Sweet Little Nothing - L.K. Farlow

Prologue

Emmy

There isn’t a single cell of my body that doesn’t ache.

It’s the kind of hurt that pierces your skin and sinks into your veins, your bones, your fucking soul. It’s the kind of pain that eats away at you like poison, consuming all of the good within you until all that’s left is a shell.

I stumble, tripping over my own feet as I cross my bedroom. “Stupid, so stupid,” I mutter, righting myself. I flip on the lights as I enter my bathroom, recoiling at the bright light. God, even my eyes hurt.

I guess days upon days of crying will do that, huh?

My fingers tangle in my limp, dirty hair, and I wince as I tug on the ends, my past and my present colliding in my mind, morphing into a single mangled nightmare.

“It’s okay, Em. When you love someone, this is okay,” my stepbrother croons in my ear, his soft tone a stark difference to his rough touch. I wanted to tell him I didn’t love him. I wanted to yell and shout and scream for help, but my fear of him far outweighed my self-preservation. The last time I called for help, he backhanded me; when my mother asked what happened, Rob said I tripped and hit the dresser.

She believed him, too—didn’t even ask me.

My heart beats raggedly, like someone ripped the already damaged organ from my chest, shredded what was left of it, stomped on the pieces, and then hastily shoved the tattered remains back beneath my ribs.

“You like that puppy my daddy brought you?” Rob asks, and I nod. “Then you better do what I say or he might just disappear.”

“Stop, stop, stop!” I plea, the words a garbled cry to the universe. I want it all to go away, for the memories of then and the horrors of now to all stop. But I learned long ago there’s no one out there listening. Not to the likes of me, anyway. My own mother didn’t even hear my cries as I begged and pleaded for her to take my side.

“Not enough.” I pivot in a wide circle, clipping my hip on the vanity. “Never enough. Stupid!”

Tears cloud my vision as I struggle to breathe. I want… I need the pain to stop. For my past to stop haunting me. For the taunts and leers to go away.

I’m a top spinning out of control, desperate for someone—anyone—to save me from the path my own self-loathing is shoving me down. If I’d have been stronger—smarter—none of this would’ve happened to me.

I thought a fresh start would be the cure, but like a dark cloud, my secrets and scars followed me. And now, this place, what should have been a safe haven, is as tainted as the home I fled.

All because of Sterling Abbot—Rob’s best friend. With a torch in one hand and a pitchfork in the other, Sterling’s on a mission to make me pay for my alleged transgressions against my stepbrother.

“You thought you’d get off scot-free? That you’d run away and hide your sins? Not on my watch. You ruined him, his entire life, and now I’m going to ruin you. I’m going to dismantle everything you’ve ever loved. I’m going to dissect you, take you apart, and scatter the pieces. You think you regret spreading your legs for him? You’re going to regret spreading those lies even more. Take a seat, Emmalyn. Class is about to start.”

My breaths heave in and out of my lungs as a humorless laugh slips past my trembling lips. God knows, there’s not a single person on this planet who cares enough to try and pull me from the murky depths of my misery. If anything, they’d press their boots to the back of my head and hold me under.

My hands shake as I press down on the lid, pushing to the right.

“Dammit,” I cry as the orange bottle slips, and my blessed relief falls to the floor. The tablets scatter and roll around my feet as I fall to my knees in a desperate attempt to gather them.

With one hand clutching pills, I grip the edge of the vanity and pull myself back to standing with the other. The reflection staring back at me is the face of a stranger. She looks like me, but different, too. The face in the mirror is how I feel inside—worthless… empty… hollow.

Already gone.

I watch as she raises her hand and jams the pills into her mouth. The plasticky outer-coating quickly gives way to a

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