Torture to Her Soul (Monster in His Eyes, #2) - J.M. Darhower Page 0,1

at 2:45 am that day.

I've been stuck in the darkness ever since.

I'm going to tell you a secret.

A secret I've never told anybody.

I, Ignazio Vitale, have always been afraid of the dark.

If you tell anyone that, I'll kill you.

My life is a case study of gluttony.

If you're looking for an apology about that, you'll want to look elsewhere. I'm not sorry in the least. Everything I do, I do it in excess; everything I have, I have more of than I'll ever need.

What can I say? I don't deny myself anything.

I've killed over a dozen men in my life. More than two dozen, if we're being honest here. I stopped counting long ago. I kill, and I hurt, but until recently, I only ever really loved once.

Maria Angelo.

I thought she was it, thought she was the only one who would ever reach me, the only one to beat through this battered armor I wear. I thought my ability to love ended with her, and I was fine with that. I live my life in excess because it leaves me satisfied. Love, on the other hand, hurts like a son of a bitch.

I know.

Believe me, I know.

I watched love die right in front of me, gasping, struggling for just one more breath life wouldn't grant. I decided, at that moment, that I'd rather just die than feel that again.

But then she happened.

I pause in the doorway of the kitchen and casually lean against the wooden doorframe, watching as Karissa cooks. Or tries to cook is more like it. Oil splatters into the air from a pan on the stove, some chicken frying away, the outside of it blackened nearly beyond recognition. A pot in the back boils over, the burner hissing when the liquid hits it, as smoke rolls out from inside the oven.

"Shit, shit, shit," she chants, popping the pink earbuds out of her ears and draping them around her neck. Grabbing a set of potholders, she yanks open the door, trying to fan away the smoke. It quickly consumes the air around her the same time loud beeps start blaring through the room.

She casts an angry glare at the nearby smoke detector before pulling out a baking sheet and throwing it on the counter, spouting another string of curses at whatever it is. Biscuits, I assume, although they look like lumps of shit.

Appetizing.

I walk over and reach up, popping open the smoke detector and pulling out the battery so it'll stop making noise. Karissa glances at me, offering a timid half-smile in place of any words.

Words are a rare gift from her these days. She showered me with plenty of scathing ones before they dried up and we entered the drought stage.

I wait it out, but her silence is deafening.

Frustrating.

Downright torture some days.

She walks around here with those earbuds in her ears, music blaring as she blocks out the world. If she can't hear me, she can pretend I'm not here. If she can't hear me, she thinks I won't waste my breath trying to talk.

She turns back to the stove, to her burnt food. She's usually better than this, but something has her frazzled. I'm not sure what it is.

"Everything okay, Karissa?"

She clicks off both burners as she mutters, "just fucking wonderful."

My jaw clenches at her tone and I force myself not to react. I don't take to disrespect well, but she dishes it out some days like I'm starving for it.

Hell, maybe I am.

Maybe I deserve it.

But I don't like it.

At all.

Instead of pushing her for more of an answer, for a better answer, I just walk out, leaving her to salvage a dinner she knows I won't eat. She does this every day now, part of a routine she settled into this summer, a routine she doesn't often differ from anymore.

She's predictable, borderline robotic as she fights to keep her emotions from showing around me, like if she does the same things day in and day out, maybe I'll grow complacent and overlook her presence. Like maybe I'll forget about her. Like maybe it's the key to getting away. She doesn't realize that's how I catch people. They think they fade away in the bustle, when they stand out more to me that way.

She's distracting herself, with these disastrous dinners, these routines, but it doesn't keep her from thinking. From overthinking. Strained silence fuels the most morose thoughts. I know. Believe me, I know. And that just makes it all worse.

She's a ticking time bomb.

Tick.

Tick.

Tick.

It's only