Home > Third Debt (Indebted #4)(11)

Third Debt (Indebted #4)(11)
Author: Pepper Winters

I liked this new blanket.

I was grateful to my father.

Without him, I would’ve resorted to opening the scars on my soles and living in pain to survive. What he hadn’t factored in was my conviction to save Nila. The drugs gave me strength to do that.

So I took another and another…believing they would be my salvation and her key to surviving.

How fucking stupid was I?

Seventy-two hours.

Three days since Nila left.

My injuries from Daniel’s beating were stiff and mottled. I refused to look at myself in a mirror, as I couldn’t stomach the yellow and purple bruised asshole staring back at me.

Whereas my body hurt, my soul was miraculously floating. Every day the overwhelming hazards of my disease bleached further and further into a watermark rather than a vibrant stain.

Cut let me leave the dungeon under the condition of medicating myself. The choice between dank darkness and pills was no hardship.

I kept to myself. I didn’t visit Jasmine to protect her from my appearance. I didn’t go on shipment runs or seek out my father. I spent the days in the stable, finding solitude in Wings’ silent presence and slipping deeper into the drug’s embrace.

However, lying in bed at night couldn’t stop my mind filling with her.


I missed her smell, her taste…her heat.

I craved to be inside her, to hold her in silence and find the gift that she’d given me by falling in love. She’d used me to help her. She’d manipulated me in a way I couldn’t refuse, but in the end, we were both losers…or winners—depending on my frame of mind. Her heart belonged to me. And my heart belonged to her.

I’d fallen for her.

I’d tried to become a better person for her.

But the drugs were so much more powerful than me.

I wanted to rejoice at finally finding something that worked. I should bow to the doctors for creating this miraculous cure. I needed everyone to know how incredible it felt to be cocooned by the gentle fog of intoxication.

Nila had obeyed me when she left—taking my heart and sanity with her. But now, I had a rare opportunity to fortify myself. I would become the man she needed, so when the time came to claim her, we would both be ready.

One hundred and twenty hours.

Five days since Nila left.

My injuries were healing—my ribs remained strapped and sore, but my face didn’t look as swollen or grotesque.

Five days equated to thirty-seven tablets. I’d become attached to my rattling bottle, devouring the promised fog as if each drug was exclusive caviar.

Nothing affected me anymore. Not loud noises, overpowering scents. Not even raised tempers or malice. The fog was thicker…the insulation between them and me growing deeper by the day.

The tablets were working.

They were stealing, healing.

But they hadn’t solved me completely. I still ached as if my heart had been ripped out. Every night I throbbed to slide inside Nila and have her come apart in my arms. My tattooed fingertips mocked me—reminding me she’d branded me and I’d branded her but for now…we were apart, even if we belonged to each other.

But soon I can collect her.

Soon I could save Nila, Jasmine, Kestrel, and myself.

So many futures rested on me. I couldn’t let them down. So, I popped another tablet, I said goodbye to another ounce of feeling, and I prepared myself for the ultimate finale.

I should’ve seen it coming.

Why didn’t I see it coming?

I’d begun taking my new tablet friends to save me from myself, to save Nila from a worse fate designed by Daniel, and to guard the goodness Nila had conjured inside me.

That was my goal…but I’d underestimated Cut.

I didn’t pay close enough attention to my evolution as the drugs took me hostage.

It started slowly, methodically.

The man I knew slowly sank deeper and deeper inside, leaving a husk—a husk living with men like my father and brother—twisting the hologram of the man I once was.

It began like before: Cut put me back in charge of the mines and shipments. He returned my responsibilities and praised me for doing a good job. Security and finances filled my day, leading me further away from the soft tenderness Nila had nursed.

At night, I would be summoned to my father’s quarters to talk about what would happen now I was back in control. He made me drink from his convoluted perception and made me eat his disgusting morals.

Slowly but surely, I became angry. And that cultivated anger was given direction.

The Weaver twin.

Vaughn was to blame for everything.

He stole her from me. His fucking meddling hadn’t ceased. He brought shame and suspicion onto my house. His tampering couldn’t be allowed.

Nila had been free for days—there was no reason to continue to spread gossip—in his mind, he’d won. I hadn’t made any attempt to contact Nila under another of my father’s conditions.

“Stay away until the drugs have worked.”

I should’ve guessed then that the drugs had two targets: help me, but collar me. I could no longer remember why I wanted to help Nila. Yes, I had feelings for her…but they felt so long ago. She was a Weaver. My family’s mortal enemy. Why would I deviate from my destiny when so many others relied on me?

Every breakfast, my father would turn on the news, YouTube, and every social media platform available today. Slowly, he filled my heart with hate.

He showed me disgusting lies and slander all originating from Vaughn. Twitter ran rampant with hashtags of #BastardHawks and #InnocentWeavers. Facebook hosted debates and surveys on their opinions of the Debt Inheritance.

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