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The Complete Truth Duet
Author: Aly Martinez

Prologue of The Darkest Sunrise

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One minute after I lost her…


“Lisa!” I roared into my empty bedroom. My phone shook wildly in my hands as I watched in horror on the tiny five-inch cell phone as she hit the floor, blood pouring from her neck. Unable to tear my eyes away from the screen, I paced like a caged animal. “You motherfucker!” I screamed, rage and agony extinguishing any humanity I had left. “I will fucking destroy you!”

They couldn’t hear me—not with her headphones still connected to the phone. But they didn’t have to hear me for the judgment to be cast.

My heart stopped as she suddenly coughed, gurgling blood.

“Oh God,” I choked out, dropping to my knees as though it could bring me closer to her. I couldn’t fathom how much pain she had to be in. I wasn’t the one covered in stab wounds, yet the pain radiating inside me felt like I was being burned at the stake. “It’s okay, baby. I’m right here. It’s going to be fine.” Lies. “You just hang on.” My voice cracked. “Just…a few more minutes.”

She was on her side the way she so often slept. It looked like I could slip into the space in front of her and sleep for all of eternity. Her limp arm would have rested on my chest, her leg angled up over my hip, her chest flush with my torso. And we could have slid into oblivion together.

I would have gone. Willingly. If for no other reason than just to go with her.

My desperate mind swirled, failing for what had to be the millionth time to figure out how to crawl through the phone and carry her to safety.

But rational thought? It tore me limb from limb.

I was vaguely aware of the two men digging through her belongings and flipping the room in search of God only knew what, but the adrenaline ravaging my system tunneled my vision and left me unable to focus on anything other than her.

I couldn’t stop blinking.

As if each millisecond of darkness would erase the last twenty-nine minutes.

As if I could rewind time, start over, and magically change the present.

As if I could actually save her.

Suddenly, the door to her hotel room flung open and two police officers—with guns raised, triggers poised—charged inside.

My whole defeated body came alive, hope surging through my veins, launching me to my feet as the sound of gunfire rang through the speaker on my phone.

The darker blond of the two men dropped immediately.

The one in the grungy T-shirt stormed toward the officers, triggering another round of bullets.

A victorious war cry tore from my throat as he collapsed to his knees and swayed from side to side for a moment before the knife fell from his hand. Then he keeled over on top of it.

“Yes!” I screamed, the sweetest relief slamming into me. “Oh thank you, God.” I breathed as my head became dizzy.

That was it.

It was finally fucking over.

The cops rushed in and secured both of the dead men before dropping to their knees beside her. I watched, my lungs burning for oxygen, bile clawing its way up my throat, as they checked for a pulse.

Hope thundered in my ears, but the shake of their heads as they huddled around her told the saddest story of all.

For twenty-nine minutes, from over a thousand miles away, my heart had beat in that room with her.

And as he spoke into the radio on his shoulder, telling the dispatcher that she was gone, my heart died in that room with her as well.

“Nooooo!” I bellowed, my face vibrating as my soul tried to tear free of my body.

She couldn’t be gone. They had to be wrong. They had to be wrong.

I gripped that phone so tight that the corner of the glass cut into my fingers, and chanted, “No. No. No.”

I desperately needed the screen on my phone to go dark and finally disconnect the nightmare.

I needed her to call me back and laugh at me for being too protective and overreacting.

I needed to stop looking at her lying on that hotel floor, blood—God, so much blood—pooling all around her.

But I knew, down to the marrow in what felt like my rotting bones, if I severed that connection, I’d never see her again.

On weak legs, I stumbled back, found the edge of our bed, and sank down.

I continued to stare.

I continued to blink.

And I continued to pray for a miracle that I knew would never come.

As the seconds passed, my body became numb yet I was simultaneously in more pain than I thought a human could survive.

And as the adrenaline ebbed and reality sank in, I wasn’t sure I wanted to survive at all.




Four years later…


“Shit!” I cried as I threw the covers back and sprang from the bed.

The most obnoxious drone was coming from the alarm clock across the room. I knew better than to keep it on either of the mismatched nightstands next to my bed. The snooze button was my only addiction. But it seemed I’d finally mastered the fine art of sleeping through the alarm.

“Shit,” I repeated when I tripped over my accounting textbook. I vaguely remembered the thud of it falling over the side of the bed as I’d dozed off while studying.

Stupid. Stupid. Stupid. I couldn’t afford to make that mistake again. What if—

No. No what-ifs. I lived in today. Not in the past. Not in the future. Today.

Lifting the mattress off the floor, I used my toe to shove the book underneath, careful to make sure it was deep enough that the lump it caused was unnoticeable.

After that, I snatched my new turquoise silk robe off the old rocking chair that served double duty as my “clean” laundry hamper and shrugged it on. I shouldn’t have bought that robe; it cost a small fortune even if it had come from the discount store. But I hated sleeping in anything more than a tank top and panties. With as many midnight “emergencies” as I dealt with, including those where I’d forgotten what I was wearing and run out of my apartment practically naked, I decided that it was time to invest in something that at least covered my ass.

Dragging my long blond hair up into a ponytail, I hurried to my bedroom door. It took two hands to force open the stubborn deadbolt and then slide the chain free. Making a mental note to get some WD-40 on that, I added it to the priority section of my to-do list, which was roughly long enough to wrap around the Earth—twice.

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