Authors: Yolanda Olson
Thank you to my street team for spreading the word! Also, to the blogs that shared, reviewed, and spread the word; thank you as well. Thank you to Beth Sterry in particular who endured me while I wrote this book. It was a tough one for me and you kept me going.
Published by Yolanda Olson, 2015.
While every precaution has been taken in the preparation of this book, the publisher assumes no responsibility for errors or omissions, or for damages resulting from the use of the information contained herein.
First edition. July 17, 2015.
Copyright © 2015 Yolanda Olson.
Written by Yolanda Olson.
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could hear the horses above me in their stalls clicking their hooves and occasionally neighing. I could hear the sound of Scout, the family dog, running back and forth excitedly as he followed the heavy, booted footsteps that went from stall to stall. I felt the familiar tremble start to go through my body as the footsteps got closer and closer to the hidden floor latch that kept me hidden from the world. But like last time I was worried because I couldn’t distinguish between fear and need anymore. I couldn’t understand why my body reacted the way it did lately whenever he came down into this dark, dusty prison and I wasn’t sure I wanted to understand it. I just wanted whatever it was that he would do to me to last longer than the time before. It was almost like I had been reconditioned to want him which made me wonder if I was as weak as he had lead me to believe I was before this started.
The dirt wall in front of me was taunting. It held a riddle that I had scratched into each day when I was rewarded with a new clue. I just had to rearrange the question properly and answer it and then my hell would be over. But what do you do when you've become so used to what I've been going through? You put it off; you push away the answer to the riddle and you wonder if you really want to be let go. It had been about seven years that I had been kept in this room and I just didn't know how much the world had changed outside. Did anyone still love me? Did any of them still wonder about me or was I just a distant memory to them, faded away like the markings on this wall?
After being passed around like a used toy over and over, constantly to someone new on each year around the same time, I was always afraid and still eager to see who I would be passed to next. In my mind, it was a twisted game where if I wanted to survive, I had to keep playing and hope that the end of the game would come for me soon. I wanted to be "out of lives" or at least be the hero who gets to live on even though the world collapsed around her.
Of course, I was completely shocked when I was given back to the first one that had taken me when I was just seventeen years old. I remember letting out a nervous laughter with a pinch of hysteria behind it, because I wasn't sure why he had come back for me. I only hoped that I wouldn't be traded again, because even though he was the first one to do this to me and send me off, he was also the only one who had earned my trust in some weird way.
Everything was different this time around though. Completely different.
See, there are things that should never happen and this is one of them.
I wanted out.
With as much as my body wouldn’t admit it, my brain knew better. It knew that what I was going through was going to kill me or drive me insane. It knew that I
stronger than he thought I was because when alone, I would constantly look for a way out. I closed my eyes and listened intently. He was three stalls away from the door which meant I had at least another twenty or so minutes before he came down;
he decided to come down.
I went over to the stairs and walked up using my hands to help me determine when the gap got smaller and I was closer to the door. I sat down on the third to top step and wondered how I was going to block it so that I could at least get a day’s rest. Lately it had become a daily thing with him and it was more brutal each time. I still had the bruises on my arm from yesterday when he had decided it would be a good idea to tie them with rope and suspend me a foot off the ground while he worked on me.
The riddle would have to wait. I wouldn’t have enough time to figure it out now that he was so close to the door and so close to coming down and “spending time” with me, as he liked to call it.
I started to tremble again when I heard his heavy booted footsteps approaching the small trap door. Almost as if he knew I was waiting for him. Almost if he knew that in some twisted way, I needed what he was going to do to me.
I listened closely as he told Scout to head home and as he began to pull the latch on the door open. He was coming for me and I knew that today would only be worse than yesterday.
walked up to the old dusty bar that seemed to be barely standing up anymore. The wooden structure looked termite ridden and the old sign that was centered on the front of the roof once upon a time, was now hanging diagonally. I tilted my head to the left to read as I walked in.
, it read. Considering I had followed abandoned train tracks to get here, the name seemed to make perfect sense.
I pulled open the old tin screen door and walked in, wondering if anyone would ask for my identification in a small place like this. I had been lucky so far with dive and hole-in-the-wall bars since I had run away from home. Just by looking at me, any bar owner would know that I wasn’t old enough to drink alcohol, let alone be in there, but none of them ever asked for ID and let me be, so long as I paid my tab when I was done.
Pickpocketing was my primary source of income. I had become damn good at it too, even though I hated being a thief, but I needed to keep going and find some way to sustain my runaway life style so I did what I had to do. I walked up to the bar area and hopped up on a wooden stool with ripped burgundy leather cushions, and crossed my arms on the bar top. Two seconds later, I pulled them off trying not to make a face due to the stickiness of it and decided it would be better to just leave my hands on my lap.
“What are you having, sweetheart?” an older gentleman with gray hair and a greasy ponytail asked. He leaned on the bar, giving me a pleasant smile with whatever teeth he had left.
“I’ll take a burger please,” I replied, returning his smile. I learned a long time ago never to judge someone based on appearances. I had spent too long trusting the right people because of pretty faces and ended up having to get away from the life I used to live because of it.
“Coming right up,” he promised with a nod as he walked away from the bar area and disappearing through a swinging door near the back of it.
I cleared my throat and glanced around. It definitely was one of the nicer dive bars I had been in, even if it was barely standing. The place was just about empty too; besides me there were about five guys sitting at one table playing cards and drinking beers. I watched them for a little bit and smiled each time one won the hand because it was cause the others to throw up their hands and “call bullshit.”
“Here you go,” the bartender/cook said when he returned about twenty minutes later with my burger.
“Thanks!” I said happily, picking up the greasy delight and glancing around for a ketchup bottle. I found it, squeezed a generous amount of ketchup onto my burger, then put the bottle back. Ever since I was a kid, I remembered making sure that I would “draw” something new on my burger each time I had one and this time I decided to draw a star which I promptly covered with the bun.
The first bite was delicious and satisfying. The burger was hot and cooked perfectly, though I did pull the bottom bun off to remove the lettuce and tomato he had stuck in there. I was never a big fan of vegetables or the beatings I got for not wanting to eat them as a child. I felt my mood starting to sour at the memory, so I pushed it away and took another bite when I heard the screen door screech open then close with a slam.
I felt myself starting to become full after the next bite, so I put my burger back on the plate, reached across the bar for some napkins, and held them to my mouth for a moment. Again, it was just a habit from childhood that I would get in trouble for.
Girls don’t burp,
my first set of sadistic foster parents would try to instill in me.
Girls don’t yell. Girls don’t wear pants. Girls don’t scream. Girls don’t cry when foster daddies are touching them in their “sweet place”.
All the things I knew were wrong with the world I learned at age five. With a sigh, I threw my napkin down and pushed my plate away. Just reliving the rules of what girls don’t do had been enough to kill my appetite.
I looked up and saw the nice older man greeting someone with a big smile. Someone who decided to sit right next to me even though the entire bar area was empty. Someone who had big, strong arms, and smelled like sweat and dirt. Someone who wore a baseball cap that was now placed on the bar top next to my burger.
Yeah; I was totally done eating after that.
“Hey, Roger,” that someone greeted him back with a tired, smoky voice.
“The usual?” Roger asked him.
I watched him walk toward the small freezer next to the swinging door and come back with an amber colored glass bottle of beer with some kind of blue label on it. He handed it to Troy who thanked him again as he twisted the cap off and let it fall onto the bar top with a long sigh.
I gave him a quick side glance. He seemed to be tall even sitting down. Dark brown hair that currently looked like a mess due to sweating under a cap, and his face was tired. He seemed easy enough to steal from and I was running low on cash. Thankfully I had found a place to shower the night before and was wearing a white low cut tank top, short light blue denim shorts, and flip flops. If he caught me, I would just step out of them and run like hell. But for now I knew I would have to engage him in conversation to get to that point.
“Hi Troy,” I said brightly, turning to face him on my stool. “I’m Posy, I don’t think I’ve ever seen you around here before.”
With a chuckle, he brought the beer bottle to his lips and took a drink before placing it down and turning to face me.
“It could be because you’re not from around here,” he said with a knowing look. Of course I didn’t hear a damn word he said, because one glance into his deep blue eyes, and I felt like everything else in the world fell away from below me.
I’ve never seen eyes like that. My God, he’s beautiful,
I thought wistfully as I took in his handsomely rugged features; a strong jawline, not quite square and a dimple in his left cheek that I saw when he chuckled.
“How old are you?” he asked, slightly amused.
I raised an eyebrow at him before I shook my head and turned back to my burger with a side of sweaty cap.
“So much for that,” he said under his breath.
“Excuse me?” I asked, glancing at him.
He just shook his head and turned his attention toward Roger who was approaching him with a large plate of food. Fries, the biggest burger I had ever seen in my life, poppers of some kind, and a side of mozzarella sticks.
I looked from his plate to my almost eaten burger and my stomach growled loudly.
I thought in embarrassment, putting a hand tightly against my stomach. Without so much as another glance toward me, he moved his baseball cap to the other side of him, picked up his plate of mozzarella sticks, and placed them between us.
“Dig in, little lady,” he said, picking up his burger and almost biting half of it in one try.
“No thanks,” I replied quietly as my stomach growled again. Troy laughed and turned to look at me. He put his burger down and reached for one of the sticks, holding it level to my mouth.
“Pride. I know how that goes, but you’re hungry and I don’t like seeing anything go hungry. Obviously the burger isn’t doing anything for you. Maybe these will. Now open wide, Posy,” he said miming an airplane coming in for a landing.