of this, because my eyelids are swollen and puffy—like I’ve been crying for hours.

That seems like a reasonable reaction.

Grunting and writhing, I find that the worst pain is in my hands. Turning my wrists in the shackles, I stretch backward to search for the source of the pain. I am alarmed to see that my fingernails are all bloody and broken. I’ve been clawing at something. Or someone.

My heart sinks into my stomach.

What did he do to me? And what does he still plan to do?

Clamping my eyes closed, I wonder what I might find if I examine the rest of my body. I fully expect to see my thighs covered in blood. I take a moment to brace myself, swallowing a lump of acidic fear.

When I lift my head to look down at my lower body, I see no visible signs of intrusion. There is no blood, but this is not reassuring. I feel no significant pain, but in my hazy state, I am not sure if I would. I am still numb and tingly throughout most of my body, except for a painful throbbing under my splintered fingernails. There are bluish bruises in certain places on my arms, legs, and stomach, as though I have been roughly grabbed—maybe even dragged. My pasty white skin always bruised so easily.

Who’s the fairest of them all? Little Snow White. The girl who turns bright red if she steps out into the sun, and black and blue if she bumps into a piece of furniture.

I ignore the sarcastic singsong voice in my head. But she is right.

I feel black and blue all over.

I feel black and blue on the inside.

Completely battered and violated.

Slumping in defeat, I look around and try to think of a way to escape this. I need to get back to Cole, before anything worse can happen to me. I need to get back to him in one piece. There isn’t much time to think, for I hear the doorknob turning, and several deadbolts being unlocked.

My face spasms in fear, and my whole body tenses. I try to sit up, clamp my legs together, and get into some sort of defensive position before the visitor can enter the room.

But I don’t have enough freedom to move.

Staring at the door warily, it seems to take an eternity for my captor to undo all the locks. In reality, it must only be a few seconds. When the door swings open and Benjamin enters, I stare at his cane hatefully.

He’s going to need much more than a cane when I’m done with him. He’s going to need a ventilator to breathe, and a feeding tube to swallow. Screw that, he’s going to need a fucking crematorium.