Sun Damage (The Sunshine Series)









Sun Damage

The Sunshine Series Book Three

Nikki Rae


Copyright © 2014 by Nikki Rae Colligan. All rights reserved worldwide. This work may not be copied, stored in a retrieval system, or distributed without prior written permission of the author, except by a reviewer, who may quote brief passages in a review. If you have this file or a print out of this file, you are depriving the author and the publisher of their rightful royalties and are punishable under law.

The author acknowledges the copyrighted and trademarked owners of the bands, music and movies quoted in this book.


For my Father

“When people die, they don’t really go away.”—Sophie Jean, Sun Damage


Chapter 1


“Killing things is not so hard, it’s hurting that’s the hardest part.”–Amanda Palmer


I can bring her back.

Those were the first words that came to mind.

I watched her for years, never intending to do anything but watch. Then she bumped into me at the hospital, like fate, luck or just the opposite had slammed us together. That’s when I first saw it. It didn’t matter that I couldn’t slip inside the hard shell of her mind. The darkness pushed through her every emotion and sensation, enveloping her and trying to hold on. If I could have climbed the wall around her thoughts, I would have only found thick, black spiders within. I felt each one webbing their way through her annoyance at me for touching her shoulder and asking if I should get a doctor. I could sense deep fear and agitation rather than embarrassment when her sunglasses slipped down and her reddened eyes stared at the floor beneath her boots.

there was something else. A sliver of something powerful and beautiful. A shard of the person she once was—could be. As she slid her glasses back up the slender bridge of her nose, pushed me away, and murmured a half-hearted “thanks”, the thought remained the same:
I can bring her back.

I never wanted to drag more darkness into tho
se eyes but that is precisely what I have done.

Maybe it would have been better when we first met to have just turned away. I could have left her on the ground, never entertaining the fantasy of talking to her and knowing about her life. I could have stayed in New York, coming back to check on things in New Jersey once every few months lik
e I always had. I could have chosen not to enroll myself in her school. I could have never introduced myself. Known her. Loved her.

Would I have been able to live that way?

Michael would have eventually found her whether I kept my distance or not. He would have tried to kill her anyway; I didn’t have to intervene. He would succeed without me trying to stop him and he would have made it look like an accident or a suicide. She would be dead now.

At least this wouldn’t be happening. She wouldn’t be going through the pain of being dragged deeper into the darkness in order to transform into something like me.

Evan’s voice breaks through my walls every time. I don’t want to keep him out but I don’t want to talk either. I still haven’t forgiven him for what he’s done. I know he was trying to help by forcing this situation on us and make it so neither Sophie nor I had a choice.

It was hard not to be angry with them both when
I found his mark on her stomach but none of that matters now. It’s done, and everything that’s been done can’t be taken away or changed. I understand why he did it. He wanted to see for himself.  I was curious once too. The only difference is that I had enough self control. Even when Sophie was bleeding in front of me, I never gave in. She is more important to me than what is pumping through her veins. As long as her it keeps pumping. As long as she’s alive.

Even when I did bite her, it wasn’t hunger that drove me. It wasn’t curiosity. It was love. I wanted to keep her close to me. I wanted to be entwined.

Now we are. More than any two beings can ever be; I hate myself.

I know you are still angry.
The thought is too loud and causes my temples to twitch under the weight.
You should be.

I squeeze my eyes shut and discover I have enough strength to block him off for one silent minute. Then my walls give way and he’s back, this time, slightly quieter. I can hear him moving, the sound of his pants as his legs rub together.
Let me help you.
I stretch my stiff arms above my head, making sure the pain in my mouth and stomach has subsided.

He thinks I’m still ignoring him, so he repeats,

When my eyes open, I train them on him. Evan stops trying to communicate to watch what I’ll do next.
My arms seem to be working again; only a dull ache emanates from my elbows and wrists when I lay them at my sides. I can’t move the rest of my body from the recliner he helped me sit down in when my limbs started to feel numb.

I try to speak, but I can’t open my mouth just yet.
Yes, Evan?

He’s kneeling, placing a hand on my arm. This is the most physical contact we’
ve exchanged in quite some time and his walls are completely down. He’s scared that I’m really hurt this time.

I’ll be fine
. I tell him.
We’ve been through worse together.

Evan’s thinkin
g about numerous things at once but he’s doing a good job at keeping them roped up tight so they don’t flood in and overwhelm me. What keeps seeping through is how sorry he is, how worried he is for me, and then his concern for Ava slips in as well. She had another attack this morning. He left her upstairs so he could take care of me.

, I tell him.

His expression leaves no doubt in my mind that he knows I’ve heard what he was trying to keep from me.
“I do not want to leave you,” Evan says out loud as if the sound will emphasize his point.

I want to speak back
but my jaw is still numb.
Ava needs you more than I do

You are my maker,” he says, his back straightening with pride.  “You come first. I am not leaving you.”

I’m not alone.

Even now, with Sophie’s polluted blood mingling with mine, pumping through me, stabbing outward and trying to stay inside my body at the same time, I can hear Alex and Adrienne in the next room.

arguing yet again about what a bad decision this was. Before I fell asleep, Alex was insisting that Sophie would be able to do this. She believed that I would recover in a few hours and everything would be fine. Now both of them doubt all those things.

Evan speaks again when the silence has gone on for too long.
“Ava is fine.”

I know she’s not. She’s only been getting worse. He knows I can see tha
t like it’s drawn in the carpet but he wants to stay with me, the one who’s taken care of him from the beginning.

, I say again. I can feel the energy I gained during my short rest draining out of me.

Evan leans down and places
his hand beside my knee on the couch cushion. He’s about to argue further, but a soft knocking outside distracts him.

I try reaching out with
my mind but I fail.

Sophie,” Evan says, already standing. I try to move as well but my wrists won’t support my weight and my legs won’t move.

There’s some shuffling
then the door opens. “Sorry,” Jade, is saying. “You told me she wouldn’t wake up.”

I hadn’t realized I closed my eyes. They open when he says that.

Jade enters the room, looking just as tired as I am, stubble roughening his face and dark circles make shadows under his eyes. “She wants you,” he says. It takes me a few moments to realize that he’s talking to me.
She wants you and not me,
is what he doesn’t say out loud.

I didn’t want her to see me like this. Weak when everything
else around us is breaking. But I knew she wouldn’t be able to rest for long without me near her. I had planned on only being gone fifteen minutes but it’s been close to an hour now.

, I force out of my mind.
Help me up

He wants to argue; h
e knows he can’t.

Evan wraps an arm around me and I sling myself over his shoulder. Leaning my weight into him, I stand on shaking legs. I’m surprised when Jade is next to me, mirroring Evan’s position on the opposite side of me in order to hold me upright.

This is so fucked up
, he thinks.
How did this happen?

I can’t disagree. I can’t help asking myself the same question.

The walk back to Sophie’s room isn’t long but my body fights me every inch, bones threatening to snap, muscles starting to bend in ways they shouldn’t. I’m so relieved to be in the doorway once we reach it that I pay no mind to Evan or Jade, breaking free of them and stumbling to the bed where she is.

I remember having Alex change the blankets for me so Sophie
wouldn’t have to see the blood and she lies among the clean, white sheets. Her hair is messy, falling in pink waves that crash around her face and shoulders.

She is beautiful. She is always beautiful. When I notice her staring at the wall, there is no life behind her eyes. Her skin is grey and her cheekbone
s stick out.
It’s all my fault but I can’t shatter with her here.

I climb onto the bed gently, trying not to disturb her. She doesn’t look like she’s in pain yet, but the transition stage will soon hit her, and I know that any movement holds potential for agony. Once I’m next to her, she is drawn to me like the ocean to the shore. She places her head to my chest, and I am home.

Evan covers us both with another blanket.

Is she…” Jade whispers and my eyes open. He can’t finish the sentence except for in his thoughts:
Is she a vampire now?

No,” I say out loud, my mouth filling with sharp needles. “Not yet.”

This is normal,” Evan says for me so I don’t have to keep talking.

Yeah. This is an everyday god
damn occurrence.
Jade sits down in the chair beneath the window. I want to say something to help him through this, but even if I could, what good would it be? It’s my fault someone he loves is dying in front of him. That he will have to see it happen again. There are no words. Just the reality of what’s happening to his sister and who has done it to her.

Evan leaves us, and soon, I hear her Jade’s even breathing. He’s fallen asleep in the chair, exhausted.

Sophie’s skin is cold against mine as she shifts her arms around my waist. My muscles are sore but her touch soothes me. I can smell dried blood on her chest, rust mingling with the faded flowery scent of her shampoo.

You left,” she whispers into my neck, her breath wet and warm.

I will my fingers into her hair.
“I know,” I whisper back, my jaw aching only slightly now.

,” she says again, pulling herself even closer.

I’m here.”

We both give up on remaining
conscious then. I close my eyes and allow the dark blood to swallow me up again and she does the same. We are part of the same darkness now, yet we drift separately to a place where I will have to find her.


Chapter 2
The House In The Waves

All I am and all I was is just blood and dirt and bones and mud and I’m better off that way.”–Iron Chic


I remember thinking that swimming was easy.

I dove into the cool water, clear and clean, and I was weightless, floating. I could move if I wanted to, but mostly, I just drifted on the surface, hiding underneath the trees, unafraid of being burned by the sun.

This is different.

There is no pool. There is no sky.
Somewhere, a faint belief that I should be scared surfaces, but it’s swallowed up by the static sound of the ocean receding and crashing, ebbing and flowing.

Instead of floating, I’m being dragged under heavy, black waves. Instinct tells me to fight, to keep my head above water, but I’m tired.
So tired. I find myself wanting to slip into the warm darkness and not come back up.

It doesn’t hurt
here. I’m not afraid here. There’s no confusion, no questions, no choices. I can just sink. But all oceans have a shore, and no matter how hard I try, I can’t stay under forever. I’m slammed back into my body. Back into the pain and the fear.

How is she?” Jade’s voice, soft and broken, comes to me. Hands on me, covering me, holding me.

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