A violent assault bonds a battered woman and a womanizing man together in a story of love, courage, hope and redemption.
Price: $0.99 (eBook)
Download to your Kindle (eBook)
Download from Smashwords (eBook)
Barnes & Noble.com
Dare Empire e-Media, Australia
Dare Empire e-Media, Australia
Carrie's life hasn't been easy. The husband who was supposed to love her forever, beat her. Finding the courage to leave, she works toward a new goal -- being self-sufficient. With the money from a divorce, she buys an apartment building and meets Donald Reddy, a tenant who can't let go of his college life of partying and trading lovers. He isn't relationship material, but he's the perfect fit for fixing her rundown tenements. Or so she thinks.
Donald Reddy hasn't figured life out. In need of money, he takes a job at a poverty-stricken Junior High. At first, he has no interest in Carrie, but over time, their relationship grows. A sudden, violent assault leaves them dazed and broken. Guilt rides him for not helping her when she needed him. The trauma tears them apart, and Don is left to evaluate all he's lost as he waits for Carrie to heal. The prospect of the life he's hoped for is ruined.
Two lovers must find the strength to stay together in the aftermath of what's ripped them apart.
Journal, December 9
Between what is known and unknown, seen and unseen, lies the place wherein one's heart is revealed. This I've learned from Carrie Armstrong.
So reads my last journal entry about Carrie, written at the moment I felt the power of her life upon mine. Since then I've written nothing, not a single thing, about Carrie or anyone else.
I'm not even sure what the passage means anymore, and I'm tortured by the missed chance to have saved her. Had I been more aware, her ex-husband Todd wouldn’t have beaten her senseless. What is there about me, about being a man that let her down?
The last time I saw Carrie, she lay drugged on a gurney at Taylor Psychiatric. Her mother thanked me for saving Carrie's life, but I thought only of the damage done.
“I should’ve stopped him.”
“How could you have known?” she said.
“Because he's a man,” I said, my face reddening. “We all want the same thing.”
“How old are you?” she asked, standing in the shadows of the corridor.
She sighed. “There’s much to learn. Don't blame yourself.”
But I did.
“You've been a good friend.”
Not really. I never thought of Carrie that way. Looking back, I always wanted something from her, even when I wasn't sure what it was. But friendship? Never.
“She'll be fine,” Mrs. Armstrong said, gently sweeping Carrie's matted brown hair off her forehead.
Carrie's hand was cold and her lips ashen.
Mrs. Armstrong’s eyes welled. “She's had a breakdown.”
“Is that what the doctor said?”
Red and green lights on a plastic evergreen tree glowed faintly. A nurse came and placed a thin wool comforter at Carrie's feet. “I can move her to a room now.”
Mrs. Armstrong opened the gray blanket and gently covered her only daughter to the chin. “I'll need one, too.”
The nurse turned to me and said, “Only immediate family,” and left, leaving behind the faint odor of cigarettes.
“I want to stay.”
“Go. It's for the best. Call tomorrow.”
Carrie's breathing was light, shallow.
The police officer stood nearby. His eyelids drooped. “I'll be here all night,” he said.
Down the hall, I dodged a nurse and two orderlies who struggled to lift an old woman, naked from the waist down, off the floor. She was crying and appealed to me with palms extended. “Help me. I'm dying here. Please. Help me.” The white skin between her legs hung limp and worn.
I avoided her eyes and walked past.
“Oh, no. No! I'm dying here.”
I shivered and thought of Carrie, lying with intravenous needles dug into her arms. I hurried for the exit, not wanting to listen. My hand shook as I pushed the door open.
“Please. I'm dying,” echoed in the hall.
Blasts of freezing rain stung like buckshot as I walked to the transit stop. I beat my arms against my chest to keep warm. A billboard read, “First Night—‘82, Providence!” and I thought of Carrie’s hope to rent space near city hall to display her work. “Nobody buys paintings on New Year’s Eve,” I’d said to her. “You’ll just freeze your butt off.”
The apartment building was cold when I returned. Mary, the elderly widow who lived across the hall, opened her door and said, “No heat.”
“How is she?”
“Her mother's there.”
Later, unable to sleep, I lay on my bed, the surreal moment-by-moment flashes of Todd battering Carrie seized my brain. I tried to write in my journal, but couldn't. The earlier entry stood out, and I hypnotically reread it.
The steam pipes clanged. “Between what is known and unknown.” What did I really mean? Unknown about what, whom? Until now my life had followed a nice, simple plan. Hadn’t I seen the obvious? Did the truth about life exist between extremes?
A gust of icy air burst through the double hung sash and fluttered the thin plastic covering. I rose and reformed the putty on the window crack. Outside, wide flakes of snow fluttered and spun under the Manton Avenue lamps. Across the street, a lone figure stood outside the bar smoking a cigarette, his shoulders hunched against the driving snow. The red tip glowed, then faded, the wind scattering embers like fireflies.
Cars moved slowly, their headlights flashing on the walls and bringing the deep shadows in my bedroom to life. The radiator hissed loudly, but the chill lingered. My feet were cold.
With a flash, another cigarette was lit, and I looked closely. The shadow lurched to the left, and a jolt of fear raced through me. Todd? I strained my eyes, but in the neon gloom and falling snow, I wasn’t sure.
Breathing hard, I moved to another window and looked. Only footprints and a wisp of smoke remained.