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Warnings come with everything forbidden.
An illicit affair results in me becoming captive to the one man I dared to trust.
Pierce Serban had always been off limits.
Now a pawn in a game played by devils in suits, I must standby as his carefully controlled chaos unravels, and do all I can to survive the wreckage.
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I was homesick for a place that didn’t exist. A place where my mother acknowledged that I was a human being, and I had a father who cared. It was easier to believe they’d never loved me at all than it was to pretend they had, and one day just simply decided not to.
A mother that cared about her little girl would have protected her, right?
She would have made him stop instead of calling me delusional. My mother’s fear of my stepfather and her lack of backbone caused her to act none the wiser. I was left to suffer in silence. Alone. Always alone.
After marking another red dash on my calendar, I added them all up and got a total of fifteen. That’s how many days my mother and stepdad had been gone. They hadn’t bothered with leaving a note or anything. It wasn’t all that unusual for them to randomly up and leave, but two days ago, my sister told me they were never coming back. At first, I refused to believe her, chalking it up to the drug induced haze she’d been in. Now the more time that passed, the more I wasn’t so sure.
What if they really were gone for good?
For some kids in my situation this would have been a relief. They’d be grateful that God finally stepped in and did something, but Cassie had an encyclopedia of issues I was tired of trying to understand.
Leaving the sanctuary of my room, I walked down the hall, peering into my sister’s room before going downstairs. Her bed was unmade, the zebra comforter half on the floor, half not. Bags from expensive department stores were strewn all around, and her curtains were drawn shut.
With no desire to venture into her pigsty, I went down to the kitchen. On the way, I passed the few family pictures we had hanging on the wall. We looked ordinary. My stepfather, Mama, Cassie, and I. Our house was nice, the lawn was green, and the pool was never dirty. Everyone thought we were perfect. But all they had to do was peek through the curtains, and they would see our normalcy was a pathetic sham.
Before I even entered the kitchen, I smelled it. I’d taken to stashing food in my bedroom, and kept a glass for water, so I never needed to wander out.
That was the only reason I was unaware of the condition the rest of the house was in. I had the same routine every day: straight from school to my room. If I were lucky, my stepdad would leave me be.
This was the reason I chose not to have friends. Sure, plenty of girls (and some boys) wanted to talk to me. And it wasn’t that I didn’t want any friends. It was the complete opposite. I was just too ashamed of where I came from to open up and let someone in.
When I finally got a look at the kitchen, I gagged at the sight that greeted me. Gnats circled the overflowing trash can. Dishes were stacked in a sink full of contaminated water, still covered in food. Take out containers and stray needles sat on the island.
The smell reminded me of when Richard had locked my puppy in the basement to punish me.
When he finally unlocked the padlock so I could go see her, it was this smell that floated up from below. Something rotten. Something dead. I was six years old when I learned what death entailed, saw firsthand the horrible way something could die.
I knew cleaning would be how I spent the remainder of my night. So, I pulled my dark hair into a ponytail and got busy. Twenty minutes in, I found a dead mouse floating at the bottom of the sink.
Twenty-two days ago, my mother left me.
I didn’t have any tears to shed over her abandonment, and my sister couldn’t care less. She went on as if nothing had changed. For her, not much had. The electricity was on, and whenever she did decide to come home that’s all she was concerned about.
On the bright side, whoever was paying the bills was keeping basic foods in the cabinets and fridge.
And my body wasn’t sore anymore. I was finally healing. I was by myself almost every day now, but that was better than unwanted company. I found peace in the silence. I slept without worrying about Richard sliding into my bed, not leaving until early sunrise. No more watching him drag Mama up the stairs by her hair, being forced to listen to them fight for hours before the moaning started.
I kept up my same routine. School, homework, shower, sleep, repeat. On days I dealt with Cassie, it was all discombobulated. I never knew how heavy she was until I had to drag her to bed.