Last Light
Author:M. Pierce



Unwelcome memories rushed over me. Seth Sky driving his Bentley, sneering and staring into the dark. Bringing me a little plate of food in Nate’s basement. Barging through my condo doorway, his hungry tongue in my mouth.


And then … standing beside my hospital bed, holding my hand as I coasted in and out of consciousness. All night.


“Yeah, I’m totally a groupie now.” Chrissy laughed.


I bit my lip and searched for words. Clearly, Chrissy had no idea about my brief and sordid history with Seth. And to be honest, I had no idea about it, either.


A few weeks ago, Matt Sky was my lover, Nate Sky was my friend, and Seth Sky was my enemy. But now? Now I envisioned Matt and Nate together, closing ranks. How had I missed the deceit in Nate’s smile and the lie in Matt’s gaze?


And Seth, who seemed so unwelcome before, now stood clearly in my mind’s eye. Vulnerable. Honest. A casualty of Matt’s game.


I slid my drink onto the bedside table, ice jostling in the glass.


“Isn’t Goldengrove in New York?” I managed.


“They were. Like, a few weeks ago. They’re on tour—got here yesterday. Wiley called me.” Chrissy grinned and buffed her nails on her shirt. “So I’m crashing their suite at the Four Seasons, which is, like, five minutes from here.”


Five minutes from here, and about five steps from the Hotel Teatro.


But Nate should be back in New Jersey by now, unless he stuck around to take care of Matt. If Matt needed taking care of. If Matt was going crazy like he did last year.


I huffed and pushed myself off the bed. Why did I even care?


“Fine,” I said. “I’ll go.”


“You will?” Chrissy danced over and prodded me toward the bathroom. “Awesome. You grab a shower; I’ll cancel the grease pie.”




Twenty minutes later, my sister and I strolled arm in arm along Fourteenth Street. It was busy for a Thursday, car horns and voices ricocheting in the April night.


I was still buzzed, or still drunk. The city lights blurred beautifully.


“This might be the worst idea ever,” I said as we walked.


I kept mentally reviewing my last encounter with Seth—when he wheeled me out of St. Luke’s, down the long antiseptic hospital halls.


At the time, I had wondered if he was angry or hurt … or still in shock. And finally he’d said, “Why are you with him?”


He stopped pushing my wheelchair and I swallowed noisily.


“I love him.”


Seth came around and crouched in front of me, resting his hands on my knees. Hands like Matt’s, strong and elegant. A face pale with fatigue.


“Do you?” he said. “Or did he force you into this? Matt is a master manipulator, Hannah. And you’re not a cruel person, I can tell. Now I understand why you were so high-strung at the memorial. You didn’t want to do any of this, did you? The lying. The sneaking around.”


My eyes misted—I get emotional at the worst times—and I glowered at my lap.


“Please, just take me to my car.”


“Hannah…” Seth’s fingers tensed on my knees.


“Are you going to tell anyone? I mean … that he’s alive.”


Seth’s expression darkened. He rose and resumed pushing my chair. “He disgusts me, but I’m not going to tell.”


“Do I disgust you?” I should. I was right there with Matt, lying and scheming.


But Seth had only laughed.


“You? No, Hannah. I feel sorry for you. He’s got you right where he wants you. Fucking incredible, really.” I peeked up at Seth, who stared ahead abstractedly. “He’s always been that way. I’ve seen it my whole life.” Seth’s sneer faded, and he looked momentarily awed. “He draws people in without even trying. Puts them under a spell. And then he does what he always does—lies or disappears—and you break on the rocks you were too dazed to see.”


You break on the rocks …


A master manipulator.


Chrissy pulled me to a stop outside the Four Seasons. She tucked a damp curl behind my ear and thumbed away an eyeliner smudge. I’d let Chrissy do my makeup and pick my outfit—a short denim skirt, moccasin boots, and a loose, striped boat-neck top.


I actually looked cute, and I felt human for the first time in weeks.


“It’ll be fun,” Chrissy said. “And if not, we’ll leave. No harm, no foul. You okay?”


I nodded. No.


“Cool. Wiley said Seth’s been asking about you.”


“He has?”


Chrissy took my hand and led me into the hotel, through the modern, well-appointed lobby. Every surface burned with a high shine.


“Yeah. Just, like, wondering if you’re okay and stuff. Because, you know…” She shook her head. “Matt’s a psycho, basically. I mean, I still can’t believe he faked that shit. I’m so glad you had the guts to leave him. He is truly fucking crazy.”


“Yeah…” My stomach seesawed.


We rode the elevator to the thirteenth floor and Chrissy read off room numbers in the hall. She stopped and knocked on a door. I closed my eyes.


Through the wall, I heard the low pulse of music.




A breath of air. The door opening.