“Salvatore…” she mumbles. That seems to be all she’s capable of saying.
I caress her face, pushing her curls back from sticking to her clammy skin. “Phi, keep your eyes on me, okay? Look at me. Please.”
But her eyelids droop and I can see it happening—the life draining out of her. I can feel her skin going cold.
She’s lost too much blood. It’s fucking everywhere.
Soaked in her clothes. Stained on her skin and the cement ground. It’s all over me to the point I don’t know what’s her blood and what’s mine.
I hold her tight, wrapped in my arms as if trying to absorb her injury as my own. If there was any way I could, I would.
Delphine doesn’t deserve this.I’mthe bad guy. I’m the fucked up psycho who’s never even cared if I lived or died. In fact, after I exacted my revenge on Lucius, death almost seemed like the perfect ending. What should I care if I died so long as I made him suffer?
Yet, this… isn’t fair.
Delphine can’t die. She’s supposed to live a long, happy life into old age. Even if it’s without me.
“Salvatore…” she moans, fear in her small voice. “I’m… I’m scared. I’m… dying…”
I shush her. “No, you’re not, Phi. I won’t let that happen. You’re going to survive. Just stay awake. Just hang on another minute.”
The panic has infected my brain to such a degree I can’t think straight. I search my mind for something, anything else I can do. Grasping at straws, cradling her close, I try to distract her.
“Salt and Pepa are waiting for you at home,” I say. “Salt’s probably pissed we’re late feeding him his dinner.”
Despite the fear and pain on her face, the corner of her lip twitches. The best she can do at a smile right now. I stroke her cheek and smile in return, hoping it calms her. Reassures her. Everything’s going to be okay.
It has to be.
“Pepa’s going to hog you all to herself. You know how needy she gets.”
She’s struggling to stay with me. Even as I speak to her and ramble on about anything that might serve as a distraction, the injury’s taking over. She’s slowly slipping away. I hold her tighter and keep talking, realizing it’s for myself as much as it’s for her.
I’m fucking terrified. I’m helpless and panicked. It’s seeped into my bones and settled inside my heart until I’m staring the truth in the face.
I can’t lose Delphine. She’s the only person I care about. More than an obsession. More than an infatuation. These feelings I never planned on having have taken on a life of their own. These feelings that I’ve never understood and never experienced before.
That can only be love.
Because if this isn’t love, then love doesn’t exist.
“Phi,” I plead as she dozes off. I give her a gentle shake in my arms, “Don’t go. Hang on another minute, Phi. You can’t leave me. I… I…”
I swallow hard and try again, leaning forward and pressing a kiss to her blood-smeared cheek. “You can’t leave me because I love you too much, alright? You can’t go.”
I’m not even sure she hears me. Her eyes have closed and she’s gone still.
The world has too. We might as well be alone, crumpled on the city street. The dozens of onlookers, the distant blare of traffic, the wreckage toppling only feet away falls to the background.
I tune it out and I focus on only her.
To the extent I don’t notice the emergency responders until I look up and flashing red-and-blue sirens blind me. A barrage of ambulances, fire trucks, and cop cars spill onto the scene.
Help has finally arrived.