Authors: Julia Goda
Tags: #Adult Suspense/Erotic Romance
Bent Not Broken
Copyright © 2015 Julia Goda
All Rights reserved.
All Rights reserved. No part of this book may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying, scanning, recording, or by any information storage or retrieval system, without written permission from the author, except for the inclusion of brief quotations in a review.
This is a work of fiction. Any resemblance to characters, organizations, or events of real life described in this novel is either a product of the author’s imagination or used fictitiously. The author acknowledges the trademarked status and trademark owners of various products referenced in this work of fiction.
Edited by: Monika Nordmann & Julia Goda
my dear husband, my best friend, the only person that I take a kick in the behind from without complaining (too much)—and frequently do.
Thank you for supporting me on this amazing journey.
Like so many things in my life I couldn’t have done it without you.
What does that mean really?
Does it mean you can keep standing after someone punches you in the face? That you don’t make a sound when he kicks you in the gut when you can't keep standing? Does it mean you hold on to hope though you know there is none?
Or does it mean you leave it all behind, you give up and run and never, ever again open yourself up to anything that can hurt you?
If only I knew.
I have tried door one, two, and three.
But no more.
If that is strength, then I want to be weak. Weak is better. Weak is good. Weak is going to make all the pain and bruises disappear. It cannot fix what is broken inside, but at least nobody can see that.
On the outside I will look like any other thirty-two-year-old woman. Nobody can see what’s hiding inside.
What they left me.
What I will never be able to get rid of.
What is now a part of me.
Hidden by the mask of being normal. Of being content. Hidden behind smiles and chatter and maybe even a laugh. But all that is empty.
The way I see it empty is better.
Empty is good.
Just like weak.
Because it cannot hurt you.
It cannot take from you.
And that’s good, because I have nothing else to give.
Everything else has been taken from me, so empty is all I have left.
And I am content with that.
Now, maybe if I keep telling myself that, I’ll eventually believe it too.
Dark versus Light
I heard footsteps muted by the carpet coming towards me and knew it was him. I knew it was him, though I didn’t need to turn my head for confirmation. I’ve had practice recognizing people by their footsteps.
Loads of practice.
Nine years of practice to be precise.
Silly thing to do really.
I could recognize almost every local living in our little town by their footsteps on the carpet. Almost everyone who came into my bookstore that is.
My best friend Macy was the easiest of them all. Maybe that was because she came in almost every day just to say
on her way to the store, the bank, the school, or the salon. She was always on the go. Her footsteps were quick and short, always in a rush, almost high pitch even on the carpet with her wearing high heels 24/7.
“Maybe you should try it some time,” she would say when I teased her about her feet eventually becoming all warped and gnarly from wearing those death traps all the time, “It might get you laid. You need to find a man.”
By finding a man she didn't mean have casual sex.
She meant get myself a man who takes care of me.
I preferred casual sex with no strings attached. Macy hated it and she would. I didn’t talk about it much, because she thought I deserved more, but I knew better.
I had tried for more, and it didn’t work out so great. The only way I could handle being physically close to a man now was by detaching myself emotionally. The men I had sex with over the years got nothing from me. Nothing but an orgasm that is. This gave me the feeling of being in control. It must have been enough for them, because they never turned me away when I came back for more.
Macy was a romantic. She believed that everyone had a soul mate and it was your duty to try and find him. Part of that meant you should always look your best because you never knew when you might find your other half and you would want to make a good impression. That didn’t mean she wanted me to wear the newest fashion or get a two hundred dollar haircut. We lived in a small town in the Rocky Mountains. There was no place to get a two hundred dollar haircut. And the next mall was an hour-long drive away. What she meant was dress simple but to your advantage, wear make-up, do your hair. Or at least blow-dry it. If I did just that, I would attract the right kind of man who would sweep me off my feet.
I didn’t want to break her heart by telling her that there
no right man for me. There never would be. I had tried.
Dressing up so someone else would notice me was not what I wanted to do. I didn't think I had to wear make-up and gussy myself up to go buy groceries. Or to the bookstore. Or to the movies. Or anywhere really. I dressed casually. Always. Anything I liked that went with jeans and one of my many pairs of kick ass cowboy boots. We lived in the mountains, so in my eyes that was perfectly acceptable attire. My hair had its own mind and didn't like being held back or pinned up. So I left it down most of the time. Wash, condition, brush, air dry, fluff with my hands, good to go. No make-up. I couldn't even remember when I had worn make-up the last time. Christmas dinner at Macy’s house last year, I think. I hadn’t checked, but it was probably expired. The last time I bought make-up was some time in the last decade. Painting my nails every Friday night after my ritual hot bath (which, let’s be honest every woman has that urge) was as far as pampering myself went. I called it my
Home Spa Day
, and every once in a while it even included a home facial and hair mask with the mani/pedi.
When I first met her I thought Macy was naive. But then I realized she wasn’t that. She was just innocent.
I envied her that, her innocence.
I think that was one of the reasons why I liked being around her so much. I could pretend when I was around her. Pretend that maybe in some alternate universe there was an innocent and happy version of me. And I liked that idea.
It gave me hope. Though I should know better. Hope only led to pain.
Macy was my best friend but even from her I kept the secrets of my past. I told myself the reason for that was so I could protect her from the knowledge that there is darkness out there. But really, it was more to protect myself, since it took me years to escape that darkness, and just thinking about what had happened to me triggered the pain. So I shoved the darkness and all the emotions that went with it in a box and hid it, locked tightly, in the deepest recesses of my mind, and started new. I had never been innocent so I didn’t really know what that felt like. But I still tried to pretend in this new life of mine. That didn’t change the fact that I envied Macy.
Another reason why I could recognize Macy’s footsteps anywhere, was because they were always accompanied by little toddler’s feet running after her. Or in front of her. She had a six-year-old daughter named Lucy, three-year-old twins named Conner and Noah, and another one on the way. Lucy and little Conner definitely had inherited the busy gene from their mom. Noah took after his dad. Larry, Macy’s high school sweetheart and husband of eight years, was the total opposite. Always relaxed, always laid back, amused by his woman always being in a hurry and being a
as he called her. He thought it was cute and adorable. And he was right. It was. And I was happy for her that he got off on it.
Now, these footsteps coming towards me were not quick, short, and high pitch. They were deep and confident, with a purpose.
And almost upon me.
I turned my head because at this point it would be rude not to acknowledge his approach. And I didn’t want him to think I was rude. Not that I wanted him to think anything of me really (even though I did, but I wouldn’t admit that to myself), but for some reason I wanted him to think I was a nice enough person.
So I put a smile on my face that I hoped didn’t look stupid and said, “Hey, Cal! What can I do for you today?”
“Hey, Ivey,” he gave me chin lift. “Here to pick up Tommy. Got a clue where I can find him?”
Total man. Deep voice, straight to the point, no-nonsense, chin lift, cool aviator sunglasses on even though he was inside.
It was hot.
If men knew that was all they’d have to do to get women to cream their panties, Victoria Secret would go bankrupt. But then again, Cal probably knew the effect he had on women.
I tried to get myself together and not stare at him.
“Last time I saw him he was in the fantasy section.”
Cal just stared at me. Then, “Fantasy Section?”
“Yeah, you know. Tolkien, The Hobbit, Lord of the Rings–”
it is, Ivey. What I don’t know is
it is.” He interrupted me. His lips were twitching in amusement.
“Oh,” I mumbled and felt like a complete idiot.
“It’s just behind the Young Adult section in the back corner.”
Again he stared at me. He leaned his head to one side while his lips kept twitching.
“Why don’t I show you?” I offered, feeling even more like an idiot.
“Obliged,” he said with a chin lift.
Again with the chin lift.
What was it about him that made me turn into a mumbling dork? God! I was not some stupid naive girl who had the hots for the hottest bachelor in town. I didn’t believe in romance or fairy tales and never swooned over men. All I was interested in was sex and nothing more. Emotionally detached to fulfill my body’s needs and that was it. Maybe I should give Grant a call tonight to confirm that status.
Yes, that’s what I’d do.
Cal followed me through the bookstore to the back corner where the fantasy section was located. Trying to make conversation to keep my cool, to myself as much as to him, I turned my head to talk to him over my shoulder without making eye contact.
“Have you considered signing Tommy up for a reading camp? He is only eleven and reading full length fantasy novels.”
“Way I see it he doesn’t need help reading.”
“Point taken,” I mumbled under my breath and heard an attractive chuckle coming from behind me.
“What about a writing program? I’m sure he would do great at it.”
“If that’s what he wants to do, he’ll let me know.”
“Right.” I needed to shut up.
Another attractive chuckle.
Get your shit together, Ivey!
We reached the fantasy section and saw Tommy sitting cross-legged on one of my fantastic floor pillows with his nose deep in a book. He was so engrossed that he didn’t hear us coming.
“Bud. Time to go.”
Startled, Tommy looked up.
“Oh hey, dad!”
He looked down at the book, then up at his dad again. Then, with a deep sigh he got up off the pillow, put the book back on the shelf, and turned to facing us.
“You know, I can always hold onto the book for you, so no one will snatch it up, and you can come back and finish it another day,” I said looking down at Tommy.
His eyes lit up. “Really? You would do that?”
“For you? Always, honey.”
I leaned down until I was face to face with him. Then I winked at him, resulting in him giving me a big grin. “Thanks Ivey. You’re the best.”
I smiled. “Yeah, yeah. I’ve heard that before. Haven’t seen you bribe me with coffee though. Or home made cookies.”