Authors: Cassie Graham
Tags: #New Adult
Copyright © 2014 Cassie Graham
All rights reserved.
No part of this book may be used or reproduced in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying, recording, or by any information storage and retrieval system without prior written consent of the author except where permitted by law.
The characters and events in this book are fictitious. Any similarity to real persons, living or dead, is purely coincidental and not intended by the author.
Published by Cassie Graham
Edited by April Hundza Gutierrez
Cover Photography Stephanie White from Steph’s Cover Designs
Formatted by Kassi Bland Cooper
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You two are my whole entire world. I love you.
I hope I make you proud.
No. Not again, dammit.
This can’t be happening. I won’t look.
Closing my eyes is my only option. God, it hurts. It hurts so fucking much.
I know it’s there. I don’t have to look to know what’s right in front of me.
I can smell it.
That nasty copper, metallic smell. You know the one. The one that makes your stomach churn because it reminds you of God knows what. I don’t know, sickness maybe. But, for me? It’s the smell of my nightmares. A nightmare I’ve been having since that awful day, six years ago.
Fumbling backward, my back hits a wall and I slump to the ground. My ass meets the hardwood floor and I bring my knees to my chest. Forcing my head in between my legs, I cower and wait for the nightmare to end.
God, wake up, Ann!
I pinch myself. I’ve heard it works. Yeah, pinch yourself awake, right?
What the hell? It’s not working.
I clench my teeth in pain.
I can feel pain?
It’s like when you accidentally fall off a ledge in a dream and for that slight instant you believe you’re really free falling before jolting awake just before you hit the ground.
This is a first for me. I’ve never once felt pain.
I’ve had this dream hundreds of times over the past few years. Yet, it’s always different. Sometimes I’m in his car, other times, I find him in his office, and sometimes it happens in public in front of people.
But, none of that is real.
Where I actually found him is a place even I can’t bring myself to think about.
It’s been six years. Six. Damn. Years. And now my subconscious is bringing me back to this dreadful place?
Being here, in this place, is suffocating. I don’t know if I can take much more.
So, I sit with my eyes closed, silently praying I get the hell out of here. Soon. Like five minutes ago.
Ah hell. Hurry up.
Then, in the blink of an eye, the air in the room grows calm and quiet. My heart isn’t wanting to pound out of my chest, so I take a deep breath. And it stings; almost as if it’s the first time I’ve taken a breath in a long while.
Maybe it is. Hell if I know.
All I hear is the low hum of the deep freeze he used to keep emergency food in, so I chance a look.
Cracking my eyes open ever so slightly, I take inventory of my surroundings.
There’s nothing. I’m alone.
Thank God. Maybe now I can finally wake up. So, I wait, and I count.
What the hell? Why am I still here?
…Two hundred and fifty….
I stop counting. There’s no point. I’m obviously still here for a reason. And that reason isn’t clear—at least, not to me.
Good God, I can’t even bring myself to visit this place. Yet, I’m trapped here in a nightmare.
If this is karma, she’s a bitch. She has to be.
I decide to stand and walk upstairs, hoping to somehow find something. Anything. Maybe find some clues. Maybe, just maybe, get some damn answers. I need some answers. I’m sick and tired of these dreams…nightmares.
Whatever they are, they suck.
The second stair from the top creaks under my foot and, despite my moodiness, I smile. I used to make music with that creaky stair. He’d clap his hands while I stomped my foot and we’d sing songs and laugh till our sides hurt. Too bad he had to ruin it by tainting this place.
I open the basement door and head down the long hall. Making my way to the living room, I have to blink a few times. I can’t believe what I’m seeing. He’s sitting in his recliner watching TV, feet up, drinking his favorite beer. He seems fine. Happy even. He turns to smile at me and my anger dissipates.
“Hey sweet pea. I see you’re here again.”
I look around. Is he talking to me? Is that even possible?
His face grows somber when I don’t reply. He sets his beer down, and lifts himself from the chair, walking toward me with a thoughtful look on his face.
“Listen to me, okay?”
All I can do is nod. He’s standing in front of me, and I can’t seem to force the lump down in my throat enough to speak.
Gently, he grabs my shoulders and sighs. God, he looks so tired.
“The answers are in the questions you ask.” He breaks and squats down to meet me at eye-level. “Do you hear me? The questions ARE the answers.”
I close my eyes and shake my head. How am I supposed to process that? I don’t understand.
Opening my eyes, I scan the room, but it’s empty. He left or hell, vanished, I guess. Just poof. Gone.
I don’t have enough time to breathe, let alone absorb the bomb my dad just sat in my lap when I’m violently shoved backward down the hall. So brutally that my back slams against the basement door and I scream in agony as I tumble down the wooden stairs. Landing with a heavy thud, I sit up to rub the back of my throbbing head.
Dammit, that hurt.
Then it happens. So quickly. I’m unable to close my eyes in time.
There he is. Face down in a pool of his own blood, with the gun inches from his hand.
The scream that radiates from my mouth is deafening. I cover my own ears hoping to drown myself out.
The blood gushes out of his body as I scramble for higher ground. Looking for an escape, I turn to run up the stairs, but they vanish, and I’m forced to move to the only empty corner.
Pinch yourself, Ann!
I grab the sensitive part of my arm and squeeze as hard as I possibly can, yelping in hurt.
Wake the hell up, dammit!
Movement in the back of the basement catches my eye. I turn to find the culprit.
Just as I think I see something, I’m hit in the back of the head with a large object. Black spots fill my eyes and I slump to the ground with a thud.
The fall out of my bed is unexpected and I clutch at my heart. I can’t form a coherent thought, and I look around, trying to figure out where I am.
The rug underneath my body is soft and I recognize the texture instantly.