Learning to Live

Copyright © 2013 by R.D. COLE
All rights reserved.
ISBN-10: 1491038357
ISBN-13: 978-1491038352

This book is an original work of fiction. Names, sponsors, characters,
and incidents are the product of the author's imagination and are used
fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual events, locales, or persons, dead
or living, is coincidental.
The opinions expressed in this book are solely those of the author.

Learning to Live
Copyright © 2013 by R.D. Cole

 

Published in the United States of America

EBooks are not transferable. They cannot be sold, shared, or given
away. The unauthorized reproduction or distribution of this
copyrighted work is a crime punishable by law. No part of this book
may be scanned, uploaded to or downloaded from file sharing sites, or
distributed in any other way via the internet or any other means,
electronic or print, without the publisher's permission. Criminal
copyright infringement including infringement without monetary gain
is investigated by the FBI and is punishable by up to 5 years in federal
prison and a fine of $250,000.

All rights reserved. Except as permitted under the U.S. Copyright Act
of 1976. No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in or
introduced into a retrieval system, or transmitted, in any form, or by
any means (electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording, or
otherwise), without the prior written permission of R.D. Cole.

Editing & Formatting: Maxann Dobson—The Polished Pen

www.polished-pen.com
Cover Design: Regina Wamba—Mae I Design
http://www.maeidesign.com/

To my two angels in Heaven. I miss you everyday.

 

Give Thanks

 

Thank you Lord for letting this happen and seeing me through it.

Amen.
With this being my first novel, I want to say thanks to you (the
readers) for taking interest and purchasing it. I hope you enjoy reading
it as much as I enjoyed writing it.
I have to give thanks to my wonderful, patient, and hardworking
husband Jordan for believing in my dream and giving me support. My
family has been so great I would not know what I would do without
them. Love you.
Next, is my friend Samantha. Many days have been spent
shooting ideas with her. Thanks for not holding your tongue when I
had a bad Idea.
My editor, Maxann Dobson, from The Polished Pen. Thanks for
making editing so much fun and for your awesome advice and ideas.
Regina Wamba with Mae I design is so talented and captured the
story perfectly with the beautiful cover. I can’t wait to see what she
conjures up for my next book.
Trisha Rai with Devoured Words, you are the bomb. Thank you
for all the tips and enthusiasm and for believing in this book which
means so much to me. HEA Book Shelf Blogger and Abby Book
Blog, thanks for continuing to “Pimp” my book. It’s so awesome to
have people and bloggers like yourselves supporting Indie Authors.
XOXO
To all the authors that left a mark in my life with your amazing
stories (Julie Garwood, Jennifer Armentrout, Tara Sivec, Jessica Park,
Lacey Weatherford, S.C. Stephens, Abbi Glines, Rebecca Donovan,
Colleen Hoover, and many, many more). Y’all lead me to believe that I
can do this. And look. I totally did.
Thank you to Coldplay and Hal Leonard Productions for
permission to use one your awesome songs and lyrics. You rock!
Thank you Tyler. He’s the horse who threw me off back in April
and caused my concussion. While laid up in bed trying to recover I
decided to write. So I probably would have been way too busy if it
wasn’t for the accident.

“Sometimes life can throw rocks big enough to leave cracks in
your soul. You can either hide them or turn the cracks into something
beautiful. Like a story.”

Author R.D. Cole
Atlanta, Georgia

I cower in the corner by the shower stall letting my eyes roam
over the mildew and rust stains from the shaving cream can. Tears blur
my vision, so they're difficult to make out, but I know the stains that
never come off no matter how hard I scrub. I wipe my lip and see the
bright red blood covering my finger tips and know I’ll need to come
up with an excuse for my classmates. However, right now I’m too
concerned for my unborn son to worry about them and their judgment.

My shaky hand caresses my large stomach. “Shh. Mommy will
protect you. I promise.” Butterfly flutters start up as Brian kicks me
from within, and I try to calm myself down. I’m not sure if his
emotions match my own, but if they do I don’t want him to be scared.

“Trudy? Get the hell out here and clean this shit up
now
or I’ll
drag your ass out myself.” Brad’s voice is full of anger as he bangs on
the door. Even though it was replaced three weeks ago, it’s already
loose around the frame. I know it won’t take much more force from
him for it to bust open.

I slowly rise and take a steadying breath while I unlock the door. I
know from past experience it’s best to follow his orders. A slap here
and there is nothing compared to his fist.

I’m sure people think I’m stupid for sticking around, but when
you grow up in foster care, rarely having anyone show you concern or
pay attention to you, you hold on to it when it comes along. The only
foster parent that showed me any affection was Ms. Freeman.

I was with her from eight years old to when she passed away, after
my fourteenth birthday. She was the one who showed me how to do
my makeup and taught me how to be a woman. She always used the
money from the state to buy me things I wanted or needed instead of
using it for her own wants. She even enrolled me in dance camp during
the summers I was with her, and even though it’s something I rarely do
anymore, I still love it. She talked about adopting me but never had the
chance. She was killed by a drunk driver one night on the way to the
last dance recital I ever participated in.

Unfortunately, the next person to show me any affection was Brad
Foster. He wasn’t always mean and abusive. I wouldn’t have looked
his way if I knew I would be scared of making him angry every day. I
had met him a few months before my eighteenth birthday while he was
hanging out at my school with some of the jocks. I didn’t notice at the
time he was into drugs. I finally figured it out after I moved in with
him. Brad had seen me crying one day at school, and when I told him
that I was kicked out of the system and needed to find a place to live,
he offered me his couch.

If I could have changed my decision, I don’t think I would
because I wouldn’t have this miracle growing inside me.
I crack the door open and glance out. Brad is standing there, his
face beet red, and staring at me with cold, grey eyes filled with disdain
as he takes in my face. I’m sure it’s red and starting to swell. He yanks
on the door to open it and then pulls me out by my hair and tosses me
on the couch. I protectively clutch my abdomen and roll on my side
with my back facing his hateful gaze. “Now that you’re not being so
lazy, clean this place up and make dinner before Tony gets here with
his girl.”
I hear the door slam and frantically look around as the clanking of
the noisy water heater starts. I exhale and begin to compose myself,
knowing I only have a few minutes while he’s in the shower. I look
around and see some broken dishes on the floor, so I carefully get on
my knees and start picking them up. The old, plaid recliner is tipped
over from when I was thrown out of it earlier. I strain to lift it and feel
a sharp pain in my pelvic area. My breath hitches and I take slow
breaths before I try again and succeed.
I head to our small kitchen and start a simple dinner of Hamburger
Helper. I hope this will be good enough for Brad. Lately, nothing is
and it’s just getting worse. I know I’ve got to be strong for the baby
until I can come up with a plan to get out. I don’t want my child
growing up with abuse in his life.
I haven’t told Brad but I received a letter from the University of
South Alabama in Mobile for a full scholarship, and I want to do it. I
haven’t made up my mind yet since I’m due in six weeks. I have
nobody to help besides Brad and that’s very little. Tomorrow, I plan on
calling Marjorie Malone, the student counselor, and tell her my
situation. I have to be discreet when I do it so Brad won’t find out.
I’ve always enjoyed school, and I’m determined to make
something of myself, more so now that I’m pregnant. I still need to
continue my straight A average, even with the added AP classes on my
schedule from this semester. Brad thinks it’s stupid to continue and is
also against any type of college. That’s the main reason he didn’t bug
me about getting an abortion when I found out I was pregnant. He
believes I won’t want to go to college if I have a baby. He’s wrong
though.
I stand in the kitchen boiling water and trying to maneuver
without getting burned. It’s such a tiny space that two people can
hardly stand in here together, but it serves
its
purpose. Then I hear a
banging on the door and cringe because I know it’s Tony and Jessica.
They always come to snort and smoke with Brad, but I also know
Tony has other reasons for coming over. The way he looks at me is a
sickening reminder of the past. I know Brad will get so high he’ll let
Tony loose on me. It wouldn’t be the first time, and unless I leave, it
won’t be the last. “Tomorrow,” I remind myself. I’ll hopefully have a
plan by then because I can’t stay here much longer.
I unlock the door and I’m suddenly pushed to the side by Jessica.
She struts in wearing her six inch stilettos, short black shorts, and hot
pink tank top like she owns the place. Her unnaturally bright red hair is
down and reaches her shoulders. It’s straight as a board, unlike my
own.
My hair has never been colored and is a dark brown with natural
red highlights. Big curls I can’t seem to control fall down my back to
my bra strap, and it’s horrible with humidity. We’re around the same
height of five foot six when she’s barefoot, but she’s skin and bones
from the drugs while I try to maintain an athletic build from dancing
and running, until my unexpected pregnancy.
I watch as her glassy brown eyes look around for Brad. I know
she’s wanted him since they met a few months ago, and honestly I
don’t care. When I leave she can have him and his bad habits. Breath
tickles my neck and the sick smell of beer and cigarettes engulfs me as
Tony stands behind me.
“Trudy.” I hate the way my name sounds on his lips. It makes me
want to change it, but since it’s the only thing my parents left me, I’ll
keep it. “Mmmmm, you smell yummy,” he slurs as I step away and
return to the kitchen to escape his advances.
“Brad’s in the shower and should be just about done.” I remind
him with unspoken words that even though Brad allows it while high,
he’s very possessive while sober.
The bedroom door opens and I feel myself relax. This is probably
the only time I’m thankful for Brad’s presence. He walks out in just his
khaki shorts with his faded blue boxers showing. I notice he’s lost a lot
of weight due to the drugs, but he refuses to change his habits.
Whenever I ask, it just makes him angry. The only thing he has agreed
to is not to make meth at our apartment, and I’m thankful for that. The
last thing I need is for him to blow us all up.
His eyes have dark circles under them, and his dirty blond hair is
dull and has grown past his ears, not in an attractive way. His arms are
covered in homemade ink and the tattoos are fading. I can’t even make
out most of them anymore.
After dinner is cooked I serve everyone, and although I made tea,
they still opt for beer to continue getting trashed. I see them cut lines
of white powder on the coffee table as I walk past to go get cleaned up
to leave. I refuse to stay while Tony is here, and I’ve been trying to
avoid him the past six months. He knows my tactic. I can see it in his
stare, but I still have time to leave as long as Brad isn’t wasted.
I put my hair in a messy bun and pull on some old jeans and a
warm sweater to help evade the frigid air that blows this time of year. I
grab my jacket I bought at the Good Will and slide on my old tennis
shoes. I had to double sock my feet because my left shoe has a hole in
it. I don’t need frostbite to add on top of a busted lip.
As I reach for my crossover bag sitting by the front door, Brad
stands up and moves Jessica from his lap. “Where you off to?” he asks
while stepping forward.
“I have a paper to finish up so I need to go to library.” I turn to
face him and notice Tony as he winks at me. His black eyes are sunken
in, and his black hair looks greasy and dirty. He needs to shave and
take a shower, but I know better than to let my disgust show. I shiver
as flashbacks of the awful nights I wasn’t so fortunate in escaping
surface, and I feel my heart beat pick up.
As I reach for the door to leave, Brad grabs my shoulder and
squeezes it in a painful grip. “Don’t be out too late. You still need to
clean this mess up.”
I just walk out the door without a reply. He knows I’ll follow the
rules so I won’t get his fist in my face again. Jessica will placate both
of them tonight during their drug induced orgy, and I won’t be needed.
I say a prayer that I won’t have to endure this life much longer as I
board the bus head to the local library.

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