“Aria?” Addison’s tone reflects a despair I’ve never heard from her before and inside I shatter. Whatever bit of anger that lingered, fragments and scatters in the pit of my stomach. Sucking in a deep, shuddering breath, her eyes go wide with fear and she takes a half step back.
“Daniel,” she says hesitantly, her eyes wide with shame and disbelief as her body shakes so strongly I can see it from across the room. “You can’t be okay with this?”
Fuck. Fuck. It’s all fucked!
I straighten my stance as Jase lets go of me, moving out of the way and taking a few strides closer to Aria, away from me and out of sight from Addison. But the movement makes him that much more obvious to her.
“Get her out,” she says, and her demand is strained by the veil of fear. She’s pointing to the box but doesn’t dare to let it steal her gaze from Daniel.
“Addison, stay out of it,” Daniel tells her as he takes another step closer to her, his hands held in the air.
“Are you fucking serious?” As each word cracks with disdain, pain grows on her face. “Daniel, help her.” The last word comes out in a croak as she backs away from him, further into the office and closer to the shelves. She nearly trips on the fallen books but manages to keep herself upright. She only takes her eyes off of him to see where Jase and I are. Neither of us is moving as she struggles to get closer to the box, closer to Aria who’s quiet, and for a moment, I worry if she’s all right.
“Why did he say cell?” Addison asks, and I can’t even begin to think of when I said that word or how I used it. All I can see is red and my memory is a white fog.
“Addison, please,” Daniel begs her.
“He’s hurting her, putting her in a cell?” she shrieks and then turns any bit of remorse or disgust into anger. “You’re allowing it! You knew!”
“She put herself in there,” I say, cutting off the interrogation directed at Daniel and feeling the need to defend us against Addison’s unspoken, yet all too clear thoughts. “Tell her, Aria.” I raise my voice, feeling my cold blood fill my veins and praying to hear her voice.
“What did you do to her?” Addison’s breathy words are filled with accusations.
“Nothing.” Aria’s voice is finally heard, although it trembles and is minuscule compared to ours.
With a hardened jaw, I dare to stare back at her, narrowing my gaze and not allowing her to blame this on me.
“She ran up here and hid because she held a gun to my head.” Each word comes out harder, but I stay where I am as Addison inches closer to Aria.
“Addison,” Daniel says as he tries to reason with her, keeping his voice low, but not to be denied, “get out.”
“Fuck you,” she spits at him and then finally lays a hand on the box.
“Aria,” she calls out to her, banging the palm of her hand on the box behind her, although she still faces Daniel with a defiant expression on her face.
Aria whimpers for Addison to go, to leave her alone and stay out of it.
“I’m not going anywhere,” Addison’s quick to reply, tears leaking down her face.
“Don’t cry,” Daniel pleads with her, stepping forward and trying to reach out for Addison. The resulting slap is so hard, so vicious, I practically feel it against my own skin. Daniel’s cheek instantly turns bright red, his head rotating back slowly to face her as Addison screeches at him, “Don’t touch me!”
“Addison, you need to.” Daniel barely gets another word out before Addison loses her shit entirely. Her voice three octaves higher than it should be, her entire body shaking with a new kind of vengeance, she’s only getting more agitated.
“What did he do to her?” She sways in anger as Aria’s sobs are echoed in Addison’s voice.
What did I do to her? To Aria?
I loved her the only way I knew how. My head feels light and everything I think I know means nothing.
I should have known it would never be okay. I’m too fucked up to keep a woman like her. To keep anyone at all. What did I do to her? I drove her to betray me, to threaten to kill me.
“What happens between them–” Daniel starts to try and defend himself, not me. Not the relationship I had with Aria. Because there is no defending that. I know it deep in my gut.
I try to take a step forward, toward the door to get out, but stop when Addison shrieks at Daniel, shoving him away as he tries yet again to go to her.
“Please, just go!” Aria begs her and that only makes Addison more adamant at getting her out of the box.