Romance Drama Contemporary

This story contains themes or mentions of mental health issues.

Bittersweet isn’t, to have something so cruel occur that you suddenly see everything as clear as daylight and everything makes sense. But it’s great, it’s great because you’re suddenly free. Free of disrespect, free from delusions and free from him. The leash once wrapped tightly around you, insufferable. Gone! 

I was incredibly thankful that Velicity had told me before I found myself invested deeper, even more so than I already was. I could feel the fury building up inside of me. Fortunately, it had only been a couple of weeks of us spending time together before I found out the truth. All this time and the connection I truly believed we had, only to be told I was played just like everyone else. He saw nothing in me, nothing but a social experiment for his own vendetta. To find out that I meant nothing more to him than some entertainment. What a sadistic little wench. 

I was the pawn but I’ll be the pawn. I like chess. Games are fun. Only this time, two of us are playing.

A day later I decide to meet Axel and give him a taste of his own medicine. I inch towards him slowly so he can capture my unhappy expression. ‘Are you okay?’ My eyes begin to water as I look him in the eyes; I wipe my eyes, and I try to conceal my smirk. ‘Yeah. Don’t worry- I’m fine.’ I smile up at him in a sincere, helpless manner with my little puppy eyes. 

Isaac had said once I wasn’t a good actor. But I had Axel right where I wanted him! 

I smile to myself again as he turns to grab me a tissue, he had fallen for it. He looked, concerned… it was almost, believable. For a second I had thought his feeling was sincere. I sigh at myself with such thoughts, that’s what every girl thought. This is why he’s so good at this. 

I’m here for every girl to have fallen for his trap, I’m here to defeat him in his own little games. To wipe the pride off his face and invigorate myself in my own curated game as he takes part unknowingly.  

He grabs the tissue, leaning towards me to wipe my teary eyes. His blue eyes look into mine, his staring starts to make my cheeks flush. My stomach fluttering. I get angry at my involuntary body reactions, no wonder the women couldn’t resist his charm. I wasn’t sure how I’d play his games without getting hurt myself. 

Axel told me he liked games, and now I understand it. (Even if it was in the literal sense. ) Sometimes you don’t know you’re playing the game, right into his hands, right where he wants you. Well, I’ll have him right where I want him, at my knees begging for mercy. 

He’ll have you believe anything, anything for his love of power and the satisfaction he gets from killing women’s souls. I imagine all the women he gazed at, so genuinely too. So that none of these women knew what they had coming. I had to give it to him for his excellent acting skills, I remember Velicity telling me how he obliterated any hope of her finding love.

They tell us that psychopaths feel no guilt, I don’t believe that Axel did either. He ravished in ripping women’s hearts out. Lucky for him, I do too. Or maybe not so lucky after all, not when I’m done with him.  

Axel liked hurting girls mentally. I once thought he was sick for it, but now I understand it. The level of satisfaction you gain from that control is addictive, to feel powerful, smug and invigorated. It is all-consuming.

To play him at his own little game, except this time he didn’t know I was playing. Playing my own game. Often, I had to remind myself this was a game because I knew of his true intent. I had to do whatever in order to win. If I let him feel emotionally connected and vulnerable around me… I could hit him where it hurts most, metaphorically of course.  

He was an interesting character, charming but had a devilish smirk if you were to look beyond, not be distracted by his beauty you’d see his insincerity, the evil that lurked in the grails of his smile. I struggled to keep my own composure, my body flushed trying not to evidently gasp when he ‘accidentally’ touched my leg. I could see it, I could sense the enjoyment he got from making me feel such a way. It only fueled my anger and contempt towards him, who knew that such contrasting emotions could fill up within me in one moment.

I stare too long. It evoked a smug power within me, to make him uncomfortable. To stare until he can no longer look me in the eyes, to feel his heart race. To make him the nervous one. To take back power, regain what he took from me. Only, it fuelled his desire more and made him more excited. Uneasy and nervous yet excited. I could see in his eyes that he yearned for more, his eyes looking hungry as he pull me in closer. Smiling down at me as he looked at my lips. It was making me shudder, if you have ever seen blue fire then perhaps you would have an idea of how passion transformed his blue eyes.

My heart was thumping outside my chest when he moved closer, our bodies making contact. Need I remind myself I was meant to be playing the game? The desire I felt towards him was intense, he felt it too. I was sure. My brain is filled with evil deceit as is his, I believe I was starting to lose at my own game to his smile. I need to keep my composure, how far was too far for a game I had every interest in winning? When was I to know when the timing was right? To know when he felt the love, and when to rip his heart out as he did to every woman. 

Was this too, a game that he too would end up winning?

There isn’t any true harm in taking this as far as I wish. The more invested he is, the more heartache I could cause…The combination of emotions towards him was very interesting. Hatred with a burning desire to kiss his lips and kill him in fury at the same time. It only fuelled my passion that I was struggling to keep a bay. Who knew two such contrasting emotions could go together so well?

I guess they do say it’s two things of the same coin, the more anger I held on to the more aroused my body became. 

It had now been over one month since we began spending time together and I decided to go to my weekly book club to show an extract of my work to the group. Axel decided to come with me on my venture, little did he know that I was analysing him, trying to understand who he truly was and why he hurt people the way he did. I start to read it aloud to everyone. While he listens to it, he suddenly perks up.

Now he was paying extra attention to each word like he was trying to decipher the meaning behind it. You could see him thinking, wondering and starting to see patterns of behaviour in my script, noticing it appeared a little too familiar. You could see the realisation on his face when starting to understand the character, he looks sceptical. As if he believe the piece was written about him. It made him feel uncomfortable. Once I finish reading he asks ‘ What was the inspiration?’ his eyebrow furrows.

‘From a book I’ve read, it’s interesting because you can empathise and understand the character beyond his cruel acts, you can see yourself in the character as well as people you may meet who portray aspects of the character.’ I pause. 

‘In the end, we can see these people for who they truly are. Broken souls who inflict pain onto others because of their own suffering. All of us want to be seen, to be heard. But to be genuinely seen and heard as we wish is difficult and so it’s easier to create a false sense of love. A love where we have control. To delve into our desires and the need for love, at a distance without any inflicted harm upon us directly. Hurting the other is another story -’ The colour drained from his face at my words. He swallows, ‘interesting concept.’

The girl listening to me pipes up ‘what do you mean by hurting people?’

‘The story illustrates two sides of the same coin. Anger and arousal, to not only lust for someone yet also loathe them at the same time. The two components make each emotion more intense.’ I take a moment, watching everyone’s expression.

 ‘There is often a correlation between people who have had a traumatic childhood experience and their own behaviour in relationships. Stuck in a fight or flight response even as they grow up and age, they subconsciously desire the adrenaline rush of the unknown just as they had as children in an unpredictable environment with unpredictable people creating familiar chaos into their lives to distract themselves from the suffering within. However ultimately, it represents the journey through life, our hardships and how they account for our sins. In our fear we stray from the virtuous life we intend by sinful acts in the desire for control that we once did not have.’ Axel can no longer look at me.

Two months had passed with me and Axel. Sometimes I did wonder if either of us was still playing the game or if I was being naive.

We spoke of our pasts, how they had influenced us as adults and spoke about things that most people wouldn't admit to themselves, let alone anyone else. Axel told me about the bad things he did, leaving out all the women he had manipulated, as expected. He said 'we’re all good people who do bad things,’ his words left a sour taste in my mouth. 

Thinking about it, part of me agreed with him. I always saw the best in people regarding them as ‘hurt’ if they tried to cause me harm, I thought it was their unconscious behaviour that they couldn’t control. That’s when I started to contemplate further, what if you’re aware of the pain you inflict on others? Are you still a good person?

Where was I? Where did I fall in the midst of my scheming? Was I really submitting to justice?

‘Amber’ he searches my eyes, looking a little nervous. I sense genuine emotion as he plays with his hands. ‘We have spent a lot of time together. I have spent time with many women, but not women as quite like you. I can’t put my finger on it or express the emotions I feel for you. I used to think that I was incapable of love. I believe I felt love once before. However, not like the love I feel for you.’ He stumbles on his words ‘ I love you.’’ he looks at me earnestly. 

I stare nonchalantly for a second, then laugh thinking of all the terrible things he did to the women before me. Another laugh escapes my mouth, and I start to feel a sense of unhealthy accomplishment. ‘Is that so? As you say to every other woman I hear.'

‘No Amber, this is genuine.’ 

‘Not quite as genuine as you’d believe Axel.' I know his game. 'I was explicitly told about you, how you manipulated all these women for your own enjoyment. Funny isn’t it? For me anyway. How does it feel to be played?’ A laugh slips out of my mouth again. ‘I don’t like you, Axel, not at all ’

A lifeless soul looks over at me. 

I couldn’t stop the smug look that came over my face. I could never explain such feelings, relief, satisfaction and of course, power! Revenge was sweet.

I understood why he devoured his fake love to unsuspecting victims, only this time he deserved the pain. Every ounce he was getting; I could only wish it would last forever. I began to wonder if I was becoming him, losing myself in the process or if I always had this dark side about me that he just allowed me to reveal, expressing it without judgement. He would understand me when revealing the shadows of my carefully curated image. Anxiety crept up inside my stomach when I was truthful to myself, I was always lying to myself when I thought about him. I had felt something towards him. After all, how much of a fake connection can you conjure up until it becomes genuine? 

My facial expression must have elicited some vulnerability when I was thinking because Axel's face perks up a little, 'you like me too, don’t you?’ Axel frowns, his eyes searching into mine. 'Don't be ridiculous!' I retort back, and I start to stutter on my words. 'I hate- you,' my voice croaks. However, my words still stab him in his chest.

I sneer at him with disdain, both contrasting emotions coming so close in proximity. His face was crumbling, my words hitting him and leaving him gasping for air. I’d unveiled my way into his very essence. I almost felt bad. I could see the grief welling up inside his stomach. I learnt a lot from this man. Wait, patiently to pull someone’s heart out. 

'You don't love me Axel! Lust? Definitely, but this is not love, simply desire. You do not know what love is. Women may fall for your charm and your looks, but I wanted to play you at your own game. I wanted you to hurt like you hurt so many others. Just like you almost did to me. I hate you.'

His expression was lifeless. I killed him that day. Mentally.

I believe along the pathway of love, whatever love is, I found my darkness. Axel brought out my truth. The darkness of truth I never knew I had, maybe I had gone too far. It was then that I realised there was no greater sorrow than to recall the happiness I felt in someone else’s misery.

Axel once recalled a quote, ‘the good emerges when the evil has reached its extreme.’ I had originally struggled to derive any meaning from the barbarity of his words. I could not comprehend the meaning. 

Now, I believed it to be true. It is about delving into the darkness of our very souls. We all have them, the darkness inside us I mean. Don’t let your ego have you believe any different. Embracing the darkness within is a step to transcend into healing. We need to be at one, only then can we ascend.

Axel was aware of his pain, what had caused it and used his pain as vengeance.

I was aware of my pain, what had caused it and used my pain as vengeance. 

Only, in light of awareness, I found the right path eventually.

I leave you with this, ‘To manipulate the fears of others, you must first learn to master your own.’-Ra’s Al Ghul

And with that, I understood him.

March 16, 2023 16:14

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Susan Catucci
18:40 Mar 23, 2023

Hi Hollie, I agree with a lot of the other feedback offered here. What I've done is gravitate toward the members who do offer helpful feedback - those you communicate well with. My writing has improved, I can say that. Another word of good advice is to explore online the many writers websites. If you'd like I can send you some links to check out. There's a lot going on out there. Now, let's take a look at what you have here. It's always interesting to see how a carefully planned act of revenge is being played out. I'm going to say ...


Hollie Hughes
19:45 Mar 23, 2023

Thank you so much! This is extremely helpful! I'll definitely check your work!


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Chandler Wilson
16:39 Mar 20, 2023

Hi Hollie, Thank you for inviting me to provide some feedback on your story. I couldn't agree more with someone else's comments that Reedsys is not the place for tough love feedback. I created a discord group where a number of us have gathered to provide some serious criticism to help improve our work. As for this story, it read much like a dairy to me. I enjoyed reading it, and feeling the emotion of the protagonist. But there seemed to be little about who they were and how they got into this situation, making it somewhat difficult to follo...


Hollie Hughes
05:13 Mar 24, 2023

Thank you so much, I really appreciate the feedback! I will definitely explain the characters in more detail, explain the relationship, character development and give details of the character's physical appearance to bring the story to life. I would say because I initially wrote various scenes randomly without the intention of bringing the story together and it's clearly shown in my writing that it didn't flow as well. I'll definitely work on that. I believe the other thing is that the story has a beginning, middle and end but no detail in b...


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Benja Catton
15:19 Mar 19, 2023

Hi Hollie, nice job! You’re good at describing internal emotional tension. You offer your reader some interesting thoughts/wisdom on duality, trauma and relationships in the closing paragraphs. The constructive criticism I would offer would be to show more visible, specific actions. Many paragraphs describe internal thoughts/revelations without much complimenting external scenery. Thanks for inviting me to read your story!


Hollie Hughes
05:33 Mar 24, 2023

Thank you so much. I really appreciate your comment about capturing the ideas around trauma/wisdom. That was my intention, I need to go into the details of the characters past and explain why he acts the way he does as opposed to just saying Amber tries to understand him. There is a lot missing. I really wanted to attempt to make an interesting concept and story that cross between what influences us as people and incorporate ideas and things I have learnt spiritually. You’re definitely correct about the scenery, something I hadn’t noticed b...


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Kevin V
01:54 Mar 19, 2023

Hi Hollie, First off, welcome to Reedsy. I joined myself a few months ago. I'm going to be honest with you - Reedsy is not the site for good, honest feedback. I like it for the prompts, and it has many wonderful writers whose work can be read and studied. Unfortunately, there is a lack of helpful feedback. Most everyone will have good things to say, or just click like, or say nothing. Some will give helpful suggestions sometimes, but I've found honest critiques to not be warmly regarded generally. I would suggest submitting here, but find...


Hollie Hughes
04:02 Mar 19, 2023

This was really helpful especially with such honest feedback too. I did notice that people do not use chapters for short stories on here so I will definitely take that into consideration! Your choice of words and rewording of that is so much better too, thank you for the idea! And I see what you mean about tightening my words. Thank you again!


Kevin V
13:52 Mar 19, 2023

You're welcome Hollie. Please accept my feedback in the spirit I offered it. What's important is to keep writing, and learning. If you are interested, there is a book I personally have found very helpful. It's called Self-Editing for Writers by Renni Browne & Dave King. It covers quite a bit of the mechanics in a way that's easy to understand.


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Hollie Hughes
00:47 Mar 19, 2023

Because of the 3000 word limit, the character development and relationship development are limited for the story. I had to cut a lot out!


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