Entire Wrecked Series coming soon

Do you know what will be available in one month??

No??

It’s Awesome!!

It’s amazing!

It’s the entire Wrecked Series and it will be available for only 99 pennies for the first three days and for pre-order!!!! Afreakingmazing!!

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Pre-order link for amazon

Guess what else??? I just signed on to be an author at The Black and Gold Author event in Pittsburgh Pa on September 12th 2015!! I can’t wait. Check out the line up of attending authors!!

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Come visit me!!! I would love to meet you!!!

Have you purchased Hurt You yet?? It’s #2 on Amazon’s top rated organized crime and it’s getting amazing reviews. Make sure you check it out!!!

Buy it here

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Remember you can follow me on Twitter @abbyemccarthy

The scoop:

I want to give you an update on what I am working on and what is going on with me. It’s been a hard summer, and by hard I mean truly, very hard. My mom is sick. She is young and I have to become her legal guardian. Set up doctors appointments all while trying to figure out the nursing home system and how to be the best advocate for her that I can. The entire system feels flawed. Did I say this is hard??

The other thing going on is my baby is a monster. Mothers to little boys understand that this is all that needs to be said.

So there is a ton of stress and I’m not writing at my usual speed, however, I have two, yes two books that I am working on right now. Both are around the 10,000 word mark. One is very contemporary and the other is more of a mystery/suspense romance.

In the contemporary my heroine’s name is Maple and this book takes place in the South.

In the other book, you will fall for June and Lucas. The twists and turns in this story will leave you reeling!

So even though I have had some stress, I wanted to let you know that I still have had the wheel churning and I am hard at work.

Chapter 1 Hurt You!!

Check out this peek at the first chapter in Hurt You!

Prologue

 

I hit the intercom that’s in every room of this godforsaken house. “Yes Mrs. Valentino? What can I do for you?” Maude one of the maids, my husband custom picked replies to my summons.

“I’d like a bottle of white, chilled.”

“What year?”

“It doesn’t matter.”

“Chardonnay, Pinot…”

I cut Maude off, this could go on forever. “Maude, I don’t care just bring me something, will you?”

“Yes dear,” she finally says. Minutes later there is a knock on the door.

“Come in,” I command. She doesn’t look at me. They never do. My husband likes it that way. I could only imagine what an interview with him must be like. ‘How are you at imagining people don’t exist?’ Maude pours a glass and begins to walk out of the room with the bottle.

“Leave it. In fact, I’m getting into the tub in a few minutes. Why don’t you bring me another bottle so it’s here when I finish this one off.”

I walk past her, grab the glass and the bottle then head into my master bath locking the door behind me.

I take a sip and the dry wine coats my tongue. She went with the Chardonnay. I turn the hot water on and the tub begins to fill. The house is quiet except for the water hitting the tub. I take another sip. Then I take a gulp.

I drop my robe and stare at my naked body in the mirror. Who is this woman staring back at me? I’m not sure I even know. My hair is freshly dyed, a rich dark red that has black undertones. It nearly touches my ass. My lashes will last me another two weeks, but they do their job making my eyes look less hollow. My body is what shows the biggest change. I used to be curvy and sexy. My breasts, that pushed a D cup are now smaller, closer to a small C. I used to have hips that I loved to sway, now my bones jut out and my thighs are gone. There are a lot of things I miss. My body is just one of them.

I submerge myself into the hot water, keep my glass of wine in my hand and the bottle close. The water is hot singeing my skin pink. I finish my glass and decide to drink it straight from the bottle. I never used to be a fancy girl. My eyes close, and it’s like I can see him. This is the only place I really can. I remember it all so clearly and I wish I had a different choice to make. Life doesn’t always give you easy choices. You just have to do the best you can. Right now, I’m choosing to close my eyes and live in the past, if only for a while. Maybe here, I can remember what it was like when he touched me.

 

Chapter 1

past

 

 

It was a break-up like many other break-ups. It ended with me crushing his heart, breaking a few things and then walking away. I always had to walk away, no matter how much they wanted me to stay. Drew was a nice one too. He was an amazing lover, the things he could do with his tongue, but then, he had to go and do it. He had to fall in love with me. I was pissed. I don’t want them to love me. Loving me can get them hurt. Drew, sweet Drew. He didn’t understand why I didn’t love him back and that is why when he grabbed me, begging me to stay, I lost it. I was ticked. Not particularly at him but at my whole situation. I threw things and broke things until he called me a crazy bitch and then I left. Anger was so much better than love.

High on adrenaline from my fight with Drew I decided to grab a beer and I pulled into the first bar I saw. I’d never been into this bar before but a sign reading Benny’s over the door and a bunch of motorcycles parked out front gave me the impression that it was the type of place I could have fun at. The type of placed I needed.

Walking in the bar, I noticed a bunch of bikers with a logo on the back of their vest; The Devil’s Crusaders. Even though, I was raised in Little Italy, I have always known who The Devil’s Crusaders are. Heck I don’t think you could live in a hundred mile radius of Wakeman and not know who they are.

I saw a girl sitting at the bar. She was pretty, brown hair, fair skin and she had a fierce  laugh that told me she knew how to live. Something the older bartender must have said had her in stitches. I also noticed that she was ignoring all the guys around her. Maybe she knew something I didn’t? I decided the empty seat next to her was as good as any.

“Jack, bring me another shot!” the girl said.

A man with white hair and a white beard set a shot down in front of her. “What are you drinking?” he asked me.

“Get me whatever she’s drinking, it looks like I’m having the same kind of night.”

“The girl smiled at me, “Oh I doubt you can handle what I’m drinking.”

God do I love a challenge.

“Oh, I definitely can handle what you’re drinking.”

Jack slid two shots in front of us. And I lifted the glass, “Bottoms up.” I said clanking the glass against the girls.

“She didn’t even flinch Jack.” The girl said to Jack and then turned to me, “You didn’t even flinch.” I smiled liking her enthusiasm for alcohol.

“That was amazing. What is it?” I asked.

“It’s an Alabama Slammer with Jack Daniels.”

“Have you ever had an Irish Hammer? It’s Jack, Irish Mist and Bailey’s.” I asked.

“No, but that sounds awesome. Jack, make us two Irish Hammers.”

I opened my purse, “I got this round.” I said.

“Oh no, you don’t, I can’t pay for a drink around here if I tried.”

“Thanks. My name’s Jenny by the way.”

She looked at me confused and then asked, “You don’t know who I am do you?”

“No should I?”

She shook her head no and then stuck her handout, “Name’s Maura, Maura McCafferty. Nice to meet you.”

“So what’s your story? You can’t be twenty-one can you?” I asked because she looked like she could be in high school.

“No, I’m not, but it doesn’t matter here. You see all these guys with patches on? Well, they’re my family and the patch says I don’t have to be twenty-one to drink.” I looked around understanding why she thought I should know who she was. She was a Devil’s Crusader. “And that guy over there with the small ponytail,” she motioned with her head to her left.

“He’s cute.”

“Yeah, he is, but he is like my brother and I can’t get a date for the life of me. He chases every guy off. If I stood up right now and flashed the bar my tits, and asked if anyone wanted to get lucky, do you know what would happen?”

“I’m guessing I can see where this is going, but what would happen?”

“They would turn around, and no one would look accept maybe Dawson.”

“Is ponytail Dawson?”

“Yes, but most people call him Daws.” she said rolling her eyes, then she asked, “So that’s my story, what’s yours?”

“I just broke up with Drew.”

“Was that a bad thing?” she asked.

“He did this thing with his tongue, it was fucking fantastic. But he was a little too into me, I wasn’t feeling it.” A tiny built of guilt passes through me when I say this.

“At least he was a good kisser.”

“Oh honey, no one said anything about kissing, he was a good flicker, and the way that boy swirled it, wow.”

She started laughing, a deep belly chuckle, “Hey Jack, get us another round.”

“To men who know how to use their tongues.” I raised the shot glass.

“To getting a man to use his tongue on me.” Maura clinked my shot glass.

Another round.

Another toast.

We sat, we drank and we laughed at everything. I have a big family and a ton of cool women in my life, but I hadn’t connected this well with another chick, in well, ever.

We were maybe eight shots deep when the real fun began. “Jukebox time!” I hollered. A few guys watched us, some from their club and some that were not. I saw a couple of guys get up to dance with us but were quickly given looks by Maura’s Crusaders that said ‘Don’t even think about it.’

“No wonder you can’t get laid,” I yelled a little too loudly.

“No kidding right. Did you see that cute guy with the hat? He was about to come over here,” she admitted.

“I’m going to have to do something about that. I know, I’ll yell tits really loud and you go talk to him.”

“That doesn’t even make sense. Everyone will be interested in your tits, look at those things,” she said and she snort giggled. She friggin snort giggled!

“I know they will be interested in my tits. They’ll be so distracted that you can talk to him without anyone giving you a hard time.”

“You’d be willing to show your tits in this room just so I could talk to a guy?” she asked.

“Won’t be my finest hour, but I’d be willing to do it for you. I think you could use a reprieve.”

“How right you are, but the girls can stay under wraps.” She nodded in the direction of the guy who now had some blonde gyrating on one knee.

“You know what this calls for?” I said.

“Shots!” we both screamed in unison and walked off our makeshift dance floor and back to the bar. Jack looked us both over, “You think maybe you two have had enough?” he asked.

“How about a redheaded slut?” I countered and ignored Jack’s question. A little bit of Jagger and lots more giggles later had us on the floor in stitches. I was trying to show Maura how to twerk, a dance move that I myself have never mastered and was not very good at, hence why we were on the floor. Jack flicked the lights and yelled last call. “Shit I’m drunk,” I said and did a slight hiccup.

“Shit me too.” Maura laughed.

“Ut oh ponytail is behind you?” I said directing Maura’s attention to the biker standing over her, after all we were on our asses.

“You two must have done fifteen shots, I think you’re done for the night,” Dawson said.

“My brother is going to kick my ass when he sees how hammered I am. Cause there is no way I can drive.” I tell Maura sobering up at the idea of Carlo having to come get me.

“I can’t drive either. I’m leaving my bike here.” Maura said.

“You have a bike?”

“Hell yeah, I do! She’s so pretty you have to see her.”

“Maura, you’ll ride with me. You need me to call your friend a cab?” Dawson asked.

“She is going to be waiting forever at this hour for a cab. Hey Jules!” Maura yelled to one of the bikers who was just taking the last swig of his beer.

“What’s up Maura,” Jules answered. I locked eyes with the man, but only for a second and I was surprised I didn’t notice him earlier. He had dyed bleach blonde hair that was long on top and shaved on the sides. His eyes were an icy blue that didn’t give much away. They seemed guarded. He was good looking in that don’t fuck with me I’m a badass kind of way.

“Jenny’s coming to the clubhouse with us. You got her?” Maura asked.

His eyes raked over me, first my eyes, then my full lips. I could feel his gaze as it trailed down past my breasts, hips, then legs and back up again. I kid you not, I felt naked under his stare. Then as quickly as his eyes were on me they were gone. “Yeah,” he said in a barely audible tone.

We walked outside and some of the guys were already taking off on their bikes. Maura hopped on the back of Daws’ bike. The way she threw a leg over told me she was a pro. Surprisingly enough, I had never been on a bike before. Jules got on his bike and backed it out of his parking spot then motioned for me to get on. I did what Maura did, giggling at myself as I did it, well ‘cause I was hammered and life is just a little more amusing through drunk goggles.

“Been watching you. Can’t believe you’re standing let alone laughing. You’re not gonna puke on me are you?”

I shook my head and laughed even though something about how he said he was watching me slid over me and his words wrapped around me. It could have been the Jagger, but I was feeling all sorts of warm, and somehow, I knew it had to do with him.

“Good to know. Never saw a woman who could keep up with Maura.” That was it, all he said before he took off and his pipes rumbled. I leaned into him and held tight. Seconds later we were stopping at a traffic light. We were the last in the line of bikes. Some had made the light and only Maura and Daws remained in front of us.

If I wasn’t so intoxicated maybe I would have known that I was being watched. It felt like everything was in slow motion. The black Range Rover with big shiny wheels approached and slowed as it pulled up alongside us. The windows were tinted near black. We couldn’t see in. But I knew. I knew he was behind the glass watching me. He slowed just enough to drill it into my head that he would always be here watching, waiting. Then, just as fast, he peeled away and blew through the light. I saw Daws look back and make eye contact with Jules. Maybe they thought Antonio did that because of the Devil’s Crusader’s vest, but I knew different.

I felt Jules’s fingers glide over my own. I realized I must have tensed when Antonio passed us and I was clinging to him like I thought he could save me, but there was no saving me.

“You good?” he asked.

“Why wouldn’t I be?” I lied and his eyes narrowed on me.

The drive to the clubhouse was longer than I expected. The roads wound up hills and there was a chilly bite to the air. It didn’t matter, I was drunk and enjoying the buzz. The freeness of the road just magnified it. I had never had a reason to come this way before, but it would become a road I traveled frequently.

We pulled through a gate that was already open and waiting for us. The clubhouse was more like a large warehouse with a garage across from it with several large bay doors. We walked through an unmarked door and into a huge bar. Most of the guys from Benny’s were also here but now many of them had women hanging on them. I wondered where theses ladies came from, it was if they materialized, just in time for the boys to get here.

The bar was in the middle of the room separating it into two sides. On one side, there was a pool table and Foosball table with long vinyl bench seats around it. Then on the other side of the room there were tables, a couch that housed a woman with very large tits right out in the open kissing another scantily dressed chick and a stage that was currently empty but based on the stripper pole was often a source of entertainment. My drunk self thought about how my inner stripper thought it would be fun to learn some dance moves, but maybe not tonight.

Maura grabbed my hand and walked me up to the bar, “This isn’t too much for you is it?” she just about challenged with how she asked, and truthfully it wasn’t. I was no angel. Besides the ruggedness of the men and the brazen sluttiness of some chicks this small party wasn’t that wild.

“Bring it on!” I told Maura. She smiled so brightly at me and then grabbed the bartender’s attention. “Hey Rhonda, bring us a couple of buttery nipples.”

The bartender started fixing us shots. “That’s Little Titty Rhonda.” You can call her that she won’t mind. Over there on the couch, those tits,” I nodded and glanced over at the very naked tits again. “that’s Big Titty Rhonda.”

“Makes sense.” I agreed.

Our shots came and we proceeded to get even more intoxicated. Maura pointed out who everyone was. She had funny stories about some of the guys. I could listen to her talk all night. Maura had a way about her that made me forget about all of my problems. My problems were huge, yet her easy going fun attitude made everything feel smaller. We put music on the Jukebox and danced to a few songs. I looked around and saw that Dawson was watching Maura and for a second I thought Jules was watching me, but then he looked away and didn’t spare me much more of a glance which was just fine by me considering I need a man like a cat needs snorkeling lessons.

It must have been near four in the morning when the clubhouse finally started to dwindle. “C’mon, you can have my bed, I’ll sleep in my dad’s,” Maura said once we were finally so drunk and exhausted that we could no longer function.

“You share a room with your dad?” I asked confused at this revelation.

“We have a cottage out on Lake Green. You’ll see it soon enough, but this is here so if we need to crash. When I was younger I used to stay here with him, but that was a long time ago. He still keeps it nice for me though.” I smiled at my new friends presumptions that I would be spending time at Lake Green with her. I had no doubt that this was true.

We walked down a long hallway that was dimly lit. Rows of closed doors lined the hallway until she finally stopped at one, took a key out of her pocket and nodded with her head for me to follow. There were two twin beds, one was clearly masculine with dark bedding but made and the other had a soft lavender quilt on it. I knew it was soft because once we entered her room I all but face planted on it.

The next morning I woke up and Maura was still asleep. I’m always an early riser when I drink a lot. Sober I could sleep a whole day away but give me booze and I’m up. I wrote Maura a note telling her how much I loved meeting her and I programmed my cell into her phone. I was kind of loud hoping she would wake up, but there was no waking her. I walked out to the main clubhouse area and wasn’t paying much attention to anything else because as I was walking I was searching the endless pit also known as my purse for my cell phone. Carlo, my older brother works nights and should just be getting off. I know he won’t be happy about coming to get me, but he is going to have to get over it.  I pulled my phone free and I immediately saw 12 missed calls from Drew and 15 messages. My battery showed red telling me it was going to die soon, but I figured I had enough to check my messages and call Carlo. Message after message was Drew asking what went wrong and begging for me to come back and then there was one message, a message that I continuously received loud and clear.

 

Unknown: I’m watching you

 

Of course, I knew who it was, and it was just another reminder that Antonio was watching me. Part of me wondered if he followed us here. I squeezed my eyes shut, inhaled, and clutched the phone in my hand. Then I heard the beeps. I opened my eyes only to see my phone shutting down. “Shit well, that’s just great.”

“You always talk to yourself?” I heard the deep rumbly voice from last night and I only then realized that I wasn’t alone.

“If it suits me.” I shrugged and answered honestly, looking up directly at Jules.

In the morning, under much more sober eyes, I saw how beautiful he really was. His hair was pulled back into a tight ponytail. I could tell he recently showered and trimmed up his goatee. He eyes were the lightest shade of blue I had ever seen. But it wasn’t the color that really drew me in, it was something about the way he stared at me. It was intense and I didn’t understand it. I’m good with reading men, six brothers will do that to you, but this look was saying so much about Jules and yet not enough. One thing I’m pretty certain it said about him was that he was passionate. I just had no idea why. His skin was flawless and looked soft. His hand came up to his face and stroked his goatee entrancing me.

He sat there at his table and stared at me while playing with his facial hair. “What’s wrong?” he finally asked.

“My phone died, I was just about to call my brother and ask him to come get me. Do you have a phone I can use?”

“No boyfriend to come pick you up?”

“Lord no!” I said with a little more enthusiasm than I should have considering I did just have a boyfriend yesterday.

“Can’t say I’m upset about that.” Ut oh, this deliciously looking bad-ass was flirting with me. I knew without a shadow of a doubt that I couldn’t go there. That look in his eyes, with all that passion, intensity and sexy yumminess told me, it would be harder than the rest for me.

“Well Drew was. We ended things last night.”

“Again can’t say I’m upset about that either.”

“He was nice. That was him messaging me. He wants me back.”

“Nice is boring.”

“He wasn’t boring.”

“No?” His eyebrow perked up like he didn’t believe me.

“In fact, he was very fun. Kept me very entertained.” I’m not sure why I was telling him about Drew. Maybe I thought that if he knew that I could easily throw men away that he wouldn’t look at me. I already knew that Maura was a friend I wanted and that I would probably be seeing more of Jules, but I couldn’t really see him.

“That so?” he asked, his eyes squinted at me.

“Yes.”

“Then what were you doing in a biker bar finding your own kind of entertainment? And why’s he your ex?”

“Are you going to let me use your phone or what?” I asked trying to change the subject.

“Or what.”

“What does that even mean. Oh forget it, I’ll just go grab Maura’s cell.” I began to walk away needing to put space between us. His hand was suddenly on my wrist spinning me around. “I’ll drive you.” His touch was like an inferno to my skin, it sent waves of heat throughout my body. I felt goosebumps along my skin and I hoped he didn’t notice. I didn’t want him to notice.

“It’s raining out. We’ll take the truck.”

He led me outside and towards a large blue truck with a Marine Corp emblem in the back windshield. I got in the truck and watched him shake his head to rid himself of the rain. Something about this was cute and it was not a term I think a biker would be happy to hear me refer to him as so I kept that observation to myself.

“My car is at Benny’s,” I informed him.

Jules reached forward and changed the song on the radio, settling on classic rock and roll. “So why did you break up with Drew?” he asked, but his tone didn’t hold the same passion as before and it made me feel like it was okay to tell him a little. Maybe he was only flirting before just to flirt. Lord knows I am a huge flirt.

“Okay, you get a question, I get a question. Deal?”

I saw a slight quip to his lip and he seemed amused, “I’ll take that deal.”

“Drew was a little more into me than I wanted him to be. I wasn’t there and he was. So I ended it. End of story.”

“Simple as that?”

“Yep. Simple as that. We were seeing each other a couple of months and he started to get the warm and fuzzy feels for me, so I said goodbye.”

“Yeah, how did he take that?”

“As well as could be expected. He didn’t understand.”

“Hmmpf boring.”

“He wasn’t,” I argued, but maybe he was just a little.

“Jenny, you were bored.”

“How do you figure?” I asked.

“The first thing you did as soon as you dumped the poor schmuck is head straight to the wildest bar you saw and found one of the most entertaining fun chicks I know to get smashed with.” He wasn’t wrong.

“Okay, maybe a little.” I relented seeing his point. “So are you a Marine?”

“Did my time, got out when my time was up.” Wow, the way he said that, didn’t make me think he really wanted to talk about it.

I stared at him and really studied his face. I thought he was young, maybe younger than me, but looking at him I wasn’t so sure. I squint my eyes at him, “How old are you?”

“Twenty-nine.”

I drew in a breath, maybe even gasped a little. I was shocked. Not that twenty-nine is old I just never would have guessed.

“Are you surprised?” he asked.

“Yeah,” I answered honestly.

“How old are you?”

“Twenty three.”

“You been married before?” It was a strange question for him to ask me, but I went with it.

“Um, hell no.”

“Kids?” he asked.

“Double hell no. What about you?”

“No and No.”

This whole twenty question, getting to know one another was going against my initial thought process to keep Jules out. I decided to switch conversations to something I could easily talk about and feel safe. “You bleach your hair,” I stated as a fact.

“Yeah.” was his one-word response.

“You do it yourself?”

“Why the interest in my hair?”

“I do hair.” I said, in a isn’t it obvious sort of way.

“You want to do my hair?” he asked, his voice was thick with amusement.

Shit, I didn’t think I was backing myself into that corner, but that’s exactly what I just did. Then again, he hasn’t really been flirting anymore. Maybe he is just making polite conversation and I blew that look earlier out of proportion.

“Sure I could do your hair, I work at Angel’s over on Perry Street. Stop in and make an appointment.”

“I’m not going to a salon. You’ll do it out of your place.”

“What! No.” I looked at him like he was nuts.

“Babe, no biker is going into a salon.” okay I could see his point, plus he called me babe, which I kind of liked.

“Well, I don’t do hair out of my apartment.” I lied, I totally did.

“The way I see it, you owe me.”

“What? How do I owe you?”

“I brought you with us last night when you were hammered and I’m taking you home now. Plus I don’t think your brothers would be too happy about you getting so hammered at a bar with a bunch of bikers.”

Hold up. Wait a second. “How do you know I have brothers?”

“I knew Gus. Seen you with Carlo at his funeral.” Any wind that I had in my sails floated away at the mention of my brothers. I lost one of my brothers the previous year. My brother Carlo and Gus’s son Gino were the only things that kept me hanging on. No one knew exactly why he died, but I had my suspicions. It was one of the reasons that all of this back and forth needed to stop with Jules. He seemed like a good man. I couldn’t bring him into my shit. My shit was so deep, I was drowning and he deserved to at least have a raft, not to plunge head first into choppy waters. My mood changed and Jules could sense it.

“I liked him. What happened to him was fucked up.”

“Yeah.” I agreed. He didn’t mention his hair again, or anything else really. The rest of the drive was quiet and I was glad for that.

 

EEEPS I hope you enjoyed that!! I’m working hard at finishing Hurt You.

The above is subject to change.

 

 

Fight You Coming December 8th

Fight You FOR WEB

Synopsis Button 2

Daws is a Devil Crusader, born and raised a bad boy. He’s sick of superficial, meaningless relationships. Fate throws him a curveball when Aubrey begins working for his dad’s motorcycle shop.

Aubrey is damaged and scarred.

She’s running from a past that has the ability to destroy her. It’s not just herself that she needs to protect. She’s fighting to save her sister. She needs to keep the monster away and she’ll stop at nothing to keep her sister safe.

She wasn’t expecting to meet Daws, the man who would change their lives. Dangerous, strong and completely hers, her heart never had a chance.

Is Daws capable of protecting her from the monster who haunts her? The monster who will stop at nothing to get to her? He wants her back, that much is clear.

She just hopes that when the time comes, she’s strong enough to save them all….

**Please note this is the second book in the Wrecked Series. It can be read as a stand alone and it is not necessary to have read Wreck You, however reading Wreck You first may give you some background to Daws. This book is intended for mature audiences as it has graphic scenes involving sex and child abuse. The use of the F bomb is frequently thrown around so if that offends you, I wouldn’t recommend reading this.

fight you teaser 1

Fight You

 

Prologue

Dear Ari,

 

I love you. Hold on to that okay? I’m sorry that I have to go. If I am going to keep you safe, then this is something that I need to do. Please don’t be mad at me. I know you saw what Rich did to me. Don’t worry. I will come back for you before he ever lays a finger on you. I promise. Pinky swear. Keep your head down at dinner and don’t make eye contact with him. You know he only gets more angry if he sees you watching him. Remember, Tuesdays he gets drunk with his poker buddies. It’s your best chance to shower and have a few minutes of privacy, but make sure he is good and gone. And make sure you are asleep and the bathroom is cleaned up before he gets home. I’m so sorry to leave you, but I have gone over this a million times. I think if I stay, I’ll stop existing, and then I won’t be able to save you. I will be thinking about you always. I know you are going to be lonely and scared, but just know I am thinking of you and I am doing everything I can to come back for you.

I love you,

 

Aubriella

 

p.s.

 

Make sure you hide this note in the seam of the mattress where I showed you and then make sure he never finds it. Promise??

 

 

I tuck the note under Ari’s pillow, close to her fingers being careful not to touch her. I have an old necklace with two hearts entwined that is one of the only things I have left from my mother. She’s always loved it and I’m leaving it with her as my promise I’ll come back. I slide it alongside the note as quietly as I can. I don’t want to wake her. If she sees me, I’m not sure that I’ll be able to walk away. I know it will be hard for her without me, but it’s the only thing I know I can do to save us; to save her. Ari means everything to me.

I grab my torn, duct-taped backpack that I’ve carefully filled with everything I have that I can use and throw it over my shoulder. I don’t have much and what I do have holds little value. My tennis shoes are worn with holes in the soles and my black hoodie is stained but it’s the warmest thing I own.

I step on my tippy toes and whine at the pain from the stretch. Then, I reach into the crack of the cinder block basement wall, finding my hidden stash. One hundred thirty two dollars and sixteen cents is what I have managed to skim from that sick bastard’s pockets when he was passed out drunk. I would’ve liked to have saved more money, but after last night’s torture, I know that I can’t wait any longer, not if I’m going to live to get Ari out.

I check the time and notice that I have a few hours to get out of here before Rich is back. I look at Ari one more time.

“Please God, if there’s a chance you’re real, take care of her. I love you, Ari,” I whisper, then quietly move through the house.

I take a deep breath as fear ripples through my body. He’s not home tonight and I know he thinks that he has broken me so much that I would never try and escape. This room, Rich’s room, is the only way out. It’s been the place haunting my nightmares for the last five years. I’m not allowed in here on my own, but I know that it’s the only way out if I’m going to survive. My hand reaches out to turn the knob and I squeeze my eyes shut, picturing Ari’s beautiful face. Making sure that Ari never has to go through what I’ve been through gives me the strength to open my eyes and face my fear. I know on the other side of this door is the only window that opens. It’s my escape and turning this knob is the only thing standing in my way.

 

Chapter 1

 

Aubrey

18 months later

 

The vibrations from the road that is under construction jar me from my sleep. The vent above my head on the bus is blowing warm air at best.

“Aubriella?”

“I’m right here, Ari. Remember what I told you?” I look around to make sure no one is listening, “If this is going to work, I’m not your foster sister anymore. From now on, you have to call me Mom.”

“Sorry, Mom. Where are we?”

“It looks like we are just leaving Ohio. It won’t be that much longer. Maybe an hour or so.”

“Your hair looks funny so dark,” she smiles at me with her big almond-shaped eyes giving me a sympathetic look.

“Oh, it’s not so bad. Besides, now I match you,” I try to be reassuring. I know Ari is going to need all the reassurance she can get right now.

“I wish I didn’t have to leave all of my stuff,” Ari complains.

“I know, Sweetie. If there was more time or any other way, I would’ve grabbed it for you.”

“I have your necklace.” She fishes it out of her backpack and starts to hand it to me.

“No, you keep it,” I say closing my hand over hers.

“Are you sure?”

“Yeah, I’m sure.”

“Okay, if you’re really sure. I’m going to the bathroom. I’ll be right back.” I watch Ari as she gets up and heads to the back of the bus, never taking my eyes off of her.

It’s been eighteen months since I saw her last. Sneaking into that forsaken house was enough to throw me into a panic attack. I pushed through it and woke Ari up. She was confused at first as she wiped sleep from her eyes.

“Hi, sweetie. It’s me.”

“Aubriella?” She asked, her voice sounded small.

“Yeah, it’s me.”

“You came back.”

“I promised you, didn’t I?” I brushed the hair out of her face. “We need to hurry, okay?”

         Ari nodded and got dressed. She wasn’t panicked. She was calm as she threw several items into a backpack. She started to grab more.

        “Ari, we can’t take all of that. Just grab what you need for a day, okay?”

        She threw her backpack over her shoulder and said, “Okay.” Ari placed her hand in mine and we immediately laced our fingers together.

“Don’t leave me again, okay?”

“Never again. He didn’t hurt you, did he?” Her eyes darted to the side. “Ari? Look at me. Am I too late? Did Rich touch you?”

“No, he was angry when you left and spanked me a few times. Lately, he started making comments that just made me feel gross. I’m more worried about you, though. I overheard him talking to himself, and he said something about you leaving him and that he was going to make you pay.”

“Rich isn’t going to hurt us, because he won’t be able to find us.”

Despite the shivers that run up my spine when I think about Rich being angry, I’m relieved Rich didn’t hurt her. I wasn’t too late. It took me longer than expected, but I finally got things in place to protect her.

I notice Ari walking back down the aisle of the bus. “Eww! That bathroom is nasty!” She scrunches up her nose, and slides past me taking a seat next to the window.

“So, you want to hear the plan?” I ask Ari.

“Yes! Where are we headed?” Ari asks.

“We’re going to stay with a friend. Her name is Angie. She has a grandson that stays with her. He’s a year older than you, but I bet you’ll like him from what I’ve heard about him. We’re headed to Pennsylvania.”

“Will I get to go to school?” Ari asks.

“Of course, but Rich will be looking for a fifth grader. I’m enrolling you as fourth grader.”

“Ohhh, Aubriella!” Ari groans.

“I know. I’m sorry. Just look at it this way, once we get you playing soccer you’ll be bigger than the other girls on the team and look on the bright side, the school year just started so it won’t be like you missed a ton.” I look at her sympathetically trying to get her to see the good in the situation. She nods her head, urging me to continue. “Your new last name is Michaels. And if this is going to work, you have to call me Mom. You cannot call me Aubriella. It could get us caught. If he finds me, it won’t be good.”

I don’t want to scare her but I also need her to understand the gravity of the situation. The reality is, if Rich finds me he will not only rape me in everyway possible, but I’m certain when he’s done with my body, he’ll kill me.

“Do you understand?”

“I do. As long as you’re with me, I’ll be whomever you want me to be. And you can be my Mommy. I always wanted one.”

I kiss her head pulling her close to me. “I promise I’ll be the best mom to you. We might not be blood, but you’re the only family I’ve ever had. I love you so much and missed you like crazy.”

She snuggles close to me and stare out the windows. “Does it get cold here?”

“Yeah, they get a lot of snow.”

“I’ve never seen snow. Do you think this winter we can play in it?”

“Of course we can! I bet we can even go ice skating.”

“Really?” Her eyes light up with only the joy a kid can have.

“Really. We can build snowmen too, if you want.”

“I want,” she says grinning and continues to look out the window.

I knew when I left her I was taking a chance, but what good would I be dead? Thoughts of that last time threaten to surface creating a panic within me. I focus on my breathing, the way Marcella taught me too. I take deep breaths in and out, slowly calming myself before the panic sets in. Marcella found me after I’d been living on the streets for eight months. The meager funds that I’d scammed off of Rich were just enough to get me out of town, but barely enough for food. I found myself rooting through dumpsters more than anything.

The first few months, Marcella hardly approached me, treating me as if I was a wounded animal, and in some ways I was. The back alley was away from most of the other homeless crowds and it also housed the back door to Casa Mia’s, a tiny Italian restaurant. I found a shelter to shower at, but avoided it as much as possible. One of my first nights I stayed there, I woke up to a greasy obese man on top of me. He was breathing heavily and groping my breasts. Lucky for me, a noise startled him and he moved away giving me the look that says, “talk and you’re dead”; a look I am all too familiar with. Marcella eventually started bringing me food and little by little she built my trust.

One extra shitty, rainy day, I was huddled close to the dumpster with a piece of sopping wet cardboard held over my head. It wasn’t really working like the pretend umbrella I imagined it to be, but it was keeping some rain off of me. The dumpster provided a barrier from the wind. Marcella opened the backdoor to Casa Mia’s, propped it open, and set a plate of hot food on a barstool so that it was staring me down. My frozen bones moved right past the mistrust my mind felt and followed the aroma. Inside, to the left of the door, there was a cot with a sweatshirt and sweatpants.

“Sweet dear. I can’t stand to see you wet any more. There is a shower over there, if you feel comfortable. Change. Eat. Get warm. Stay,” Marcella said with the warmest voice her Italian accent shining through.

I don’t know what it was about her. Maybe it was how she gave me time before approaching me, or maybe it was the gentle tone in her voice, but for the first time in a while, I spoke,“Thank you. That’s very kind of you, but I really don’t want to be a bother.”

I watched as she sucked in a breath at the sound of my voice, as if it startled her. Truth was the sound startled me a little too. “Nonsense. The only bother is if I have to watch you out there for another minute. I worry about you.”

Worry about me? Besides Ari, I’m not sure there was ever a person who worried about me. I had a case worker, but either Rich paid her off, blackmailed her or she just didn’t care, because seeing marks on me only once was enough for her never to return.

What a strange concept it was for me to have a stranger worry about me. My head told me to run, but my heart screamed Ari. Maybe this is a chance, “Please. You have to let me work for you to pay you for your kindness.”

A small grin tugged at Marcella’s face as if she had thought it was going to be harder to convince me. “I think we can work that out, I’m Marcella by the way, and you are?”

This is it. Do I tell her who I really am? Do I risk it? Looking at the woman before me, the way her rounder midsection says she eats well, her hair pulled back but it’s black sheen with silver strands glistened and the small amount of makeup on her tanned skin showed that she cared about her appearance just enough for herself. She wasn’t trying to impress anyone, but she seemed happy. As if sensing that I needed encouragement she prompted, “It’s okay you can trust me. No one will hurt you here. You’re safe. I’ve owned this place for twenty years. Everyone who works here is family, or I would put my life in their hands. I’m betting you haven’t had much of that, but there is good out there. Let me help you.” Marcella showed a softness that I couldn’t deny, and I decided to take a leap. I moved my ratty rain soaked hoodie off of my head, completely exposing myself for the first time to her and I shared the first of many details from my sordid past, “I’m Aubriella.”

The bus begins to slow as we head off of the main highway. I notice the ‘Welcome To Wakeman’ sign and I’m drawn  from my thoughts of sweet Marcella. If we weren’t so close to Rich, I would have gladly kept Ari at Marcella’s, but his proximity to Marcella’s restaurant was more than I could risk with Ari.

“We’re almost here,” I say to Ari as I brush the hair out of her face.

“It looks pretty here,” she observes. And it does, I was so caught up in my thoughts that I didn’t pay much mind, but it looks like the cooler temperatures here bring out the early fall foliage. We pass a lake and the beginning yellowing of Autumn leaves is reflected in the green water. It’s truly a sight. The bus drives through a town, it’s rundown but has a charm about it. Baskets of flowers are hung from telephone poles as if to say, ‘despite our crumbling sidewalks, we can still be something great.’

“I think you’re going to like it here, Ari.”

“I think you’re right, Mom,” she says with a small smile letting me know she understands I need to become Mom.

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About this author


Abby McCarthy is reader and a lover of words. She is a blogger turned author and released her first novel in May 2014. She is a mother of three, a wife and a dog person. She has always written, sometimes poetry, sometimes just to vent about failed relationships, however in parenthood she has found her voice to help keep her sanity. Words have flowed from her, to review and with the support of amazing friends in the Indie community she has decided to pursue my dream of writing! She loves to write and read romance, because isn’t that something we all yearn for? Whether it be flowers and hand holding or just the right tug on your hair. Isn’t that what life is about? The human connection?

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