Chapter no 45

Unravel Me (Shatter Me Book 2)

I step inside.

The door slams shut behind me but the Warner I find inside this room is not one I recognize at all. He’s sitting on the floor, back against the wall, legs outstretched in front of him, feet crossed at the ankles. He’s wearing nothing but socks, a simple white T-shirt, and a pair of black slacks. His coat, his shoes, and his fancy shirt are all discarded on the ground. His body is toned and muscular and hardly contained by his undershirt; his hair is a blond mess, disheveled for what’s probably the first time in his life.

But he’s not looking at me. He doesn’t even look up as I take a step closer.

He doesn’t flinch.

I’ve forgotten how to breathe again.


“Do you have any idea,” he says, so quietly, “how many times I’ve read this?” He lifts his hand but not his head and holds up a small, faded rectangle between 2 fingers.

And I’m wondering how it’s possible to be punched in the gut by so many fists at the same time.

My notebook.

He’s holding my notebook. Of course he is.

I can’t believe I’d forgotten. He was the last person to touch my notebook; the last person to see it. He took it from me when he found that I’d hidden it in the pocket of my dress back on base. This was just before I escaped, just before Adam and I jumped out the window and ran away. Just before Warner realized he could touch me.

And now, to know that he’s read my most painful thoughts, my most anguished confessions—the things I wrote while in complete and utter isolation, certain that I would die in that very cell, so certain no one would ever read the things I wrote down—to know that he’s read these desperate whispers of my private mind.

I feel absolutely, unbearably naked. Petrified.

So vulnerable.

He flips the notebook open at random. Scans the page until he stops. He

finally looks up, his eyes sharper, brighter, a more beautiful shade of green than they’ve ever been and my heart is beating so fast I can’t even feel it anymore.

And he begins to read.

“No—,” I gasp, but it’s too late.

I sit here every day,” he says. “175 days I’ve sat here so far. Some days I stand up and stretch and feel these stiff bones, these creaky joints, this trampled spirit cramped inside my being. I roll my shoulders, I blink my eyes, I count the seconds creeping up the walls, the minutes shivering under my skin, the breaths I have to remember to take. Sometimes I allow my mouth to drop open, just a little bit; I touch my tongue to the backs of my teeth and the seam of my lips and I walk around this small space, I trail my fingers along the cracks in the concrete and wonder, I wonder what it would be like to speak out loud and be heard. I hold my breath, listen closely for anything, any sound of life and wonder at the beauty, the impossibility of possibly hearing another person breathing beside me.

He presses the back of his fist to his mouth for just a moment before continuing.

I stop. I stand still. I close my eyes and try to remember a world beyond these walls. I wonder what it would be like to know that I’m not dreaming, that this isolated existence is not caged within my own mind.

And I do,” he says, reciting the words from memory now, his head resting back against the wall, eyes pressed shut as he whispers, “I do wonder, I think about it all the time. What it would be like to kill myself. Because I never really know, I still can’t tell the difference, I’m never quite certain whether or not I’m actually alive. So I sit here. I sit here every single day.

I’m rooted to the ground, frozen in my own skin, unable to move forward or backward for fear of waking up and realizing that this is actually happening. I feel like I might die of embarrassment, of this invasion of privacy, and I want to run and run and run and run and run

Run, I said to myself.” Warner has picked up my notebook again. “Please.” I’m begging him. “Please s-stop—”

He looks up, looks at me like he can really see me, see into me, like he wants me to see into him and then he drops his eyes, he clears his throat, he starts over, he reads from my journal.

“Run, I said to myself. Run until your lungs collapse, until the wind whips and snaps at your tattered clothes, until you’re a blur that blends into the background.

“Run, Juliette, run faster, run until your bones break and your shins split and your muscles atrophy and your heart dies because it was always too big for your chest and it beat too fast for too long and run.

“Run run run until you can’t hear their feet behind you. Run until they drop their fists and their shouts dissolve in the air. Run with your eyes open and your mouth shut and dam the river rushing up behind your eyes. Run, Juliette.

“Run until you drop dead.

“Make sure your heart stops before they ever reach you. Before they ever touch you.

“Run, I said.”

I have to clench my fists until I feel pain, anything to push these memories away. I don’t want to remember. I don’t want to think about these things anymore. I don’t want to think about what else I wrote on those pages, what else Warner knows about me now, what he must think of me. I can only imagine how pathetic and lonely and desperate I must appear to him. I don’t know why I care.

“Do you know,” he says, closing the cover of the journal only to lay his hand on top of it. Protecting it. Staring at it. “I couldn’t sleep for days after I read that entry. I kept wanting to know which people were chasing you down the street, who it was you were running from. I wanted to find them,” he says, so softly, “and I wanted to rip their limbs off, one by one. I wanted to murder them in ways that would horrify you to hear.”

I’m shaking now, whispering, “Please, please give that back to me.”

He touches the tips of his fingers to his lips. Tilts his head back, just a little. Smiles a strange, unhappy smile. Says, “You must know how sorry I am. That I”—he swallows—“that I kissed you like that. I confess I had no idea you would shoot me for it.”

And I realize something. “Your arm,” I breathe, astonished. He wears no sling. He moves with no difficulty. There’s no bruising or swelling or scars I can see.

His smile is brittle. “Yes,” he says. “It was healed when I woke up to find myself in this room.”

Sonya and Sara. They helped him. I wonder why anyone here would do him such a kindness. I force myself to take a step back. “Please,” I tell him. “My notebook, I—”

“I promise you,” he says, “I never would’ve kissed you if I didn’t think you wanted me to.”

And I’m so shocked that for a moment I forget all about my notebook. I

meet his heavy gaze. Manage to steady my voice. “I told you I hated you.”

“Yes,” he says. He nods. “Well. You’d be surprised how many people say that to me.”

“I don’t think I would.”

His lips twitch. “You tried to kill me.” “That amuses you.”

“Oh yes,” he says, his grin growing. “I find it fascinating.” A pause. “Would you like to know why?”

I stare at him.

“Because all you ever said to me,” he explains, “was that you didn’t want to hurt anyone. You didn’t want to murder people.

“I don’t.” “Except for me?”

I’m all out of letters. Fresh out of words. Someone has robbed me of my entire vocabulary.

“That decision was so easy for you to make,” he says. “So simple. You had a gun. You wanted to run away. You pulled the trigger. That was it.”

He’s right.

I keep telling myself I have no interest in killing people but somehow I find a way to justify it, to rationalize it when I want to.

Warner. Castle. Anderson.

I wanted to kill every single one of them. And I would have.

What is happening to me.

I’ve made a huge mistake coming here. Accepting this assignment.

Because I can’t be alone with Warner. Not like this. Being alone with him is making my insides hurt in ways I don’t want to understand.

I have to leave.

“Don’t go,” he whispers, eyes on my notebook again. “Please,” he says. “Sit with me. Stay with me. I just want to see you. You don’t even have to say anything.”

Some crazed, confused part of my brain actually wants to sit down next to him, actually wants to hear what he has to say before I remember Adam and what he would think if he knew, what he would say if he were here and could see I was interested in spending my time with the same person who shot him in the leg, broke his ribs, and hung him on a conveyor belt in an abandoned slaughterhouse, leaving him to bleed to death one minute at a time.

I must be insane.

Still, I don’t move.

Warner relaxes against the wall. “Would you like me to read to you?”

I’m shaking my head over and over and over again, whispering, “Why are you doing this to me?”

And he looks like he’s about to respond before he changes his mind. Looks away. Lifts his eyes to the ceiling and smiles, just a tiny bit. “You know,” he says, “I could tell, the very first day I met you. There was something about you that felt different to me. Something in your eyes that was so tender. Raw. Like you hadn’t yet learned how to hide your heart from the world.” He’s nodding now, nodding to himself about something and I can’t imagine what it is. “Finding this,” he says, his voice soft as he pats the cover of my notebook, “was so”—his eyebrows pull together—“it was so extraordinarily painful.” He finally looks at me and he looks like a completely different person. Like he’s trying to solve a tremendously difficult equation. “It was like meeting a friend for the very first time.”

Why are my hands trembling.

He takes a deep breath. Looks down. Whispers, “I am so tired, love. I’m so very, very tired.”

Why won’t my heart stop racing.

“How much time,” he says after a moment, “do I have before they kill me?”

“Kill you?”

He stares at me.

I’m startled into speaking. “We’re not going to kill you,” I tell him. “We have no intention of hurting you. We just want to use you to get back our men. We’re holding you hostage.”

Warner’s eyes go wide, his shoulders stiffen. “What?”

“We have no reason to kill you,” I explain. “We only need to barter with your life—”

Warner laughs a loud, full-bodied laugh. Shakes his head. Smiles at me in that way I’ve only ever seen once before, looking at me like I’m the sweetest thing he’s ever decided to eat.

Those dimples.

“Dear, sweet, beautiful girl,” he says. “Your team here has greatly overestimated my father’s affection for me. I’m sorry to have to tell you this, but keeping me here is not going to give you the advantage you were hoping for. I doubt my father has even noticed I’m gone. So I would like to request that you please either kill me, or let me go. But I beg you not to waste my

time by confining me here.”

I’m checking my pockets for spare words and sentences but I’m finding none, not an adverb, not a preposition or even a dangling participle because there doesn’t exist a single response to such an outlandish request.

Warner is still smiling at me, shoulders shaking in silent amusement.

“But that’s not even a viable argument,” I tell him. “No one likes to be held hostage—”

He takes a tight breath. Runs a hand through his hair. Shrugs. “Your men are wasting their time,” he says. “Kidnapping me will never work to your advantage. This much,” he says, “I can guarantee.”

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