1 Prologue

It wasn't me; I wasn't the one holding the knife, my grip tightening as each second passed. I wasn't the one screaming out for help as I guarded myself against the schemers that stood before me, begging me to put the sharp object down and crying at my refusal; It wasn't me.

That morning started off the same as any other; A rush of anxiety jolted through my body signalling the start of an attack and causing me to dip in and out of consciousness. I had to be ready by eight o clock which would be okay if I hadn't fallen asleep at five am, just two measly hours from now. I staggered towards the shield at the right side of my bedroom, exposing the mocking September sun, the direct opposite of what I was feeling inside. I wanted to return to my safe space and to dissolve into my covers forever.

"How was your weekend, El?" I scarcely registered that Alan, a fifty-something-year-old that I had the good fortune to share office space with was leaning against the edge of my desk. A goofy grin spread across his face that usually induced an inward groan except that was before I realised that Alan was one of the good guys; I repeated this thought over and over until I believed it, quietening the negative whisper that continued to persuade me that the people in my life were just out for my blood.

"It was fine, I guess," I answered, at last, scraping my inner perceptions to the back of my mind. I turned to face him, with my usual false smile, a simper contradicted by my deceptive grey eyes and one that I had become accustomed to.

I realised that I was in fact alone bar a mug of overflowing coffee, tainting the ivory; I grabbed the cup before it caused a stain, joining the already charred wood on a table that looked as if it had died a long time ago but for some bizarre reason unknown to me hadn't yet been replaced.

I turned to face the window, the top of dead trees almost level with the eighth floor. It used to feel like I was going to trip off the edge when I glanced overhead but working in this room for five years meant that my fear of heights and see-through walls had dramatically ceased which I believe to be one of my very few accomplishments in life.

A brewing confrontation piqued my natural curiosity and I bordered closer to discern whether they were people I knew. It didn't take long to realise and I was relieved to find that they were total strangers. I scuttled back to my desk, still half staring at the scene behind me while the other half dwelled on what was to come once I could return back to my safe space.

With my feet back under the tattered desk and my mind wandering to places I'd rather be and things I'd much rather be doing. A threatening warmth started to slither across my spine, suspending me into position, this fire was far from foreign though; The one thing that I begged to myself, convinced myself wouldn't happen, not again. I willed myself to shift to the source and when I saw that unmistakable dimpled smirk and those silky caramel eyes searing right through me then I understood that the body of lies that I had built up over the years, painting myself as an eternal victim with the hopes of garnering sympathy and tarring innocent peoples lives with false accusations. A suffocating smog permeated the gap between us, the story of our past written amongst the murk, words that I thought I'd kept locked inside, words that I believed would never rise to the surface again.

He was still so captivating to look at and when he turned to look at me, although his expression wasn't what I expected or craved; That piercing scowl didn't deter me at all because now I was entangled in a web of unrelenting obsession, my mind transfixed only of images of him. I couldn't help it, you know? I couldn't help but stare at him and I hated myself so, so much because even in the distance, nothing had really changed, had it?