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.
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,
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.
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.
“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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