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Author: LeAnn Ashers


Chapter One






I close my eyes and try to calm myself while my body is screaming at me to shake my mother for the hundredth time today.

I grip the edge of the counter and try to control my breathing. She is the bane of my existence, so why am I still here?

Because I promised my father before he died, I would take care of her, but she was different then or she was just hiding who she really was...

Ten years ago, when I was eight years old, my father was in a tragic accident where he fell off a house and it shattered almost every bone in his body. He never had a chance.

I held his hand as he took his last breath. But where was my mother?

She was trying her best to find another man to take care of her, but she never did. She grew hateful and mean. She blamed me for his death because he was on the roof of the house trying to get my Frisbee that I accidentally tossed up there.

He slipped on some wet leaves and fell to the ground; I remember screaming over and over, seeing him fall.

I still have nightmares years later.

I own the bakery in town. It’s the best part of my day when the nurse I hired takes care of her and I’m at work. But as soon as I am home, it’s hell.

“BRING ME MY COFFEE!” she screams at the top of her lungs, then there’s a shattering sound from her breaking something to get her point across.

I open my eyes and grab her coffee that I just finished making for her. Today is Sunday, and it’s the day that my manager runs the store for me so I can have a day off.

But really, what is a day off when I have to take care of my mom?

I make my way down the hall to her bedroom where I helped her earlier from her bed to her chair. She is glaring at me, gripping the edge of the wheelchair, her long fingernails gripping the cracking leather from the rough treatment.

My stomach twists, knowing what is to come. Her hand shoots out fast, trying to take the cup from me.

Coffee spills over the side of the mug, burning me. I hiss and my eyes water from unshed tears at the burning pain. I yank my hand back and look at the wound she caused.

She bursts out laughing. “You should be more careful, my dear.” She blows into the coffee cup before taking a small sip.

I turn away from her and I walk to the bathroom to grab some burn cream. I shut the door and lock it behind me so she doesn’t break into the room.

My head hangs, trying not to cry. I want to leave and just leave her to fend for herself. It’s getting worse each day, and maybe I need to see if she is mentally losing it? Because someone can’t be like this and be okay.

There is a loud banging on the door, where she is ramming her wheels into the door. “I want to go to the store!” she yells through the door and then I hear something hard pound into it. My best guess is the coffee cup.

I look at myself in the mirror and I sigh once more, bracing myself for the day. I pull open the door and my feet touch hot coffee where she threw it.

She is grinning at me as she wheels herself to the front door.

I wiggle my toes in the coffee and walk back into the bathroom to clean off my feet, then to get a towel to clean the mess she made.

After I clean the mess, I throw the towel into the bathroom, not even caring where it landed and not caring that she is going to bitch me out for it.

I grab my keys off the wall and open the door as she rolls out of the house in her power wheelchair.

My eyes immediately search down the driveway where he is always sitting on his bike. It should scare me that someone is watching from the street.

But I can’t bring myself to care when I am being abused by my mother. “Any day now!” she yells and I flinch. I turn my attention away from the man who is always watching. I’ve noticed him since he came into my bakery to buy a dozen donuts awhile back.

He never said a word. He pointed to what he wanted, his eyes never once leaving mine. The burning of his gaze stayed with me for days.

Then I saw him everywhere. At first, I thought it was because I wanted to see him everywhere because even though he is scary, my God, he is beautiful.

I think the monsters in my house are worse than anything that man can be. At night I must brace my door with my dresser, so she doesn’t break into my room.

Once she threw a glass of ice water on me because she had been yelling for me for “hours”, but I don’t think she even yelled. The glass hit the side of my face, cutting me, the glass shattered everywhere.

I hold open the van door and pull down the ramp where she rides her chair up into the backseat and I buckle her chair in to make sure it stays secure. I have had to fight the urge to hit the brakes one too many times and watch the bitch go flying.

I peek over my shoulder and see that he is still there. I pretend I don’t notice him, but how can you not?

Maybe he’s going to take my mother out for me. I look at him through the reflection on the glass of the van as I shut my mother inside, then I hear the bike starting up.

I can feel the heat of my mother’s glare on my face. I look at her through the window and my heart lurches from the hate she has for me.

I loved her once, truly I did. If it wasn’t for my promise to my father, I would have left at the first awful word she had spewed at me.

I get into the driver’s side and drive out of the driveway toward the store, my eyes wandering to the mirror to check to see if he is following, and he is.

He isn’t even bothering to hide it anymore; he’s always right out in the open, watching me or following me.

My stomach twists. I try to hide my smile so that my mother doesn’t notice my reaction. When we pull into the store, he parks his bike down in the parking lot from us.

“God, I hate those fucking bikes. So noisy,” my mother complains from the backseat and the door opens.

I think I really love them.


* * *





* * *


I hate her fucking mother.

That thought goes over and over in my head. I have seen signs that she abuses her and I’m going to find out for certain.

She knows I am following her; I haven’t been hiding it. She owns the bakery in town; I got my brother’s ole lady a dozen donuts when I saw her.

She fucking imploded my life.

I can’t stay away.

I sit on my bike and watch her through the window. The urge to protect her is so extreme. The thought of that bitch of a mother of hers being mean to her is more than I can bear.

Her mother jerks her hand away from Julia. I got her name from the tags on her vehicle from River.

I know it sounds crazy, but I fucking must know her.

I need to know her.

If I don’t, I will go fucking crazy.

I wait for them to go inside the store before I make my way inside. She’s in the clothes section, handing things down to her mother.

God, she is so fucking beautiful. She looks like an angel, the way her blonde hair is long, flowing down her back and those green eyes are so bright, the way they light up her whole face.

I lean against the jewelry counter, ignoring the woman behind me trying to get my attention. She smiles at her mother, who is glaring at her with a sulked-up expression on her face.

She hands her another shirt; she snatches it from Julia and snaps something to her. I grip the glass, trying to stop myself from pushing that old bitch in her wheelchair down a hill or some shit.

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