The minute Blaise came into sight, his gun went off. Then I was ripped away from James, the gun at my throat falling to the ground. I watched, stuck in Yasmin's arms and a trance-like state, as Blaise took a step closer to unload his clip onto the already dead body. He saved the last bullet for a screaming Melissa, who picked the wrong time to come out of unconsciousness.

The room was still for a moment, before Caleb frowned. "Blaise, you got to have all of the fun."

When my knees gave out, Yasmin called out to Blaise who took his time walking over to me. He pulled me to him, and looked at Yasmin. "Clean this place up. Caleb, get the bodies." Then he led me out of the brightly lit living room, into the dark upstairs. I used him for support, but eventually he got sick of my stumbling and just picked me up. I was set back down in our bathroom--it was so weird to call it that, but he had me sleep next to him each night now--and he left my sight for a moment. When he came back, he had a towel and one of his shirts.

"Can you wash your hair by yourself?" Blaise asked. "There's blood in--"

I felt the bile creep up my throat, and suddenly my legs were working well enough for me to push myself towards the toilet. He came up behind me at one point and pulled my hair up. I was thankful, not wanting to get any of the pasta I made earlier in it. Blood was enough.

I heaved until my stomach was empty. Pulling the toilet lid down, I rested my head against the cool porcelain. The minute Blaise touched the hem of my dress, I shot up. "What are you...?"

"You need to shower," he told me, voice void of emotion. It was his murderer voice, I knew that by now. I'd accepted that Blaise killed people all the time just as I accepted the fact that I'd never be able to escape this place. I was his until he let me go, but he didn't seem intent on doing that any time soon.

I glanced at the bath, wondering if I'd be able to do it. I didn't feel that I'd have the strength to stand any time soon.

He sighed. "I'll send Yasmin up to help you."

I nodded, and watched him leave. Minutes later, Yasmin came to find me in the same position.

"Jesus Christ, Tarynn," Yasmin said as she helped me up to sit on the toilet. She moved over to the faucet, turning the water on to warm. "Why did you freak out like that? It's not like you haven't seen him kill before."

"I really can't tell you Yas," I sighed. She tested the water with her fingers and seemed satisfied, then pushed the plug in.

"I'm only washing your hair," she told me. I nodded. As long as I didn't have to touch the blood...

I let my clothes drop to the floor, no longer embarrassed with my naked body. Nudity wasn't a foreign concept in this house, as unwanted guests came at all hours of the night and unfortunately Caleb liked to sleep in the nude. Not to mention the types of injuries you got simply by living here.

For the longest time, the only sounds heard in the bathroom was the sloshing of water as Yasmin rinsed my hair. She was gentle with the shampoo and conditioning, and hesitated when the water began to turn pink.

"I've never been that close."

"What?"

"I've never been that close to somebody who was killed. I've never had blood on my hands. Not if it wasn't mine."

Yasmin nodded, getting the last of the conditioner out. "I have to go finish cleaning up." She didn't make a motion to leave.

"You should bring some food down to Olivia."

"I will."

Conversations with my once best friend were so formal now. For some reason she was always cold to me. I couldn't understand why. In all essence, she was just here. She simply 'belonged' to Blaise. He never made her pretend to be a relative or significant other; he didn't have her sleep beside him. He never hit her and as far as I knew, she didn't have to tiptoe around his temper. She was lucky he barely bat an eyelash her way.

Five minutes later I pulled out the plug, letting the water drain. I was confident I could make my way towards the bed. I wrapped a towel around myself, threw the dress in the trash and my underwear in the hamper. The bedroom was dark and empty when I walked into it, so I dressed quickly, hoping Blaise wouldn't walk in while I indecent. Just because I wasn't embarrassed didn't mean I wanted to be naked in front of him. I could believe he was more human than Emery and Caleb simply for the fact that he never forced me past a kiss, but I didn't need to tempt him.

I'd calmed by the time Blaise came into the room an hour later. He took his blazer off as he walked towards the bed, throwing it somewhere, and placed his gun inside the nightstand draw. Before he could lay down, I held out the ring on my finger to him.

"I'm not your wife anymore, you can have it back."

Blaise shook his head. "Keep it, it looks nice on you."

"People will think we're married."

"That will protect you more than you know."

He marked that as the end of the conversation by laying beside me and pulling me against him. I'd stop pulling away months ago. Hell, I'd stop trying to escape months ago. I don't know how we got here, to this almost civil place. I was almost comforted by his presence now, which was far from my emotions a year ago when he'd robbed Yasmin and I of everything we had but each other. Funny how once we're distanced, I rely most on him.

I turned to face him, surprised that his eyes were still open. Unfortunately, it was hard to ignore those blue eyes.

"Why did you kill him?" I asked. It's not like he couldn't just kidnap another girl or use Yasmin as his bed buddy.

Blaise thought about this for a moment, and in that moment I let my eyes wander of the stubble on his face. He hadn't shaved and he'd loaded his gun this morning. They were losing money.

His answer was ready. "People don't touch what's mine," he said. Blaise grabbed my thigh and pulled my leg over his hip. This closeness made me feel nervous, but he didn't make a move closer. "And he was going to die anyway. I'd rather not have you go with him."


AN: Hi! I have a feeling I'm going to regret posting this on FictionPress, but why not? I doubt I'll publish Embers in this format, after all.

Just a warning, there will be blood. It's rated M for a reason. I usually post chapters of Embers on The Write Away first (link on my profile) so if you really want to see it, stop by there. Thanks for reading!