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“Ms. Adel, after some investigating on our end, we have come to the conclusion that you were not an accomplice to the aggravated assault that occurred at your foster home yesterday evening.”

I nodded at the officer’s words, not bothering to acknowledge my unrestrained hands.

They were locked away.

“However, we have two witness accounts testifying that Mr. Sallow and Mr. Loughty forcefully took you from your home on the night of the 15th.”

My entire life.

“Now, our reports also say that you were supposed to be adopted the day of the 15th, but that it fell through. There was no paperwork from your foster parent sent in, so for the time being, we cannot confirm nor deny the allegation.”

My entire future.

“But, due to our witness accounts and their testimonies, we have reason to suspect foul play, so we are going to conduct a psychiatric evaluation to determine your mental health and wellbeing. Do you understand?”


“Ms. Adel? We just want to confirm that you are of a sane mind at the moment. Please respond so we know that you understand.”

Taking a deep breath, I pull my eyes up from the metal table. I blink up at the officer, not bothering to muster any emotion into my voice.

“I understand.”

The officer smiled, but it was so painfully forced, and for a moment, I felt that he knew what I was going through. But the rational side of my brain reared its ugly head almost immediately.

These people think Kieran and Ezra kidnapped you and that you’re a crazy loon suffering from Stockholm Syndrome.

I couldn’t even hope for everything to turn out okay, because I had no idea what I was supposed to be hoping for. Pray that I pass my evaluation and prove that I’m not crazy? Just so I can be released back into the world with no Kieran and no Ezra. Just so I can be sent back to my foster room and wait out my days until I’m eighteen. Just so I can die a miserable life at twenty-one.

I had a taste of what life was supposed to be like, and now that the free trial was over, there was no way I’d go on without getting a full subscription.

And hoping that Kieran and Ezra get cleared of all charges was pointless. The Elisions were testifying that they kidnapped me, due to some anonymous tip they got, and Mr. Elison was personally charging Kieran with assault, and there are six eye witness accounts that can confirm.

So, so much shit has hit the fan.

“We’re going to move you over to our facility that specializes in mental health where you’ll be evaluated by a trained psychiatrist. Do you have any questions for me?”

I jumped up in my chair, flaring my eyes as I shot out, “Can I see them?”

“Who?” He asked, even though he knew exactly who I was talking about. When I said nothing, his brown eyes lowered to the concrete floor beneath our feet. “You know I can’t do that.”

I had no strength in me to argue further. I was currently using all of my energy into keeping me from breaking down as my life crumbled around me.

“Then can I call my foster parent? Don’t I get a phone call?”

At that, the officer smiled. “Sure, I’ll show you the phone.” He got up from behind his desk, and as he left, I followed him out of - presumably - his office.

We took a few turns around some cubicles and the officer stopped at a row of old, rotary dial phones hanging from the wall.

“We haven’t gotten the chance to update these,” Sheepishly, the officer shrugged as I picked up a phone. I said nothing, even as he turned to lean against the adjacent wall. “I just have to monitor the call to make sure that everything goes well. Name’s Mendez if you need anything.”

Still, I chose to remain silent. I dialed the number I knew by heart and turned my back to Officer Mendez.

He sighed, and I thought I heard the sound of him pulling out his own, modern day, cellphone.

She picked up on the third ring.


“Mrs. Donna?”

“Cleo? Oh my god, honey, what’s happening, we’re all so worried over here!”

“I’m not being charged with anything.” I heard her sigh into the phone. “But they’re going to evaluate my mental health or something because they think I’m suffering from Stockholm Syndrome. I don’t know what’s going to happen-”

Her soft, naturing voice cut me off. “Don’t worry, Cleo, you’re perfectly sane. The psychiatrist will realize that and you’ll be back home by tomorrow night. I’m sure of it.” Even though she was convincing, none of the raw panic in my chest lessened.

“Kieran and Ezra are being held for allegedly kidnapping and holding me against my will. Apparently there is still some investigating to be done. And Kieran is separately getting sued by Mr. Elison for assaulting him.”

The other end was silent.

“Cleo, honey, at least you haven’t gotten too close to them.” She said after some time.

“What?” Astonished, I asked. “What are you saying?”

“Things don’t look good for them, honey. I am just trying to be practical. They may get charged and go to prison. At least it’s only been half a week and you’re not in too deep.”

I lowered my voice for my next comment. “They are my mates, I am destined to be with them, and nothing will ever change that! It could be a day or a year and I’d love them the same!” Hot, burning anger flooded through my chest. She thought that I could just move on? I wasn’t like her, whose unspoken mate was gone. “I know you don’t talk about your mate, and I don’t know what happened, but I can’t forget like you!”

“Like me?” Her soft voice sharpened instantly, and for a moment, I had no idea who this woman was on the other end. “You have no idea what you’re talking about! Maybe I don’t like talking about my mate because after spending nearly sixteen years together, he up and died one day. Gone. In an instant. I had known him for nearly half my life back then and losing him was the single most painful thing I’ve ever had to go through. And excuse me for wanting to try and rid you of that pain, because let me tell you something, Cleo,” She took a deep breath, and I knew not to speak. Not now. “The pain never lessens. You feel it every waking moment, every time you see another couple doing what could have been for you. The pain becomes unbearable to the point where you just want it to end. And believe me, when I tried to end it, the second most painful thing was waking up in the hospital and realized that it was all real.” She took another, hiccuping breath, before she continued. “So next time you want to assume something, maybe get the facts first.”

And then there was the slight click as Mrs. Donna hung up the phone.

“Ms. Adel?” Breaking me out of my trance, Officer Mendez cautiously approached me. In a death grip, I clutched the phone, refusing to let go of it. Up and down, slowly, I breathed. I had to weed my anger and hurt to pass by me.

If anything, Mrs. Donna made me feel worse.

“Ms. Adel? Do you plan on making another call? If not, please hang the phone back up on the wall.”

“What? I thought I was only allowed one call.”

The officer chuckled at that. Grinning, he said, “Those crime dramas aren’t all that accurate. It depends on the crime severity and a few other factors; but, miss, you aren’t being charged with anything. We just want to make sure that you are of a sane mind and won’t be a danger to yourself or anyone else.”

Taking a deep breath, he nodded at the phone still locked in my hands.

“We have to leave in thirty minutes, so call as many people as you fucking want.”

I turned my gaze away from him, looking back down at the receiver in my palm. Mrs. Donna probably doesn’t want to talk to me right now, and most likely wouldn’t pick up the phone anyway. Ezra and Kieran are . . . god knows where in a holding cell, and the only phone Alla has access to is the house phone, which is the same phone Mrs. Donna has.

There is one person I could call. It may be the stupidest decision I make tonight, but I need to talk to someone. I need to have someone reassure me that it’ll all be okay - even if she ends up lying to me.

If I just stand here and wait, I’ll allow myself to be alone with my thoughts, and ever since my life turned to sh*t, I haven’t allowed myself to do that. The only way to stop these bad thoughts is to push them down, avoid them, keep myself distracted.

Once I dialed the number, the person on the other end picked up instantly. I didn’t even bother letting her speak, the desperation for some sort of comfort corroding my sense of judgement.


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