Some time last summer, I decided that I should finish TWO books by the end of 2015. Well, I didn’t finish them but I haven’t stopped trying.
But I’m still working on the next two books in my Savor The Days Series: November Mourning and January Falls (note: titles and covers may change)
Anyhoo, I’m pasting an excerpt of the first chapter of January Falls, just so you all can get a feel of what the story is like. Below is a rough blurb and a tidbit of the opening chapter. Be warned, there is a smidgen of bad language:
January Smith: that is the name Elise Wilkinson chose when she started her new life, but the past has a way of breaking into the present.
Finally putting her abusive history behind her, twenty year-old Elise is anxious to start over. She finds a job, a place to sleep, and gets a new name, January. When she makes a new friend with a high profile family, the fear of discovery and the threat of her past catching up to her becomes all too real.
When January Smith meets Noah Zuniga she can’t help but fall for his gentle heart and deep brown eyes. When she learns that Noah is the step-son to famed Hollywood actor Rhys Matthews, she must make a choice: to keep hiding from the life of shame she’s tryingto leave behind, or stay and fight for the new life she’s found.
Excerpt from Chapter 1–I Snapped
The car eased up. From the tilt, I guessed the flat tire was on the front driver’s side. We must have hit that coyote pretty good. I thought I saw it skitter off, but who could tell in the pitch black? The car made creaking noises with each rotation of the jack and dread filled my stomach. It was a steady, almost rhythmic cranking that made me think Jade would have us back on the road in no time.
My heart ached at that thought. I didn’t want to go to back Vegas. I hated that city. I’d only ever been there a handful of times, even though I grew up just outside Reno, but I hated every trip I ever took there with Jade.
Made me want to shower just thinking about it.
A noise drew me from the dark memories. It sounded like Jade, like he was calling my name. My heart beat faster. If he wanted me I couldn’t waste time. Just as I pulled the handle to open my door, the raised end of the car dropped and the bleak night surrounding the empty road was suddenly filled with Jade’s pained cries.
I was all adrenaline, scrambling from the back seat to run around the car.
I couldn’t see past the beam of headlights, but when i got around to the passenger side of the car, i could see the flashlight rolling over the pavement. I reached for it, calling out.
“Jade! Are you alright?” I heard him answer with cursing, only it was much quieter than before. Flashlight in hand, I turned the beam in the direction of his voice and gasped.
Jade was on his back, one arm trapped under the car nearly up to his shoulder. The flat tire was completely off the axle, lying in the gravel. Jade was squirming and demanding. Screaming at me to “Get the jack!”
I searched with the flashlight, aiming it under the fender. The small jack had flipped over. I could tell from the position how it had slipped out from its’ bracing and didn’t waste any time. I flipped it back up but couldn’t get it under the lip of the fender. I needed to lower the head if it was going to fit back underneath the car. To do that, I needed the lever.
“Jade, where’s the crowbar?”
He cursed some more as I searched the ground. I asked Jade where it was again, partly becasue I thought talking might help keep his mind off the pain, and partly becasue I didn’t see the thing lying around anywhere.
Did he throw it?
Why wasn’t he answering me?
Maybe he couldn’t hear me; he had to be in a lot of pain. Then, something else occurred to me—the possible reason why Jade’s arm was under the car near the wheel.
With my heart climbing up into my throat, I got back down on my hands and knees, and bent low to look underneath the car. Jade was still cursing me out like always, but there was something in his voice I hadn’t heard before. Or maybe it was just so long since I heard it that I forgot what fear sounded like. Well, Jade’s fear. Mine was a constant. I knew what my fear sounded like. It sounded like, “Yes, Jade.” “Of course, Jade.”
I spotted the end of the crowbar wedged between Jade’s trapped arm and the gravel. Just on the other side of that, I spotted a few lug nuts. He must have been trying to hold the flashlight and loosen the nuts from the tire. Stubborn man—changing a tire is a two-person job in the dark. Jade was trying to pull double-duty and shot it all to hell. He probably dropped the dang nuts and then reached under the car to get them. His shoulder probably knocked the jack loose. I shuddered to think of his stubborn flesh trapped beneath the heavy car. I had to get it off him.
“Never reach under the car.” I spoke the thought.
Jade shouted, reminding me how I didn’t need to tell him anything. He was sure this whole mess was my fault after all because the only reason he needed to make money this way was because I was a fat pig who ate too much. Of course, I moved inside the car, too. He was sure I made it fall on purpose. I was evil. I was trying to hurt him. I was a worthless piece of trash that belonged under the wheels of the car, not him. I did it on purpose, I must have, because he was too smart. He knew what he was doing. I was the one who was too stupid to know anything about anything.
That’s the way our relationship was. His mistakes were always mine. ANd i knew that he was just getting started and the longer he had to think on it, the more reasons he’d come up with to make his stupid accident my fault. It was always me. Present or absent. Jade would make me pay for my mistakes. In any way that crossed his mind.
Suddenly I was not feeling as hospitable and barely suppressing the urge to roll my eyes, even though with Jade, that’s about the worst thing I could do, short of kicking him in the man-parts.
I stood up from the ground, empty-handed, running the flashlight over his pinned position, inspecting his injury. It looked like his forearm was trapped. His hand and forearm, just below the elbow were pinned under the bare wheel mount. I was wondering if that made any difference to his body. It just seemed like it’d be a whole lot worse to have your upper arm pinned under there, too.
I stepped back, going wide, as Jade’s free arm swung wildly for me.
“You stupidfuckingbitch! Get me out! I’ll put you in the ground, too! Where you going? Get back here!”
Where was I going? I had no idea, but it’d be the direction opposite of wherever Jade was headed. I was already on the passenger side of the car. My hands were moving but my mind was all blank, back in that protective space where I learned to hide most of me away.
Aside from the fact that I never thought I was smart enough to form a plan—a real plan beyond the ‘if only’ and the ‘one of these days’—I knew the only things that kept me with Jade for so long were money and opportunity. I never had either one available to me at the same time.
I could never get out. Never get a big enough head start. He kept that house locked up so tight there was no way I could find my way to the other side of the front door. And I was not allowed to have cash. I couldn’t go to the store or Laundromat without him. Even the worst criminals under lock and key got an hour in the yard to exercise, but I couldn’t get a minute with the bathroom door closed.
Also, I couldn’t just leave Jade like that, all hurt and helpless, but I sure as hell didn’t want to be around when he was back on his feet.
“I’m calling you an ambulance. You’re bleedin’ bad, Jade. You need a doctor. Where’s your phone?” I sounded so scared. I was scared, but also numb.
He was terrified to die, I knew he was. In one of the few conversations I overheard him having with a rotten friend of his, I heard Jade admit that he thought dying was the scariest thing there was. It was also the threat he made most often.
“In the glove box,” Jade grunted. “Give it to me! Hurry the fuckup!”
Of course it would be in the glove box. The glove box he kept locked at all times. The glove box he wouldn’t let me near, which was why I was always riding in the back seat.
“What’s the combination?” I shouted sounding just as panicked as I felt, but panic was nothing. I spent most my life in a panic.
“Bitch, get this car off me!” Jade screamed. “Please Elli. Please!”
I ran back around to lock eyes with Jade. I hadn’t heard him say please before. Not sober anyway. Still, I kept myself out of his reach. My face was very serious as I broke the news that would surely end up breaking my jaw. “The crowbar is stuck under your hand Jade. I can’t get it out. I can’t raise the car off you. I gotta call for help before you bleed out on the road. You need an ambulance Jade and I need you! Who’s going to take care of me if you don’t?”
He took a short breath and something passed over his eyes. I felt so sorry for him. It must have hurt like crazy and he had to be so afraid.
“J-F-B-F-D.” Jade strangled out the letters to the combination lock on his most prized compartment within his precious car. It was like a safe combination at the Federal Reserve as far as he was concerned. The glove compartment is where Jade kept all his worldly possessions.
Scrambling back around to the passenger side, Jade hollered the combination to me once more because he was so sure I’d forget it.
I punched in the letters, the glove box opened and I took out his cell phone and started dialing.
“What road are we on?” I scrambled back toward Jade and he quickly supplied the highway number and the mile marker we’d just passed.
I waited on the line as it rang and rang. Then, I walked back around to the passenger side of the car when someone finally answered my call. The metered voice of the A-1 cab company dispatcher came over the phone line loud and clear.
“I need a car out on the highway. Mile marker 1-3-7-1.” The guy seemed a little confused, so I explained in the lowest voice I could manage that my car had a flat tire, and then repeated the important information. Once they told me how long it was going to be—he estimated a half hour—I had to break the news to Jade and pray the anger wouldn’t give him enough gumption to find his way up off the ground.
But before I did that, I hung up the phone and emptied the glove compartment. Like the selfish bitch he always accused me of being, I pocketed all the cash in his wallet, his cell phone, and the .25 caliber pistol with the extra magazine. Lastly, I shook out all but one of the baggies of dope onto the front seat and floor of the car.
Then, I had to say goodbye to the first boy to ever tell me that he loved me. I stood for a moment in the dark, pretending to say the words aloud as I looked down at him. Jade understood what was happening when he spotted me running for my life.
I heard his screams for at least a half-mile. Once I got to a place near a street lamp, I tossed the flashlight. The second I spotted my taxi coming up the way, I made the call for the ambulance, giving them the information in an urgent tone, which I didn’t even have to fake. I was worried about Jade. I wanted him to be okay, but I also never wanted to see him again. So I told the 9-1-1 dispatcher to make sure the police came along with the ambulance. “The driver was swerving all over the place before he crashed and he’s been screaming at everything that moves. I think he’s high on something.”
After, I hopped into the back of the taxicab, asking the driver to take me into Vegas and telling myself that I was doing what I had to.
I wasn’t a bad person.
I’m not a bad person.