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(If you don't love me)

Emily's eyes snapped open to a horror she could never imagine. Small ragged gasps escaped her mouth as Jacob squeezed his hands tighter around her throat. She clawed at his hands to pry his fingers away, but she was slowly losing strength. Black filled the edges of her vision as she looked at Jacob with desperation and the only thing she could hear was her own heartbeat.

Jacob, on the other hand, looked completely unmoved by her agony. With an unfeeling glint in his eyes, Jacob looked as though he had been possessed by the Devil himself, as he tightened his fingers around her esophagus.

All he knew was that he needed to kill this woman.

He needed to kill her so that no one could ever use her against him. As far as Jacob was concerned, Emily was his weakness, making him vulnerable to pain and suffering. The sooner he got rid of her the sooner he would find peace and serenity in his heart.

Emily was slowly slipping out of consciousness. Death wasn't as beautiful or peaceful as she had once imagined, and she really believed she was going to die there any second. Tears emerged from the corner of her eyes and dropped on Jacob's hands.

All of a sudden, Jacob let go of Emily as if her tears had burned his hands. He stepped back and looked at his own two hands in disbelief, his shoulder trembling as his heart pounded in his chest.

'What have I just done?

Why was I trying to kill Emily? How is that even possible? What happened to me?'

I almost killed her. my own hands...

Why would I do this?

I may not care about her, but that doesn't mean I want her to die either!'

Emily was finally free from Jacob's control, but she seemed to have lost the ability to breathe properly. She lay on the bed in agony, while her face turned gray and her lips as white as paper.

Every time she tried to speak or breathe there was a wheeze, like air escaping from a deflating balloon. The exertion brought on more breathlessness, as she felt like a fish out of water, squirming and writhing to survive.

Jacob finally came to his full senses when he saw Emily struggling on the bed. He rushed to her and pulled her into his arms. He tried to resuscitate her by performing CPR or anything else he thought would work.

Again and again, he tried, as beads of sweat started to form on his forehead.

Suddenly, Emily coughed. Following the first weak cough were several stronger coughs as her chest heaved for air. She slumped to her side until she felt as though her body had come back to normal.

Jacob was relieved to see Emily come back to life, but he was still worried about her condition, so he grabbed an oxygen mask and helped her to put it on.
Emily gradually recovered from the pain and found her ability to breath again, but the bruises left on her neck was a clear reminder of what had just happened.

Now Jacob felt a tightness in his throat. Shaking his head in disbelief, his mouth hung with lips slightly parted and his eyes were as wide as they could stretch.

'I don't know what happened to me. I never wanted to kill her. I don't even want her to get hurt!'

Jacob felt as though he was a marionette, devoid of sense and the will to control his own actions. He would have never forgiven himself, if he had killed Emily.

But why? Why would that happen in the first place?

Jacob knew that his emotions couldn't have such power to manipulate him.

Something else must have driven him towards temporary insanity. 'No matter what this is, I have to find out what's going on with me, before I end up hurting her again.'

"Hmm…" Emily was feeling so uncomfortable that she tried to get rid of the oxygen mask but was too weak to do so on her own. Helpless, her arms remained still, resting, while her head tilted to one side.

'I don't want an oxygen mask...I'd rather just die now...I can't go on living like this...'

"Emily, I am so sorry." Jacob helped her to take off the mask and pulled her into his arms again. He rested her head on his chest and kissed her on the cheek.

Emily opened her eyes and stared at Jacob with a confused look, as if trying to figure out who he was.

Jacob gently ran his fingers on the bruises on her neck, trying to comfort her, but Emily shivered like a dry leaf and pushed him away, teardrops in her eyes.

"Don't…don't touch me…" Her voice was hoarse and raspy, tainted by the fear he had subjected her to.

Never in his scariest nightmares could Jacob ever imagine being the cause of Emily's suffering.

Jacob lowered his head in shame, the magnitude of despair in his eyes was monumental, and his voice. Doing his best to sound comforting, he lowered his voice and said, "Don't worry. I'm not going to hurt you. I don't know what came over me, but it's gone now. Please, you can trust me, okay?"

But Jacob knew it was a lie. He had no idea what turned him into a monster just now, let alone how to control it at will.

Emily had almost forgotten that Jacob had a soft side to him, despite his usual cold exterior. She recalled when he used to talk to her in that voice many years ago, when they were deeply in love with each other. That life now seemed to be real only in her dreams. 'It's too good to be true. I must be dreaming again. I miss the old Jacob so much.

I hope I will never wake up from my dreams this time.'

Emily's tears trickled down her face as grief tore at her heart like a tornado. She clutched onto Jacob's shirt and hid her face into his chest, sobbing unceasingly. "Jacob... it hurts... it hurts so much..."

Jacob patted her on the back as though he was comforting a baby. He took a deep breath, gathering his strength and replied, "I know…I know…I am sorry."

Emily pointed to her neck and looked at Jacob with watery eyes. "It still hurts." "Hush." Jacob covered the bruises with his hands.

"Please… don't leave me alone…" Emily sobbed.

Jacob had mixed feeling about her now. Emily was so weak that he was afraid he would lose her any second. He felt sorry for her, but he also felt desperate and helpless, for not able to do anything to protect her.

"Jacob…I…" All of a sudden, Emily started to cough again. Her face turned red almost immediately, and she felt shortness of breath.

Jacob ran out and fetched some water for her. Then he gave her a hug, tucked her in with blanket and said, "You really need to get some rest, Emily. How can you keep going in this poor health?"

"I have no idea…" Emily paused for a second, then continued, "If you don't love me, I will die."

Leaving Jacob and Beryl behind to be with Sean and being changed into a completely different person was the same as dying, according to Emily.

Jacob couldn't bear to see her like that anymore. Her voice was soft, and Jacob's heart ached for reasons he couldn't understand exactly. But something Emily had said to him struck him as a little odd. Why did Emily mention that she would die?

It couldn't have been a slip of tongue. It must have been a conscious thought. Jacob asked her carefully, "If I don't love you, you will die…what's that suppose to mean?"

"Because I…" Emily lowered down her head so that Jacob couldn't see her face, "I can't tell you…I can't say anything…"

'She still has to keep secrets from me even after everything that just happened?

Or was it just a joke? Am I taking it too seriously?' Jacob wondered in his mind.
"I got you." Emily suddenly let out a big smile and gently punched Jacob on the chest.

"You little twerp," said Jacob, relieved of his worries. Seeing Emily smile was comforting enough, so he didn't want to think about anything else at the moment.

'If I don't love her, she will die. How ridiculous is that! I should have known it was just a joke. She was treating me like a kindergarten kid.

With my money and the advanced technology it can afford, she will certainly be fine soon. We will both live together until we are very old. Maybe we will all live to a 100 years old.

We will always be with each other.

Nothing can stop us.'

Emily was about to fall asleep when Jacob kissed her again and asked, "You said you loved me…did you mean it?"

He would never ask her this question if Emily was in her normal state because he knew she would never tell him the truth.

"Of course I love you," Emily replied without any hesitation, "but you never believe me. You are such a fool, Jacob. Do you know that you will…you will…"

Jacob was thrilled to hear the answer, but he realized it was another weird answer. "I am going to what? Emily, go on."

"You will lose me forever someday." Emily's voice was getting weaker and weaker as if she was drifting off to sleep.

Jacob stopped her words with his gentle kiss. He pulled Emily into his chest and hugged her like it was the end of the world.

"No I won't, never.


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