Authors: Kathy Coopmans
Tags: #General Fiction
This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, organizations, and events portrayed in this novel 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.
All rights reserved. In accordance with the U.S. Copyright Act of 1976.
First edition: December 2015
Editor: Julia Goda Editing Services
Formatting: Affordable Formatting
This book is dedicated to my dad, James Richardson.
I will always be your little girl, and you will always be the man who taught me to do the right thing.
“Please dad. Get me out of here. I… You know I hate hospitals.” I’m so tired. All I want to do is sleep for days, weeks even. I’m forced to lie on my stomach, for at least two weeks the doctor said, while these wounds on my back heal.
I have twenty-six cuts across my back and shoulders, two of them deep enough to require stitches. The majority of them will disappear; they’re minor, they say. Minor to whom? Them? It’s the scars on the inside I’m more concerned about. Who’s going to nurse them back to health? Make them evaporate into thin air? No one. They will be there for the rest of my life.
“Honey. This is the best place for you to be. You need to heal.” My mom tries her best to settle me down. Heal! Heal! Heal! That word has become my most hated word; if I ever hear it again, I may kill the person who says it.
Beth La Russo, the best mother a woman could ask for, takes hold of my limp arm, running her hand up and down in what I assume is supposed to be a soothing gesture.
Don’t say the ‘H’ word anymore, mom
. Of course, I don’t say that to her. I really would never do anything to purposely hurt my mom or my dad, but god, can’t they see I’m losing it here?
My body is entirely numb. Drugged up on morphine to ease the pain of the scars that Royal Diamond left behind, permanently reminding me of his legacy of maiming people with a knife.
My wrists are raw, black, and blue, covered in cuts and scrapes from where I was frantically trying to escape the chains I was hanging down from like a slaughtered animal.
My body may be free of pain at the moment. However, there isn’t a damn thing anyone can do to erase the plague of shit that’s running through my head. I desperately want to sleep. But I’m fighting it with every ounce of strength I have left. If I sleep, he will be there. He will kill me and he will beat Aidan more. Or force him to watch while he does vile, repulsive things to my body. Things I will never forget. Things that will haunt me if I sleep. Even though he didn’t touch me sexually or rape me like he threatened to. That doesn’t mean I can forget. I still feel his hands on me. The knife scraping across my skin. My name rolling off his tongue like a sudden high tide.
I know he’s dead. I’ve been reminded repeatedly by my dad over and over while I lay here on my stomach begging them to get me out of here. I can’t be here. I feel trapped. This tiny hospital room is closing in on me by the second. I can’t breathe. I can’t move my arms. I need to move them. I need to walk to see with my own two eyes that Alina, Aidan, and everyone I care about are safe. Hell, my chest feels so tight I can barely breathe. Maybe if I succumb to this sleepiness sensation my inner awareness is commanding I need, I will forget. Concentrate on the good. The only problem is, there isn’t anything good about any of this. I’m mutilated, scarred for life. Again, it’s all on the inside. I cannot stop my brain from wheeling around like a giant tornado. It keeps spinning and spinning.
“Sweetheart, you need to rest. Close your eyes and sleep. We will both be here when you wake up.” Stefano La Russo, my father, the only man I will ever trust, will ever let touch me again, squeezes my leg through the blankets that feel like they are suffocating me everywhere.
“No,” I scream loudly. My mom jumps from the side of the bed I’m facing at the tone of my voice. “He’s here. I know he is. He… he said he’ll kill me. Drug me and rape me. He will, too. That evil man is capable of doing anything. Why won’t you listen to me? Why won’t you help me? HELP.ME!” I scream.
Soft muffles escape my mom’s mouth, her hands flying up to cover her face.
“He can’t hurt you, baby. He’s dead. You’re safe now,” my dad says, trying to soothe me.
“He’s not really dead,” I choke out. Royal Diamond may not be alive on this earth anymore but by god, he is in my head. He’s there. All I can see is his face. His bloodshot angry eyes. His filthy hands on my body. His fingers stroking my skin. That knife digging into my back. He’s surrounding me. Cutting off my air supply. Taking away my sanity. My will to survive.
“Son of a bitch,” eases out of my dad’s mouth.
“Stefano, we have to do something.” I crane my neck the best I can to see my dad’s reaction to what my mom said.
His nostrils are flaring. He’s gripping the steel frame at the edge of the bed. The man who never loses control, unless he’s in the courtroom, looks as if he’s ready to unhinge.
He says nothing as he exits my room, disappearing from my sight.
Please bring the doctor back, dad, persuade them to get me out of here.
I want to lie in my small twin bed in the home I grew up in. That’s where I feel safe. No one will touch me there. My dad won’t allow it.
“I swear to god, mom, if he doesn’t convince the doctor to get me out of here, I’m going to lose it.” Tears fall down my face. I try to reach up and wipe them away. I can’t. My arms are too weak to move. Either that or I simply don’t give a shit if they fall. I don’t care about anything except getting out of this hospital, getting away from his voice that’s taunting me in my head. One minute he’s speaking low, the next he’s screaming. Voices, so many variations of Royal’s voice. His laugh is the worse. Devious. Deathly. Destructive.
I sag into the bed, defeated, trying helplessly to focus on something or someone else.
Aidan Hughes. I can focus on him. No, not him. Images of his bruised and battered face invade my mind, mixing with those voices.
Aidan can never see me like this. He’s lodged in my head too. I should hate him after the things he said to me, the way he treated me after we gave in to the carnal desire we felt for each other. I know I treated the man poorly, but he just kept getting under my skin. His deep voice. His bright blue eyes. His muscular body. His six-foot-something frame. I hate him.
Oh, I heard him, all right, demanding for me to hang on while I felt like I was going to die every time Royal pierced me with his knife. He even called me baby a few times. He’s a callous asshole. A user. A fucking tool of a man, and I don’t want to see him. I’ve gone insane. I don’t want or need anybody. They can let me die. Yes. The only way to get rid of any and all of these voices in my head is to die.
“Deidre.” An older woman comes into my room, followed by my dad. The look of concern on their faces stops me in the tracks of plotting ways to kill myself.
“I’m Doctor Jenkins. Your father here has told me you want to leave. I cannot discharge you. This is the best place for you to be. You have to heal. Now, are you in any pain, sweetheart? Would you like the nurse to give you—”
“Noooooooooooooo! Quit saying I have to heal! You don’t know what I need or have to do! None of you do!” I scream. Her body jolts back.
I’ve fucking had it with these people not listening to me. I start to thrash in the small bed. Kick the covers off. My body is so weak I have no idea what the hell I’m doing. All I know is if they won’t help me, then I will help myself. I will get out of here. I will. Then I will die. The howling laughter, the slimy deep tones, their faces, they will all be gone.
“Deidre. My god. Stop.” I feel my dad gripping my legs to try and calm me down.
“Fuck all of you. Get off of me.” Somehow I manage to get up on my knees. Out of the corner of my eye I see two men run into my room. I move like lighting and rip the IV out of my arm. I feel my stitches tearing open in my back. I don’t care. I need to get the fuck away, get him out of my head. Get everyone away from me. Life is too much for me right now. I’m completely depleted, both internally and externally. My limit has been reached. The tether has snapped. My nerves are shattered.
Suddenly, it happens. I drift away. And just like that, I feel nothing at all.
When I finally wake up, my eyes are blinking rapidly to the blinding sunlight coming from the one and only window in a cheerily bright room. I see pale yellow walls, smell fresh flowers.
Where in the hell am I?
This is definitely not my old room. My old room is green. I have Justin Timberlake plastered all over my walls, not pictures of a spectacular sunset or a photo of a woman walking through a field of wildflowers.
I close my eyes for a few moments, my head groggy. My throat is incredibly dry. Maybe I’m dead, and this is my cheery, little room in heaven. I must be dead. I feel no pain.
Recollection hits me like a freight train, the memoires smashing into me, taking my breath away. I have no idea where the hell I am. I’m exhausted, mentally weak. And I sure as crap am not dead.
A throat clears in the corner. Lifting my head from the comfort of my pillow, I beam at the sight of my mom sitting on a floral print couch. Her beautiful appearance stares at me with a smile spreading clear across her face.
“Mom.” My ability to speak is strained.
“Oh god, sweetie.” She stands. Her small frame is so much smaller than I remember. She looks terrible, for lack of a better word. Older even. I have no clue how long I have been out. I remember everything, except for where I am or how I got here. So many questions are running a long distance marathon in my head. I need answers.
“Where am I?” I rasp out.
“Let me get the nurse, honey.” She steps up beside me, picks up a cord, and presses a button.
Her delicate fingers then slide through my hair, brushing it back from my face.
“You look so rested, sweet girl.” Tears stream down her face when she talks. There’s something in the way she’s looking at me that sets me on edge. Don’t ask me how I know when my head doesn’t even feel like it’s attached to my body. I know my mom though, and something is wrong.
I wiggle my toes, my fingers. Lift my arms just to make sure all my limbs are still there.
Before I can ask her what’s troubling her, a young, tall woman walks in. Her skin is flawless, her smile contagious.
“Good morning, Deidre. My name is Karrie and I’m your nurse during the day. It’s a pleasure to finally meet you,” she speaks cheerily.
“Mom.” I look at her for answers.
“It’s okay, honey. Let her do what she needs to do, and we will talk when she is done.” She looks to Karrie and nods her head. I watch Karrie skitter from monitor to monitor, hitting buttons, adjusting the drip in my IV. She doesn’t say a word as she takes my blood pressure, my temperature, and my pulse.
“Are you thirsty?” Her smile is warm, her touch feather light on my arm.
“Yes,” I say.
“I’ll give it to her,” Mom says, the two of them exchanging a familiar glance. I’m quickly becoming agitated. Both of them are keeping something from me. Something monumental. I can sense it.
“Sure. I’ll let Dr. Brown knows she’s awake.”
Who the hell is Dr. Brown?
“Mom. What the hell is going on?” I ask the minute Karrie is out of sight.
She exhales. Tears swell in her eyes.
“I think we need to wait for your dad.” Turning her back on me, she slumps her shoulders forward.