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Broken bad boy

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He’s damaged beyond repair, and she’s his cure. It just might go both ways. Percie Matthews’s life changed in a heartbeat on one tragic night. The affectionate person turned unloving and cold. From compassion became egotistic and blunt—those are what Percie is known for. Until a smart, soft-hearted, and gullible Hailey Ward walks into his world. Hailey never swears and keeps her distance from people, especially a broody bad boy like Percie. At first look, she knows he is bad news. When Hailey is looking for a roommate, he’s shocked to find himself offering her a place. What will happen when a cold like him lives together with a kind-hearted and warm Hailey? How will he keep his head straight when she keeps reminding him of someone he lost?

CHAPTER 1

Prologue

PERCIE

Dustin’s party is superb.

I constantly checked my phone for a text from Emma since I arrived at the condemned abandoned house. At this moment, she was enjoying the party at Chloe’s, one of her closest friends.

I still couldn’t believe that high school life was finally over. It would only mean one thing—we were getting older. In a few months, we were be both attending college and moved into one apartment as we’d planned.

I sipped the soda that started to warm in my grasp. Unlike my friends, they managed to sneak a few beers into the party.

My friends were already with their girls. Well, except for me.

The pop music was blaring too loud for my taste. I preferred classic and alternative rock—the only thing that Emma and I did not get along with. She loved pop singers—Harry Styles, in particular. Thank God she wasn’t like a Bieber fan or Kpop because I would delete her playlists if she liked them too.

I looked around the living room that they turned into a dance floor. It was crowded. Everyone was dancing— drunk or not, despite the floor strewn with old chewed dirty rags.

I went to the porch and settled into the empty rickety chair, the only place left empty. The music wasn’t too loud in this area, and the cool air didn't smell like rat piss and shit.

“Hey, Percie.”

I was startled in my seat before I could even begin to appreciate the dark sky. When I thought I would be alone for a while, I was wrong.

“Why are you alone tonight? Where’s Emma?”

I recognized that voice without looking. The Queen B herself. The Queen of Bullies.

“Yup. I’m alone.” As if she didn’t see the obvious. “Don’t worry, I’m leaving in a bit.”

“Why didn’t you bring her here? Her classmates are down there, dancing. Dustin throws a pretty awesome party, right?”

“Sorry to break it to you, but I would never bring her here with all these wasted boys everywhere. Where is your boyfriend, Cassie?”

“I don’t have a boyfriend. You know that.” She must be rolling her eyes. Cassie was a knock-out blonde with gorgeous toned legs that could run a mile, but the rest was ugly.

I knew, but I was not going to be her boy toy because I could get her to bed with me. Could she not even get the clue?

I could smell her perfume as she got closer to me. She started running her fingers through my head to the tip of my messy brown hair. Then she gripped my shoulders, massaging them.

“Stop it. Show yourself some respect.”

She stopped and rounded to my front. “Are you gay, Percie? Or is it because of Emma?”

I chuckled sardonically and narrowed my eyes at her. “Don’t you dare include Emma in this conversation?”

I squeezed my eyes shut, took a deep breath, and looked at her. A hint of pain crossed her eyes. If I didn’t know she was a bully, I might feel terrible. “Look. I like you. You’re cool and pretty, but I do not sleep around because I want to prove to everyone about my sexuality.”

She pouted her shimmery lips. “Fine. I’m sorry.”

My phone buzzed before I could reply. Save by the call. It was Emma. I could get away from her and this place.

“Hey, Em. Want me to pick you up right now?” I rose from my seat and walked out of the porch. I left Cassie alone, still standing there.

“Yes, P. How's the party? You can pick me up later if you want to stay longer.”

“No freaking way. I've been planning to get the hell out of here before I even arrived. My friends are occupied with--you know, as we speak. I'm on my way.”

I was a party person. I had a fair share of experiences. I had a lot of fun before Emma came into my life. Everything had changed. Not because of her, but because I wanted to be a better person than I was before. Tonight, Em forced me and left me no choice.

I strode downstairs and made my way out from the crowded dance floor. I rushed to the parking lot before my friends saw me sneaking out of the party. I started the engine as soon as I got in my car.

Justin Bieber's song blasted in the speakers.

I dialed Emma. She picked up right away.

“Hey.”

“You’re in the car? Text me when you’re here. Take care. Love you.”

“Stay inside, Em. Until I’ll call you to come down. Love you too. Bye.” I hang up the call and push my phone into my pocket.

Dustin would be pissed off once he found out I left without telling him, but he was probably busy banging around with random girls.

***

A few minutes later, I stopped in front of Chloe’s house.

I unlocked the door for Emma as I watched her wave goodbye to Chloe from her window.

“Hey. How’s the party?” I asked as she got in.

She closed the door after her. “It was fun. Chloe gave this to me.” She showed me a bracelet.

I held her hand to take a closer look. It was pretty and girly. A personalized handmade charm bracelet made of beads with a heart that connected her name and Chloe’s.

“Now, I’m jealous. My name should be here too.” I pressed and tightened my lips together as I faked a frown.

She barked out, laughing, hitting my hand playfully.

“You’re such a guy. I let her make for you. My name and yours, happy?”

I grinned while she was rolling her eyes. I drove out of Chloe’s front house.

“I’m a guy, Emma. Very happy. Now, your seat belt, missy. I’ll pay for the bracelet.”

She buckled her seatbelt. “No, Percival Edmund. This time, it’s my turn.

I know it’s not expensive, but it’s the thought that counts, right? Hope you’ll like it.”

My heart melted. Even if she didn’t have to give me anything, finding her, was more than enough for me. I side-glanced at her while she was fishing something from her purse, probably my gift.

“You don’t have to do that. I was just kidding.” I focused my eyes on the road.

She held my hand from the steering wheel, squeezing it. “I know, but you were always giving me everything. And it’s nothing fancy. I just want to give this to you. I hope it reminds you that I’m always with you all the time. You know that I love you more than anything in this world,” she said and placed my hand on her lap. She then hooked the bracelet around my wrist.

I fought the urge not to glance as the tiny thrill of excitement swelled my heart. I wanted to know how it looked. Even if it would be too feminine for my taste, in my heart, I would still keep it.

“You know, I will like it no matter how hideous it is. As long as it is coming from you. And you know, I love you, Emma.” I looked her in the eye and smiled.

She unbuckled her seat belt and moved closer to me. She wrapped her arms around my neck and laid her head on my shoulder.

“Em, I’m driving. Let me concentrate. The road is dark around here. We can do this later.” I kissed the side of her head.

She didn’t move. “You should not wait for later, P. A lot of things can happen between now and later. I just want to hug you. I’m so happy to be your half, P.” She acted as if she didn’t hear me.

Something deep in me, a feeling of peace enveloped me. “Emma, I’m happy to be a part of you, too. And I love you. Now, be a good girl. Go back to your seat and secure your belt.”

We reached the intersections. The traffic lights turned red. I stepped on the brake quickly, making the tires screech against the pavement. It both caught us by surprise. Emma quickly tightened her hold around my neck. The car in my front moved to speed that only left us a smoke behind.

“Jerk.”

Before I could ask her if Emma was okay, the headlights reflected from her window side caught my sight, blinding my vision. I used my arm to cover my eyes as I squinted to take a look. It was too late. The car came rushing in our direction.

It happened so fast.

Then a car collided with us.

A sickening sound followed.

The impact threw us to my side.

Everything stayed still. It was deadly quiet around us as it was in a slow-motion action movie.

My breathing held. Emma gasping against my ear was the only thing I could hear at this moment. And I could feel her arms tightening around me as if something was pulling her away from me.

Then again, followed by an extreme silence piercing my ears.

It was just me and Emma who’s still on my side.

It now came to my senses. It took only a few seconds for me to realize that we were in an accident. I also knew that I was still alive as I could now feel the pain. I could smell actinic, burning my throat—a coolant and gasoline.

Emma.

Emma.

Tears filled my eyes. My vision blurred. Suddenly, I was terrified, horrified. My voice wouldn’t come out. I was shaking. I couldn’t speak.

I couldn’t move. It seemed that the car was too tiny for both of us.

I was stuck inside the wrecked car.

Emma. She was beside me, but she hasn’t moved a muscle pressed against my side.

My heart turned to ice. My eyes felt like fire.

I couldn’t breathe. The next thing I smelled was the distinct sweet metallic scent.

Blood.

PERCIE

I laid back on the cold tiled bench with my arms as my pillow. I looked up at the gray ceiling without anything in my thoughts.

I was bored to death for the last five hours, locked up for punching my boss in the face. He hit his wife in front of his car repair shop where I worked as a mechanic--well, used to, since he just fired me. Who was in the fucking hell hurt women if not some losers like him?

I didn’t like people hitting women because they would look misogynistic. When I saw him yell at his wife, my fists developed brains on their own. Whatever she did, that didn’t give him the right to hit her. He could confront her privately, but he was an asshole. My anger took over me. So, I punched him before I even realized I did it, which resulted in me getting arrested for physical assault.

I didn’t enjoy seeing women being abused, bullied, and men thought that made them stronger. Women were born to be loved and respected unless they deserved to be treated the way they were. Still, there were so many ways a person could do other than hurting them.

Still, I was not to judge that.What goes around comes around.

I ignored the footsteps. I was still staring at the tedious gray ceiling. For the whole year, my life was fucking is black and white. Or maybe, it was completely black, like my soul.Who cares??Nobody.

A clinking sound of keys in the steel bars caught my attention. A 40-year-old, medium build man wearing a blue police uniform unlocked the cell door.

“You’re free to go, Matthews. Don’t come back. You don’t deserve to be here. There’s a lot ahead of you, young man. Get out, and enjoy your life while you can,” the police officer said. He inspected me from head to toe. I was still lying, immobilized.

He didn’t have any idea what happened to my life. My life was worse than being locked up and worst than being in hell, literally.

I stood up lazily, yawned, and stretched out. “Who came here to bail me?” I was not expecting anyone, especially my parents, and certainly not my friends because I didn’t have anyone in my life since last year. My grandparents would probably let me rot in here if they found out I punched someone because life was unfair.

I followed him as he walked towards the claim desk.

“The old man dropped the charge against you,” he explained while staring at me. “Take your things, son, and go home.”

I stopped by the claim area. He gave me my things back--wallet, keys, and my bracelet.

“Thank you, officer.”

He nodded.

I read his name on his uniform.

“You’re welcome. Do you need a ride? I'm leaving, anyway.”

My brows creased. A part of me still wanted to stay in the cell because I still had to think about looking for a job tomorrow.

Then, here was this good man trying to help me. I couldn’t believe he offered me a ride, even if he was aware that I just punched someone in the face.

“It’s okay, officer. I can get a cab from here. Thanks, though.” There were still few good people in this world who helped someone in need. But I didn’t need him, and I certainly didn’t deserve his help.

“Come on, son. Where do you live? I’ll drop you off there.” He walked ahead of me.

I had no choice but to follow him out of the police station. “Really, sir. I don’t want to bother you more than I already did.”

He waved off his hand. “You’re coming with me. Now, get your ass in my car.”

I hid my smile while he motioned me to get in the passenger’s side. I couldn’t remember the last time I smiled. It was foreign to me anymore.

I got in. The first thing I noticed was the smell of strawberries.

“My daughter loves that air freshener,” as if he reads my mind, he said before he drove us out of the parking lot.

“So, what’s your story, young man? Aside from what you did today?” Officer Ward asked me, giving me a few glances when I chose to keep my mouth shut.

This was what I was scared of, people wanted to read me and know me. I’d been successfully avoiding a conversation like this. It wouldn’t only hurt me, but it ripped up the wound open. The older it got, the more it rotten me slowly. I wished I just died that night. It was still taunting me whether I was wide awake, in my sleep, or with nightmares.

“Don’t answer me. I’m just a nosy old man.”

Something deep inside me chuckled. I swallowed hard. I had to blink rapidly to push the memory of that night.

He might see me as the kind of guy who shared his feelings with a stranger, but I’d rather keep the past where it was.

“I’m sorry, Officer Ward. I’m a sophomore in college at Hillston. I want to take biology. Then maybe, one day, pursue Medicine specializes in Neurosurgery.”

I was so not comfortable telling everyone about my life, about my plan. Since last year, after the horrific accident, I had kept myself away from people. I ignored everyone, including my parents. I’d never been with anyone, just my grandparents, who were very considerate enough to look after me when my parents should have.

I couldn’t even look at every girl’s eyes. They would only remind me of her. I’d been an ass and cruel to everyone who thought they knew me, my pain, and my loss, but they didn’t have a fucking clue why I became who I was today—the cold and callous Percie.

“You surprise me. I couldn't imagine you choosing that field.”

I chuckled. I knew what he was doing. He knew I have had built walls, and he tried to get into those walls.

Considering that I’d never shared this with anyone, I admired his tenacity. But I still had a lot of time to change plans or maybe not plan at all.

“Call me Percival, sir. That's just a plan, Officer Ward. I could change my mind anytime, but that was my first choice, though.”

He pulled over at the intersection. Whenever I passed by in a place like this, sometimes, it became too much, too nostalgic. I wished I could rewind at least 10 seconds. I could probably avoid that to happen.

I closed my eyes and released a shuddering breath.

“Have dinner in my house, Percival. It’s almost dinner anyway. I’ll send you home after.”

I stared at him incredulously. This man was impossible.

“Officer Ward, you really don’t have to do this. Why are you even inviting me to your home? You don’t know me. I could be a bad person.”

He glanced at me in disbelief, seemingly taken aback. “Are you, Percival? A bad person?”?

I sighed in defeat. “Fine. Don’t blame me or put me back in jail if I plan on stealing your collections or your gun, then run away.”

He chuckled. “Yeah, I’m not worried about that. First of all, call me Keith. Second, I don’t have collections, and third, you can steal my gun, but I doubt if you even know how to carry this,” he says, pointing at his pistol still tucked in the holster of his belt.

I shrugged. “I watched Wild Wild West movie.”

“Don’t depend on what you see. Youtube is one of those things you should avoid when learning something new. I don’t think you can even think of pulling a trigger. I may be old, but I doubt you are violent, Percie. You may have had difficult times, but I know you are just trying to be distant and try avoiding people to get into your life. That doesn't mean you are a bad person. You still have a good heart.”

You don’t even want to imagine what I’ve been going through.

“I don’t have a good heart, Keith. You definitely have no idea who I am and what I did.”

He stopped the car in front of a blue-grey two-story house.

You’ve got to be kidding me.

CHAPTER 2

PERCIE

The last time I saw a house like this was when I was with her. Just that memory alone felt like I'd been stabbed in my heart over and over again.

“Son, let me ask you one thing. Why did you risk yourself punching your boss when you saw him hitting his wife?”?

My eyes narrowed at his intrusion.

“Is it a defense mechanism? Or because you didn’t like him abusing his wife in front of everyone?”?

I opened the door and got out silently. He didn’t want to go there.

He leaned his arms against the roof of his car and said, “I don’t wanna know, son, but whatever it is, I know it’s hard for you, and it may take some time. But you will get there.

My nose flared in anger and in pain. I pressed my lips together to stop from blurting out something he wasn't ready to hear.

I just punched someone a few hours ago. I couldn’t punch him, and besides, he was a police officer. He had no bad intentions. All he was trying was to give some advice to som

Heroes

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