Home > The Other Side Of Gravity (Oxygen #1)

The Other Side Of Gravity (Oxygen #1)
Author: Shelly Crane



“Cold?” I asked even as I reached across her to check and to see if her built-in warmer was on. It wasn’t.

She pushed my arm away. “I’ve got it.”

I held my hands up. “Just wanted to make sure you were warm enough. It’s freezing out here.”

“I can take care of myself,” she muttered and then seemed to gather steam, tightening her arms around herself. “I hope you don’t think that just because we kissed that you can just…”

“I can just what?”

She looked over at me for a second before looking back to the path we were walking. It was full of people, but she didn’t seem to see a one of them. “You’re not my new Lord. You’re not my new proprietor, my new master, my new…” She gritted her teeth.

I felt my bones go numb. “Go ahead, Sophelia. Let me have it.” I purposely said her full name, knowing she’d notice. She was pulling away, trying to show me the girl she could be. That snarky girl from the ship was making a comeback. But what she didn’t know was that strong, independent girl was just as much of a turn on as the soft Sophelia that I’ve had the past week. But she was forgetting how strong and courageous she was standing up in front of that camera, in front of the Militia when she was running out of air. She was always strong, always courageous, and she was always brave and smart. The loving, caring, amazingly beautifully-hearted girl I’d come to know was just lurking under the surface. And it didn’t take that much digging to find her. She wasn’t two people. She wasn’t a puzzle that needed solving, she was one amazing girl who just didn’t know it yet.

“I’m a plague,” she whispered.

“Oh, my… Soph.”

“I am!” she screamed, surprising me. “I am a plague. I have taken down plenty of people so far.” She scoffed bitterly. “You don’t want to be with me, Maxton.” She wouldn’t look at me. She just shook her head at the ground. “I’m a destroyer of goods things. Of good people.” She finally looked up. “You have family who needs you—”

“That I can’t go home to. You know that. I won’t bring the things I’ve done into my family’s life. It was my decision to do them, before you even came along, and now I’ll pay the price.”

“You could still be near them at least.”

“Next door or a million miles away.” I shrugged. “If you can’t talk to or see the ones you love, what does it matter?”

She closed her eyes, searching her brain for new evidence, I assumed. “I got you fired.”

“I turned you in for the reward. Twice.” I put up two fingers to drive my point home.

She growled. I heard the twins scoffing and making noises at our banter. They had stopped a few feet behind us, knowing better than to come closer.

Her eyes were fierce as hell as she gazed up at me, telling me to run as fast as I could away from her and begging me to stay all in the same blink.

“They will always be after you if you’re with me.” Her bottom lip started to quiver, her tell that it was all crashing down, but she kept up her fierce face. Her fists were clenched at her sides. “You’ll never be safe. You’ll never be free to walk the streets without,” she fingered the appearance scrambler around her neck, “these things on!” she yelled. “You’ll be a prisoner. You’ll be my prisoner!”

A few people walking by on the street had noticed her outburst and were giving us weird looks as they passed, but nobody seemed to care for more than a fleeting second, more worried about whatever mundane things were going on in their own lives.

“Don’t you care?” she yelled. “Don’t you care that your life will be over? Don’t you care that I’m taking everything from you?” She looked over at the twins. “You, too. Run! Run while you still can. You shouldn’t be here.” That lip… “You shouldn’t want to be with me. I’m a plague that will take everyone down with me. I’m damaged, I’m slashed and scarred, I’m cracked…” That lip lost its fight as finally her lips parted and a small sob made its way through.

I came into her space, done with this whole thing. That lip was my undoing.

“You listen to me, Soph,” I growled, but took a breath, taking it down a notch. I lifted her face with a crooked finger under her chin, wanting nothing more than to kiss her trembling mouth and make everything bad in her life go away for good. But life didn’t work that way, did it? You couldn’t think happy thoughts and fly away to Neverland. And you couldn’t kiss girls and have everything in their life that was wrong be right. If only. But I was apparently doing something right, because that lip…it wasn’t trembling quite as much anymore. And her eyes? They begged me to save her. “You were slashed when I found you, remember? And now, you have some scars.” Her face crumpled and she tried to move it away from my hand, but I brought it back to face me. I wrapped my free hand around her back, right against the part of her I was speaking of, and brought her against me. I put my mouth against her ear. “What is a life without scars? Scars come in all forms and we all have them. Some deeper than others, some more than others, some harsher than others. Your scars are yours, Soph, and you earned them,” I said harshly, my lips touching the rim of her ear. “It felt like sh—awful going through what you did, but the point is you did it. You. No one else. And no one else could have but you. And your scars are beautiful because of who you are and what you did to earn them. Don’t ever be ashamed of them. As for you being a plague? If that’s so, then please, infect me. Because I want everything you’ve got to give me.” I was pleased to hear a sniffled small laugh.

I leaned back, still holding her chin. There were a few tears clinging to the place under her eyes. I took her face in my hands, ten percent surprised that she let me and ninety percent elated that she was back to the brave, loving girl who took her destiny by the balls and said to hell with her past. I wiped her tears with my thumbs, somehow loving how she closed her eyes when I did so. It made it seem that much more special somehow.

She opened her eyes and I finished my speech.

“And you may be a little cracked, Soph, but it wouldn’t take very much to fix them. And I’d love to try.”

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