When you committed horrendous crimes, those acts would catch up to you.
And they had.
I’d done so many unspeakable things to hundreds of innocent people.
As a result, my death was as gory and as gruesome as I’d imagined.
There was a knife. Blood. Swearing and screaming.
There was so much fucking pain.
I was alone when I took my last breath.
No one should be alone when they died.
But I was.
And the cause was self-inflicted. I’d slashed across my wrists, right along my veins.
I’d rather die my way than theirs.
The truth was, I’d had no other option. If I didn’t kill myself, they would have butchered me. Then, Jae would have spent the rest of his life looking for my murderer. I didn’t want that. I wanted to save him. I wanted him to move on from me and fall in love again.
He had a chance to escape all of this.
It wasn’t just the blade that had hurt when I dragged it across my skin. The love I had for Jae hurt, too.
When we had fallen, we’d fallen hard. Fast. Deeply. Passionately.
It was a kind of love I hadn’t ever felt before. A kind I hadn’t known existed.
Just this morning, I had told him that I loved him. Those were the last words he would ever hear me say.
He would be able to keep those words inside his heart. He just wouldn’t be able to keep me.
Because, now, I lay in a pool of blood.
This was the end.
The end of Tyler Richens.
I wouldn’t have an obituary in the newspaper, but I knew what it would have said if I had one.
Tyler Richens, age twenty-two, died unexpectedly on January 14.
From St. George, Kansas, Tyler moved to San Diego, California, to attend college at the University of San Diego. She studied business with a concentration in international affairs.
She’s survived by Rick and Nancy Richens and four loving brothers.
The rest of the paragraph would have been filler—accomplishments from high school, a description of a job I hadn’t really had, that I’d traveled for leisure even though it was all work-related.
My family couldn’t know about my real life. That was part of the deal I’d made.
But I’d broken part of that deal when I started dating Jae. He didn’t know how deep I was involved, how serious my job really was. He knew our relationship put my life in danger; he just didn’t know that it risked his, too.
It was all worth it.
Every second I had spent with him was worth it.
And he was worth dying for.
His last vision of me would be of my cold, bloody body on the floor of his bathroom—already long gone even though he didn’t want to believe it.
It wasn’t what I really wanted.
But it had to be this way. He had to see me. Feel me. He had to know and not question a thing.
God, he was holding me so hard.
He must think a grip as tight as the one he was using would bring me back. He yelled, like the words could pump air through my lungs and resuscitate me. He shook me, like it would cause my eyes to open.
I wished love could fix all the things I had done.
It wasn’t that easy.
Now, there was no turning back.
And there was no more wishing.
Wishes died when my breathing slowed.
But the wants lived.
Before he could read my note and carry my body out of the bathroom, I just wanted to run my fingers through his long, thick dark hair. I wanted to brush my cheek against his face. I wanted to tell him I loved him again.
As he wept into my neck, I couldn’t do any of those things.
Would he forgive me for killing myself? For ruining what we’d had?
I hoped so.
I hoped that, wherever I went after this, I would be able to watch over him. Protect him. While he moved on, I’d cling to what we’d once had.
Here, silently, I said good-bye.
He couldn’t feel my words, but they echoed from within my body.
Words of love, words of hope.
Words that begged for his forgiveness.
Our relationship was never supposed to happen.
But it’d ended up changing me. What I’d wanted back then was so different from what I’d wanted just yesterday.
It had caused this—the end.
Now, all I had was time.
Time to take you back to the beginning. To show you where it all had gone wrong.
But, to understand now, you would have to hear about then.
This wasn’t just my story.
This was our story.
I captured the guilty.
Locked them inside our prison.
Tortured their bodies and abused their minds.
I had murdered hundreds.
Never recognized one.
Until her face.
Until that scream.
I was hired to take her life.
But first, I had to figure out how she ruined mine.