CH 1: Echoes Of The Past

Dorian tossed and turned in his bed, sweat beading on his forehead. In his mind, he was years in the past, reliving the worst night of his life.

The sound of breaking glass jolted Dorian awake. Next to him, Angela stirred. "Honey? What was that?"

"Stay here," Dorian whispered, reaching for the gun in his nightstand.

He crept down the hallway, every sense on high alert. The floor creaked behind him. He spun around to see Angela, her cinnamon skin pale with fear.

"I told you to stay—" His words were cut off by the sound of gunfire.

Dorian tackled Angela to the ground as bullets whizzed overhead. In seconds, he was on his feet, returning fire. His military training took over, each shot finding its mark.

When the last attacker fell, Dorian turned to Angela. "Are you okay?"

Her eyes were wide, her hand pressed to her side. As she pulled it away, Dorian saw the blood.

"No, no, no," he muttered, scooping her into his arms. "Stay with me, baby. We're going to the hospital."

Angela's long, crinkly hair bounced as Dorian ran to the car. Her tall, slender frame felt so light in his arms.

"You're going to be fine," he said, peeling out of the driveway. "Just hold on."

Angela's breathing was labored. "Dorian... I love you..."

"Don't talk like that. We're almost there."

The screech of tires was the only warning before impact. Their car spun, metal crunching.

When Dorian came to, the world was silent. He turned to Angela, her beautiful face peaceful, but her eyes closed.

"Angela? Angela!" He shook her gently, then more urgently. "No, please, no..."

But she was gone.

Dorian sat bolt upright in bed, gasping for air. The dream felt so real, the pain as fresh as it had been that night years ago.

He stumbled to the bathroom, splashing cold water on his face. In the mirror, he saw the haunted look in his eyes, the same look he'd had since that night.

Dorian had sworn never to let anyone get that close again. Never to be responsible for another life. Never to fail at protecting someone he loved.

As he lay back down, Dorian knew sleep wouldn't come easily. The ghosts of his past were never far away, waiting to resurface in his dreams.

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