Hypnosis: a state of focused attention, heightened suggestibility, and deep relaxation. It’s often induced by a trained practitioner, such as a hypnotherapist, through verbal cues and guided imagery. In this altered state of consciousness, a person becomes more receptive to suggestions and is better able to access their subconscious mind.
You know how when you love someone, you feel like as long as they love you, there’s nothing in the world that could ever hurt you? When they walk in the room, you feel like nothing else matters. The world could end tomorrow and you would die happily.
Maybe that kind of love is toxic, but it was all that I had.
At least, it felt like it was all that I had.
I wish that someone had taught me that you can’t make your happiness all about loving one person, because what happens when you lose them? What happens to what’s left of you after they’ve taken half of you? How do you go from being someone they loved to someone they hate and still breathe?
My name is Elysian Reign, and unlike my last name, I’m not extraordinary. My mother died when I was born, and my father drank himself to death a decade later. I graduated with a Mathematics degree of which I hardly use as a junior Network Security Engineer. I live in a one-bedroom apartment around the corner of my favorite gym, and I have a Saint Bernard named Bubbles—unextraordinarily so.
His name is Cade Sinclair, and unlike me, he is extraordinary. His mother was one of my professors before she passed, and his father is the owner of Sinclair Enterprises. Yes, as in Sinclair Enterprises: the largest firearm manufacturer for the Armed Forces.
I should’ve known better, I know. But you never imagine that the love of your life’s own father would do everything in his power to make sure that his son doesn’t end up with someone like you—even if it means forcing him into an experimental military hypnosis treatment that he happens to be the first successful candidate for.
After three years of putting myself back together, you would think that I’d have learned my lesson. You would think that I would’ve thought twice before accepting a job for the very company that his father owns. You would think that I would’ve changed my identity and left the country after walking in on my first day to find that Cade is the lead Network Engineer on my team—aka my boss.
So, tell me. How am I supposed to work with him when he’s made it his mission to make my life a living hell? How am I supposed to make him—at the very least—tolerate me when he’s been taught to hate me?
“Alright, Bubbles. It’s official!”
I clap my hands in excitement, looking down at my two-year-old Saint Bernard as he wiggles his butt to lower himself onto the dark gray rug of the living room. “This is home,” I breathe out in contentment.
It’s been two weeks since I packed up my apartment and moved half-way across the country for a new job opportunity. It’s never the packing that gets me. Packing? I’m excited for. It’s the unpacking that, for the life of me, I dread to no end. It’s the unloading, unboxing, tossing, and rearranging for me, really. So…essentially all of it.
Today, however, I unpacked the last box, thus making the move official.
Well, in my head, it does, anyway.
I exhale deeply, watching as Bubbles keeps eyeing me with excitement in his eyes and his tail wagging dangerously behind him.
He knows. It’s that time of the day: we walk to the park so he can get tired and refuse to walk back.
Pain in my ass…
“Alright, let’s get going then,” I mutter as I move to the doorway, reaching for the leash hanging on one of the key holders next to the front door.
In one swift motion, I clip the leash to his collar and pull the door open. As always, he’s a good boy and sits, following quickly beside me as I take the first step out. People hardly talk about this, but the fact that they make doorlocks that don’t require you to insert a key is the greatest invention of mankind.
Okay, that is a little bit of an exaggeration.
It’s just convenient. I wave the little keyfob over the monitor, and it peeps. I turn the lock, and it locks. How cool is that?
The convenience of living on the first floor cannot be overlooked, especially when you do your own grocery shopping and have to take your dog out multiple times daily. Unfortunately, I can’t say that I had the luxury of picking the first floor because I got stuck in the third floor. And with no elevators? This oughta be fun.
Oh, well. Extra cardio, I guess.
Bubbles walks closely beside me as we descend the flights of stairs and head down the street. The park is only a block away from my apartment and the gym that I just signed up for is one block away in the opposite direction, purposefully so.
After having to do one-hour commutes to school and to the gym back when I was in college for nearly five years, I avoid driving if I have to. I hate to be that person, but covid may very well have been the best thing that ever happened to me.
You know how people say that they’re homebodies but they aren’t actually homebodies? Yeah…that’s not me. I love being at home. In fact, if I never had to leave home, I probably never would. It’s not that I don’t like people. It’s that I don’t like stupid people. And it’s not that I’m arrogant. It’s that when your IQ is well above average, almost everyone seems stupid to you.
Just like this past Sunday, the park is relatively empty. Personally, my favorite part about coming to the park is the little food truck that parks across from the park. They make this amazing coconut boba milk tea.
It’s not that I don’t enjoy walking Bubbles. It’s that the greatest perk of it is getting to drink my favorite boba tea every single time.
Most importantly, it fits perfectly into my macros diet, so I feel absolutely zero shame…except for the $30 I spend on it weekly.
The greatest part about arguably having the laziest dog in the world is that it only takes one lap around the concrete trail and he’s ready to sit. This is when I get to go up to the fluorescent colored food truck and the familiar blond teenage boy already has my tea prepared for me.
He greets me cheerfully, “Hi again!”
I offer him a small smile as I navigate my iPhone to the Apple Pay app, tapping it against the payment terminal.
It’s kind of crazy how you’re asked to tip pretty much everywhere nowadays. I remember when I was working fast food, and I was lucky if I didn’t get yelled at by a customer for something that was out of my control. I guess that really doesn’t have anything to do with tipping. I don’t know. I just think it’s weird. But the kid’s nice and doesn’t make me wait, so why the hell not?
I tap on the 20% button and nod at him, taking my boba tea as he thanks me kindly. “Have a great day!” He exclaims.
With a small smile on my face, I turn to find the nearest bench–the one I usually sit on–and lower myself to it. Holding Bubbles’ leash between my legs, I pierce the plastic seal of my tea with the straw and lean back as I sip on it with fulfillment.
I enjoy the cloudy sky and cool breeze kissing my brown skin as I think about what tomorrow will bring. Or, at least, of what I hope it will bring.
The extensive background check that they run on you is really something else when you’re working for a company that requires a high security clearance. It has been six months of me waiting and quite literally getting paid to do nothing, hence the 3-year contract. While I waited, I kept my old job as a technical administrator—for double the income. It wasn’t until two weeks ago that I received notification that my clearance came through and I would be required to be in the office bright and early tomorrow morning. Of which I was very happy about, minus the unpacking.
When you’re in college, no one ever talks about how maybe 1% of people get to do what they’re truly passionate about. Because realistically speaking, most things that people are passionate about aren’t enough to make a living from. So if you’re like me, you settle. You focus on something that you understand, you get good at it, and if it pays the bills, you just kind of stick with it. It’s the sad reality of growing up.
Although, I guess when you come from nothing, it doesn’t actually feel like you’re settling when your compensation is enough to live comfortably.
The light water droplets that suddenly stain my round glasses pull me out of my thoughts.
Welp, time to go.
At the trash can beside me, I toss the empty plastic cup as I straighten on my feet. With Bubble’s leash around my wrist, we make our way back to the apartment complex.
It seems like the closer we get, the harder the wind blows and the sky grows darker. The loose leaves rustling on the trees dance with the wind, falling and kissing the ground.
It’s no surprise, really. Fall, my favorite time of the year, is right around the corner. For the first time in my life, I might actually experience a snowy winter.
Well, assuming it ever snows again in South Texas.
Either way, I’m excited for it.
“Come on, baby. Don’t be like that.”
I arch a brow as I approach the dark brown haired man standing at the corner of the block. He holds his phone up against his ear with an irritable look on his face.
“I’m literally standing out here, in the rain, talking to you. Why would I do that if I didn’t care about you?” He speaks into the phone.
It is drizzling, at best. Dramatic as hell.
I choose to refrain from laughing, a light chuckle emitting from the back of my throat as I shake my head and roll my eyes.
Statistically speaking, I think women tend to be more theatrical than men do. However, in modern society, I can’t help but wonder how accurate that is. It seems that more and more, I catch myself questioning the integrity of traditional statistics. Then again, there’s hardly anything traditional about modern day society.
My breath suddenly catches in my lungs, the hard thud of slamming my body against another making me stagger backward.
“I’m sorry,” a familiar, deep husky voice echoes.
My gaze snaps up, capturing a pair of ocean-blue irises. I eye the tall man for what seems like a split second, scanning his stern features.
He doesn’t stop though, hardly giving me a sideway glance as he continues his hastened steps down the block and around the corner.
It takes me a while, my steps ceasing entirely as it hits me in the next moment. My heart sinks to the pit of my stomach, the image of his face lingering in my mind.
It’s as though the stars have aligned, thunder cracking in the sky as I feel the promise of the rain falling hard on me. But it hardly fazes me. In fact, were it not for Bubbles’ whimper, the rain would’ve gone completely unnoticed by me.
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