Read Say the Word Online

Authors: Julie Johnson

Tags: #Love/Hate, #New Adult Romance, #Romantic Suspense

Say the Word

 

Say The Word

 

 

A Novel

 

                           

 

 

 

 

Julie Johnson

 

 

 

 

 

Copyright © 2014 Julie Johnson

All Rights Reserved.

 

No part of this book may be used or reproduced in any manner whatsoever, including Internet usage, without written permission of the author.

 

This is a work of fiction. Names, places, characters, and events are fictitious in every regard. Any similarities to actual events and persons, living or dead, are purely coincidental. Any trademarks, product names, or named features are only used for reference, and are assumed to be property of their respective owners.

 

 

Cover Design by
The Cover Lure

 

 

Works
by Julie Johnson
Like Gravity
Say The Word
Table of Contents
 
 
 
 
 
 
This one’s for Buffy.
For Veronica Mars.
For Elizabeth Bennet and Hermione Granger,
MacK
ayla Lane and Katniss Everdeen.
For all of my favorite fictional ladies,
who’ve always been there for me.
 
And, of course, for their wonderful creators.
“I shall either find a way or make one.”
Hannibal the Conqueror
Prologue
 
 

 

I’ve always thought that relationships are kind of like stars. The majority of them burn brightly for a time and then slowly die out, leaving a luminous legacy in their wake. Their residual light shines brightly for years after their dissipation – a dazzling imprint of what once was, that lingers even in the absence of the star itself.

Normal relationships, like normal stars, are no less beautiful in their ordinariness. They light the sky, weaving an infinite constellation of love, trust, and commitment. In fact, I’d always gazed rather enviously at that galaxy of wonderfully mundane relationships.

So, from what little I could tell from my view on the ground, there were these ordinary, healthy stars – glowing with a serenity that could only be indicative of domestic bliss.

And then, in another solar system entirely, there was my relationship with Sebastian.

We weren’t a normal star. We were a supernova, a red-hot sun – the kind that blazes so strongly it eviscerates life on any planet foolish enough to orbit too close. And we didn’t burn out. No, we imploded, leaving behind nothing but a gaping black hole so dark and so fathomless that not a trace of our light existed anymore.

So black, we didn’t just repel the light…

We absorbed it.

I guess, in simpler terms, it’d be safe to say our breakup didn’t go very well.

Chapter One
 
 
Then

 

“Don’t do this, Lux,” he pleaded, his eyes full of anguished incomprehension.

I don’t want to do this, believe me. I would give anything to
not
be doing this right now. But I don’t have a choice in the matter.

Not anymore.

I schooled my face into a mask of callous indifference and forced myself to say the words in the flat, cold tone I typically reserved for the bitchy cheerleaders who ran in the popular cliques of our senior class, and who’d never approved of their perfect Sebastian dating the trailer trash girl on welfare.

“I don’t want to be together anymore, Bash,” I bit out. “We’re going to college in a few months and I think the long-distance will be too hard.”

Lies, lies, lies. Falling from my lips like raindrops in a storm. 

“We’ve talked about this,” Sebastian said in a steady voice, as though he thought by remaining calm he might somehow change my mind or force me to see reason. “I don’t have to go to Princeton. I don’t even want to go there, Lux… It’s just my dad – you know,” he broke off.

Yeah
. I knew all about his father and the big dreams he had for Bash, his only son. The golden boy who was destined to carry on the Covington legacy.

“I’ll go to State with you,” Bash continued, moving closer to me. “We don’t have to be apart, Lux. Not ever.”

“It’s college,” I shrugged in what I hoped was a casual
my-heart-isn’t-splintering-into-itty-bitty-pieces-at-this-very-moment
gesture, moving a step backward so he couldn’t enter my space. I knew if he touched me, I’d either shatter to pieces or breakdown crying in his arms, unable to conceal the true reason I was doing this.

I forged on, determined. “There’ll be tons of other girls at Princeton. It’s not fair for either of us to be tied down.”

He shook his head, taking another step toward me. “I don’t want anybody els–” he began.

I cut him off before he could finish the thought.

“I don’t love you anymore,” I said.

I love you more than anything,
I thought.

“You’re lying,” he denied, his eyes fierce.

He was resolute in the belief that I loved him. He thought our love was stronger than anything.

I had to shatter that belief, wreck it so completely that he had no choice but to walk away. Sure, I’d be ripping out my own heart in the process, but that was just collateral damage. All that mattered in this moment was that he believed me.

“I never loved you, Sebastian.” My sharp peal of laughter rang out harshly in the empty space between us, as though the very idea was ludicrous. I tried to ignore the note of hysteria that had crept into my voice, instead forcing my lips into a malicious smirk.

“How could I love someone like you?” I asked him, sidling closer like a rattlesnake moving in for the kill strike. “Someone so entitled and egotistical? Poor little rich boy, up in his mansion,” I singsonged in a patronizing tone that made me sick to my stomach. I’d gone for the jugular, pushing the exact buttons I knew would inflict ultimate damage. His eyes flashed with pain and disbelief — it almost leveled me. Still, I forged on.

I took a step toward him, my gray-blue eyes flinty and devoid of feeling. My voice was scornful, my tone mocking. “It was fun, you see. Kind of like a game, only better because you fell for it and played along, even though you didn’t understand the rules. It was simple enough – make the prince of the county fall for the girl from the wrong side of town.” I pushed the words from my mouth, each traitorous syllable stabbing at my heart like a dagger. Getting right up in his face, my voice dropped to a belittling whisper. “Did you honestly believe that someone like me would ever fall for someone like you? That I’d feel anything but resentment for the life you lead? That I could ever actually
love
you?”

His eyes were swimming with ghosts, unfocused and far-seeing as he played back memories of our time together. He flinched as the new lens created by my words slipped over his mind’s eye, casting a dark shade on every touch, every kiss, every smile we’d ever shared. His mouth gulped open as if to respond but no sound escaped, and I knew I was dangerously close to the point of no return – a hairsbreadth away from complete and total wreckage. 

If I stopped now, if I took it all back, maybe there was still a chance for us. Maybe I could laugh and punch him lightly on the arm and say,
You big dummy, don’t you know how much I love you? Don’t you know nothing could ever make me stop?

I kept going. 

“Ah, yes, I can see by that wounded puppy-dog look in your eyes that you did believe it.” I forced out another painful laugh. “Well,
checkmate
, baby. Game over. I win.”

The memory of his face at that moment will haunt me until the day I leave this earth. I’ll never forget the look in his eyes when I said the words that destroyed us – shock, rage, betrayal, grief. The blood drained from his face and he recoiled from me, as though I’d dealt him a physical blow. 

I’d heard stories about racehorses who are pushed to their limits, running so fast and so far that their hearts literally burst within their chests mid-race, killing them instantly. At that moment, I wondered vaguely if my own heart might explode — not from physical exertion, but emotional. It beat so fast I could feel my blood pulsing beneath the skin, hear the hollowed out thumping that echoed in my empty chest. My fingernails dug harshly into my palms as I prayed the tears gathering behind my eyes wouldn’t escape down my cheeks.

“You don’t mean that,” he whispered, his voice broken, hollow with disbelief.

“Life isn’t so easy outside your mansion, is it?” I plowed on, headfirst into heartbreak. I felt my heart splinter and dissolve into pieces, the void left in its place quickly filled by a sense of self-loathing stronger than anything I’d ever felt before.

I watched as the lies sunk in and he accepted my words for truth. Saw the hard glin
t of hatred and distrust cloud over his normally warm hazel eyes. Witnessed the change in his demeanor from welcoming to foreboding, as his shoulders straightened and his chin lifted. He looked down at me with an arrogant frigidity I’d only ever seen him adopt in his father’s presence.

He despises me.
The thought nearly brought me to my knees.

You see, the thing about Bash and me was that we didn’t lie to one another. Not ever. So even that day, when I was lying through my teeth for the first time since he’d come into my life, he believed me. He trusted me to tell him the truth.

And I used it to destroy him.

Worse, even though he might hate me, I knew he would never lash out with cruelty or disrespect. In a twisted, backwards kind of way, it might’ve made me feel better to hear him yell and rage against my cruel words, to put up a fight when I broke his heart. But it simply wasn’t in his nature to lose control in front of other people – especially not those who’d hurt him. He accepted my words with grim resolve and, true to his
blue-blooded upbringing, banished any pain deep down, where no one could see. His expression was calm – an unrippled lake on a windless day – but his eyes were a turbulent sea, offering the only glimpse of his devastation.

“Goodbye, Lux,” he said in a strangled voice, stuffing his hands into his pockets and staring at me with that quiet intensity he constantly radiated. The look in his eyes undid me.

I drank him in, knowing full well it was the last time I’d ever see him.

“Goodbye, Sebastian,” I choked out, my voice catching as I said his name.

I turned quickly so he wouldn’t see the tears that had finally broken free and walked away from the love of my life, leaving my heart behind.

I never let myself look back. Not even when I heard the unmistakable sound of a fist repeatedly hitting the trunk of our oak tree with enough force to strip away a layer of bark.

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