Since the first book of Underground, TAMIA, is set to be released the end of this month, I thought you all might enjoy a peek ahead… This piece comes from the fourth book in the series… As always, please leave comments!
This scene contains graphic imagery and adult language not suitable for younger readers. Reader discretion is advised.
copyright 2007 by Esther Mitchell
“Cutting” – Excerpted from HERO’S HOPE (Underground 4)
“You just can’t help yourself, can you?” The sour tone behind his back stopped Matt Clipper in his tracks. He really didn’t want to have this conversation, right now. Especially not with her. He was too pissed, and his chest squeezed with pain no medication on the planet could ease. Hell, he had no idea what he might say, in this state. Words tangled in his head, and he didn’t know how, or if, they’d come out. However, words never seemed to be a problem for Jen. Even the wrong ones.
“Go away, Jen. You got what you wanted.”
He heard her gasp, and winced at the pain in that sound, but kept walking. He didn’t want to think he was capable of hurting her; he already knew he could do it. And he really didn’t want to go there. All he wanted, right now, was to get as far away from her, and the searing agony of what she’d done, as he could. He wanted to lock himself in his quarters and bleed out the pain of her betrayal. Damn it, couldn’t she just leave well enough alone?
Her footfalls behind him echoed off the titanium-steel walls, and he gritted his teeth against the urge to turn, yank her off her feet, and burn out his fury in a way he was sure would destroy everything between them. Didn’t she get it? He was on the edge, here.
“Talk to me.”
Like hell, he would. He was done talking. It never solved anything; he learned that as a kid. “Quit following me.”
“No, dammit. I want to know why the hell you can’t tell me what you’re doing out there.”
A sharp bark of laughter forced its way from him. Not that there was anything funny about what she said. He was ready to fly apart at the seams, here, and she wanted to talk about his job. Fat chance, honey. “Screw you.”
Relief twisted his brain as he entered his quarters. When the obstruction tone sounded, letting him know the door couldn’t close, he groaned and turned, to find Jen with her foot wedged against the door.
“Go away,” he growled at her, desperation clawing through him. Damn it, he needed to get her out of here, where she’d be safe, before he went into total meltdown.
“Look at me.”
“No. Goddammit, Doc, go away!”
“I didn’t ask for this, you know.”
He gritted his teeth. She wasn’t asking for the rage that built inside of him, either. Only, she couldn’t see that. She wouldn’t know the storm was brewing until it exploded. And he’d live just long enough to regret every second of it. He wanted to scream at her to get away, for her own safety, but he couldn’t. He didn’t dare. He had to keep control for just a moment longer, he promised himself. Just until he could get rid of her. And just as long as he didn’t touch her, he could do this.
“Jen,” he was begging now, and he didn’t care. “Just leave me alone.”
She edged forward a step. “You think I want to be your shadow? You think I want to learn about what you do out there in little bits, or from a third party? Damn it, Matt, I want you to talk to me, for once in your degenerate life! I don’t want to fix you…”
He almost lost it, at that. A twisted, desperate laugh burst from him as he practically dashed for the cabinet where he kept his switchblade locked up when he wasn’t on the street. “Sure sounded like it to me, Doc. Go the fuck away. Go play head games with someone else.”
She looked shocked, and worried. “Matt?”
“Go. Please, just go.”
“This isn’t a head game, and… and…What are you doing?”
His head lifted sharply from his task as he worked the lock on the cabinet in desperation. The crazed lunatic urges prowling in his head grew loud, and the glare he fixed on her was deadly with intent. His hand slapped the cabinet door shut, even as the last vestige of his sanity screamed No! He stalked her, pain writhing in his gut as her eyes widened in fear of him for the first time since they met, and she backed away a step, into the corridor. He told himself that was good enough. It was what he wanted, after all. His fist hit the door, and he trembled as he sank to his knees, his forehead pressed to the cool metal door. He was so fucked.
He was on his feet again in a surge of motion, desperate to kill the beast before he went after Jen. He threw himself at the cabinet like the maniac he really was, grabbing up his switchblade and flicking the catch open as he yanked off his shirt. His hand trembled, and he knew that no pansy-ass nicks were going to make a damned bit of difference, this time. It was all or nothing.
The pain as he pulled the blade down across his arm was sharp, burning up into his shoulder and chest, but only for a moment. Then, endorphins crashed over him, and muted out the clawing madman, and Matt sank against the back of the sofa, dropping the knife as he closed his eyes and breathed deep, feeling sanity return.
As he straightened, however, queasiness assaulted him, and his head felt detached from his shoulders. He swayed, tried to catch himself on a low bookcase, and toppled the whole thing as he stumbled. Oh, fuck. He stared at the blood running down his arm in morbid fascination, and a hoarse laugh bubbled up. He didn’t need to worry about hurting Jen, anymore. Hell, he didn’t need to worry about anything, now.
Find out more about the Underground series by visiting http://www.esthermitchell.com/Underground.html