For Kate S.
Mor'phine (máwr feen): noun. A drug derived from opium and used in medicine to relieve severe pain.
She uses words like infatuated and mesmerized because addicted makes her tremble, eyes to ankles. She tells herself that she's hung up on Michael, even though she knows that he's trouble the way that the drugs were trouble.
They have the same effect, the way that they sooth her all the way to her soul. Blocking out everything else, blocking out everything that hurts and breaks and betrays. It doesn't matter if the drugs hurt her, if he hurts her, because at least she's expecting it. That's part of the rush, the danger, the always wondering when? She loves how powerful she is against this sort of craziness, how she can coax the final blow inches from her face and then duck, if only to watch it spiral away and gather itself before giving it all another swing.
Hundreds of times the morphine almost got her, maybe a thousand. But not Michael. She didn't think he was trying that hard; he never even got close.
Until . . .
She'd never lost before, and at first she didn't even realize that defeat had finally found her. But there it was, in her gut, the bruise blooming over her stomach.
She'd gotten caught before. She knew that the punch was coming; only this time, it wasn't the drugs to get her.