Craving Absolution

By: Nicole Jacquelyn

Dedication





To the girls who don’t feel comfortable in their own skin.

Someday, you will.

And it will be spectacular.





Prologue





Farrah

My feet were asleep. I’d been kneeling for so long with my ass resting on them that they’d gone past the tingling stage and had moved straight into the can’t-feel-them-at-all stage. It was a bit of a relief, the only relief I was feeling at the moment. I’d been vomiting or dry heaving for what felt like forever, in between moments of falling asleep with my head on the toilet, so any part of my body that I didn’t actually have to feel was a blessing. Even my fucking fingernails were tired.

I was in my underwear with my arms wrapped around the seat of the toilet, shivering on the bathroom floor when he found me.

I’d fallen asleep early the night before, not even taking the time to wipe off my makeup or brush the hair spray from my hair. Remnants of black eyeliner had turned to streaks of black all over my face, and my bouffant hairstyle had morphed into bed head that would take an entire bottle of conditioner to salvage. Needless to say, it wasn’t my finest moment.

Any other time, I might have been embarrassed that he’d seen me that way. I’d come so far in the past few years, and I never wanted him to have to save me again. I wanted to be a person he knew he could count on. Solid. Dependable. But at that moment, I couldn’t feel anything but relief.

Thank God he was there.

I raised my head wearily, opening my mouth to call his name, but before I could utter a word I started heaving painfully again, dry heaves that made my body jerk and my stomach muscles scream in pain. He stood there watching me silently until I was spent, and at first I didn’t realize anything was wrong. I was too busy resting my forehead against the cool porcelain, completely unconcerned with anything beyond swallowing over and over, trying to keep the retching at bay.

By the time I noticed how odd it was that he just stood there, he’d begun to speak in a low hiss.

“I can’t believe this shit.”

I turned my head to the side in surprise, so exhausted that lifting it was out of the question.

“You told me you were done with this shit. Gram’s been calling you for fucking hours, Farrah. What the fuck?”

“Sick,” I mumbled, closing my eyes. God, I was so tired. Why wasn’t he helping me? Couldn’t he see that I needed his arms around me?

“Yeah, looks like it,” he said with a sneer.

I blinked back at him, my eyesight blurring as sweat broke out on the back of my neck. Something was wrong. What the hell was happening?

“Gram called and said she couldn’t get a hold of you. So I thought, thank God I’m in town, right? Because I was afraid you were hurt, dead on the side of the road somewhere—”

His voice started going in and out. I tried to focus on what he was saying, but his words seemed to just fade to nothing and then became inordinately loud.

Was he yelling? It sounded as if we were in a tunnel.

“Same old shit . . . fucking druggie . . . done with this . . .”

“Cody—” I groaned, trying to cut him off. It wasn’t what he was thinking. Couldn’t he see that this was different? He must not have heard my voice or maybe he just chose to ignore me, because within seconds he was turning away from the door as the first sharp pain burst through my belly, stealing my breath.

Oh fuck. Where was he going?

He couldn’t just be leaving me. There was no way he would leave me. He wouldn’t do that.

Oh God.

Oh God.

But I was wrong.

I wasn’t sure how long I lay on the floor after he was gone. It could have been minutes or hours before I had the strength to drag myself out of the bathroom and across the hall to where my purse lay on the floor in my bedroom. The pain was nearly overwhelming, and tears ran down my cheeks as I fumbled around for my phone. I knew it was in there somewhere, and I keened in frustration as I fumbled past my wallet, makeup, and hair supplies.

I’d never been more scared in my entire life.

Somehow, I eventually tipped the purse completely over and my phone came tumbling out. My hands shook so hard it took me two tries before I could find the contact I needed, and by that time I was weeping in agony.

“Hello?”

“Gram.” I moaned pitifully, pulling my knees to my chest until I was curled into a ball. “I think something’s wrong with the baby.”

“Oh God, Farrah! I’ll be right there, darlin’. Hold on,” she ordered as my best friend’s toddler tried to talk over her in the background.

I dropped the phone in relief, wrapping my arm around my waist and rubbing softly as I gingerly lay down on my side. A few seconds later Gram’s shadow passed by my window, and sobbed in relief as I heard her slam open my front door.

Knowing that I would soon be safe had my mind racing back to the look of absolute disgust in Cody’s eyes, and I bit the inside of my cheek to keep myself from screaming.

He’d assumed I’d betrayed him, and he was going to lose his fucking mind when he learned his mistake. I knew him; over the past couple of years his thoughts and feelings had become more familiar to me than my own, and I knew he wasn’t going to recover from this.

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