After her father dies, Tulisa Petrova is left alone at eighteen to care for herself. Her difficult childhood has made her cold and uncaring towards everyone but her two best friends. But Tulisa's lifestyle can't continue, and something needs to give; the only question is if she will survive the change.


1. Prologue

‘In there.’

I walked into the room, and sat down on an uncomfortable wooden chair, mind numb. It was a darkly lit room, with mouldy walls and a huge window on one wall. I knew it was a two-way mirror, and that there were people on the other side, looking at me. I didn’t care.

They couldn’t see the true horror of tonight. They thought the worst was over. If only I were that lucky.

As I sat in my allocated chair, I tried to calm my breathing. My insides were turning over on themselves, and my chest felt hollow. I had no idea how I was still alive, since I couldn’t seem to get in enough air through the tight feeling in my chest. I idly wondered if the acid poison had made my lungs disappear. Having no lungs probably felt about the same as I felt right now: dead.

That’s was what he was, too.

That’s also why I was sitting in this uncomfortable chair to begin with. They said he died due to lack of oxygen. I wonder if he felt this sense of panic too, or if it was calm and easy for him – he did choose it, after all.

Maybe if I choose it too, I’ll feel normal again.

I think about being dead – no more pain, no more losing, no more being abandoned. It sounds intriguing. I can see why he decided to do it.

‘Miss… Petrov, yes?’ the voice of the policeman in front of me snaps me out of my thoughts about death. I look up at him and see a ginger man with a stern face looking down at me. 

‘Petrova,’ I say automatically.


‘It’s Petrova. It’s Russian, I… never mind. That’s me.’

Ginger nods, looking at me weirdly. I wonder if he’s ever thought about killing himself. Wonder if he has children.

‘Miss Petrova, I just need to ask you a few questions.’ He doesn’t introduce himself, and I can’t be bothered to ask. It doesn’t matter. I doubt I’d remember it if I did ask.

‘Someone said he left a note.’

Ginger nods again, looking down at a folder he’s holding. ‘He did. Well, it was more of a will than a note.’

‘Then why am I here? He left a note. That says it all, right?’ I wonder if they’re together now, somewhere up there. But don’t suicidal people go to hell? Or was that people who commit murder? My mind is a blur of images, and I can’t concentrate on anything. I haven’t even had dinner yet, and my lunch was practically non-existent. I wonder if that has anything to do with the trembling in my arms.

Ginger looks at me almost wearily. I don’t know why. I’m not even sure what I asked anymore, but he answers me anyway. 

‘Because of the nature of the note, which bequeaths everything he has to you.’

I pause for a moment, Ginger’s words penetrating through the cloud of fog in my mind. ‘He willed everything to me?’


I don’t say anything, but what I’m thinking is, if he wanted to give me everything, why did he do it? The only thing I wanted was him, not some stupid house and a car and money. But I don’t say this; I sit quietly, thinking of how lucky I am that I turned eighteen two days ago, and won’t have to go live with some obscure relative. I’m through with relatives and their nasty habit of dying on me.

After I don’t say anything, Ginger sighs deeply, and puts the folder down, looking at me seriously. ‘Where’s your mother, Miss Petrova?’

I flinch at his question, her death clearly still a sore spot for me. Guess I have a new one to add to the list of do-not-enter conversations. ‘She’s dead.’

His eyebrows go up in disbelief, and I finally understand why I’m here. They think I killed dad to get the house and all of that. I’m so tired and so far gone down the road to numbness; I can’t even muster the energy to be pissed. I should be so mad, I should be yelling at Ginger right now, but instead I just sit, and answer him.

‘Ovarian cancer. She died two years ago. You can check the medical records if you really want to. She fought for two years, but in the end the disease fought harder.’

There isn’t a spec of sympathy in Ginger’s eyes, for which I’m grateful. I hate people who say they’re sorry for your loss. They can be sorry all they want; it won’t change a damn thing; it won’t bring my mother back, and it won’t take the pain away. So they can keep their ‘I’m so sorry’s and ‘it will get better’s to themselves, because it never gets better. Not really.

Ginger is speaking again, so I make a concentrated effort to tune him in again.

‘… seems in order. If we have any more questions for you, or if you remember anything, please let us know. You can go now.’

I get up from the hard chair and open the door to the little room. As I’m leaving, I turn back to Ginger. ‘He was depressed, you know. Ever since she died, he… he wasn’t the same. Never remarried, never met anyone new. Refused to get help.’ I shrug. ‘Do you think he’s happy now?’

Ginger looks at me, sympathy now clear in his eyes. But instead of saying that he’s sure dad is happy in heaven with mom, he just shakes his head sadly. ‘I don’t know, kiddo,’ he says.

I nod once, and leave the room, closing the door softly behind me.

I left a piece of my old self there, in that interrogation room at the police district that day, and I haven’t been the same since. Some people would say that’s for the best. I’m not sure I agree, but I am sure that living like I do now hurts a hell of a lot less than the way I did that day when I got home to find dad hanging from the ceiling.

Sometimes, we have to sell our souls to survive the pain. 

Life is short, life is hard, and love sucks.

I haven’t looked back since.


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