Authors: Nicole Deese
Letting Go Series
book is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places and incidents are products
of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual
events or locales or persons living or dead is entirely coincidental.
© 2013 Nicole
Okay Creation Cover Designs
© Sarah Hansen
Represented by Jessica Kirkland of The Blythe
All Who Dream
is dedicated to my baby sister,
Aimee Brooke Thomas.
(July 26, 1987 to November 25, 2013.)
Aimee loved beyond limit, laughed without restraint,
and believed that every dream was a gift from above.
were our gift, Aimee.
There’s a time and place for dreaming
A melody within life’s meaning
You search and seek and pray and pine
Yet in the end its hope you’ll find
Some days are bleak while others
Some feel rooted in deep despair
But don’t lose faith and don’t lose sight
For dreams will come to those who fight
If chance is slim and risk is great
Remember the reward at stake
The test is found in how you fail
cannot turn stale
This truth and hope act as a team
They light a path for all who dream
Since the day I found out I was pregnant, there was one
prayer that never strayed far from my lips.
“God, please protect my son.”
It was a typical Tuesday night. I had locked down the
house, closed the curtains, and rearranged the leftovers in the fridge, when I
noticed my brother’s wallet on the countertop. Shaking my head, I slid the heap
of worn leather into the top drawer, and flicked off the kitchen lights. Briggs
might be a fireman by trade, but his reputation for misplacing personal
belongings predated that superhero status by two decades.
texted him to let him know.
Padding through the quiet house and down the hall, I
pushed away my nausea with a cleansing breath. I hated the darkness of night,
especially without the security of my brother nearby.
Though I’d escaped the hand of Dirk
two years ago, the prison of paranoia that held me now was almost as bad.
Trailing my fingers across Cody’s door as I passed, I
are safe here, son.”
even as I said it, I knew safety
was only an illusion—a vapor easily diffused.
Just before the thick haze of sleep lured me deeper
beneath my comforter, I
The heavy scrape of boots plodding up
the porch steps.
One did not forget the sound of terror.
A scream keened in my head, but an invisible band gripped
my throat and refused to let the sound leave my lungs. The same band seemed to
wrap my entire body. I couldn’t move, couldn’t breathe . . .
As if shot from a catapult, I lunged from the bed and
snatched my cell off the side table. Phone clutched in my fist, I raced for the
nursery. Chills clawed up my legs as my bare feet slapped the wood floor in sync
with my heartbeat.
Darting into Cody’s room, I slammed the door behind me. At
the sharp sound, a
gasp came from the crib. A
crash of wood splintering erupted from the living room, turning my knees to
gelatin. I sagged, leaning the weight of my body against the closed door.
Arm shaking, I lifted my phone and punched in 9-1-1. My breathing
rasped in my ears as the call went through. A brisk voice answered, requesting
the nature of my emergency.
“Please help us—”
A heavy weight rammed the door panel, and I was flung
across the room, phone slipping from my hand and skittering under the rocking
I sprang to my feet and ran toward Cody, to throw myself
on top of him—to shield him. But Dirk was quicker. His fingers gripped my arms,
and I imagined my bones snapping within his grasp.
“Found you, Angela.” The moonlight that peeked through the
curtain revealed the familiar hollowness of addiction in his eyes, and the soulless
timbre of his voice sent prickles up my spine.
He slammed me into the wall again, my head throbbing and blurring
my vision as a metallic substance coated my tongue. The world tilted; I fought
to stay alert.
He leaned over the crib and ice seized my chest. Cody whimpered
at the rough awakening. Grabbed at the waist, Cody was flung over Dirk’s
shoulder like a sack of garbage. He stalked out of the bedroom, heading toward
the fractured front door.
I staggered to my feet despite the aching in my skull. “You
can’t take him!”
Dizzily, I stumbled after him, tripping down the porch as
warmth oozed down my neck. He yanked open his
truck door, ignoring my pleas and tossed my toddler inside. Cody shrieked with
I lunged at Dirk.
He fisted my hair and crushed my back to his chest. While his
arm tightened around my throat, I blinked rapidly, refusing the pull of unconsciousness
as long as possible.
A voice called my name in the distance—a voice so familiar
I wanted to weep at the sound.
I dug my nails deeper into Dirk’s forearm, begging God
for Cody’s life as something sharp pierced my side. Hot agony speared through
Chaos ravaged my mind and body as I slumped to the ground.
But as quickly as the pain came, it was gone.
A quiet assurance pulsated in its wake.
I’m going to die.
I forced my lips to move as the darkness descended over me
like a heavy quilt.
“God, please protect my son.”
-Six Years Later-
I don’t belong here.
clipped step I took across the marble floors of Pinkerton Press, I believed
this more and more. Straightening my thrift-shop skirt for the millionth time,
I stepped inside the elevator and pressed the button for the twentieth floor. Closing
my eyes, I wished my phobia of plunging to my death while inside an elevator shaft
could take a rain-check today. My mind was far too pre-occupied to think about
that right now.
Besides, there are worse
ways to die…
to regulate my breathing as the mirrored coffin rose, but suddenly my
stomach—which had been left on the first floor—caught up with the rest of my
body, twisting into a sick knot when the doors opened. I touched the pendant at
my neck and walked toward the receptionist’s desk. A woman with the reddest
hair I’d ever seen sat fiddling with a computer on the opposite side.
help you?” she asked.
thank you. I have an appointment to see Mrs. Bradford.”
must be Angela Flores. You are even prettier in person! You certainly don’t
look like you could have an eight-year old son.” She smiled wide. “Just a
sec…I’ll see if Dee is ready for you.” The redhead picked up the phone and hit
a series of buttons.
uh…thank you.” I gulped my anxiety back down.
couple of weeks had been interesting, to say the least. Winning a radio contest
I didn’t enter—compliments of my best friend, Rosie—for my single parenting
blog had come as quite a surprise.
But even more than
that…the popularity that seemed to spread overnight was beyond dumbfounding.
I had stopped looking at the number of followers after the first few days. The
figures made my palms sweat so badly I could hardly type a fresh entry.
recognized at the grocery store by a stranger who read my blog? That was beyond
twenty-nine, I didn’t exactly feel old, but if age was measured by life
experience alone, I’d be an antique by now. Self-consciously, I lifted a hand
to my blonde hair, smoothing back the flyaway strands that had surely sprouted
during the windy walk through the parking lot.
“Right this way, Miss Flores.”
followed the receptionist down the hall where she stopped in front of a swanky office.
I hauled in a long, shaky breath. An explosion of wealth and success lay just
beyond this portal. My heart knocked hard against my ribs as the receptionist
ushered me inside.
Flores, please come in,” said a striking woman I assumed was Dee Bradford.
“Thank you, Sylvia. You may go.”
click of the door behind me propelled me forward.
“I’m Dee Bradford, but you may call me Dee.”
Dee extended her manicured hand for me to shake.
“It’s nice to meet you, Dee, and thank you,” I
“Please have a seat, we have much to discuss.”
hair was white as the clouds and wafted around her wrinkle-free face in
artfully arranged waves, she had to be well into her 60s. Yet, nothing about
her seemed “old.” She was a classy sort of beautiful, slender figure wrapped in
a navy skirt suit that branded her both professional and stylish. Her makeup was
understated and impeccable. I hoped I could age
as gracefully at that.
into the leather chair across from her desk and took in the view through
windows that lined three-quarters of her office. Dallas was not known for its
scenic charm, yet from this elevation, the skyline was breathtaking. Dee
cleared her throat, and I brought my attention back to her face. She smiled at
me, and my cheeks grew warm.
“It’s a unique view of Dallas from up here,
“Quite. I’m not much of a city gal, but if I
saw this kind of view every day I think I could be easily converted.”
laughed and leaned back in her chair to cross her legs.
“I’m sure you’re wondering why I called you,
Miss Flores—may I call you Angela?”