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Authors: K.M. Golland

Discovering Stella

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Golland

 

The
Temptation
series:

Temptation
(#1)

Satisfaction
(#2)

Fulfilment
(#3)

Attainment
(#3.5)

Attraction
(#4)

Commitment – Tash’s book (#5) Coming Soon

 

Wild Nights series

Revue

Surfer (Coming Soon)

 

Secret Confessions: Backstage

Chase (Coming September 2015)

 
 

SEE THE BACK OF THE BOOK FOR LINKS TO THE PLAYLIST OF DISCOVERING STELLA

 

International Paperback Edition
2015 ISBN 978-0987497741

 

DISCOVERING
STELLA

©
2015
by
K.M.
Golland

 

Except for use in any review, the reproduction or utilisation of
this
work in whole or in
part
in any form by any electronic,
mechanical
or other
means,
now known or hereafter invented, including xerography, photocopying and recording, or in any information storage or retrieval system, is forbidden without the permission of the publisher.

 

This book is sold subject to the condition that it
shall
not, by way of trade or otherwise, be lent, resold, hired out or otherwise circulated without the prior consent of the publisher in any form of binding or cover other
than
that in which it is published and without a
similar
condition including
this
condition being imposed on the subsequent purchaser.

 

All
rights reserved including the right of reproduction in whole or in
part
in any form.

 

This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents are either the product of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously,
and
any
resemblance
to
actual
persons, living or dead, business establishments, events, or locales is entirely coincidental

 
 
 
 
 

Only those who are lost can be found.

P
R
O
L
O
G
U
E
 
 
 

Pain. Physical,
or
psychological
...
which of the two hurts the most? Is
it
possible
for one
to hurt
more
than
the
other,
or
are both just
as
debilitating?

Physical pain is instant, brutal and uncamouflaged.
It’s
bold and undeniable, often leaving a visible scar of the damage caused. Psychological pain is
one
that festers within, unseen, yet just
as
potent.
It
is often a wolf in
sheep’s
clothing, slowly chipping away at a
person’s
soul, lacking visibility.

Both forms of pain have the capacity to bring a person to his
or
her
knees, destroy their faith and
render
them useless.
But
when the two collide, merge, unite in a common cause, the effects
can
be catastrophic.

My
body was currently experiencing both forms of pain
as
I took
slow
tedious steps across the lawn in the direction of what I had been evading, running from,
for
the past
couple
of years.

I knew this
moment
would come, at
one
point
or
another,
for
some
things are just inescapable.
Yet,
regardless of the inevitabil
ity,
that did
not
mean I wished to welcome
it
sooner rather
than
later.
In fact, the longer I
avoided
it, the better.
It
meant I was able to bury
it
in
an
untouched grave, that
grave’s
location deep within
my
body.

The wind lashed
my
skin with each step I took, leaving
an
icy sting. And the leaves under
my
booted feet cried
out
when I pressed them
into
the
earth.
I
couldn’t
look
up.
I refused
to,
instead focussing
on
the black leather of
my
boots together with the grass and gravel that filled
my
vision.
My
nails dug
into
the palms of
my
hands
as
I clenched
my
fists, nerves and
apprehension
blanketing me. The pain of
my
biting fingernails was welcome, providing a microscopic distraction from what was to come in
mere
seconds.
But it
was microscopic — the pounding of
my
heart overpowering
it
and reminding me why I’d run, why I’d fled
my
previous life and why
it
was so difficult to return. Returning meant facing what had happened, what I’d
done
...
what I’d suffered.

Returning
meant closure, which, up
until six
months
ago, I’d
never thought
possible.
Six
months
ago, I’d escaped and
reinvented
myself.
I’d left
my
previous
life and started a new
one

one
that,
unintentionally, included
Lawson Drake.

That man, that infuriating man,
not
only fixed
my
stupid
car, he fixed
my broken
and
tormented
heart.
He
discovered
my
almost extinguished light.

He
discovered
Stella.

 
 
 
 

Six months earlier

O
N
E
 
 
 

Things happen for a reason

 
 

The mind and body have the capacity to go on autopilot, taking you in a direction you may or may not wish to go. As I drove toward Pittstown — my new home for god knows how long — my body and mind were currently doing just that. They were taking me to a place where I wanted to go, although I knew I probably shouldn’t. A conscious part of me said not to run, that the right thing to do was
stay,
fight and deal with the demons. But there was a part of me that said,
 
‘Go.
 
Start afresh and forget the demons, for if you
don’t
feed them they cease to
exist.’
I truly wanted to believe that notion, but I knew deep down that it was a fallacy; demons exist whether we want them to or not.
We
all harbour them within.
It’s
just that some are greater than others, more destructive and dire. Some demons just
won’t
be silenced. Not to mention that some of us are better at housing them and keeping them restrained … controlled; I hoped I was one of those people.

Pittstown
was
situated
on
the
Victorian
side
of
the
Murray
River, approximately
246
km
north
of
Melbourne.
As
far as I
knew,
it
was a
shithole;
a
quiet
country
town
with
not
much
atmosphere
due
to
having a
population
of
only
600
people.
It
was,
however,
perfect
for
starting
anew, for
forgetting
one’s
past
...
for
hiding.
It
was also the place
where my once-upon-a-time
stepbrother
,
Todd,
lived.

Todd
Westmore’s
mother was married to
my
father
for
a period of just under six years, from the time I was aged twelve until the age of eighteen. I liked
June
Westmore
and
her
son
Todd,
and I was incredibly sad and confused when the marriage fell apart.
However,
my
father was
not one
to be tied down
for
long
— three ex-wives were evidence of that.

Sadly,
I
hadn’t
heard from
or
seen
Todd
in years.
We
had kept in touch
for
a short time after our parents” divorce,
but
our social relations ceased when he
went
travelling overseas, which was
not
long
before I turned twenty-one.

I was
now
twenty-six.

I could only imagine what had been going through poor
Todd’s
mind since I made contact with him last week after finding him
on
Facebook. I suppose
it
is
one
thing to be contacted by your ex-stepsister after five
long
years of no communication, and another thing to be contacted by
her
after she was already
on
her
way to your shoebox of a town
for
a visit. Little did he know that
my
visit had no expiration date —
my
visit could
end
up being permanent.

Despite our five-year marathon of silence — and after exchanging
phone
numbers via Facebook — conversing with
Todd
had been just like
old
times. Sure, there was awkwardness at first,
but it
soon dissipated like fog
on
a spring morning.
It
was such a relief.

As
I drove along the Murray Valley Highway with ‘What Goes Around … Comes Around’ by Justin Timberlake blaring from
my
speakers, I could see the surrounding
rural
Victorian landscape was barren, arid and unproductive,
due
to the current drought. This only heightened the desolateness of
my
new location — and desolate was what I wanted

The
ground
was
brown
and
the
trees
were
bare
and
dead,
the
sum
mer
heat
depleting
them
of
life.
That’s
what
the
sun
here
in
Australia
does during the
hotter months.
It
is
brutal
and
all-consuming.

Lifting the hair off the back
of
my
neck, I gave
my
sweat-dampened skin a reprieve
as
it
welcomed the kiss of the breeze filtering in through the window of
my
car. I was roughly
fifty
kilometres
out
of town when I looked down and noticed that the needle of the temperature gauge
on
my
newly acquired 2000 model
Ford
Focus was stationary in the red zone.

“Shit!” I
muttered
to
myself,
knowing there
wasn’t
much
I could do other than pull
over.
“Shit,
shit, shit!” I cursed a little
louder.

Stopping
on
the
side
of the road in the middle of
nowhere
on
a stinking
hot
38° Celsius day was
not overly
appealing.
However,
cooking the engine was no better
solution.
I’d only just bought the
stupid
car
...
as
in,
yesterday.

Narrowing
my
eyes, I noticed a sign in the distance notifying travellers of a rest area five hundred metres ahead. I decided I would stop there in the hope that a short break would cool the engine enough
for
me to then continue
on
to Pittstown.
As
fate would have
it
though — and
as
soon
as
I had made the executive decision to pull
over

my
course of action was decided
for
me when steam started billowing from underneath
my
bonnet.

“No!
No,
no,
no!
Not
here.
Not
now,”
I pleaded, immediately pulling
over
to the shoulder of the road just twenty-odd metres shy of the rest
stop.

Helpless,
I
could
only
sit
there
and
watch
my
car
boil
like an
enormous
kettle. And I
wasn’t
far
from
adding
to
that visual
by
emitting
a
high-pitched
squeal
of
fury
to match.
It
was
no
use squealing
though; instead,
I
opted
to
slump
back
against
my
seat
and
close
my
eyes as JT sang
about
things
going
around
and
com
ing
back
around
again.
This is
just
my luck.
Just.
My.
Bloody.
Luck!
Maybe
I’m related to
that
Murphy
guy
with
his
law.
What
is it
that
he says?
“If
it
can
go
wrong,
it will”
...
or
something
like
that.
Stupid
guy.
Realising I had been
sold
a
lemon
instead of a safe and reliable car,
my
eyes
shot
open and I slammed
my
hands down
on
the steering wheel. “Aargh!” I screamed.
“Stupid,
sleazy, arsehole con artist
of
a salesman.”

I pulled the keys from the ignition, wrenched the
car
door open and climbed
out,
slamming the door with force behind me. The
sun’s
deadly heat caressed
my
skin almost instantly, asserting its power and dominance
over
the
day.
“Stupid. Stupid.
Stu
pid
car,”
I yelled at the
royal-blue
coloured shit heap.

I really
shouldn’t
have been surprised that
my
lemon
on
wheels had carked it. I mean,
honestly,
what had I expected when deliberately buying from a shonky dealer in the hope that
it
could
not
be used to trace me?
God, I’m such an idiot.

Kicking the tyre with the underside of
my
flip-flop, I expelled
my built-up
rage, soon becoming exhausted and feeling utterly helpless: I was also highly irritated and yelling every obscenity I knew at the tops of
my
lungs.

My
white singlet
top
was damp from sweat and clung to
my
chest like glue, and
my
denim shorts were like lead weights against the skin of
my
thighs — the entire situation far from pleasant.

Realising
I had to somehow cool down the engine, I marched
like
a
petulant
child to the front of the
car
where I bent
 
 
down to unlock the bonnet with the
key,
shaking
my head in
frustra
tion at
this
time-wasting and
highly
annoying feature of the dumb car.

I had turned the key to the left and then in the
opposite
direc
tion,
when I was suddenly grabbed from behind and yanked away
as
the bonnet sprang
up,
directing plumes of steam and
hot
water to where I had previously been standing.

I screamed, shocked at the fact I had been seconds away from possibly melting the skin
on my
body,
but
even
more
terrified at having
some
unknown
person’s
arms around
my
waist in a tight bear hug and hauling me
into
the air.

“Let me go!” I yelled, kicking frantically
as
my
legs dangled
mere
centimetres from the ground. “Let. Me. Go!”

Panicking, I threw
my
head back and butted
my
captor
on
the nose.

“Fucking hell!” A
low,
angry
male
voice
sounded from behind me
as
he released his grip.

My
feet hit the ground, so I swivelled around and backed
away,
which was when I spotted said male cupping his bleeding nose with his hands.

“I
think
you
friggin’
broke
it,”
he mumbled.

“Yeah?” I panted, quickly scanning
my
surroundings and placing
my
hand at the back of
my
head where I
now
had
an
awful
ache.
“Well
...
good!
You
grabbed me from behind. What did
you
expect would happen?”

“You
were about to become a statistic of what
not
to do when your
car
overheats. Fuck!” he growled, spitting
some
blood
onto
the gravel
not
far from his feet.
“I
was just
trying
to
help.”

“How
was I to know that? Look,
I’m
sorry, but
when grabbed from behind,
my
first instinct is
not
to ask
my
grabber if he is actually helping me
or
not.”

I rubbed
my
head and then placed
my
hands
on my
hips.
My
instincts
told
me the guy meant no harm, his defensive body language, and kind — yet startled —
blue
eyes affording me a sense of
calm.
Regardless, I was
not
naive
or
brainless, and therefore chose to keep a safe distance
for
the time being.

BOOK: Discovering Stella
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