Wretched: Chapter 39


I’m not sure what Zeke did with the bodies of my father or my sister, although there wasn’t much left of Dorothy after I melted the skin off her bones. And when I woke up this morning and tried to find him, he was nowhere, leaving a note thanking me for helping him find his courage.

But I didn’t do any of that. It was inside him all along. I hope one day, he knows. I’m forever in his debt for saving my life when I needed him most.

No one’s questioned my father’s disappearance, not yet anyway, but I know it’s only a matter of time. Mere hours before people start looking, his lower-level bitch boys coming in to pay him his dues, and I’d rather not be around when shit hits the fan.

Sighing, I move around the cottage bedroom, feeling oddly bittersweet about leaving everything behind. Out of all the places in my life, this was the only one that ever really felt like mine, and I’m sad to have to leave. But it’s time for me to move on and make new memories somewhere else. If only Cody would pick up his fucking phone. I press the cell to my ear, trying him one more time before I show up at his place uninvited.

Music echoes from the other room, and I freeze in place, spinning around as I strain to hear. I frown, and follow the noise. My hand holding the phone goes lax.

Another noise, and a muffled curse floats through the air right as I turn the corner and step into the living room, my heart ratcheting up into my throat.

“God, there you are,” I breathe out a sigh of relief. “I’ve been trying to call you all day.”

Cody spins to face me, the front door still open behind him, and he smiles. “Hey, babe.”

“What are you doing here?” I ask, my eyes trailing down his suit and back up to his mussed-up hair and glasses. “And why are you so dressed up?”

“Thought I’d drop by and see where the magic happens.” He wiggles his brows, looking around. “So this is it, huh? The cottage in the woods.”

I make a face. “Uhh… yeah. I guess it is.”

Laughing, he shakes his head. He places his hand on his hips, the sides of his gray jacket swinging back, and I suck in a breath as I notice the gun clipped to his belt.

“Since when have you had a gun?”

“Since I got jealous of yours.” He smirks. “Where’s yours? Maybe we can compare.”

I peek at the front table by the door where my Desert Eagle is before looking back at him. It didn’t even cross my mind to grab it when I came up front. But he’s acting weird, and dressing differently, and making me feel like that was a really stupid thing for me to do.

He smiles, that beaming goofy grin he’s always given me, only this time, it doesn’t look as genuine as it has in the past.

“I’ve been worried about you,” he says, walking over and drawing me into a hug.

I tense up at the contact, my arms straight as arrows at my sides.

He pulls back the smallest bit, his hands gripping my shoulders. “I really do care about you. I want you to know that.”

Confusion races through me, and I tilt my head, shifting in his grip. “Cody, what the fuck is going on?”

His hold tightens, one of his palms leaving for the briefest second as he reaches behind his back.

My mind is still playing catch up, trying to figure out what the hell is happening.


Something cold presses against my wrist.

“You have the right to remain silent,” he whispers.

Oh my god.

I jerk out of his hold but I’m not quick enough, and he catches me again, throwing me onto the ground and straddling my back, grabbing my other hand, and cuffing it.

“Calm down,” he grunts.

“You’re a fucking cop?” My breath comes in quick pants, and my cheek is squished against the wood floor, pain bleating through my head.

All this time, and I’ve really only ever been alone.

He gets off me as soon as he has me cuffed, and I flip around, groaning at the discomfort. He leans down, cringing as he helps move me to a sitting position, my back against the old velvet couch.

“You were working with Bray—Nick?” My heart twists at the name.

He shakes his head, running a hand through his hair to fix the wayward strands. “Please. That piece of shit moved in on my territory like he could just stick his dick in you and steal my case. This is my case, and I’m not working with some DEA fuck.”

“Wow. Two separate undercovers. I had no idea I was so popular.” Resting my head back against the couch, I accept my fate for what it is.

But how unfair that after all this time, I end up catching the flack and saved my family from the same fate. Death was too good for them both.

“Where’s your backup?” I try to see behind him, out of the door, but he’s too close to me and it’s difficult to move to look around him.

“I came first as a courtesy,” he says, like it makes any difference. “They’ll be here soon.”

“This whole time, huh?” I ask, still not wanting to believe that after everything—after all these years—it was just a lie.

“I was chosen specifically because of our connection in high school.”

Realization sinks in, sharp and deep, serrating the bruised and battered pieces of my soul. “You moved back because of me.”

“I’ll admit, I was starting to lose faith.” He chuckles. “You’re incredibly cagey, do you know that about yourself?”

“Seems I had a right to be,” I snap.

“Fair.” He quirks his lips. “Honestly, they were about to pull me. But then… you gave me a gift.”

Disbelief rains down on me like hail. “I told you about the greenhouse.”

“Do you think they’ll give me the medal of merit?” His eyes lose focus like he’s picturing it right then. “Don’t take it personally, babe. We’ve got stuff on the Cantanellis too thanks to that recording you suggested we take of the mayor.”

The USB drive. I had forgotten that even existed.

“All this time, I thought you were this mysterious guy, living behind a curtain and playing fancy tricks with your computers.”

He shrugs. “I’m a man of many talents.”

“You’re a real piece of shit.”

“Come on, there’s no ne—” There’s a bang, and then his eyes widen, blood spraying from the hole that just appeared in the middle of his head. It drips down his face, and his body drops, the thud loud as it hits the ground.

Nicholas stands behind him, my gun at his side, and his eyes like fire as they burn through me.

My mouth drops open, and I stare at him, completely gobsmacked. My heart gallops. “What—”

“Quiet,” he demands, closing the door behind him and then rushing forward to lean over Cody’s dead body, his hands checking his pockets until he finds a small set of keys.

I snap my mouth closed because, well, I’m not really in a position of doing anything other than what he asks right now.

“Is there another way out of here?” he asks.

My brows scrunch, my eyes flinging back and forth from Cody and the blood pooling around his body, then back to Nick. Again and again. Is this what shock feels like? 

“Eveline.” His voice is sharp. “Is there another way for you to go?”

I swallow, snapping out of my daze, my chest heaving as I realize what he just did. “Ye-yeah, there’s a tunnel underground that has a back exit.”

When he kneels at my side, his cinnamon and pine scent flows through me, making my chest cramp so tight I can hardly breathe. “You need to leave.”

He undoes my cuffs, and I bring my hands up, rubbing at my wrists. “You just—”

Grabbing my face, he turns it to him, his hands as steady as they ever were, his thumbs brushing beneath my cheeks. His eyes are dark and worried and so fucking perfect, and it pisses me off that even now, I get distracted by everything he is.

“Listen to me,” he rushes out. “You need to go.”

“But I—”

He slams his mouth to mine and I can’t help but to kiss him back, because for everything he’s done, and everything he’s not, I still love him, no matter how much I’ve tried to stop.

“I love you,” he says.

A sob works its way through my body and gets stuck on the back of my tongue.

“I didn’t know that I could love until you. And you’re not perfect, okay? You piss me off and you do things I never thought I’d be alright with, and you’re moody as hell. You’re actually the furthest fucking thing from perfect I’ve ever seen. But Eveline… you’re perfect for me.”

My heart twists, small bits of it mending back together at the seams.

He kisses me one more time. “In about five minutes, this place is going to swarm with feds, and they’re here for you. You understand what I’m saying?”

I nod, my stomach flipping, the blood racing through my veins.

He tightens his grip on my face. “Listen to me. I won’t ask for your forgiveness.” He glances at the door before locking his frantic eyes back on me. “I don’t want you to forgive me right now. I just want to know you’re out there and there’s a chance. That one day, maybe we’ll meet again, and I’ll walk up to you and say I’m Nicholas Tennyson Woodsworth, my favorite color is blue, I hated school, and I am so fucking in love with you that I can’t imagine living in a world that doesn’t have you in it.”

I hiccup, my hands wrapping around his wrists.

“If you don’t run, right now, then I don’t get that chance.” His eyes flick back and forth between mine. “Please, let me have it, pretty girl. Go.”

There’s a single moment where I consider staying. I stare over at Cody, sprawled out on the floor, and I wonder how Nicholas will explain it. If he’ll be able to.

“I’ll be fine,” he urges.

He grabs me, presses his lips to mine one more time, and then shoves me away.

I jump up, turn around, and run.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.


not work with dark mode