Authors: Cambria Hebert
Tags: #General Fiction
A Heven and Hell short story
(Heven and Hell #1.5)
By Cambria Hebert
BETWEEN Copyright © 2012 CAMBRIA HEBERT
All rights reserved, including the right to reproduce this book, or portions thereof, in any form without written permission except for the use of brief quotations embodied in critical articles and reviews.
Otherworld Publications, LLC
125 ½ E Main Street
La Grange, KY 40031
Interior design and typesetting by Lynn Calvert
Cover design by Mae I Design
Edited by Amy Eye
This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents either are the product of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously, and any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, business establishments, events, or locales, is entirely coincidental.
As the author of this fine piece of written work (did you think I would say anything else?), I get the honor of having my name on the cover. But I am not the only one that has spent time making this novella as fine as it is.
My editor, Amy Eye, who worked tirelessly adding and removing commas (me and commas don’t get a long), looking for plot holes and pushing me to make the story just a little bit better. Thank you, Amy, for the hours you have committed to this novella and for being a friend that I really can’t imagine not having.
Thank you to my husband, Shawn, for encouraging me and telling me it would get done when I was sure it wouldn’t. For reading the story and telling me you loved it and for supporting me in every way you could. I know it’s awful crowded in my head, but you never seem to mind.
To my Beta readers: Cassie, Heidi, Michele and Shawn – you all were instrumental in finding the little things that Amy and I did not. You were the crew that came in to fine-tune the story and make it flow as best as it could.
Also to Heidi, thank you for all the dedication you have put into helping me market. The emails, the scheduling, the advice—you definitely are good at what you do and I am so glad that you are on my team.
To Regina Wamba, who created the “face” of this novella, designing a cover that is truly beautiful and means something to the words on every page. I don’t think I need to say how truly talented you are because the cover says it far better than I ever could.
A huge thanks goes out to Lynn and the staff of Otherworld Publications for publishing my writing and believing in me. And, finally, to all my fans. To the people who were excited when I announced this novella. I am humbled and overjoyed at the enthusiasm that you have shown my characters and writing. Some days it is you who keeps me tapping away at the keyboard.
For loving me
all the others who live inside my head.
I kicked at the pavement as I walked, in no hurry to get home. I was glad that school was out for the day, but unlike most kids my age, I wasn’t that thrilled to go home.
At least it’s Friday,
I told myself, which meant no homework. That was something to be thrilled about. I hated homework. I hated studying, but if I didn’t bring home a glowing average every grading period, Dad would have a cow. Mom would try to step in and then Dad would yell at her, too, and no doubt the argument would escalate and it would end the way it always ended.
He didn’t even live with us anymore, yet every single thing I did that Dad didn’t approve of somehow always came back to
Dad never said his name. It was like the minute he left with Sam and came back without him, we were all expected to pretend he never existed. Like all the times we played football in the backyard were something I made up. I was supposed to forget the time I took Dad’s watch off his dresser to pretend I was 007 and accidently broke it. Sam took the blame, the lecture and the punishment for me.
The sound of running feet came up behind me and, inwardly, I winced.
“Hey, look,” an obnoxious, familiar voice said from behind. “It’s Loogie.”
Laughter followed the words and I did my best to ignore it and keep walking. I guess I should have moved a little faster to put more distance between me and the school. It was a tough call sometimes deciding which place I wanted to be at less. Home or school?
A rough hand shoved me from behind. “Hey, dorkface. I’m talking to you.”
I sighed, stopped, and turned. “What do you want, Brent?”
The guy in the center of the foursome looked at his buddies. Then he smirked. “That paper you volunteered to write for me? It wasn’t good enough.”
Internally, I scoffed. Yeah, the paper I
to write. More like his buddies held me down last week while he went through my backpack, took it and turned it in with his name at the top. I had to pull an all-nighter just so I would have something to turn in.
Brent pulled a rolled set of papers from his back pocket and tossed them at me. They hit the center of my chest. I grabbed them and looked at the giant red “B” written at the top. “Ah, what’s the matter, Brent? Mr. Sorrell didn’t believe you wrote this ‘cause the grade was too high?”
His buddies laughed and Brent’s eyes about bulged out of his head. I knew I shouldn’t have said it. Antagonizing him only made things worse, but I had some pride. Getting tortured everyday was one thing, but taking it so easily was something else entirely.
As expected, Brent launched himself at me and I swung my book bag out and hit him in the stomach, causing him to fall to the side. Yeah, that wasn’t smart, either, but I had been feeling edgy all day and I wasn’t in the mood.
“That was stupid,” Brent snarled, partly hunched over from my hit. “Get him!” he yelled.
The three stooges (I knew about them because my grandpa used to watch them all the time) rushed me and though I tried to fend them off, it was three against one, and it didn’t take them long to have my arms pinned back, holding me in place.
Brent smirked and picked up my discarded book bag. I tensed my muscles, getting ready. The bag slammed into my stomach and all the breath whooshed out of me. I would have doubled over if not for being held.
White-hot rage filled me. I hated them!
Then his fist connected with my jaw and my head snapped back. I prayed it wouldn’t leave a mark. I could only imagine my dad’s reaction to his son being beat up on at school, when I should be the one beating up on everyone else.
I watched as Brent unzipped my bag and dumped the contents over the road and into the dirt. I didn’t mind so much because this part usually meant he was done and was about to leave.
“The next time you write a paper for me, get an A,” Brent shouted, then walked away without a backward glance. “Let’s go.” I was finally released, watching the retreating backs of the four jocks.
What I wouldn’t give to kick all their butts one day and wipe that smug swagger away. Instead of running after them, I bent down and began scooping everything back into my bag and swung it over my shoulder.
As I walked home, I did what Dad expected and tried not to remember how, when Sam was here, no one messed with me. They were all too afraid of him. He had this look, this way of staring someone down that would scare them off before they even thought about messing with him. Or me.
At this moment, that’s the part I missed about him most.
There was a mark. A bruise. It was faint, but not faint enough that Dad wouldn’t notice. I stood in the bathroom, studying my reflection and trying to come up with an excuse. While I was in there, I tried to practice doing “the look” that Sam always had, the one that told people not to mess with him. The only look I seemed to make made me look like I belonged on an ad for diarrhea medicine.
“Logan? Are you home?” Mom called from the kitchen.
Giving up on “the look,” I went out to the kitchen where she was putting some chocolate chip cookies on a plate. “How was school?” she asked, getting out a glass and filling it with milk.
“Fine,” I said, snagging a cookie and shoving it in my mouth. It didn’t taste good at all; the normally sweet and sugary flavor was like sand, and when the chocolate taste spread out over my taste buds, I almost gagged. Mom was watching me so I kept chewing and took the glass of milk she sat in front of me and chugged the entire thing.
Mom just shook her head and smiled. “You boys sure can eat.”
She froze, realizing what she said, adding that “S” onto boy, implying that Sam still lived here. She always acted like she had forgotten that, about two years ago, my brother was sitting at this very table doing his homework and most likely eating these same cookies when he suddenly shifted into a hellhound and ran out into the backyard.
Mom looked at me with alarm on her face, her eyes wide, and then she blinked. Just like that, the moment was over. “More cookies?”
I shook my head. “No, thank you.”
I saw her looking at the bruise on my jaw and could see her internal debate about asking me about it. But when I looked up and met her eyes, she slid her gaze away. Anger whipped through me like lightning. This wasn’t the first time I had come home with a bruise or mark. She knew what was going on at school. She knew I was the kid the jocks used as a punching bag.
She never did anything.
She pretended not to see the marks. She pretended that she didn’t hear the lies I made up when Dad asked about them. She pretended a lot.
I stood abruptly from the table. “Can I go play Xbox?”
I fled the room for the quiet sanctuary of the family room. A big TV and media cabinet filled up the far wall; a large, tan couch filled the center of the room with pillows of every color lining the back. Off to its left, there was a leather recliner that no one but Dad sat in (‘cause it was
chair) with a small end table next to it that held the various remotes. There was a big wooden coffee table that was scuffed up and held old crayon scribbles from when we were kids.
The right side of the room was a wall of windows that looked out over the front yard and a big tree that grew there. Striped curtains lined the windows and there was a small round table that sat in the middle, holding some kind of flower arrangement.
I walked in, ignoring the long table behind the sofa with all the family photos lined up in matching frames. I ignored the empty spaces where there used to be pictures of Sam. I turned on the TV and the Xbox and put in the most violent game I had, the one Mom refused to buy me. I bought it anyway and stashed it in my room. I didn’t care if she saw me playing it anymore. Maybe she would pretend not to notice.
The thought made me snort; then I turned on the game and began shooting people up.
I was still in the family room when I heard Dad get home from work. I heard Mom greeting him and the sound of the refrigerator opening and closing as he got out his customary “I made it through another day of work” beer.
I clicked the game off and flipped on some show on the Disney XD channel. A few minutes later, Dad came into the family room. I didn’t bother turning around to say hello. I didn’t feel like pretending today. In fact, I wasn’t feeling well at all.
“Hey, son,” Dad said, coming around the couch and standing in front of the TV.
“How did you do on that paper you wrote?”
“Got an ‘A.’ ” I smirked because Brent got a “B” on “his” paper.
“That’s the way to do it.” He took a sip of his beer, watching me. Then his eyes narrowed. “What’s that bruise on your face?”