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Half the Battle by Elle Thorpe



Half the Battle by Elle Thorpe PDF

Author: Elle Thorpe

Publisher: Elle Thorpe Pty Ltd

Genres:

Publish Date: August 3, 2022

ISBN-10: 1922760145

Pages: 332

File Type: Epub, PDF

Language: English

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Book Preface

BLISS

“V incent!”

The rain poured over Caleb’s lips, which twisted in an ugly snarl. “This guy? For fuck’s sake. I told you he was a faggot. Is he retarded too? Just standing there, watching like a pervert? You want to watch while I pound her, buddy? Go right a-fucking-head.”

He yanked at my pants while I struggled to fight him off. I rammed my elbow back, finding some meaty part of his gut, but it was like he didn’t even feel it. He only tightened his grip on the back of my neck and slammed me face-first into the side of my car again.

Pain splintered through my cheek and nose, taking the brunt of the hit, then spread through the rest of my body. My ears rang. Blood dripped over my lip, the metallic tang seeping its way onto my tongue.

Caleb was too big. Too strong. The scotch spurred on his anger and hate.

Vincent stood on the other side of the car, a beacon of hope I couldn’t reach. I screamed his name again.

He pressed his hands over his ears, his expression tortured.

“Gonna take what I want from your used-up cunt, and then I’m gonna leave you out here to die, like the stupid bitch you are. Everyone will be better off when you’re dead at the bottom of those cliffs, Bethany-Melissa. They’ll rule it a suicide, and I’ll tell everyone you did it because I wouldn’t take you back.”

“Vincent!”

I could see the internal battle. The fight between good and evil he wrestled with. It was all-consuming, tensing every muscle in his body, the pain of it written in the agony on his face.

Vincent was everything good and sweet.

Scythe was everything manic and unpredictable.

If Vincent let him out, there was no telling what he’d do.

Caleb pushed at my pants again, dragging them down my thighs so roughly the material ripped. He already had his fly open, and his erection rammed against my backside, searching for a way to make me pay.

Panic surged. The touch of his skin against mine repulsive and terrifying.

I couldn’t do this again. Let him take me. Abuse me. Hurt me.

Tears rolled down my face while I stared at Vincent, knowing I had to save myself.

Even if it meant hurting him.

“Scythe,” I begged between sobs, hating myself for even uttering it.

His gaze snapped to mine.

It was too late to go back. “Scythe!”

The change was instant.

His hands fell away from his ears. The tortured pain in his expression disappeared, replaced by a slow-growing grin.

In a heartbeat, I realized exactly what I’d done. The hope disintegrated into fear.

Vincent wasn’t in that smile. Vincent was gone, letting Scythe out to play.

He moved so quickly I barely saw it.

Caleb, distracted by screaming at me while he tried to force his dick between my legs, definitely didn’t.

Not until Scythe’s blade was at Caleb’s throat.

“What the fu—” Caleb’s howl of pain cut off his question.

His grip on the back of my neck disappeared, as did the sick feel of him trying to invade my body.

I spun around, sobbing with a mixture of relief and terror while I fumbled with my ripped clothes, trying to get them back on.

Scythe and Caleb were similarly built. But there was no doubt who had the upper hand. Scythe wrapped a muscled arm around Caleb’s neck, dragging him back across the mud and away from me.

A silver blade clutched in Scythe’s hand glinted in the moonlight. It idly traced a path down Caleb’s cheek, drawing blood as it went.

Caleb howled.

“How unsurprising. He cries when cut,” Scythe murmured. “You hurt my friend, Caleb. What made you think that was a good idea?”

Caleb’s feet slipped from beneath him, and his fingers scratched and tore at Scythe’s forearm. He tried to speak, but the arm around his neck only tightened, until the only noises Caleb could make were splutters.

Scythe stopped a few feet away, entirely calm as he squeezed the life out of the man I’d once loved.

I did nothing to stop him.

Caleb’s face purpled while Scythe played with his prey, letting him have only enough oxygen not to pass out. A small smile of enjoyment ghosting his lips the entire time.

Blood trickled down Caleb’s face from the cuts Scythe made there, and I wiped at my nose, feeling no sympathy for the man when he’d thought nothing of making me bleed.

Caleb stopped fighting. I wasn’t sure if it was because of the lack of oxygen or because he realized he was at Scythe’s mercy and fighting was just a waste of energy.

Scythe rolled his eyes. “I hate when they give up so easily.” He loosened his grip on Caleb’s neck.

Caleb sucked in raspy breaths, his fingers grabbing at Scythe’s forearm again.

“There we go. He’s back.” Scythe held the knife out to me. “You ready?”

I didn’t move. I stared at the blade and then at the man offering it to me. “Ready for what?”

“It’s your kill. This rain isn’t letting up any, so the quicker we do this, the quicker we can go home. Vincent’s dog has probably shit all over my carpet by now. Annoying. I never would have let him get that thing.”

I’d known it, of course. I’d seen the distinct change in mannerisms. But hearing Scythe talk about Vincent like they were two entirely separate beings was disturbing.

I shook my head. “We can’t kill him.”

“Yes, we can. It’s really pretty simple. One quick draw of a blade across his neck, and hey presto, he’s bleeding out in the mud.”

There was a gleeful joy in his voice that sent a shiver down my spine.

Caleb whimpered. “Bethany-Melissa. Please. Call off your pit bull. He’s insane.”

Clearly.

Scythe’s eyes narrowed. He turned the blade over in his fingers while he studied me. “Have you forgotten what he did to you?”

I hadn’t.

Not for a second.

I stepped in, ignoring the offered knife, and clenched my fingers into a fist. Then sent it right into Caleb’s gut.

He let out a groan and tried to double over, but Scythe held him up, interest flickering in his gaze.

I rammed my fist into Caleb’s gut again, hitting the exact same place.

“Fucking bitch,” he gasped between hits.

My next punch was right to his nose. The sound of bone breaking more satisfying than I ever would have thought it.

If my hand hurt, I didn’t feel it. Adrenaline coursed through my body, taking away any pain, and bringing with it the desire to make him pay for every hurt he’d caused me.

“Take the knife,” Scythe said around a grin. “So much more satisfying. Hurts your hand less too.

Trust me.”

I stared at him. My fingers trembled.

“First kill is the hardest. They all get easier after that. You’ll see.”

I shook my head. “I’m not killing him.”

“Fine. I will.” His grip on Caleb’s neck tightened, until Caleb’s eyes rolled back and his body went limp.

Scythe dropped him unceremoniously into the mud.

I screamed, staring down at Caleb’s body, twisted awkwardly on the ground. “Vincent! I mean—

Scythe…” I looked up at him in horror. “Is he…?”

Scythe squinted at the body at his feet, squatting beside him and rolling him onto his back. “Dead?

Not yet. Just unconscious. I couldn’t stand listening to his sniveling and moaning anymore.” He cleared his throat. “Please, Bethany-Melissa,” he mocked. “Make the bad man stop. Honestly, the secondhand embarrassment was killing me.”

With a single slice of his blade through cotton, Scythe cut away Caleb’s shirt, exposing his chest and stomach. Then he pushed to his feet, striding to where I stood.

He pushed the knife into my hand. “Take it.”

I stared up into big brown eyes that somehow no longer belonged to Vincent. “I can’t.”

Scythe’s eyes darkened. “He’s called you fat. Ugly. A waste of space who nobody would miss.”

I swallowed down the emotions his reminder brought up and nodded.

He walked around me slowly, his voice a low growl in my ear. “He’s ignored you. Cheated on you. Made you feel like an object. Treated you like you were his property.”

I nodded again, knowing each word was true. “Every day.”

“He’s hurt you. Emotionally. Physically. In every way possible.”

A tear slid down my cheek. “Yes.”

Scythe’s eyes hardened. “Don’t you want to hurt him the way he hurt you?”

I should have said no.

I shouldn’t have wanted to.

But instead, my fingers tightened around the knife.

Scythe’s eyes glinted with pleasure. “Good girl.”

Caleb stirred at my feet. “Bethany-Melissa?”

“That’s not my name.”

Scythe chuckled behind me, his body warm even though drenched by rain. “Carve it in his skin so he remembers.”

I glanced back over my shoulder at him. “What?”

I was stalling, but some part of me wanted to. Because all I could see in my head was Caleb ignoring me at every dinner party we’d ever been to. Caleb screwing someone else while I stood there and watched. Caleb shoving me up against the banister and taking what I hadn’t offered.

Scythe’s lips brushed the side of my neck, his palm sliding down my arm until his hand covered mine. My knees sank into the mud, and rain slid beneath my soaked clothes, but when Scythe held Caleb down with his free hand, I didn’t stop him.

I didn’t stop him when he guided my hand to Caleb’s chest, or when he pushed down, forcing me to cut into Caleb’s skin in a thin, clean slice.

Caleb’s screams echoed through the night. He twisted and thrashed, but he was too oxygen starved to put up any real fight. I watched the blood pool around the shallow cuts.

Scythe’s gaze met mine, strong and steady. “He was going to leave you raped and beaten at the bottom of the cliffs.”

Blood rushed my ears in an angry roar.

“I hate you,” I whispered to Caleb. “You don’t deserve to live.”

He screamed again when I dragged the knife around his chest, carving out the shape of a B, an L, and then an ISS.

Head cloudy with hurt and fear and memories, I dropped the knife on his chest and pushed back onto my feet, stumbling away.

His blood coated my hands. I wiped them on my pants and stumbled backward, staring at the marks I’d made on his skin.

I’d cut him. Hurt him. Horror filled me at what I’d done.

Scythe raised an eyebrow at me as he picked up the knife. “You sure you don’t want the honor?”

“Let him go.”

Scythe squinted. “Nah. That’s no fun.”

Something hysterical unleashed inside me. “I said let him go!”

Scythe paused at my scream, as if considering his options. Then he shrugged and gazed down at Caleb. “It’s your lucky day, friend. The lady says to leave you breathing. So I will.” He leaned down close to Caleb’s ear and stage-whispered, “For now. But I can’t wait until she changes her mind.

Because when she does…” He drew the dull, back side of the knife across Caleb’s throat.

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