Reliving fate, p.31

Reliving Fate, page 31


Reliving Fate

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  "You're owed nothing, you sick fuck!" Bella shouts.

  She squeezes the life out of my hand, and I have to shove her back behind me to stop her from running at him.

  I tilt my head, so I can see both her and him. "Stop!"

  She's angry because she's finally met the man who killed her sister--I get that shit--but she's really not helping the situation. I need him to put the fucking gun down.

  "You know I'm not handing her over, Tank, so put that down, and let's settle this properly."

  I'm going to rip his head off.

  His eyes narrow, and with my heart in my stomach, I watch his finger flex on the trigger.

  "Do it, Tank," Faith says as she steps around the corner, witnessing what's going on. "Shoot them all."

  I would rather spend the rest of my life with Bella, but if I die tonight, that would be okay. I can accept that...if I can somehow get her out of here.

  "I want the girl," he replies, stepping from side to side and eyeing Bella like she's a piece of meat.

  "Put the gun down," I say.

  He's not listening to Faith; thankfully, his attention is on Bella and me.

  Faith bares her teeth and steps closer to him. "Tank, end this. Now. We don't have long."

  "Long until what?" I ask.

  "Shut up!" she snaps.

  "Men will arrive soon to rape the girls they've kidnapped," Bella says from behind me. "Faith's a fucking psycho."

  "Shoot the bitch!" Faith orders. "Or I will." She pulls a gun from her back pocket and aims.


  For the second time, my world stops spinning.

  "I know you want her, Tank, and I'm all for it, but I swear to God, if you don't do it, I will."

  Tank looks at her, and that second is all I need. His distraction gives us a chance. I let go of Bella's hand and launch for him. My shoulder slams into his chest, and we both go down like a sack of shit. His head cracks on the ground with a sickening thud that I hope kills the bastard.

  I look up, and Faith is now pointing her gun at me. Tank is still down, so at the very least, I've knocked him out.

  "If you want to hurt her, you're going to have to use that," I say, nodding at her gun.

  She brings her other hand up and holds it steadier. "What makes you think I won't?"

  Using my hands, I push myself up onto my feet. I feel Ellis close in, keeping Bella behind him, the way I did. He'll never know how much that means.

  "You're holding it like it's a bomb. You're unsure. You don't do the dirty work; that's why you have Tank in your pocket. Now, put it down before you hurt yourself. I'm leaving with my girl."

  She laughs but lowers the gun. "You have no idea what I'm capable of, Rocco. I don't need to pull the trigger to pull the strings. Right, Tank?"


  I swing back around, but he's awake, alert, and aiming.

  "No!" Bella screams.




  * * *


  I hear my scream ringing in my ears long after I've closed my mouth.

  Tank shot the gun.

  He shot Rocco.

  "No! Oh God. Rocco."

  Rocco drops to his knees, and I leap forward, going with him.

  One more shot is fired from behind me.


  I think he shot Tank, but I don't look. I'm too focused on Rocco. My world narrows until there is only me and him. I can't bring myself to care about anything else.

  This isn't happening.

  He can't die.

  His words come back to haunt me.

  "Folks around here don't usually live happily into their seventies."

  He planned for this all along. He knew he would die young, but he wasn't supposed to be right. I was going to show him that he was only being negative and that his life didn't have to end the way so many others had around here.

  Hissing through his teeth, he collapses further and falls down on his back. I hover over him, in shock and terrified that I might lose another person I love.

  Shit, there's blood.

  "Fuck me," he growls. "It fucking stings."


  "Put pressure on the wound, Bella," Ellis says, walking back and forth with one hand gripping his gun and the other on the phone to the emergency services.

  I don't know where Faith is, but she's probably ran.

  I jump at the sharpness of his voice but push down and apply pressure to the bullet wound in Rocco's abdomen. I'm almost instantly covered in his blood. The hot red liquid seeps through my fingers.

  Rocco groans in pain and frowns, giving me a look.

  I swear, if he says anything sarcastic right now...

  "Stay with me. Please stay with me," I beg, my voice sounding weak.

  I lean down closer, still making sure I'm applying the same amount of pressure to the wound.

  Please let this help him hang in there until the paramedics arrive.

  He smiles and reaches up to cup my cheek. His hand already feels cold. "God, I love you, Bella. Never forget how much."

  "Don't!" I sob. "Don't do that. Don't you dare say good-bye. I can't lose you, Rocco. I love you, and I need you. You're not allowed to leave me."

  "You don't need me. You're so strong. You can do this," he whispers. "The only thing you need to do is keep the promise you made."

  I know instantly what he's referring to. Back when I told him what had happened when Celia died, he made me promise that, when this was all over, I'd start living my life for myself.

  If I lose him, how do I start living?

  "Please fight. Ellis is on the phone, and the paramedics will be on their way. You're good at fighting, remember? It's what you do."

  His eyes are glazed, and he's just looking at me so intently, like he's taking every millimetre of me in...because he thinks this is the last time he'll see me.

  My stomach coils. It hurts so, so bad to think that he's giving up.

  "You can't die, you twat!" I snap.

  He laughs, sucking in a breath straight after, as the action probably hurt a lot. "Everyone dies, baby. I'm not scared to go if it's my time. I know you'll keep your promise. You're the only person on this planet that I trust completely."


  "Rocco, please hold on. You can't die because of me."

  "Isabella," he rasps, "I would die for you a thousand times over."


  His words make me want to curl up beside him. I cry, and it feels like I'm the one dying. He's still here, but I feel the loss stabbing deep.

  "Please don't," I plead, keeping the pressure while lowering my head to his. "Listen to me. You do know that I won't break a promise to you, but that doesn't mean you can leave me. We're only three months into forever."

  "That doesn't matter to me. Three months with you is all the forever I need. It's more than I ever thought I'd have."

  My heart tears apart at his words, and I feel the ache grow and take on a life of itself.

  He has to be okay, or I won't be. Rocco is the one thing in my life that I'm sure of. We're a team, and despite our different backgrounds, we work. He is the other half of me, and I need him to function.

  "I don't mean to sound selfish or ungrateful, but I was kind of hoping for the kind of forever that lasts until we're old."

  He would have gotten a forever, too, if it wasn't for me. I shouldn't have called him. I should have just run.

  This is all my fault.

  "Oh God, Rocco, I'm so sorry. What have I done? If I hadn't dragged you into this, you wouldn't have been..."

  This is so much blood. Oh my God.

  His thumb presses down on my lips, and I sob.

  "Shh, no guilt. I chose this, and if I had the time again, I wouldn't do a single thing differently. I wouldn't change meeting you and falling in love with you. I would rather die here right now than live into old age, having never met you."

  His voice is broken and dri
fting, and his breathing is getting more laboured by the second.

  Where is the fucking ambulance?

  "No, please," I cry, shaking my head and blinking tears down my face.

  This is worse than Celia. I caused this. Rocco is the best person I know, and he's going to die.


  The guilt and crushing pain of facing a life without leaves me breathless in the most excruciating way I've ever experienced. I cry out as every inch of my body is encased in agony.

  Don't die. Please, please don't leave me.

  "Rocco..." I whisper as his chest struggles to rise and fall. "No! You can't go."

  Groaning, he brushes his fingers across my cheek. "I need you to know that I will always love you. Don't you dare fall apart, Bella. You're stronger than that. Live, baby. Live for us both. Live for yourself, and go out there and do whatever you want. I'll be there, right beside you, every step of the way. You gave me everything I never knew I wanted. I couldn't love you any more than I do."

  God, I can't listen to him saying good-bye. I want to beg him to hold on, but I can't talk.

  "I love you so much, baby," he whispers.

  "No. Rocco..."

  "It's Carson."

  "What? What's Carson?"

  He takes a ragged breath. "My surname."

  Oh God, he's finally told me.

  Smiling, I brush the side of his face. "Well, Rocco Carson, I need you to fight for us right now because, one day, I want that to be my surname, too."

  With the most beautiful smile on his face, he slowly closes his eyes.


  No, don't do this.

  I gently nudge his shoulder, but he doesn't move. His chest is still.

  Fuck no.

  I shake him harder. "Wake up! Rocco!" I scream.

  No, no, no.

  I lay my head on his and fall into oblivion.


  * * *



  Rocco's headstone is cold under my fingertips despite the warmth of late summer. My heart swells. Being here hurts so much, and I still feel the overpowering pain as fresh as the day he died, but I come every day to feel close to him.

  I feel his absence every second. He was only in my life for a short time, but he changed so much.

  He changed me.

  When he died, I wanted to give up, but I couldn't let him down. Rocco wanted me to live, and there was no way I wouldn't honour his wishes.

  I love him so much that I'll live for us both. Whatever I do and wherever I end up, I'll take him with me. He gave me the opportunity to move on from Celia's death, and whatever I decide to do next, I will give it everything.

  I will never stop loving you, Rocco.

  Dropping my hand, I take a breath. The grass above him is such a vivid green. He might not have been the most fun-loving person, but he brought a lot of colour to my life.

  He would be proud of my progress. I got good grades, and next year, I'm going to uni. I'll do something epic in his name.

  I'm determined not to give up.

  And it helps that Faith and Keith are in prison. They both got life. When I learned of their fate, I cried my eyes out. It was such a bittersweet moment. They took so much from me, my sister, and Rocco, but they'll never hurt anyone else again.

  Tank is buried somewhere here, too. I've not looked for him, and I don't plan to. He's nothing.

  "I thought you'd be here." Ellis's voice booms behind me.

  I smile as I look over my shoulder.

  "Hey," I say.

  I scoot over, so he can sit on my blanket, too.

  "Thanks. How're you doing?" he asks, brushing his hand over his blond hair.

  That's a very good question and one I'm still working on.

  I shrug. "Today is better than yesterday."

  But there's no telling what tomorrow will bring. There is no easier with each passing day. Sometimes, I wake up and feel Rocco pushing me on, and other days, I miss him too much to leave my bed.

  "I miss him, too," he replies, taking my hand.

  I squeeze, taking comfort from Rocco's only friend.

  Since he died, Ellis and I have been hanging out. We're really the only ones who know what it's like to miss him. Ellis has so many stories about Rocco, and I can't get enough of them. I spend a lot of time with Ellis. I need to talk about Rocco, and no one knew him longer than his best friend.

  Thankfully, his girlfriend, Izzy, understands why I come around so often. She welcomes me every time and always listens when I want to talk. Rocco's death made Ellis realise that he had to grab happiness by the balls, and he asked Izzy to move in with him. I'm glad he's got something real.

  Rocco and I didn't have long together, but I finally understood what it was like to love a person so completely that it consumed you. Losing him was hell, but I wouldn't give up the way he made me feel for anything.

  "I'm going to stay at his tonight," I say, staring at Rocco's name.

  Silence hangs in the air, and I risk a look at Ellis. He's staring at the ground, and I have no idea what he's thinking.

  "Ellis? Come on, we both know you want to say something."

  He clears his throat, kicking his legs out. "Are you sure you want to do that? The last time..."

  The last time, I woke up, expecting Rocco to be there, and when I realised why the bed was empty on his side, I freaked out. When I called Ellis in hysterics, he managed to get out of me where I was, and he spoke to me the entire time on the phone as he raced over.

  "I'm sure," I reply.

  Rocco's smell on the few T-shirts I took to my parents' house is gone. I need this. I want to fall asleep on his pillow and pretend, even if just for a short time, that he isn't gone and that I don't have to face a future without him. I plan on moving back to Rocco's--to home--but it's too soon right now. I need more time.

  My parents and Livvy have been so supportive. They were devastated to learn the truth about the day Celia died, but although they were angry that I put myself at risk, they understood why I'd taken the path I did.

  None of them hate Rocco anymore either. It took him dying for them to accept how good he was for me. Things are still a bit tense between us, but we're all trying, and I need them so much right now.

  Ellis's eyes narrow suspiciously. "How are you really doing, Bella?"

  His question makes my stomach roll. I tuck my legs into my chest and rest my chin on my knees.

  I'm just trying to make it through, one second at a time.

  "I'm okay..." I sigh. "I'll be okay. I wouldn't be if I hadn't promised him I'd live. I owe him everything, Ellis, and as much as it hurts, I won't ever throw my future away. Rocco died saving me, and I would give anything to change that, but I can't, so I will honour him by having an epic life. It's just going to take a lot of time and a lot of strength."

  I'm still trying to find that strength, but every time I think about my last conversation with Rocco--after I stop crying--I have the power to carry on.

  Giving up is easy, and living is hard.

  But, for Rocco, I will fight.


  * * *

  My first thank-you has to go to my Lowdon. I've lost count of how many times you've asked for Rocco over the years, Zoe. Here he is!

  Kim, thank you so much for reminding me of all the things I need to get done. Without you, it definitely wouldn't happen. You were the first person to read this, and I really loved your feedback and, well, the shouting! LOL!

  Kirsty, thanks for all of the hula minions They were needed!

  A massive thank-you to The Indie Girls support group. If you ladies hadn't been around to sprint with me and push me, I would probably still be pulling my hair out.

  Jovana, I never quite know how to say thank you for all that you do. I'm never sure of a manuscript before you return it to me.

  Sofie, your design talents never fail to leave me in awe. As always, you make my books look be

  And, lastly, thank you to you for reading Reliving Fate.



  Natasha Preston, Reliving Fate

  (Series: # )




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