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by Vivian Kirkbride
Description: Lacey thought she'd married the perfect man--until she discovered his terrible secret? Alone in the master bedroom, Lacey grips a kitchen knife under her pillow, thinking about her daughter, Myra, and how they will escape. Lacey is an intelligent, young clothing designer who struggles to overcome her past, but growing up in a small town in Washington State, where she's known as the daughter of the town whore has left its scars. When she married Stian, she thought she found the perfect man but what she finds is a terrifying run for her life. Break Away is an energetic suspense that will leave you gripping the pages, while you follow Lacey in her run from domestic violence.
eBook Publisher: L&L Dreamspell/L&L Dreamspell, 2009 Spring, Texas
eBookwise Release Date: August 2009
4 Reader Ratings:
Available eBook Formats: OEBFF Format (IMP) [334 KB]
Reading time: 210-294 min.
Alone in the master bedroom, I gripped a kitchen knife under my pillow, thinking about my daughter, Myra, and how we would escape. Each time the old farmhouse creaked, my hand tightened on the knife's hardwood handle. With each swish of the trees outside the window, my eyes jerked open. Shivering with fear, I remained sharp, awake, and ready to run.
* * * *
"Lacey, how could you be so naive?" Stian glowered, turning away from me, back to his fish tank. "I don't give a damn about my father or that bitch he's married to."
He stood in the shadow of the dining room feeding the large orange Oscar, an exotic fish that lived in the seventy-five gallon tank. Stian's fingers clasped the tail of a squirming goldfish. He dunked the fish headfirst into the tank. It splashed and wriggled wildly to escape. Two Oscars, attracted to the commotion, moved in. Stian pulled the goldfish out of the water and slapped it hard against the side of the tank. Stunned, it hung limp in his fingers. Live goldfish would normally race around the tank frantic for escape while the large Oscars chased. His prized Oscars might be scratched on the ornamental coral, injuring themselves in the hunt. Stian dangled the stunned fish on top of the water until the Oscars rose to eat.
My stomach turned queasy.
Finished, he turned and came to the kitchen to wash his hands. I moved back, staying clear of the hands that were tainted by his part in that cruel meddling in the natural order of the animal world.
At the sink, he stood with his back to me. Sunset-scarlet filtered through the white lace curtains I recently hung in the window. Light shone innocently on his pale brown hair. Small touches of gray at his temples looked nearly blond. His wide shoulders were still solid, strong for a man in his late forties. A tall, handsome man in a blue flannel shirt and blue jeans, he had that certain arrogance which had attracted me to him in the beginning. I thought he'd use his height and strength to protect and nurture me. I had been terribly wrong. Stian had attracted me to himself like he attracted Oscars to goldfish.
As he stood there, something in the harsh line of his shoulders reminded me of my stepfather. Stian hit the faucet, shutting off the flow of water. He dried his hands on the blue towel and carefully placed it back on the towel rack.
We were newlyweds, but had not slept together in four months. Of course, I felt rejected. He seemed completely uninterested in me. Why? I thought perhaps I needed to know him better. That's why I mentioned going to see his father and stepmother. His mother, Deloris had disappeared when he was five years old. Resentment at her apparent abandonment had shadowed his whole life with vengeful disapproval toward women.
As Stian turned to leave the room he tripped on the dog. Barney, a dark brown shepherd mix had been lounging in a warm patch of light that streamed in through the window.
Stian went livid, kicking the helpless animal. "Get out of my way," he screamed, lashing out at Barney. The dog tried to protect himself from the vicious blows by curling into a ball. Each blow of Stian's attack pushed the terrified pet farther across the linoleum floor and into a corner of the dining room.
"No!" I sensed the blows that Barney took were really meant for me. Nausea flared, with the idea they would one day be delivered, probably with more obvious relish. I wanted to stop him, but froze with fear. If I interfered, I'd definitely be next.
Stian's savage, icy-blue eyes flashed on me, and his hands balled into fists. His beard, normally short and well groomed, looked brutish; his mouth twisted into a sneer as he moved toward me.
My mind darted, searching for an escape, a way to protect myself.
"Lacey, this is why I don't want to see my father!" he yelled at my face. The heat of his breath became a moist, evil wind. "This is what my father used to do to me." My eyes locked onto Stian's cold glare, inflamed with red anger.
"After Mom disappeared," Stian continued, as if looking at an old scar, "Dad threw me into the Columbia River and watched me thrash about in the freezing water. I would have drowned, but the current washed me up onto the cold rocks. I walked back to the house, dripping wet, and that son of a bitch didn't even care. I was never good enough! He didn't care if I drowned. Do you understand what I'm telling you, Lacey?"
Afraid to open my mouth, I nodded. I imagined him as a child, tall and spindly for his age. With a slight turning in of his left foot, he had a delicate walk. He'd have been a pretty child, a cute young boy. In the rough parts of Washington State, deep in this rugged country, it's not good to be a pretty boy, especially with a less-than-manly walk.
Stian stalked off to the basement, slamming the door.
I needed to escape and felt thankful Myra was at a friend's house for the night. I wanted to wait a few more months until she finished school for the year. But now, I feared we'd be running for our lives.
In the early days and nights of our mutual attraction, Stian seemed good, wholesome and handsome.
In the beginning, there had been something about his innocent looks. Something about his vibrant blue eyes seduced me into thinking about the little boy I saw in him. He had been careful to not sit too close when we first met for lunch dates. I felt respected and thrilled at the prospect of his touch. He told me his goal in life was to build a comfortable, stable future. He said he simply wanted a family and a good clean home.
I considered him shy and quiet, but really, his silence had been calculated. If there had been an innocent boy, he had become a ghost, starved a long time ago of what a child needed to thrive.
In the beginning, Stian let me babble. I told him everything my heart wanted, while he nodded. I thought he cared. He had been a good listener, repeating all the key phrases. I felt exhilarated, heady to have a handsome man interested in my thoughts and feelings. But now, looking back, I realize it had been a deception. He had studied me, analyzed me like an eighth grade biology class specimen, so that later he'd know how to control me.
It didn't take long for him to capture my heart. Sometimes a single parent is an easy target. I had been lonesome, yielding to loneliness like an alcoholic yields to the bottle. I wanted him. I was hungry for him as if he were a fine wine, not remembering that with time and contamination wine turns to a vile vinegar.
His gentle kisses, like that fine wine intoxicated me with each droplet that touched my lips. He spoke softly like a poet, using words like music, talking with all the things I needed to hear.
"Lacey, marry me and I'll take care of you and Myra," he whispered.
At last the empty part of me would be filled ... the missing part, returned.