Last Line - Heather Stone

Prologue

One more line. Just one more.

I need something to dull the pain. Erase the memories from existence.

Erase him.

I feel worthless. He made me feel this way.

Slowly, it all begins to fade. I’m free falling into the abyss of solitude. Here, in this space, nothing and nobody can hurt me. I’m untouchable.

As I take my final breath, all is as it should be. In these last painless seconds, my brain conjures up one image—the face that haunts me even at death’s door. I see him right before everything goes black.

It’s true what they say: life’s a bitch.

But they don’t tell you that death’s a bitch, too.

1

Bailey

One Month Earlier

Club L.E.X.

I’m finally here.

It isn’t much to look at from the outside of the building, just a typical New York warehouse, but the concrete slabs with no windows just serve to make it completely frightening. It’s dark and utterly ominous on the outside, but it’s the inside that’s home to the proverbial monsters in my closet. The depths of this carnivorous building hold a whole different world of problems for me. Problems that I’ve promised myself will stay buried in the past.

After weeks of looking for a job and failing, I’m finally here. Thank God too, as I had just received my third eviction notice. I had begun to wonder if I would have to abandon my dreams of living in the city, but my sister Leah came through yet again. Little did she know she chose the wrong place to find me employment. Leah had no idea of my addiction. Over the years, I’d made sure to keep her ignorant of the fact, so when she approached me about a job as a bartender, there was no way I couldn’t accept it. If I wanted any chance of getting out of debt and staying in New York, this was it.

I was out of options.

Leah and I couldn’t be more different. She’s blonde and fair skinned like our mother, and I’m dark and brooding like our father. The comparison of light versus dark or good versus evil comes to mind. It describes us to a tee. While she is the family prize, I’m the black sheep. Trouble follows me. It’s my shadow. I’m basically a cosmic tragedy. But that was before. I’m clean and sober now.

Two years.

One thousand and fifty-one minutes.

This time will be different. It has to be.

Leah has always believed in me, much to my dismay. She’s stuck her neck out for me so many times, always bailing me out, and I won’t let her regret that decision. I’ve always hung out with a questionable crowd, which Leah never understood. I tend to want to befriend the worst type of people. I was cornered after high school by Leah and her then boyfriend. They offered me money to move out of my small-ish town and to the city for a fresh start. I knew Cal only offered because Leah wanted it so badly. He was an arrogant ass with too much money. I jumped at the chance for a clean start, but it only ended in spiraling me further out of control. Now I find myself about to be homeless, without a degree and completely out of options.

Running a hand through my brown locks, I decide it’s time to move. I breathe in deeply, counting slowly to ten and allowing each breath I inhale to calm my fragile nerves. With tentative steps, I make my way inside. To think that, in a few short minutes, this barren building will become my lifeline—or my demise.

I stop in my tracks and shake my head. I