Beautiful Soldier – E. M. Moore


The physical therapist digs his hands into my neck.

I cringe at the flare of pain that radiates from his rough touch. I don’t pull away, even though I mentally curse him the fuck out. If I have to do this sick torture, the guy could have the decency to be hot. Or sociable. Hell, I’d even take a smile. One measly smile.

Breaking news: He’s neither good looking nor friendly, and I’m fairly sure the only lip movement I’ll ever get from him is his ever-present sneer.

From my first PT appointment, I could tell he had his mind made up about me already. I’m just some gang bitch delinquent who shot an innocent girl.

My stomach tugs at the thought and then does a nasty flip. When I was a little girl and thinking about my future life, I never imagined this scenario playing out. First, my parents would be here. Second... Well, fuck. The second is easy, right? I wouldn’t have been accused of murdering a young girl. It’s fucking insane.

PT dude digs deeper, and I suck in a breath. He doesn’t ease off, and in the mirrored wall in front of me, a smirk crawls over his face.

Fucking asshole. If Johnny were here…

Fuck it, if any of my guys were here. None of them would let this douchebag do this to me...and take pleasure in it.

I grip the side of the table I’m sitting on, squeezing tightly so I don’t turn and clock the asshole accidentally. Accidentally on fucking purpose, I mean. No matter how badly I want to, I’m already skating on thin ice. I don’t need an assault and battery charge added to the one I already have.

“Ray,” a sweet voice calls out.

The guy’s touch loosens. This is the first time I’ve even heard his name. It’s been four weeks of pure silence and torture for an hour every other day with metaphorical chains around my wrists, preventing me from doing anything about the mistreatment.

“What’s up?”

“Boss said I should work on this patient.”

Ray steps away. They share a look, and I’m already beginning to think this new chick isn’t going to be any better. I know what the news has been saying about me, while not bothering to get to know the real me. I mean, that’s just...appropriate? Normal? Human decency?

When you’ve been accused of such a heinous crime, I guess you lose all that.

“Have fun.” Ray chuckles darkly as he passes the new girl, flipping the door open to the hallway outside the PT room.

During my appointments, no one else is here. I guess they like to keep the people who are accused of murder separate from other patients. There’s no guard, though, which I thought was uber strange. No guard at the facility where I’m staying at either. Greenlawn, a halfway house for cons. A place where the police can keep an eye on me while they figure out if they’re actually going to press charges.

That part’s on me though. I agreed to stay at the place. It was either that or have them expedite a trial of some sort. Detective Reynolds doesn’t like me very much, so it seems he’s trying to hang me for something I didn’t do. He even has an eyewitness to my supposed murderous rampage, which is fucking outrageous.

Instead of moving toward me, the girl takes a seat on the furthest table away and studies her nails.

A prickling sensation skitters up my neck. “Umm...”

To my left, a knock on the exterior window sounds. I turn too fast, and a sharp pain radiates down my spine. The pain isn’t too much to take usually, but sometimes, PT makes it worse for a while before making it better.

I narrow my gaze, trying to see past the different torture device equipment in here to peer out the window. My heart thumps in my chest.

“You better get that,” the woman says, bored. Her voice isn’t cheery anymore. She’s either dropped the sweet act, or I just bring this behavior out in people. “You don’t have much time.”

I scramble off the table. I haven’t heard or seen any of my guys since the nurse in the hospital gave me the message from Johnny to not say anything. With all the shit that’s gone down, I get it. I don’t fucking like it, but I get it. I knew they’d find a way, eventually.

I hurry to the window. A smile breaks over my face when Finn’s grin greets me. He hikes his thumb toward the sky, and I