Books in the Third Throne Series
Celtic Gods Rising Series
Third Throne Series
Queen of the Mist
THE THIRD THRONE:
ANGEL OF DARKNESS (Book 1)
What if loving someone brought you pure joy, but put you and the world in danger? Would you choose love and take the risk, or suffer to keep the world safe?
Michelle Black wishes for a normal life, but deep down she knows she is different. Plagued with nightmares of the Realms of Torture and the ability to see the sins of men, she finds herself in Hell, unable to escape.
Lucifer wants his prize, the woman promised to him long ago. He fears that she will learn the truth about who she is and what she is destined to become. He will do whatever it takes to keep her, even if it means lying to her.
Can Michelle tame the darkest parts of Lucifer or will his darkness consume her? Can he learn to care for someone he considers his property? Will she find out the truth about her dark destiny?
The Third Throne: Angel of Darkness is the first book in the steamy Adult Urban Fantasy/Paranormal Romance series that beings the countdown to the Apocalypse.
Rated 5 Stars by Arya Fomonyuy for Readers' Favorite, "The Third Throne: Angel of Darkness by Tabitha Barret is a mesmerizing entry that brilliantly combines elements of urban fantasy, paranormal, and romance to take readers on an adventure to the darkest place ever — hell itself. There is quite a lot going on in this novel, and not too much to have the reader distracted. Meet Michelle Black, a teenage girl who is poised to graduate and get on with the thrilling adventures of life. She lives in hope and anticipation of a trip with her favorite Uncle Bob, who’s promised to bring along the guy she pines for. But things take a different turn weeks before the time for her trip. Michelle finds herself literally trapped in hell, desired by Lucifer, who sees in her a wonderful mistress, loathed by Hades who’d kill her for her destiny, and those around her in hell see in her the subject of much confusion and conflict. Can she discover her destiny and embrace it, and allow it to guide her, or will she allow herself to be manipulated by the powers of hell?
I couldn’t resist opening this book when I first read the blurb and I am happy I did. Tabitha Barret combines mythology with her great imagination to create a story that readers can’t put down. The characters are just extraordinary and the drama is intense. The protagonist is in the middle of a powerful conflict and she could choose to become the author of her fate and redeem humanity, or be a pawn to the devious, selfish interests of the powers of hell. The Third Throne: Angel of Darkness has great writing woven into it, featuring a captivating setting and unusual characters. The entertainment is huge and the writing is spellbinding on every page. You just can’t put it down!"
Rated 5 Stars by Tome Tender Book Blog, "Simply riveting, this tale unfolds into so much more than I expected as we take the leap from mortal Earth to the bowels of Hell. Ms. Barret writes with creative abandon, coloring outside the lines of the traditional supernatural with bold strokes and an incredible imagination. You guessed it, this is a brilliant gem with a fiery glow that needs to be read!" Click for full review
Rated 5 Stars by Ann Ellis from "Paranormal Romance and Authors that Rock", "This supernatural/fantasy novel that grabs the reader at the very beginning. It is very intense and be mindful this is an adult book with adult subject matter..." Click for full review
Rated 5 Stars by Vision Quest, "How can you NOT like this book! A strong, likeable lead character with a decidedly flawed upbringing, thrust through the gates of hell. "The Third Throne: Angel of Darkness" is thought provoking reading for mature young adults (sex scenes) and adults alike. You will never think about angels in the same way … ever again! I'm definitely looking forward to Book Two!" Click for full review
Rated 5 Stars by Erin, "A spellbinding read! I don’t typically read a lot of paranormal romance, but this book’s amazing cover and intriguing blurb convinced me to dive in. And I’m so glad I did! This book had me hooked from the first chapter, and kept me reading well into the night." Click for full review
Rate 5 Stars by Jennifer Kost, the Paranormal Romance Guild, "The Third Throne: Angel of Darkness has to be one of the most detailed and well-planned books I have read in a very long time. I kept expecting the book to end and it kept going (in a good way). Click for full review
Book Excerpt from The Third Throne: Angel of Darkness
She noticed how broad his chest was as she tentatively ran her hand over his thick muscles. She shivered as he breathed heavily against her neck. This certainly wasn’t how she pictured being pressed up against a man.
Though she knew nothing about him, for some reason she felt safe in his arms. She should be running in terror, but the gentle touch of his hands drew her in closer.
Lucifer was losing his mind. Images of the girl flooded his imagination. He had quickly removed the bloodstains from his face and clothes after he had caught sight of his disheveled appearance in the reflection of the windows in the main hallway. He wanted her to be intimidated by him, but even he had to admit that his brutal appearance would have been too much. Mark and his meddling were a distant memory as he stared at her.
Ever since he’d seen her lying on his floor, his mind had stopped functioning. He’d wanted to take her right there on the marble that was as hard as he was. He was amazed that his pants were still on when Hades had so rudely barged in on him.
He’d waited countless millennia to have her in his arms, and here she was at last. She looked different from the last time he’d seen her, but she was still beautiful. Her bright blue eyes and long silky black hair made his knees weak. The firelight played across her face and accented her lush skin. Her lips, even cold with death, looked warm and inviting to him. Red would be a mind-boggling shade on them. He would have to remember that for later. White skin would bring out the shine in her dark hair rather than the corpse gray skin. He couldn’t decide what he wanted to do first. Every fantasy of her crowded his brain until he was dizzy. Then one thought stood out from the rest.
He took her face in his hand only to stop. He was going to plunge his tongue into her mouth, but the feeling of her skin under his numb hands caught his attention. Her skin was impossibly soft. It was the softest thing he had ever touched, softer than his own wings tucked deep inside his back. It was beyond velvet or silk, and it made him gasp. He could feel…feel something other than bleakness. He trembled as he held her. What would it be like to kiss her? He nearly fell to the floor, his knees no longer able to support his body. He was spellbound. He felt like he was flying, something he used to enjoy but had long lost the taste for.
He slowly trailed his hand down her neck to her collarbone, then between her breasts and further to where the dress hid her from view. He studied the way her breasts defied gravity beneath the thin material. He had never wanted to hold something so badly in his life. His hands shook as he laid them over the large full mounds. All he had to do was pull the material aside and they would be laid out before him. They could wait for the moment. He wanted other things.
He took a moment to savor how warm his body felt as it surged to life. His skin tingled and burned. He wasn’t sure if her skin was overly warm, or if it was his blood rushing to heat up his frozen skin. He was so excited that his heart beat madly in his chest.
Of all the countless sexual experiences he’d had in his unending life, this was the best by far. The other women, and men, he’d taken into his bed over the years physically satisfied him but left him barren inside. He felt nothing for them, except disdain or hatred. The sex had been good but never emotionally satisfying. He took no joy from it, only release. He merely f*cked and left. He took more delight from their pain, humiliation, or anger than from the actual act. He knew he was ruthless, but there was little to be done about it, until now.
He grabbed the top of her arm and leaned down to crush his lips against hers. The moment his lips connected with hers, electricity jolted through his body. It unleashed a whirlwind of emotion that he could barely contain. Was it possible that her lips were even softer than her skin? They were warm and sweet like honey. He moaned against them, and then inhaled her scent. Under the lingering odor of smoke, he found the scent of her skin, sweet and sensual. He growled and pulled at her lips, nearly biting her. He kissed her roughly at first, but slowed to a passionate dance. Where her lips had been unyielding at first, she was now moving along with him and he liked it. He liked that she wanted to kiss him back.
Mine, and no one else’s, he vowed to himself. He would kill anyone who laid a finger on her.
The Third Throne: Angel of Darkness is available on Kindle for $2.99 or Free with Kindle Unlimited or Amazon Prime. Also available in Paperback at Amazon.com.
- The excerpt above is copyrighted and may not be reproduced or used without written authorization from the author.
Bonus Scene for Readers before Jan 28th 2017!
(Spoiler Alert for readers new to the series)
Hello! Thank you for reading my book before Jan 28th, 2017!!! With the upcoming release of Book 4, I need to update my readers who read the original version of The Third Throne: Angel of Darkness. When I decided to make a few modifications to the book for grammar and technical errors, I decided to add scene that I felt was important. Until Michelle hears the voice in her head, we really don't see her strange abilities in action. I wanted to give the readers a preview of the "real" Michelle before they got too far into the book so they understand that she isn't a YA character. She's a dangerous force capable of taking a life. I had toyed with the idea originally, but finally made the change.
Early on in the book, we see CJ and Michelle passing a note in class discussing whether Michelle should tell Uncle Bob about her abilities. In that note, Michelle mentions a girl named Dana who was stalking CJ. I used that simple note as a way to expand on Michelle's reaction to sin. This scene will be important in the upcoming Third Throne: Angel of Fear. I hope you enjoy!
Here is the first section of Chapter 4 of The Third Throne: Angel of Darkness:
Two weeks had passed since Uncle Bob’s visit and Michelle was counting the days until he returned, though the days seemed to be getting longer and more difficult to deal with. Each night was worse than the last and the nightmares were taking a toll on her. She’d started having nasty migraines since the day he left. She was popping aspirin like candy, though they eventually stopped working.
CJ grimaced at her on the way to class. “Don’t take this the wrong way, but you look worse than I have ever seen you, and that includes the night you tangled with the Realm of Burning Seas and the Realm of Fire back to back.”
“Actually, that night was a cakewalk compared to what I’m feeling now. I never thought I would say this, but I would prefer taking on the realm where your skull is crushed than deal with this migraine.” She rubbed her temples searching for some relief.
“Go home,” CJ groaned. “You’re stumbling through the hallways, barely able to focus. You haven’t laughed or smacked me in days. You’re obviously in pain.”
“I can’t go home,” Michelle said quietly. “Finals start next week and I have to be here for the reviews. My mom said I could go to the nurse after sixth period and skip gym. She’ll pick me up and take me to the doctor.” She had to squint to keep the fluorescent lights at bay.
“Well, at least your mom is finally taking you to the doctor. I know she has something against the medical profession, but she can’t ignore this anymore,” CJ said, shaking his head.
“I’m glad she’s taking me. I just have to get through the day,” she sighed.
“Call me after your appointment and let me know what they give you.” He walked ahead of her and held open the door to English.
She nodded absently as she glanced down at the books in her hand. With a groan, she realized that she had her Pre-Calc book instead of her English book. “Crap. I have the wrong book. You go on ahead. I’ll be right back.”
She turned and made her way through the sea of students trying to get to their classes. By the time she got her locker open, the second bell had rung. She was already late, so she slumped against the locker next to hers and took her time to find the right book.
“Hey!” a female voice called from behind her.
Michelle turned in time to see a pile of books flying through the air aimed at her head. She quickly tried to block them. Throwing out her arm to swat away a large textbook, she felt her entire body being slammed into the lockers. Stunned, she saw the culprit responsible for the attack, but didn’t have enough time to defend herself before a hand darted toward her. Dana, the girl who had been stalking CJ, was caging her in and slamming her head into the metal locker.
Michelle attempted to work through the pain in her back, but the agony in her skull was more than she could take.
“I know you’re the reason that CJ isn’t going to the Prom with me. I found this note in the hallway after class,” Dana sneered, holding up the note that she and CJ had written a few weeks ago.
“Dana, CJ is my best friend. I heard what you did to your other boyfriends. I’m not letting him get sucked into your schemes. If you think I’m going to let you hurt CJ, you’re more deranged than I thought,” Michelle said, trying to clear her vision. The hallway and Dana appeared to tilt and swirl a little. Michelle was afraid she might pass out or throw up.
“You’re wrong, Michelle. You’re going to help me get CJ. I know you’re keeping a huge secret that you don’t want anyone finding out about. I’ll tell the entire school that you hear voices and can see ghosts. I’m sure the guidance counselor would love to read your note. The best part is that it’s in your own handwriting. There is no reason for me to lie. I have all the proof I need,” Dana smiled cruelly.
Michelle stared at the manipulative girl and saw the determined expression on her face. She wasn’t bluffing. She knew Dana liked CJ enough to resort to blackmail. If Dana showed the note to the guidance counselor, her entire life would be over. Everything she feared would come true.
“I reiterate, you’re crazy!” Michelle yelled.
“Maybe, but it won’t change things. You are going to tell CJ that you were wrong about me. You are going to make sure he understands how perfect I am for him. We will be together, Michelle, and you are going to make that happen. If you can’t convince CJ to make me his girlfriend, or if he decides to break up with me, I will show everyone this note. I’m giving you twelve hours to convince CJ to dump that skank Mia and ask me to the Prom,” Dana said, defiantly crossing her arms.
Michelle couldn’t believe the audacity of this girl. Dana was willing to destroy her life all because of a crush. Dana had no idea how serious this was, proving that she was unstable. The thought of losing her freedom and being questioned by doctors caused Michelle to panic. She might lose everything because of one stupid girl. Imagining the looks of disappointment on the faces of her parents and Uncle Bob when they read that note made Michelle furious. She had worked so hard to hide her strange life. It took every ounce of strength and courage she had to appear functional every day. She refused to let this psychopath endanger everything she had worked for.
Michelle’s anger grew until it blocked out all her other senses. The pain in her head dulled and suddenly moved into her chest. She thought about what it would take to scare Dana into remaining silent. While she wanted to hurt her, she knew scaring the girl would work better. She wanted the satisfaction of seeing CJ at the Prom with his date Mia while Dana watched from her table with some other poor sap.
She embraced the pain in her chest and allowed it to surge through her. She had no idea what was happening, but she liked this new pain. It cleared her mind and focused her strange talent of reading people’s sins. The pain grew into a sharp clawing sensation that made her feel powerful and confident.
“If you think you can threaten me with a forged note, you’re wrong, Dana. You have much more interesting crimes to pay for than me,” Michelle chuckled darkly. She moved closer to Dana and searched for the right words to put her in her place. “I know what you did to your last boyfriend. After he broke up with you, his new girlfriend came down with a mysterious illness that landed her in the hospital for a week. Your boyfriend before that met with an unusual accident in his home and suffered a broken leg. I can feel the guilt seeping from your pores, Dana. I know you are responsible for those “accidents”. I’m sure it wouldn’t be difficult to figure out what kind of poison you used on that poor girl, or how Randy broke his leg. Accusing me of seeing and hearing things pales in comparison to actually harming people. They will arrest you and charge you with these crimes. They will deny your acceptance to all four colleges that you applied to. Think about how your parents will punish you when they find out how you maliciously hurt people.”
Dana’s eyes widened as she stepped away from Michelle. She was shaking her head in denial, but the fear on her face confirmed her guilt.
“I didn’t do anything. Those were accidents,” Dana said confidently, though the wild look in her eye did nothing to support her claims of being innocent.
Michelle moved closer until Dana’s back was against the lockers on the opposite side of the hallway. She dug deeper into Dana’s mind and listened to the lies she told her friends to make them hate each other. She heard the lies she told her parents to get out of trouble. This girl was more deceitful than she had originally thought.
“I will make it my mission to uncover all of your sins and make you pay for them. I will expose each lie you have told until the world shuns you and hates you,” Michelle said coldly.
The unusual pain in her chest swirled and slammed against her rib cage. It felt like something wanted to be released. Michelle wasn’t scared by it, but instead was intrigued. It felt familiar somehow.
Tears filled Dana’s eyes and tumbled down her cheeks. “I’m sorry. I’m sorry. I swear I will never tell anyone about the note. Here, take it. I won’t tell, I promise, just don’t hurt me,” Dana sobbed uncontrollably. She shoved the note into Michelle’s hand.
Michelle looked at the crumpled up paper and vaguely remembered Dana’s threat to ruin her. Pushing the note into her pocket, Michelle focused on the real reason for her rage. Dana needed to be punished for her crimes. After seeing and hearing the sins of those around her for years, she was finally able to make someone suffer for their evil deeds. She wanted to punish Dana and make her understand that she couldn’t continue to harm others to get what she desired.
“Dana Mitchel,” Michelle said in a detached voice. “Your mind is consumed by a need to take what you want, regardless of the consequences. You need to be in control and will lie to obtain the objects of your desire. You have an illness that drives you to do whatever it takes to achieve your objectives, including lie, steal, threaten, and harm others without regret or remorse. This needs to stop.”
Dana looked away and wrapped her arms around her chest. “It’s true. I can’t stop myself. I see something and I want it. I won’t stop until I have it. I’m sorry. I won’t pursue CJ, I swear.” Her voice was borderline hysterical as she spoke.
Michelle’s voice grew deeper and more sinister as she embraced the clawing sensation in her chest. “Your obsession with CJ ends now. You will make amends for all you have done.” The pain grew and thrashed inside of her as her anger rose.
“I swear I will make amends!” Dana yelled through her tears.
“Enough!” a voice called out nearby.
Michelle ignored the voice, unconcerned about the man speaking. She was too focused on Dana to care about anyone else.
Michelle lifted her hand and stared at her ring. Something was telling her to remove it, though she didn’t know why.
Reaching for her ring, the man stepped in front of her. “No, Miss Black, you can’t do this.”
Michelle looked up at Mr. Timmons. “Why not?” she asked, annoyed by the interruption.
“I don’t know what happened between the two of you, but you need to calm down. Harming this girl won’t do any good. Get yourself under control before you kill her,” he snapped. He appeared more concerned than angry.
Michelle blinked rapidly. Kill Dana? She wasn’t trying to kill her, merely scare her. What was Mr. Timmons talking about?
“I have no intention of harming her. She threatened me. I want her to know that I don’t back down to threats,” Michelle replied as some of her anger dissipated. She was confused by Mr. Timmons’ assessment of the situation. She hadn’t once thought of killing Dana.
Mr. Timmons shielded Dana with his body and stepped closer to Michelle.
“That’s not what the gleam in your eyes is telling me. I’ve seen that look before, but on the face of another. You are lying to yourself if you believe you were only trying to frighten the girl. Look at her. She’s significantly frightened. You’ve accomplished your goal, yet you were going in for the kill,” he said, pointing to Dana rocking on the floor behind him.
Dana was curled up in a ball, leaning against the lockers. She was pale and biting her lip. Her eyes were unfocused and distant.
Michelle was shocked when she saw the tears pooling in Dana’s eyes. Mr. Timmons was right. The girl appeared traumatized.
Michelle shook her head and took a step back. She quickly glanced around and remembered that she was still at school. Threatening Dana seemed like a strange dream. She suddenly felt disconnected from what had happened.
“I didn’t mean to scare her so badly. I really wasn’t planning to hurt her,” she whispered. She backed away as the reality of the situation hit her. Dana was practically catatonic and she was responsible.
“Get to class, Miss Black. I will deal with Dana. Above all, control yourself. Whatever she did to you isn’t worth this,” Mr. Timmons huffed.
He helped Dana to her feet and guided her down the hallway toward the nurse’s office.
Michelle slowly walked back to her locker. Glancing in the mirror, she almost didn’t recognize herself. Her eyes were a dark blue and the corners of her eyes and mouth were pinched in anger. She suddenly understood Mr. Timmons’ concern. She did look angry enough to kill someone.
Taking a deep breath, she tried to push away the need to punish Dana. She had no idea where the compulsion came from, but she had to tame her rage. Inside her pocket was the note, safe and sound. No one could use it against her. Dana would definitely be too terrified to tell anyone about what had happened. No one, except Mr. Timmons, would know about the incident and she doubted that he would tell anyone. Breathing in slowly, she tried to stop herself from shaking. She felt the burning in her chest lessen as she pushed her hands through her hair and wiped her face.
“Everything is okay. Everything is fine,” she muttered to herself.
After a few moments, she felt more relaxed and no longer dwelled on Dana’s dark acts. Instead, she thought how she had protected CJ from the insane girl. She was glad that Dana wouldn’t bother CJ again, though she admitted that she could have handled things better. In her defense, the wretched little girl did try to blackmail her.
She had no clue what had come over her. She had never felt so angry in all her life and it was disconcerting. She now had to add strange outbursts of anger to her list of unusual talents, though she hoped never to react like that again. She wondered if the pain she’d experienced for the last few weeks had affected her more than she thought. She definitely needed to go home and rest as soon as possible.
She closed her eyes and stood up straight. She felt a little more in control. Unfortunately, her headache decided to return in full force. A wave of nausea nearly knocked her to her knees. She had no idea why the pain had moved to her chest, though she decided that she preferred the clawing sensation to the throbbing in her skull.
Exhausted from the incident, she slumped down into her seat in English as Mr. Timmons entered the classroom. She put her head down on the desk, wishing she could go home and forget about the strange occurrence.
The chattering in the classroom echoed through her head. It felt like shards of glass were being shoved into her brain. It took her a second to realize that Mr. Timmons was addressing her.
“Miss Black, are you finally ready to start class?” Mr. Timmons asked, sounding annoyed.
“Sorry Mr. Timmons, I’m not feeling well,” Michelle replied. She tried to focus on the front of the room to find him, but settled on the general direction where his voice might have come from.
“Are you all right? You don’t look good.” His voice was suddenly louder. He quickly appeared a few inches in front of her.
“I feel like this migraine is ripping my head apart,” she mumbled.
“Migraine?” he asked, confused. “You didn’t appear to be in pain in the hallway. Look at me.” He knelt in front of her and visually examined her.
Michelle stared into the blue eyes in front of her and shivered. The pain once again moved from her head to her chest. The clawing sensation was a welcomed feeling after the nausea.
For some reason, she felt compelled to reach out and touch Mr. Timmons. She had barely registered him standing in front of her in the hallway, but this time, she really saw him. She didn’t know why the swirling pain had returned to her chest, but she was suddenly mad at him. She didn’t know if it was because he had accused her of wanting to hurt Dana, or because he had broken up their fight.
Struggling for control, she grabbed the desk for support. She didn’t want Mr. Timmons to end up like Dana. He hadn’t done anything wrong. At least that’s what her rational thoughts told her. Her irrational need to hit him and yell at him was something she didn’t want to think about. Her body was trembling. It felt like the top of the desk would snap under the strength of her grip.
Mr. Timmons put his hand on her forehead, presumably to see if she had a fever, when a jolt of electricity roared through her body. He jumped back as if he had felt it too.
She slammed her hands down on her desk and tried to steady herself in her chair. Her body felt like it was breaking apart. She bit back a scream and closed her eyes.
“Nurse. Now! Mr. Jeffries, will you please make sure she gets there?” Mr. Timmons was professional in his words, but he sounded extremely anxious.
“Of course, sir,” CJ said quickly. He got Michelle to her feet and helped her to the door.
The further she moved from the room, the more control she had over her body. The swirling and burning in her chest calmed and the pain was once again focused in her brain.
The nurse took one look at the pair of them stumbling into her office and didn’t hesitate to call Michelle’s mother. She showed them to the chairs along the wall and ran off to get an ice pack.
Michelle could swear that she heard the nurse mutter, “Not another one.”
“What the hell was that all about?” CJ whispered. “When Mr. Timmons touched your head, you looked like you were going to break the desk. I’ve seen you intense before, but you looked downright scary when he knelt in front of you. Michelle, you scared the man half to death. I saw his face. He looked terrified. You were staring at him as if you were going to hit him. What happened?”
Michelle slumped against the chair and leaned her head against the wall. She just wanted to go home and sleep off this terrible day.
“I don’t know. Something happened when I looked into his eyes. My headache stopped, but it felt like my chest was going to explode. I can’t explain it. I think I almost yelled at him, but I don’t know why. When he touched me time stopped and it felt like I’d stuck my finger in a socket.” She put her hand on the back of her neck and tried to block out the loud ticking coming from the wall clock.
“Did he say something to you? He mentioned something about the hallway. It took you forever to get to class. I thought you had gone to the nurse. The next thing I know, Mr. Timmons stopped talking about a sonnet mid-sentence and ran from the room,” he explained.
Michelle was reluctant to tell him about Dana, but he needed to know what Dana was capable of doing. “There was a problem when I went to get my books. Dana came out of nowhere. She attacked me and tried to blackmail me. She found our note. It must have fallen out of your pocket.” She recounted the entire incident, including the part where Mr. Timmons intervened.
“Wow. I guess you were right about her. I can’t believe she did that. I’m glad you didn’t back down, but do you really think that you would have hurt her?” CJ asked as he processed her story.
Michelle hung her head. “I don’t know. Mr. Timmons seemed convinced I would. I don’t know what he meant when he said that he recognized the gleam in my eye, but had seen it on a different face. I guess he’s met people who have lost control before,” she said, feeling guilty for her behavior.
CJ sighed. “The Michelle I know doesn’t like it when people do bad things, but I have never seen you try to hurt anyone. I think you were justified in telling Dana off, though maybe you took it too far. I do appreciate the fact that you stood up for me and wanted to protect me. I would do the same for you. Maybe that’s why you lost it. I don’t know what I would do if someone tried to hurt you,” he said sincerely. He patted her leg and smiled at her.
“Thank you,” she smiled weakly. She was relieved that CJ didn’t think she was capable of harming someone.
“I’m glad that Dana didn’t hurt you too badly, but I’m concerned about your reaction to her threats. What happened wasn’t exactly normal, Michelle. I don’t know what’s going on, but you have to tell someone about how you felt. You shouldn’t have a pain in your chest and a need to punish someone. There has to be someone who can figure out what’s wrong with you,” CJ said, shifting anxiously in his chair.
A sense of frustration surged inside of her, despite the pain. “Go back to class, CJ,” she snapped.
“Why? What did I do?” He turned to look at her.
She pried her eyes open and glared at him. “I’m not normal. We both know that. Stop pretending that I am. Nothing about my life makes sense and talking to a psychiatrist isn’t going to change that. I don’t know what’s happening to me, but you can’t fix it. No one can. Do you think I want to be like this? Do you think I like knowing when people have done terrible things? Maybe I am crazy or delusional, but for once, I don’t care. You can’t change me, CJ, so stop trying.”
CJ leaned away from her and bit his lip. She could see the sadness and doubt in his eyes. She shouldn’t be cruel to him, but he needed to understand the reality of things.
“I’m sorry. I’m just trying to understand what happened. Relax. I’m here for you. Your mom is coming and you can go home to rest. I know the nightmares are worse and this headache is getting to you. Michelle, you’re tougher than anyone I know. You’ll find a way to deal with this. Please let me take care of you until your mom gets here,” he said softly. He raised his arms in defeat to show that he didn’t want to fight.
Michelle took a breath and settled down. “I’m sorry I yelled at you,” she sniffled. She leaned over to put her head on his leg.
“I’m sorry about what happened. I should have been more careful with the note,” he sighed.
She felt his body stiffen when she rested her head on his thigh. He relaxed and pulled the hair from her cheek as he rubbed the side of her head. Under normal circumstances, she would be excited to have her head on CJ’s leg, but right now, she just wanted to be comforted.
The nurse tried to send CJ back to class, but he refused. He gave her the excuse that Michelle might have trouble walking to the car. He pressed the ice pack to the back of her neck, and rubbed her shoulder.
“I apologize in advance if I vomit on you,” Michelle muttered.
“You can vomit on me as long as you don’t yell at me again. I hate when you’re mad at me. For a second I thought you might punch me.”
“If I could see that far, I might have,” she chuckled. “I’m glad you’re going to the Prom with Mia and not Dana. I’m sure the two of you will have fun. Make sure your mom takes pictures. It’s doubtful that I’ll feel better by then, so I might not get to see you in your tux. Maybe you can explain to Kevin why I’m not going.”
“Sure, I can tell him, though he saw what happened in English. He probably figures you won’t make it,” CJ said sadly. “I’m sorry that you’ll miss the dance. I planned on saving a dance for you.”
Her dreams of dancing with CJ evaporated before her eyes.
“Thank you for waiting with me,” she said, snuggling into his leg, happy that he was with her.
Taking slow breaths, she tried to move her head slightly to relieve the pressure. That’s when she heard the voice.
You are growing weaker. You won’t be able to resist me for much longer. You will join me, he taunted.
Michelle jerked herself up and frantically looked around for an explanation or an escape route, whichever worked best. CJ jumped in surprise but managed to regain his balance and put his arms around her to steady her.
They cannot help you. They cannot protect you from me. They are meaningless. You are what I want and nothing will stand in my way, the voice warned.
“What’s wrong? What happened?” CJ asked as he looked around for the source of her anxiety.
“I’ve officially lost my mind. I can hear the voice.” Michelle tried to stand up, but CJ held her in her chair.
“Okay, breathe. There’s nobody else here. The voice isn’t real. The headache is messing with you,” he said calmly.
She looked at CJ. His face was etched with worry, though he looked like he would kill anything that came near her. If only he could protect her. She didn’t know how to fight someone she couldn’t see so what was CJ supposed to do? She needed an exorcist or a CAT scan.
“I’m scared. I think there’s something really wrong with me,” she admitted as tears welled up in her eyes. She looked at the floor and contemplated what she should do.
CJ pulled her head against his shoulder and hugged her. “No matter what happens, I’m here for you.”