So I'm ashamed to say that it's officially been one year since I posted a chapter on this story. I apologize for the lack of activity on my part, but luckily I have been re-inspired and my life is at a very comfortable and happy point, giving me more time and motivation to write. So expect to see more from me soon.

A big shout-out to the wonderful Rambling Robin for helping me with writers block. And also to all of my readers who are still sticking around to see the end of this (long) story. ;)


Sam and I spend the rest of the afternoon eating ice cream, playing more video games, and talking. I find that I really enjoy spending time with Sam, just like I always enjoyed spending time with Mitch. But I feel like I can relate to Sam more, which makes spending time with him even better.

I realize we're a lot alike in more ways than one, and it seems like Sam actually likes spending time with me too, which surprises me. I've never really had friends before, other than Blake and Mitch, but I sort of don't feel like they counted since Blake was pretty much just using me and I'm almost positive Mitch just put up with me to be nice. Thinking about Sam as my friend makes a warm feeling bloom in my chest every time I think about him that way. I wonder if he would like to spend time together more often.

By the time Dr. Carmin calls to ask us what toppings we want on our pizza I feel almost completely at ease with staying at their house for the weekend. I've hardly thought about Reece at all the entire day and that fact actually makes me feel good; maybe that's a sign that I can survive without him.

"What do you want on your pizza, Sky?" Sam asks me while he's still on the phone with Dr. Carmin.

I start to answer, but then I worry that Sam and Dr. Carmin won't like the pizza I decide on, so I quickly change my response.

"Whatever you guys want is fine," I tell him quietly.

Sam frowns at me for a moment before speaking into his cell. "Hang on, babe." He pulls the phone away from his ear to talk to me. "Sky, we can get whatever pizza you want, if it's not something we like we'll just get another one. It's no big deal, I promise."

I look at him doubtfully, wondering why making such a simple decision like this is so hard for me. Is it just because I don't want to upset Sam and Dr. Carmin? Or is it more than that?

"I-I like cheese pizza," I finally admit quietly.

Sam smiles at me before putting the phone back up to his ear.

"Sky likes cheese pizza," he tells Dr. Carmin. For a few seconds Sam listens to what Dr. Carmin is saying and then nods. "Yeah, that sounds good... Okay, love you too. Bye."

He hangs up and turns his attention back to me, that kind smile still on his lips.

"We got a combo meal with two medium pizzas and an order of breadsticks," he tells me.

I nod, trying not to ask the question I want to ask, but before I can stop it the quiet words slip from my mouth.

"Was Dr. Carmin mad that I wanted a cheese pizza?"

Sam frowns and sighs softly, slowly shaking his head.

"No, Sky, he wasn't mad at all. Why do you think he would get mad about something like that?" He asks me gently.

I feel my cheeks blush and I duck my head in embarrassment, wondering the same thing myself. Why do I automatically expect someone to get upset with me when I make a decision about something? What is wrong with me...?

"Sky," Sam calls my name softly, making me glance up at him. He looks upset and I immediately start to worry that he's mad at me, which makes me feel even worse because I know how totally screwed up I am to be feeling that way. Why do I feel this way?

"Feel what way?" Sam asks, startling me.

I realize I must have asked my question aloud and I wonder if I'm going to start blurting my thoughts out all the time or if I'm doing it just because I'm with Sam; I really hope I don't, that would really get me in trouble with Reece.

I look up at Sam and see him watching me patiently, waiting for me to answer him. I really don't want to tell him how I'm feeling, but I sort of feel like I need to; maybe he could help me even more if I actually open up to him.

"I-I feel... Guilty, I guess..." I whisper, looking down at my hands in my lap.

"Guilty about what?" Sam asks softly.

"Everything..." I mumble, unable to make myself look at him. "I worry that everyone is mad at me all the time and I can't make any decisions by myself... I'm just stupid," I whisper, surprised that I told him all of that.

"You're not stupid, Skylar," Sam tells me firmly, scooting closer to me to gently lay his hand on my shoulder.

I look up at him and worry yet again that he's mad at me because of the frown on his face, which makes me doubt what he said, but then he suddenly pulls me into a warm hug that I immediately snuggle into because it feels so sincere and genuine.

"What you're feeling is completely normal after everything you've been through, Sky," he tells me after a few seconds, slowly pulling away to look down at me, but keeping his hands on my shoulders. "It's a coping mechanism that a lot of people experience when they've been abused or traumatized in some way. You feel guilty that everything is your fault because it's easier to blame yourself than it is to blame the people you're supposed to be able to love and trust.

"When your dad abused you your mind tried to protect itself by forming a reasonable explanation as to why your father would do something like that. It's hard to believe that a loved one would intentionally harm you, but it's easy to place the blame on yourself, so that's what your brain did. It assumed that the reason you were being hurt was because of something you did, even if that wasn't true. By taking the blame yourself, you were able to still love and trust your dad because you had to, to survive. It's not your fault and it doesn't make you stupid," he assures me softly, giving my shoulders a gentle squeeze.

I think about what he said for a few seconds before I ask my next question.

"How do I stop feeling that way?" I ask quietly.

Sam gets a regretful look on his face.

"It takes time and therapy, Sky. You may never stop feeling that way completely, it might always be there in the back of your mind. But it will get better with support and constant reassurance that you're not doing anything wrong."

"But- but what if something is my fault...?" I ask without thinking.

Sam gets a concerned look on his face and tilts his head to the side.

"Like what?" He asks softly.

I regret my question, but I can't take it back now. Stupid.

"Um- like... I don't know... Like- like if I break something?" I stammer out, looking down at my hands in my lap.

"It would be an accident then," Sam says softly. "You might feel bad about it, but you would have to understand that you didn't purposely do it. You wouldn't deserve to be punished, that's for sure..."

His tone of voice makes my head snap up and I see him watching me intently with a look on his face like he knows one of my secrets about Reece. Does he know about Thanksgiving night after we left Michelle's...? But how!?

I quickly look back down at my lap, suddenly feeling sick to my stomach. I try to assure myself that Sam doesn't know about what happened that night, but just the idea of him possibly knowing makes me feel a horrible mixture of shame and guilt. Reece would be so pissed if Sam found out about that night. And I really don't want Sam to know about what Reece did to me because I know it was my fault. Even if Sam doesn't think I deserve to be punished for things that I do, he doesn't understand how bad I screw up sometimes. He probably wouldn't like me if he knew what a fuck-up I am...

"Sky."

Sam's voice is suddenly loud beside me and I jump, quickly looking up at him. He's watching me with worried eyes, leaning down slightly to look at my face.

"Huh?" I mumble dumbly, feeling kind of dizzy.

"You weren't here with me for a few seconds..." Sam says quietly as he straightens, looking deeply concerned.

I blink at him, trying to understand what he means, but he explains before I have to ask.

"You got a far off look in your eyes and you wouldn't answer me. I called your name three times before you finally came back," he tells me gently.

"Oh..." I don't know what else to say, so I just sit there, letting my eyes drop back to my hands in my lap.

An uncomfortable silence stretches between us before he asks the question I was really hoping he wouldn't.

"What were you just thinking about?"

I don't want to answer him because I know it's not normal for me to space out like that every time I think about Reece. It happened before with Dr. Carmin and now it's happened with Sam. It's like Reece controls me without him even being near me. Just like what happened to Sam's friend Aiden...

"I'm home!" Dr. Carmin's voice comes through the kitchen from the foyer and I'm relieved for the sudden distraction.

I glance up at Sam and see him watching me with a pained frown on his face and I wonder what he's thinking, but he stands up before I can worry too much.

"Let's eat," he says softly, putting a gentle hand on my back to lead me out of the room after I stand up.

Dr. Carmin already has the pizzas on the dining room table along with paper plates and napkins. He's in the kitchen area grabbing cups and he calls to me as we enter the room.

"Sky, what would like to drink? We have tea, soda, milk, juice..."

"Um, soda's fine," I mumble as I take my seat.

"What kind?" He asks me.

I look up at him and suddenly feel that familiar fear of having to make a decision by myself, which makes me wish that Reece were here. Reece makes it so easy living with him because he always makes my decisions for me... Shit, I am so fucked up...

"It doesn't matter," I manage to squeak out, trying to ignore Sam's knowing gaze.

Dr. Carmin doesn't say anything and I glance up to see if he's mad at me, but he's just pouring my drink without asking anymore questions, which makes me relax a little bit.

The doctor comes to the table with our drinks and hands Sam his, and then sets mine in front of me. He opens one of the pizza boxes to reveal a steaming cheese pizza.

"Let's eat." He says with a smile, scooting the box a little closer to me so I can grab a slice.

I take a bite and watch as Sam opens the other box to get a slice of the supreme pizza. Dr. Carmin gets a slice from both boxes and I wonder if he just got a piece of cheese pizza to make me feel better about asking for it, but I try not to think about it.

We eat in silence and I can see Dr. Carmin glancing between me and Sam with a concerned look on his face.

"Everything okay?" He asks softly, his question directed more at Sam than me.

Sam nods, glancing at me before giving Dr. Carmin a small smile.

"Yeah, everything's fine," he tells him.

Dr. Carmin is studying Sam's face and doesn't seem to believe him, but he still nods and drops the subject.

"So, what did you boys do all day?" He asks cheerily.

"Played video games and ate sundaes," Sam says with a small shrug, giving me a gentle smile.

Seeing him smile at me helps me to relax a little bit more; maybe he's not mad at me now.

"Sounds more exciting than my day," Dr. Carmin says with a small laugh.

"How's the case going?" Sam asks him around a mouthful of pizza.

They start chatting about what Dr. Carmin did during the day and I listen for a few seconds before my mind slips from the conversation and focuses on the two men in front of me instead. I realize that the way Dr. Carmin and Sam talk isn't really the same as the way me and Reece talk. I can't figure out what's different though until Sam suggests something to Dr. Carmin and the man agrees and thanks Sam for the suggestion. Then it suddenly clicks: Dr. Carmin treats Sam as his equal. He doesn't talk down to him even though he's a lot younger than him. He values his opinion and actually wants to hear what he has to say.

I can't stop the question that pops into my head as I watch the couple in front of me: Does Reece treat me as his equal? And I hate that I already know the answer: No, he doesn't.

Reece treats me like he owns me, like I'm his little pet and not his boyfriend. He listens to me when I talk, but I don't think he truly values my opinion. He thinks I'm cute and adorable. He doesn't see me like Dr. Carmin sees Sam. Which proves that our relationship isn't real...

"Can I go lay down?" I interrupt their conversation abruptly, feeling sick and desperately needing to get away from the couple in front of me.

Dr. Carmin and Sam both look over at me.

"You okay, Sky?" Dr. Carmin asks, concern creasing his brow.

I nod jerkily and push away from the table to stand up.

"I just need to lie down for a minute," I mumble quietly before quickly leaving the room.

I hurry up the stairs to find the bathroom that's beside the room that I'll be sleeping in and I shut the door. I barely make it to the toilet before I throw up the slice of pizza I was just eating. I try to keep my sobs quiet as I lean heavily against the rim of the bowl, but I can't stop crying. All I can think about is how fucked up my life is and how I'm completely messed up mentally and emotionally. And also about how much I truly love Reece, which makes me cry even harder.

A small knock on the door makes me jump and I quickly try to compose myself when I hear Sam's voice.

"Sky, can I come in?"

I don't answer him, but the door opens anyways a few seconds later. He looks down at me with pity in his eyes and I quickly look away, feeling like a total loser. He walks over to the sink and runs the water for a few seconds, then turns back to face me with a wet wash cloth in his hand. He sits down beside me and offers the cloth to me, which I hesitantly take and wipe my face with.

We sit in silence for a few seconds before he finally says something.

"Aiden used to space out like you did today... It always freaked me out a little. It was like he wasn't all the way there, like part of him was missing..." He says quietly, looking at the wall across from us.

I look up at him and shake my head slowly, my stomach turning from his comment.

"I'm not like Aiden..." I whisper hoarsely, wondering if I'm saying that more to convince Sam or myself.

Sam just looks at me, the look on his face making it clear that my words have no truth in them to him. I wonder if he always looked at Aiden like this...

"Sam."

Dr. Carmin's voice makes us both look up to see the man standing in the doorway. The doctor and Sam look at each other for a few seconds, seeming to be having a silent conversation, before Sam stands up and silently leaves the room. I watch him leave, then look up at Dr. Carmin. He's looking at me with a similar look that Sam had on his face when he first came in, but Dr. Carmin's is less sad and more serious. I wonder if he's mad at me as he comes into the bathroom and flushes the toilet.

"Sky, why don't you lie down and take a nap for a couple hours?" He asks me, kneeling down to be at my eye level. "I think you're having a mild case of withdrawals from the medicine that Reece gave you this morning," he tells me.

"I am?" I ask quietly, allowing him to help me stand up, feeling a little better in knowing that it's not my emotions making me feel so crazy right now.

Dr. Carmin nods as he puts a gentle hand on my back and leads me to my room.

"Some medications can make you feel like this once they're out of your system. I think you'll feel better after a nap," he assures me.

He turns a lamp on beside the big bed I'll be sleeping in and pulls back the comforter and sheet.

"Sam and I will be here if you need anything. Don't hesitate to ask, alright?" He gives me a gentle smile and a pat on my shoulder before leaving the room and closing the door behind him.

I hesitate, looking around the big room I'll be staying in alone, without Reece. I let out a big sigh, wishing I didn't need him so much to feel safe. How would I survive without him? Maybe Sam's right, maybe I am like Aiden...

I force myself to change into some comfortable clothes and lay down, trying really hard not to think about Reece. But I can't get him out of my head. He's all I can think about. He's all I can see when I close my eyes. He's my everything. And that hurts so much.

I reach over to the bedside table where I set my phone down and grab it, rolling over to curl up under the blankets. I hit the speed dial button for Reece and hold it up to my ear. It rings and rings, but he doesn't answer and it goes to his voicemail. I take a deep breath, trying to hold back my tears.

"Hey Reece, it's me..." I whisper into the phone, wishing I wasn't so weak and pathetic. "I miss you. And, I guess- I just wanted to hear your voice..." I try to talk more, but I can't, so I hang up.

I stare at the screen for a few seconds. The background picture is one of me and Reece, from the time we took pictures together on the couch. I look happier than I've ever been before in my life, but am I truly happy...?

I close my eyes and try to take a nap like Dr. Carmin suggested, but I can't fall asleep. I just lay there, clutching my phone to my chest, wishing Reece would call me back. Why didn't he answer my call? What is he doing that's more important to him than me? Why couldn't he just take me with him?

I hate this.

After a few minutes my head starts hurting really bad. I try to ignore the pain, but when my temples start throbbing horribly, I sit up and carefully get out of bed to go look for some medicine. The guest bathroom has a few pill bottles in the medicine cabinet, but I'm not sure which one to take. I hesitate, not wanting to bother Dr. Carmin or Sam, but the pulsing in my head is too bad to deal with. I leave the bathroom and begin walking down the hall to find them. As I pass the door to their bedroom I hear Sam's voice and I stop. I raise my hand to knock on the partially closed door, but then Sam's angry words make me freeze.

"How can you be okay with the fact that Reece is still abusing him?"

The door is open just enough for me to be able to see a tall mirror in the corner of their room and the angle that it's at makes it possible for me to see Sam pacing back and forth in front of Dr. Carmin who is sitting on the edge of their bed.

"I'm not 'okay' with it, Sam," Dr. Carmin says in a tired voice, watching the younger man. "But there's not much we can do right now."

Sam stops and looks at Dr. Carmin.

"Not much we can do? Why don't we offer to let him live here with us?"

Dr. Carmin sighs.

"Do you think he would want to live here?" He asks.

Sam hesitates, crossing his arms over his chest.

"... No. But you could talk to Reece. Convince him to let Sky go. All he's doing is hurting him, how can you not see that?" Sam asks.

"That's not all he's doing, Sam. Yes, I agree Reece is going about some things wrong, but overall he seems to be helping Skylar more than he's hurting him. Did Skylar say that he's still hurting him?"

Sam tightens his arms around himself, frowning deeply.

"No. But he just- he reminds me so much of Aiden, Chris. The way he talks and the way he huddles in on himself. He spaced out today while you were gone, just like Aiden always did," he tells Dr. Carmin softly.

The doctor nods.

"He's done it a few times during our sessions. He's disassociating, it's normal for someone with PTSD to do that-"

"It's not normal for him to do it every time he's thinking about Reece," Sam cuts Dr. Carmin's sentence short.

The man stares at him for a few seconds.

"Did he tell you that he was thinking about Reece when it happened?"

Sam sighs loudly and leans against the wall.

"No. But I'm pretty sure he was. We were talking about how he's been feeling, why he feels so guilty about everything, and he got this far off look in his eyes, then he just wasn't there. It was weird," Sam mumbles.

Dr. Carmin sighs softly.

"I need to talk to Reece about putting him on some medication. Now that he's adjusted to his new life he's going to start having trouble with his emotional stability."

"Great, give Reece his meds so he can control him even more," Sam grumbles, pushing away from the wall to start pacing again.

"Sam..." Dr. Carmin sighs.

"What? It's true, Chris. What did he give Sky this morning to make him so spacey?" He demands with an angry hand gesture.

"I don't know," Dr. Carmin mumbles, rubbing a hand over his face. "But he was just trying to help him-"

"Help him!? By drugging him!?" Sam says loudly.

"Skylar had a panic attack last night that made him start hurting himself, Sam," Dr. Carmin says sternly. "Reece was trying to keep it from happening again this morning. I don't think he was intentionally drugging him to control him."

"What if he was, Chris?" Sam asks, a slight glare on his features.

Dr. Carmin watches Sam for a few seconds before responding.

"I don't think he was, Sam," he says in a gentler voice. "Reece really does care about Skylar. I don't think he would intentionally do anything to harm him."

Sam doesn't respond, not seeming to like Dr. Carmin's answer. After a few tense seconds the older man reaches out and pulls Sam closer to him to stand between his legs.

"What do you think we should do for him?" Dr. Carmin asks softly, looking into Sam's eyes as he holds him close.

"I don't know, Chris." Sam shrugs and sighs. "I just don't think Sky needs to be with Reece. He needs someone who will actually take care of him and treat him right."

"What if Skylar thinks Reece is treating him right?" Dr. Carmin asks. "How would that help him by taking him away from Reece when he's already formed an emotional attachment to him?"

Sam is quiet for a few seconds.

"You think it would cause more problems by taking him away from Reece, don't you?" He asks.

Dr. Carmin nods.

"Do you remember the case I was working on when we first started dating?" He asks.

Sam nods slowly.

"Yeah... It was a girl who had been kidnapped, right?"

Dr. Carmin nods again.

"She was held captive by the man for three months before the police finally found her."

"What does that have to do with Sky?" Sam asks hesitantly.

Dr. Carmin sighs softly, like he's remembering something he doesn't want to think about.

"The detective who first made contact with the girl, after she had been found, carried her out to the ambulance and rode to the hospital with her. She immediately made an emotional connection with him and didn't want him to leave her side, even after her parents arrived. So he made the mistake of staying with her a little longer, thinking it would make her feel better, while in reality it made it that much harder when he really did have to leave. The detective had saved her and made her feel safe. Her emotional stability was already fragile and once that feeling of safety was taken away from her, she fell apart. She had a mental breakdown and had to be hospitalized for several weeks.

"I was one of several doctors who worked with her during her stay, and even after she was released from the psychiatric ward and went back home with her parents, she continued to ask to see the detective. It's a rare occurrence, for a victim to become so attached to their rescuer like she did, but Skylar's attachment to Reece is just like the girl's was to the detective, but even more intense. I think the same thing would happen to Skylar if he was taken away from Reece, Sam; but it would be even worse for him because he suffered from his abuse much longer and he doesn't have the emotional support of a family to help him," Dr. Carmin finishes softly.

Sam is quiet for a few moments, seeming to be thinking, but he finally speaks.

"He's so fucking sweet, Chris. He doesn't deserve to be hurt anymore. I wish there was something else I could do for him," he mumbles, leaning his head against Dr. Carmin's.

Dr. Carmin gives Sam a gentle kiss, running his fingers through the younger man's hair tenderly.

"You're helping him a lot already by letting him hang out with you and being kind to him, Sam. Skylar didn't have many friends in his past. You can help him now by being his friend."

Sam nods slowly.

"I just can't look at him without seeing Aiden," he whispers.

"Sam, Skylar and Aiden are two different people, with two very different stories. You have to remember that," Dr. Carmin tells him. "Aiden's parents were distant, but they weren't abusive. Both of Skylar's parents were abusive. He was raised in a very broken home that made him believe he was worthless and nothing. Aiden's experience was based off of one abusive individual. Skylar knows nothing but abuse; he was never shown love like he should have been. Aiden's dependency was out of fear; Skylar's is out of instinct. That's why he clings to Reece. Reece is the first person to act like he truly loves Skylar. Skylar's abuse lasted much longer than Aiden's and it started when he was much younger. You can't compare them like they are the same person, Sam. It's not fair to Skylar to do that."

Hearing Dr. Carmin say that makes me feel so much better. I hold my breath, waiting for Sam's response.

"You're right..." He mumbles, looking guilty. "It's just so hard for me to see Sky with Reece, Chris. Reece is controlling his every move; just like that bastard did to Aiden."

Dr. Carmin hugs Sam.

"There's a difference between their relationships though. Aiden's boyfriend got pleasure and satisfaction out of making Aiden feel dependent on him. He did it only for himself. Reece is taking care of Skylar and helping him heal. Skylar came to Reece looking for someone to depend on. He needs the guidance and support he never got as a child. Did you see how nervous he got when I asked him what he wanted to drink earlier?"

Sam grimaces and nods.

"He got nervous when I asked him what type of pizza he wanted too."

Dr. Carmin nods as well.

"Skylar is so accustomed to his decisions causing him harm that it makes it difficult for him to make them for himself. He's so afraid it will get him in trouble or make someone mad at him that he doesn't feel safe making one by himself. Yes, some of the ways that Reece is controlling Skylar is wrong, and I'll discuss that with him, but right now Reece making little decisions for him, like picking what he eats or drinks, is helping Skylar feel secure and safe. Skylar is at a very fragile point in his recovery process, Sam. Taking him away from Reece will cause even more damage. The best thing we can do for him at this moment is support him and be there for him. As long as Reece isn't physically hurting him right now, Skylar being with him is giving him time to start healing. As he recovers and gets older, we'll start working on his dependency issues with Reece. If a problem arises then, I'll take care of it, okay?"

Sam sighs softly and nods. Dr. Carmin smiles and kisses him again.

"I'm glad you're worried about Skylar. I worry about him a lot too. But I think we're doing the best that we can right now. Are you still planning on taking him shopping with you tomorrow?"

Sam nods again.

"Yeah, I think he'll enjoy it. He seems to like hanging out with me," he says with a crooked smile.

Dr. Carmin chuckles softly.

"And who wouldn't like hanging out with you?" He asks teasingly.

They start to kiss passionately and I quickly look away from the couple, unable to watch them because I miss Reece too much. I walk back to my bedroom quietly, feeling a lot calmer after hearing their conversation. Dr. Carmin said that the way I'm feeling is completely normal, which makes me feel so much better. The way I depend on Reece and need him so much isn't because I'm messed up; it's just a way for me to get better.

I crawl back into bed and curl up, letting out a sigh of relief. My head is still hurting, but not as bad anymore. I close my eyes and start to drift off to sleep, suddenly feeling exhausted, but then my phone lights up and buzzes loudly on the bedside table. I reach over and grab it, my heart fluttering excitedly when I see that it's Reece calling me back.

"Hello?"

"Hey baby," his soothing voice makes my nerves relax completely and I smile.

"Hey."

"Sorry I missed your call earlier, I was getting settled in the hotel room," he tells me.

"It's ok. I'm sorry I even called. I just miss you," I whisper.

I can hear his soft chuckle and tell he's smiling.

"Don't apologize, sweetheart. I'm glad you miss me. I miss you too."

"Do you really?" I ask.

"Of course. I miss that little mouth and how good it feels to hold you in my arms."

I smile.

"I love you, Reece."

"I love you too, Sky," he says. "Are you okay, baby? You sound tired."

I nod, but realize he can't see me.

"My head is just hurting. I'm lying down to take a nap like Dr. Carmin said to do," I tell him.

"Good boy," he praises me. "I hope you feel better soon. I'm going to let you sleep, okay? I still have a few things I need to do before I can go to bed," he tells me.

"I miss you," I murmur, trying my hardest not to start crying from having to say good bye.

"I miss you too, baby," he says gently. "I'll be up early in the morning for a meeting with a business partner, but I'll text you when I'm done. I want you to have fun shopping with Sam tomorrow, okay?"

"I'll try," I whisper.

"That's my good boy," he says, making my chest feel tight from my happiness from his constant praise. "I love you, Sky. Sleep good, baby."

"Love you too, so much," I tell him.

"Good night, sweetheart."

"Night, Reece."

The call hangs up and I pull the phone away from my ear, taking a deep shuddering breath. I look at the picture of us smiling on my home screen and this time I don't feel so conflicted about how happy I look. I am happy right now. Reece is helping me get better and taking care of me. Dr. Carmin and Sam care about me and want the best for me. I'm not being hurt every day and I'm safe. My life is finally turning around and looking up. Why shouldn't I be happy?

I fall asleep smiling, thinking about Reece...


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