My chest ached and my limbs screamed as I ran as fast as I could go, the route memorized in my mind. My clothes stuck to me now, my hair slick with sweat.
Please be there.
I concentrated on my breathing as I finally saw the road looming in front of me, her house like a beacon in the night. Blanche eyeballed me as she I stopped, my hands on my knees as I tried to get some air into my exhausted body.
'Back again? Must be some good pussy to make you run like that, Bullseye.'
I ignored her, walking up to the house, banging on the door. I noticed the curtains twitch as the door opened slowly, revealing what could have been a woman once upon a time, giving me a toothless smile.
'Whatever you're selling, I ain't buying.' She rasped.
I glared at her in fury.
'Where's Veronica?' I demanded, pushing past her into the house. The stench got me first, my stomach lurching as I covered my mouth.
'That little bitch? Fuck knows. She owes me some goddamn money, so when you see her you send her here.'
I stared at this creature in front of me, who had given birth to two beautiful children once. Her eyes were the same shade as Veronicas, her hair showed signs of being dark, but as it was now in patches on her skull or made it difficult to imagine. Needles were strewn over the floor, empty bottles of alcohol littered the sides. The bin exceeded itself to the kitchen sides, which explained the stench. The tiny tv blared in the corner a she staggered back to the couch, slumping down as though I wasn't there. I took in the marks on her arms and my heart sank. I knew it was bad, but not this bad.
Her mother was an addict.
I made my way to the back of the house, noticing one door that was open, a dank mattress on the floor with stains of god knows what covering it, the carpet ripped up from the corner, revealing broken floorboards. The window was cracked, clearly smashed and never repaired. I pulled my eyes away, noting what must be the bathroom. Vomit covered the floor, and I shuddered as I saw the toilet.
The only room left must be Veronicas, but it was locked, four heavy duty padlocked on the outside as I realised she would have to protect herself from her mother's callers.
I left her in this?
I turned to leave, when I heard the door close in the front of the house.
'Denise? Denise, wake up. I'm going to make you some food. Ok? Jesus.'
I wandered back into the room, my eyes making contact with the only person I wanted to see.
She frowned, her face looked tired and sad as she rubbed her eyes.
She whirled around, grabbing a knife swiftly.
As she saw me she dropped the knife onto the side, her mouth in a firm line.
'Ace, what the fuck are you doing in my house?'
We were interrupted by a roar from the sofa.
'You owe me money!'
The voice screeched, cutting through me. I walked over to her then, taking her into my arms roughly holding her as tight as I could.
'Look at me, I know. I fucking know. '
She tried to push me away, but I was to strong.
'I know why. I know why you did it. Veronica, I'm so fucking sorry.'
I breathed into her hair, as her body finally stopped struggling.
I grabbed her face with both hands, as I forced her to look at me.
'I love you. I'm so fucking sorry. I love you. '
I smashed my lips against hers before she could protest, tasting salty tears as I wondered which one of us was crying.
'Four months. You left me for four months.'
She managed to say between our urgent kisses, her hands in my hair pulling me closer to her. She tasted of something sweet and delicious as I pressed my body against hers, feeling her bones against my skin. Why was she so thin? Had I done this to her? The hatred I felt for myself outweighed any other I had as I stepped away, grabbing my phone and dialling an uber.
'I'm going home.' I muttered as she dropped her eyes to the floor, my eyes following hers to see the bags beside her. Cleaning products, tinned food and fruit spilled out as my heart ached.
'Please come with me.' I begged, my fingers lacing with hers as I saw her battle internally with her emotions.
'You judged me. You didn't let me explain..' I took her into my arms as I whispered into her ear.
'I want to spend the rest of my life making it up to you. But I'm going to need you with me for that. Leave this Veronica. I haven't got much to offer you right now, but I promise you one day I will.'
My throat was hoarse as I spoke, her red rimmed eyes meeting mine as she nodded slowly.
'I'll grab some things..'
I held her in my arms as she looked at me in surprise.
'Let's get you new things. Don't bring any of this. Please.'
I had no idea I could feel this way about anyone, ever. I felt fiercely protective, her facade proving to be just that- a facade. I pulled open the screen door a she glanced at her sleeping mother on the sofa.
'We will get her help, I promise. But right now, I want to look after you. Just, let me.'
I think if I ever saw Red again, I would stab him to death. I would end up in a cell next to Ryder, arguing about who had loved Veronica the most.
I guided her to the car carefully, aware of how fragile she was. She slumped into the seat as I pulled her against me, kissing the top of her head.
Her eyes began to close, her long dark lashes resting on her cheek.
'I don't want to talk about Red, Ace. Of you know, you know. Please don't make me talk about it. '
'Whatever you want. I mean it Veronica. I fucking love you.'
She smiled softly.
'You better do.'
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