Collateral Damage (From the Damage)

 

Collateral Damage

 

A “From the Damage” Novel

 

By Genna Denton

&

Jasmine Denton

This book contains subject matter which may be disturbing to some readers. Reader discretion is advised.

 

 

This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents are products of the author’s imagination or are used
fictitiously and are not to be construed as real. Any resemblance to actual events, locations, organizations, or person, living or dead, is entirely coincidental.

 

Copyright © by Jasmine Denton 2013

 

 

 

License Notes

This book is licensed for your personal enjoyment only. This book may not be re-sold or given away to other people. If you would like to share this book with another person, please purchase an additional copy for each recipient. If you’re reading this book and did not purchase it, or it was not purchased for your use only, then please purchase your own copy. Thank you respecting the hard work of this author.

Cover: Allen Draughan

 

From the Damage Novellas

 

Chapter 1

Kelly

 

Bloody and wounded, Alex’s unconscious body lay sprawled out in the middle of the road.
A stream of sticky crimson oozed from a wound on his head. His left arm was twisted at an impossible angle and blood trickled out of the other, with a piece of glass from the shattered windshield lodged in it. A crowd gathered around, and several people dug for their cell phones.

“Wake up, Alex,” Kelly whispered as she knelt beside him. This was all her fault. If she hadn’t been so desperate to get away from him, if she hadn’t ditched him in the middle of a conversation again, he wouldn’t have chased after her. Wouldn’t have blindly run into the path of an oncoming car. He wouldn’t be so hurt right now.

Appearing as if out of nowhere, Kay pushed her way through the crowd and rushed to Alex’s side. “Oh my god,” she exclaimed, looking up at Kelly. “What happened?”

Kelly stared back at Kay, so surprised to see the complete stranger from group therapy here, looking so concerned over Kelly’s ex-boyfriend. Until she remembered that Kay and Alex were group-assigned ‘back-up buddies’ and things started to make a little more sense. But Kelly was frozen in shock while Kay sprung into action.

“It’s okay, Alex. You’re gonna be okay,” Kay said in a soothing tone as she pulled a ribbon from her hair.

Kelly
, fingers shaking, reached for the glass shard sticking out of Alex’s bicep.

“No,” Kay snapped,
then she quickly explained, “It’ll bleed worse if you take it out.” She tied the ribbon around Alex’s arm, just above the glass. “There’s an artery close by. We can’t risk-”

“Since when are you a doctor?” Kelly shot back.

Kay froze for a second, stunned, as if wondering why Kelly was so hateful.

Finally, the driver door to the sedan opened, and a girl stepped out.

“Has anybody bothered to call a freaking ambulance?” Kelly shouted out to the crowd, looking for an answer. As she scanned, her gaze paused on the driver.

And rage flooded her expression when she saw the slender girl her age. Brown curls cascading around her shoulders, with a hazy, intoxicated look in her blue eyes. 

Kelly lunged at the girl, shrieking. “I should’ve known it was you! You ruin everything you touch!”

Kelly managed to get a solid punch in before two adults pulled her off the girl.

“He ran straight out into the road.”

“As if you were even looking!” With a huff, Kelly turns on her heel and heads back to Alex.

An ambulance pulls onto the street, announcing its presence with flashing red and blue lights and sirens. A few police squad cars follow behind it.

“You know her?” Kay asked, smoothing a hand over Alex’s head.

Kelly, eyes on Kay’s hands, simply sighed. “She’s my stepsister.”

A paramedic rushed up to them and Kelly was pushed out of the way, while Kay
filled them in on the details of the accident, and Kelly just stood there, unable to move. Just watching in complete numbness and fear as they carefully lifted Alex onto a gurney and whisked him away in the ambulance, leaving only a trail of red and blue lights in their wake.

***

Kay

***

In the emergency room, Kelly, Kay and a few members of the football team waited for news about Alex’s condition.

While the players were huddled around Coach Walker, Alex’s dad, Kay stood by the coffee machine, examining the choices. In the machine’s reflection, she caught a glimpse of Kelly, sitting across the room by herself. Looking over her shoulder, Kay realized for the first time how lonely and out of place Kelly looked—always looked, for that matter—and she wondered why. 

Kelly was pretty and blond, and could’ve easily been the most popular girl in school. She had been, at one time. And now it seemed like she didn’t have a single friend in the world.

Just as Kay started over to talk to Kelly, her cell phone rang. Kay pulled it out of her purse, fear swimming into her heart when she saw “The Soldier” on the Caller ID.

“Hey, Dad,” she said as she answered the phone. She did her best to sound light, but the tone came out forced and tense.

“Where are you? It’s past midnight.” His gruff and intoxicated voice boomed through the phone so loudly she had to take it away from her ear for a second.

“I’m at the hospital. Alex was in an accident.”

“Yeah right. Where are you, really?”

“I told you. Alex was hit by a car. I’m waiting to find out—”

“I want you home in ten minutes.”

“How am I supposed to do that? The next bus doesn’t run until one.”

“I’ll come get you.”

“No, Dad, wait—”

But the line went dead. Kay sighed and pushed her cell back into her pocket.

In the corner of the waiting room, Kelly stood and rushed past Kay.

“Mrs. Walker,” Kelly called, and Kay followed her with her eyes to see her rush up to a middle aged couple. Kay recognized Alex’s dad, but she’d never met Mrs. Walker before.

“How’s he doing?” Kelly asked.

“His arm’s pretty messed up,” Mrs. Walker said, her voice hoarse. Her eyes were red and puffy like she’d been crying. “But he’ll be okay. They’re putting a cast on it, now. You can see him when they’re done, if you’d like.”

Kay tried to push down the knot of jealousy in her stomach, but it was always there. That nagging thought…why did Kelly even care? Up until now, she’d gone to great lengths to avoid Alex, and never missed an opportunity to tell her ex just how much she blamed him, hated him, even.

But with Kelly’s new attitude, Kay had to wonder…would the Clearwater power couple be getting back together?

“I’m glad you’re here, Kelly.” Mrs. Walker wrapped an arm around Kelly and gave her a half-hug. “It means a lot.”

Kay turned, then and headed for the exit. Deciding she’d come see Alex tomorrow, she waited outside for her dad to come, dreading every second.

 

***

Meagan

***

Propped up in the hospital bed, Meagan was enjoying a good book on her e-reader. So engrossed in the story, she paid no attention when someone walked into the room. She figured it was one of the nurses, coming to check her vitals or make sure the cast on her leg was holding up. Then someone yanked the device out of her hands, and she looked up in surprise.

Standing at her bedside, Seth grinned and looked down on her with those dark, menacing eyes. Her gaze darted to the door, which was now closed.

“Miss me?” he asked.

Her entire body going stiff and alert, she reached for the nurse-call button. But Seth grabbed the cord and tossed it, sending the button flying into the wall. It dangled from the receiver, at least two feet out of reach. With her leg suspended from a harness on the ceiling, she couldn’t even move.

“Get out of here,” she said, her voice shaking.

“Is that any way to treat a visitor?” He took a seat in the chair by her bed.

Though fear oozed into every pore, she refused to let it rule her. “Come to enjoy your handiwork?”

“Come on, MVP. You know I’d never want to hurt you.” He sounded genuine…and unbalanced. “But you just wouldn’t
stop
seeing that foster-care freak. The thought that you’d choose him over me…well, I couldn’t let it go unpunished.”

She glared at him, outraged and appalled. “You’re completely delusional.”

“No, you’re delusional. Thinking he’s better than me.”

“He is better than you!” she exclaimed. “You’re a stalking, psychotic rapist, Seth. And even if Ryder wasn’t in the picture, I still wouldn’t want anything to do with you.”

His gaze flicked to meet hers, and his jaw clenched. He gave her that look—the conniving, possessive one that chilled her to the core. And she thought he’d hurt her for saying that, maybe just grab her pillow, throw it over her head and finish the job once and for all.

But he only relaxed into the chair, crossing his ankle over his knee as he looked casually over at her.

“You see, once upon a time Ryder was the guy to go to when you needed something…illegal.”

She rolled her eyes. “I know he used to sell stolen stuff—”

“Everybody knew it,” he cut in. “The guy was famous long before he became the town’s very own Green Arrow, trying to clean things up.”

“At least he tries to help people,” she said. “What do you do? Score touchdowns? Lace girls’ drinks?”

Unfazed by what she said, Seth studied his fingernails absently as he continued to ramble. “The guy could get you anything you wanted, for the right price. Fake ID’s, weapons…drugs.” 

Shifting uncomfortably, she tried to pretend he wasn’t getting to her, that she didn’t care about Ryder’s past. But she had a sickening feeling that she knew where he was going with this.

“So, you can hate me for slipping that drug in your drink, but you should know that our…
special night
couldn’t have happened without him.”

A nauseous feeling settled in her stomach, hearing him talk about the rape like that. And her skin felt like it was crawling, distracting her from what he said. When his words finally sunk in, she shook her head in disbelief. “You’re lying.”

He raised an eyebrow. “Am I?” 

Of course he was lying, she thought.  Ryder had been honest with her about everything, even the embarrassing stuff, and he would’ve told her if he’d sold drugs. And even drugs had been a part of his
inventory, she couldn’t picture him dealing such a dangerous one. “It’s a trick. One more way for you to try to control me. To come between me and him. It isn’t true.”

“You’d like to think that, wouldn’t you?” He leaned forward, resting his elbows on his knees. “But the truth is he sold me the GHB. And you’re better off with me.”

“Better off with you?” she exclaimed. “Seth, you just ran my car off the road! My leg is broken in two places because of you.”

“Because of
him
,” he snapped. “It’s all because of him. Because he was selling the drug, because he was trying to come between us. Because you care about him more than you care about me.”

Pressing a hand to her stomach, she felt sick. Sick of this conversation, of the way he never listened when she insisted there was nothing between them, and she just wanted him to leave. She wanted him to leave her alone forever.

Standing up, he walked up to the edge of the bed and leaned in close. “Don’t you see? I’m only telling you this because I care. I don’t want to see him hurt you.”

“Right. It might take away from the pain when
you
hurt me.”

He shook his head, like she just didn’t understand. Reaching out, he stroked a finger down her cheek. “This would go a lot smoother if you’d just stop fighting it. If you’d only admit that you’re in love with me. That I’m the guy for you.”

Jerking her head away, she glared at him. “I will never be with you,” she promised. “I’d rather die.”

Sighing, his expression turned to one of disappointment. “You might.”

Her words stuck in her throat as her heart did a flip-flop. Had he really just threatened her life? Then she wondered why this surprised her so much…considering everything he’d done to her already.

He turned, walking slowly to the door. Opening it, he kept his back to her as he said, “I’ll be watching over you.”

After the door shut behind him, she grabbed the closest thing she could find—the cup of water from her table—and hurled it at the door. Water flew everywhere as the little plastic cup smashed against the wood and then fell to the floor. Her entire body shaking, her head swimming, her fear escalating.

Leaning over, she reached desperately for the nurse-call button. It took her a couple tries, but she managed to loop her finger around the cord and pull the button back over to the bed.

Frantically, she pushed the little red button and watched to make sure the light on the receiver came on.

A few seconds later, a nurse entered, almost slipping in the pool of water by the door. “Meagan, what’s wrong?” she asked.

She wanted to tell the nurse what had just happened, but she couldn’t bring herself to open up to a total stranger. “I need you to call my brother,” she said. “Tell him to come down here right now. His name’s Trevor and his number is—”

“But visiting hours are—”

“Please?” she cried. “My parents are out of town and he’s the only relative I have. Just get him down here.”

As if seeing how rattled Meagan was, the nurse finally nodded. “Okay, I’ll give him a call.”

***

Kay

***

Still waiting outside the hospital for her dad, Kay lifted herself to sit on one of the brick walls that encased a row of shrubs, looking up at the sky. Thinking about Alex, wondering if he was going to be alright, wishing she could stay and find out.

Then she heard a familiar male voice say, “Kay?” and her heart fell.

Looking over, she saw Trevor, paused by the entrance to the E.R. with his keys dangling from his hand.

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