Authors: Elle Casey
© 2013 Elle Casey, all rights reserved, worldwide.
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OTHER BOOKS BY ELLE CASEY
*= Coming Soon
NEW ADULT ROMANCE
Shine Not Burn
Don’t Make Me Beautiful
Hold Me Down*
YA PARANORMAL ROMANCE
Duality, Volume I (Melancholia)
Duality, Volume II (Euphoria)
YA URBAN FANTASY
War of the Fae: Book 1, The Changelings - FREE!
War of the Fae: Book 2, Call to Arms
War of the Fae: Book 3, Darkness & Light
War of the Fae: Book 4, New World Order
Clash of the Otherworlds: Book 1, After the Fall
Clash of the Otherworlds: Book 2, Between the Realms
Clash of the Otherworlds: Book 3, Portal Guardians
My Vampire Summer
My Vampire Fall*
Aces High (co-written with Jason Brant)
Apocalypsis: Book 1, Kahayatle
Apocalypsis: Book 2, Warpaint
Apocalypsis: Book 3, Exodus
Apocalypsis: Book 4, Haven
YA ACTION ADVENTURE
To the woman who I read about over twenty years ago and never forgot.
"Sometimes moods of indescribable anguish, sometimes moments when the veil of time and fatality of circumstances seemed to be torn apart for an instant."
~ Vincent Van Gogh
SHE SITS ON THE COUCH, staring out the window as the late afternoon sun tries to make its way through the glass.
Dark beige curtains frame the outside edges of her only access to the outside world, while white sheers fill the middle, making it almost impossible to see what’s going on beyond the shrubs that run underneath.
Those gauzy curtains would also make it impossible for her to see what’s going on inside her house, if she were ever standing on the lawn or the sidewalk looking in.
But that never happens.
She never leaves the house.
Not even at night.
Well, once she did.
But then never again.
The aftermath was not worth the brief taste of freedom.
The clock is ticking.
Ticking … ticking … ticking.
It’s her only company for most of the day.
Kitten lived for less than a day before her violent end came and she was put under a blanket of soil in the backyard.
The rat remains hidden in the attic crawl space where he’s safe from the monster, so she rarely sees him.
She hears him though, at night, and it gives her comfort to know she’s not totally alone.
There is no attic space for Nicole, though.
She waits on the couch for the monster to come home.
He’ll be here soon.
Maybe a few hours if she’s very, very unlucky.
It’s not that she wants to see him sooner, it’s just that if he’s late, it means he’ll be drunk.
And anything can happen when the monster gets liquored up.
Good, bad, ugly.
It’s all the same.
Nicole wishes that the clock would stop ticking, stop carrying time away from her and just give her a few hours of non-time to gather her brain back together, to think, to find a way out of this mess.
She takes a deep breath and sighs heavily, the familiar ache in her ribs and face reminding her of the reality she lives with day in, and day out.
The clock might as well keep on ticking, because there is no escape from this mess.
This mess is her life until the day she takes her last breath and is placed in the spot next to Kitten in the backyard.
He already has the hole dug.
“HANG ON TO THAT SODA, Liam.”
“I am, Dad.”
The little boy’s skinny arms and small hands do the delicate work of carrying a full, sixteen-ounce soda up stairs and down again as they move through the stadium.
“Don’t spill it.
I’m not going to buy you another one if you do, you know.”
“I know, Dad.
I’m holding it good, I told you.”
Brian makes his way through the crowd, balancing his nachos, two hot dogs, and a soda while guiding his six-year-old through the sea of baseball fans standing between them and their seats.
They’ve got spots near the top of the fence in left field, the best ones in the house as far as he’s concerned.
His mitt is tucked under his arm.
The supple pocket and fingers of leather held together with knotted laces is the embodiment of hope he carries; one day, despite ten years of trying with no luck, he’ll catch a fly-ball and be able to put it in the stand he has waiting on his dresser.
“Think we’ll catch a ball this time, Li-Li?” he asks.
Liam nods confidently, “I’m pretty sure we will.
I’m feeling pretty lucky.”
He knows the chances are slim, but he’s a man with a dream and a glove that’s been oiled every month for over fifteen years, ready and waiting.
This could very well be the night his childhood dream comes true.
And if not, it doesn’t much matter.
It’s the hoping and believing that makes it fun.
Passing on the legacy of that dream to his son is just the icing on the cake.
He could come to Marlins games for the next twenty years and never be disappointed, regardless of whether he ever leaves with a scuffed baseball in his hand.
They find their seats and sit down, putting nachos and hot dogs in their laps.
Sodas go in the cup holders on the arms of their chairs.
Hey, Liam!” says an old man one row down and to the left, standing to greet them.
How’s it going?” asks Brian, leaning over to shake the man’s hand.
It’s rough from the wood-working he does.
It was just luck that got them talking about the Marlins one day at a wood-working club meeting, and they’ve been attending the games in nearby seats since.
Brian and Liam are regular attendees at Hank’s famous barbecues too.
“Same old, same old.”
Hank shifts his attention to Brian’s son.
“Gonna catch a fly ball tonight, Liam?”
The little boy nods his head while shoving the end of a mustard-covered hot dog in his mouth.
He gives the old man a thumbs up and blinks hard and slowly; both eyes go down together since he hasn’t yet mastered the art of winking.
You’re going to give it to me if you catch it, though, right?”
Liam shakes his head, his expression serious.
Hank feigns disappointment.
Liam puts up a fist of victory, swallowing the wad of hot dog he only partially chewed.
“Catch the ball!
Live the dream!
Hank laughs as Brian ruffles the hair on top of his son’s head.
“That’s my boy.”
“Hey, you men have a good night,” says Hank.
And tell Lidia we said hello,” says Brian.
Hey … you hear from Helen lately?” Hank asks in a quieter tone, looking over to see if Liam is listening.
He’s not; he’s too busy checking out the activity on the field as the players take their positions.
She’s coming to get Liam tomorrow after school.
She’s taking him overnight before she has to go out of town again.”
“Good, good, good … that’ll be good for him to see his mom and spend some time with her.”
“Yeah, of course.
She does her best.
Her schedule’s kind of crazy right now, but it’ll ease up.”
Hank nods, respect in his eyes.
“You’re a good man, Charlie Brown.
Not only a great father but a very understanding ex-husband too.”
Hank lifts a questioning eyebrow.
Brian slides his glove on and holds it up.
“Bring yours?” he asks.
I’ve got the old fashioned mitt right here.”
He holds up cupped, work-roughened hands and smiles, moving his bushy mustache up in the process.
“Just don’t get in our way tonight, Hank.
We’re feeling lucky, and it’s dog-eat-dog up here in the nosebleed section.”