So, my one-shot became a three-parter and therefore here it ends, with Kate determined to have her say on events. I hope you enjoy it.
Dedicated to Anny, for being there and encouraging me to write at ridiculous hours than no human should ever be awake at!
Kate blinked rapidly as the light streaming through her curtains finally made it unbearable to continue to stare unseeing straight ahead before dragging herself back round so she was lying on the bed and pulled the quilt up over her head. She knew from the position of the sun against her window that it must be coming up for a civilised waking time and therefore it had been yet another night of sleep deprivation, a state that was rapidly becoming her norm. She was fairly certain that she had finally arrived home from a night of drunken silliness about four hours ago before Jed had so rudely interrupted proceedings on the dining room table but whilst that had been a somewhat unexpected development, the fact that she had been sitting on her bed motionless since 4am came as less of a shock.
From her position in the self-imposed darkness under her stylish but impractical choice of bedcovers Kate reflected on how after the intervention her cousin come lodger had subjected her to she had paced back and forth across her carpeted floor for a short while, angrier than she had felt in days but with a strange sense of coldness drawing in around her from losing the touch of both her late night companion and then Jed in such quick succession. She knew that she had been a little tipsy when she had invited the man she had met merely a couple of hours previously back to her apartment for the inevitable, but then if she had not been drinking she doubted she would have gone there at all, not least because he was the fourth man she had brought back to the flat in a week and she reflected with a heavy heart that she really was living up to other people's sluttish expectations of her these days.
Jed intervening had been a new slant on proceedings though, of that she was certain and whilst his presence at the doorway of his room studying her intently had been a welcome one, she couldn't help but hate him for filling her with hope in letting their kiss escalate before dashing her expectations all over again. In truth she had not been sure why he was even awake, as if he had been listening out for her he had failed to make his presence known on any of the previous occasions she had behaved so very badly. She recalled that he had looked tired and drawn around the eyes, like someone who had been up for days rather than a person who had been woken by the sound of her swiping the contents of the dining room table onto the floor as she succumbed to a passionate encounter. Kate knew that spending all night out in town was for her a distraction from her own complete inability to sleep anymore, especially with him so close by, but she doubted that he was inflicted so similarly with thoughts of her. Although she considered to herself, the electricity between them had definitely intensified over the last couple of weeks since his return and she allowed herself to briefly wonder quite what had run through Jed's mind when he saw her barely dressed and making out with someone that was not him right in front of his eyes.
Kate thought back to the man who had laid his hands across her as she dragged him down onto the table and silently questioned whether she could even remember what he looked like, never mind his name. In fact all she could really recall about the man she had been about to become so intimately familiar with and someone she had brought back into her apartment, never mind that she knew nothing about him, was that she was certain he had been wearing a wedding ring when he first met her in the bar. That was not something she was particularly concerned about however as from her own experience married men tended to be much more open to a meaningless one night stands with no lasting consequences than their single counterparts.
Kate remembered how the two of them had stumbled out of a taxi in the darkness outside Bedlam Heights before she had slammed him backwards into the wall that surrounded the building and kissed him with a ferocity that had even surprised herself. It had been as she released him and dragged him towards the entrance of the apartment block that she had glanced up and spied her dad watching her from the window above, drowning himself in drink and being the ever present witness to her behaviour. She knew that his presence in their office in the middle of the night and his knowledge of her antics was something that neither of them had so far found the words or the courage to raise, but there was something that depressed her and creeped her out in equal measure that her father could bear to see her tearing herself apart in search of something even he must have realised she could never find and that he had so far stood motionless to prevent her from spiralling further out of control.
She reflected that she was unsure whether his inaction was due to a lack of care over her welfare or that he cared too much so he was not allowing himself to see what was really going on, but all Kate had ever wanted from this man was that he notice her. She had come back from university to work alongside him purely to give herself a chance to prove herself in her daddy's eyes but all she had so far achieved was disappointing herself that he seemed far from bothered by her achievements. Regardless of how successful she had been in selling apartments for him, it appeared to her that her father could only see her as the little girl she had once been, a child she knew who had been nothing more than an innocent who wanted to be her daddy's special princess, following him around and helping him with his work. Even then she recalled that he had always left her to her own devices though, her and Jed growing up alone in the shadow of an old asylum that it must have been apparent to the adults in their lives was no place to be a playground for two inquisitive but troubled children.
The whole world had been their oyster back then, but Kate knew circumstances had conspired against them both to tie them to this building forever and despite her acknowledgement that it had not been her father's fault Bedlam Heights had so many memories for her, she could not forgive him for not seeing how inappropriate it was to allow her to become so obsessed with putting right the wrongs of the past through creating something new from the wreckage of her family's old hospital. Her relationship with her dad had always been tainted by the events that had unfolded in the asylum both in her lifetime and those that had gone before, but it hurt more than she could comprehend that she seemed to matter enough for him to be bothered about but not enough for him to show he actually loved her, something that was never more obvious to her than when he failed to prevent her from using every ounce of her feminine charms to secure a sale no matter how cheap that act made her feel. Kate doubted that Jed would ever permit a daughter of his behave in such a manner, but then something about the thought of him with a child disturbed her more than she could begin to admit.
Kate pulled herself out from under the suffocating warmth of the blanket that had weighed down heavily on her and she could hear the sounds of people pottering around in the kitchen making breakfast, Ryan and Molly if she could pick out their voices correctly, although she acknowledged that Jed may also be present because as the man seemed to spend most of his life in a perpetual silence of not needing to speak it made it difficult for her to ever tell if he was still present in her apartment most of the time. She wondered what Molly and Ryan made of her behaviour in recent weeks, as she knew that not only was her relationship history becoming more and more complex with every passing day, they must also have concerns over the increasingly strange array of men who she was parading through their home on an ever increasing basis. She knew without question that despite her chequered past her choice of conquests had only become quite so erratic since she had moved into Bedlam Heights, right where that very first night she had spent with Jed had occurred all those years before.
It seemed that whilst she was present in this building there was something about her that felt possessed to always have a poor unsuspecting male under her spell, be that her latest married gym companion, Ryan on occasion or even just a prospective apartment buyer. She could almost feel her provocative behaviour escalating within the confines of the walls of the building, with each encounter she had established ending up as meaningless and disappointing as it was passionate and barely scratching the ever present need she had to feel like she was in control. Kate was self-aware enough to recognise that the force that overtook her felt primal, something that she could not resist and caused her to act on instinct to satisfy an urge that appeared completely overwhelming at times. It was this all-consuming emotion that had forced her on occasion to listen over the years to comments Jed had made over people being haunted, compelling her to question whether there ever was such a thing as possession. Sitting in her room in the cold light of day after a bad night before she found it impossible to bring to mind any semi-rational thoughts as to who she suspected was trapped inside her already screwed up head with her, but the primitive nature of her fervent conquests and her need to feel dominant over men who would otherwise just have ogled her from afar scared her more than she dared to concede even to herself.
Kate knew that in acting the way she did she was searching frantically for a connection that she would never be able to find, but somehow that did not prevent her from wanting to continue looking nonetheless. The intensity of the nights she had spent with Jed over the years still astounded her, especially as in comparison to all that had happened since she knew their bond was unique. She would be the first to admit that there had been many, far too many, liaisons since her first, all undoubtedly with men she had chosen purely on the basis that they either wouldn't care enough about her to stick around or would treat her so very badly that it would wound her deeply, but the simplicity of making it burn that bit more every single morning after one of those nights was a masochistic act that she knew had become a habit. Molly was perhaps the only one who had truly seen her cry over how much her own actions harmed herself, but the tears she cried over her oldest friend's shoulder were nothing in comparison to the pain she had felt the very first time Jed had been ordered to leave. The men and the accompanying tears were a physical manifestation of the empty void that had been present in her life since that particular day and despite the damage she was aware she was inflicting upon herself, somehow it was that pain which made her still feel like she was alive.
Kate recalled the frightened and detached young boy who she had grown up alongside and thought back to all the stories Jed used to tell her as they made their own adventures in the asylum of people from the past, tales which had intrigued but horrified her equally. That he had grown up to become the dark and brooding man she had fallen for in every way had never failed to surprise her, but whilst he had disappeared from her life on far too many occasions over the years she knew that he was the only person apart from her father who had ever made her feel invincible under their gaze, even whilst she was aware she was falling apart being by his side. She struggled to accept him as her cousin, of that she was certain, and she knew that this was a great deal in part to how her father had treated him over the years. Yet despite that he was very much part of her family and all that this stood for, even though she had known that being one of them had been the catalyst that had torn him apart in the end. It was only when she had truly understood what being family had meant, when as a child the words used to describe relationships between people had begun to mean more than just the term itself, that Kate remembered realising her connection with Jed had a special significance beyond that she had with anyone else, outweighing even a biological link with her own father.
She had loved Jed forever, but this has transcended a childhood friendship and teenage crush and become far more superior to her than any of that. Kate could never begin to recount all the intimate details of the day she had given herself to him so completely back when she was sixteen years old, in spite of the fact they were seared onto her consciousness forevermore. She had told him she wanted to feel important to someone, that she wanted to matter and he had demonstrated his love for her in the most perfect of ways. Yet in the midst of their intimate encounter she had felt herself connect with him on a far deeper level, something so intense that she had barely been able to draw breath and the link that had been enabled caused her to see the horrors inside his soul. If Kate had not believed his stories before, she had known then that ghosts were real even though she had spent the past years denying such a thing to be true, because she was well aware that sometimes it was easier to pretend you had never even looked than to try and comprehend what you had actually seen when you had.
The nightmares that her night with Jed had triggered had remained with her throughout her remaining teenage years before disappearing when she had left for university, only to return when she herself headed back to the asylum several years later which was something she knew was far from coincidental. Kate recalled waking up after that first time by Jed pulling her into his arms as the deep rooted fear within her had threatened to snap her in two. She knew like no other person did that it had been witnessing what the simple act of making love to her had done to her mind that had caused Jed to break down completely after their encounter and therefore she had to accept a great deal of the responsibility for her father having him sectioned back then. She had not been able to come up with a suitable explanation for the bruises on her arms, which had been a testament to the coldness that had filled the room when her lover had pinned her down to the bed and tried to coerce her into admitting that she could also see the images that were eternally haunting his thoughts.
Kate remembered the blood curdling scream she had heard, that it was only afterwards she realised had come from her own open mouth, when she had tried to fight away the distressing pictures in her head but it had been her abject denial that she could see what Jed was talking about that had finally convinced him to let go of her arms, seemingly destroyed by the lie she had just told him, even though she was convinced that he would have been able to see it was because she had been too scared to admit the truth, even to him. She remembered that Jed had stopped talking completely after that moment and so when she should have been basking in the glow of her first night in his arms, the two of them had instead spent the night lying side by side but as far apart as physically possible in the narrow hospital bed, before she had dressed and gone to school the next day as if nothing untoward had occurred. Kate had often reflected on whether her dad had actually been aware of all that had gone on between his daughter and adopted nephew that night, but he himself had vanished for a number of days and had only later returned to arrange for the steadfastly mute boy to be sectioned, apparently for Kate's own protection as well as for his own sanity.
Kate stood up from the bed, knowing that she would soon have to face the world outside her closed bedroom door once more after yet another sleepless night and considered that even by most people's standards she looked terrible. The only thing she had been sure of throughout her recent history of erratic one night stands and flings was her looks, as she had the confidence to be able to see that when she put the effort in men seemed to find her alluring, a skill she was using more and more to her advantage with every passing day. However her lack of slumber and her restless spirit was beginning to take its toll on even that part of her and she grumpily rubbed the tear stains from her cheeks and pulled her fingers through her unusually ruffled hair.
The knock on the door beside her made her jump, but when it was opened merely seconds later and she was greeted by the reassuring smile of her closest friend Kate couldn't help but feel slightly better in herself.
"Morning," Molly stated chirpily. "Do you want a coffee? Ryan and I are making breakfast."
Kate found herself nodding wordlessly and following the girl out into the kitchen, barely even noticing that she was still wearing the crumpled clothes she had been dressed in on her return the night before. The first thing she observed was that everything that had been slid onto the floor some hours earlier when Kate's mind had been more focused on getting kicks from her date than domestic arrangements had been carefully replaced atop the table and from the way Ryan had been unable to meet her gaze as she entered the room, she was pretty certain he and Molly had been the ones to clear up the devastation she had left. When Ryan eventually looked in her direction, his uncertain smile at her spoke volumes about what her two flatmates must think about her recent actions and she could not help but wonder whether they actually had any comprehension of how unstable she was in seeking comfort in the arms of other people purely to keep thoughts of the only man she had ever loved from taking over her brain.
From the corner of the room Kate spied Jed appear at his doorway, half-dressed in the same jogging bottoms she had tried unsuccessfully to remove from him hours earlier as she had finally given into her desire only to be rejected. The electricity that surged between them as they locked eyes across the space was there even when they didn't touch and Kate recalled how incredible the sparks had been when she had actually placed her hand on his bare chest and succumbed to a passionate kiss. She had needed him in that one moment and from the way she knew Jed's eyes followed her scantily clad form around the room as she busied herself aiding the others in making a feast for breakfast, she recognised that his need matched her own. The two of them were as damaged and screwed up as each other, perhaps her even more so than him despite popular opinion to the contrary, but then she was just far better at hiding her true self from the world, from everyone who wasn't Jed that is.
After finally dragging her gaze away from him standing motionless in his doorway watching them, Kate glanced up and smiled back at Molly despite being aware that her gesture would not reach her eyes. From the strange look her friend was responding with, Kate knew that the girl had this uncanny knack for understanding that Jed had gotten under her skin even if she was unsure of the full version of events that had led to such relations. Of anyone it was Molly who had borne witness to the passionate and fiery rows that had erupted any time Kate and Jed had been present in the same place for any period, but whilst over the years they had connected intimately on a handful of occasions, with each passing time Kate had felt this insistent need to keep that part of their relationship with Jed a secret and had chosen instead to allow herself to submit to her desires with the one person who really knew what happened inside the blackness of her head, before dealing with the haunting consequences afterwards when he had long since gone.
Being around Jed but being so far away from him was destroying her, if nothing else Kate was certain of that fact. Nevertheless there was something about how he responded to her self-destructive behaviour that she could take courage from even in the darkest part of the night, as if he was a safety net brought back to her to rescue her damaged form before she hit the ground. Kate prided herself on being a strong and independent woman, but if she was honest with herself all she really wanted was for Jed to save her from herself and the ghost of a young child he had placed inside her head that night so many years before, a child she knew was yet to be born but would be destroyed just as quickly by Kate's behaviour as Jed himself had once been and would grow to be even more damaged than she could recognise even possible whilst in their care. She locked eyes with Jed once more before he freed himself from her stare and disappeared into the bathroom, with Kate left feeling a stream of cold air blow across her at the very thought of the horrifying image of their future life together with that child, a depiction that she had never quite been able to forget despite her every effort to prevent it from one day becoming true. To be apart from him had damaged her greatly already, but to be with him and allow the inevitable horrendous legacy that would follow to become reality was something Kate knew neither of them could ever willingly commit to, no matter how much both they, and the building that seemed some days to be their prison, desired nothing more than to let their passion overwhelm them once again.
Thank you for reading, reviews always welcome. Callie x