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Authors: Arisa Baumann

Tags: #Romance, #Contemporary, #Literature & Fiction, #Fantasy & Futuristic, #Paranormal

Feral: Part One

BOOK: Feral: Part One
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Feral

Part One

by Arisa Baumann

 

Copyright © 2013 by Arisa Baumann

All rights reserved. Except as permitted under the U.S. Copyright Act of 1976, no part of this publication may be reproduced, distributed, or transmitted in any form without the prior written permission of the copyright holder.

This book is a work of fiction. The names, characters, and events depicted herein are products of the author’s imagination. Any resemblance to persons, living or dead, or to actual events is entirely coincidental.

 

To my mother and sister for being incredibly patient with me, April for pushing me and the amazing Danielle for being a record keeper and enabler extraordinaire. To Ms. Sherri, Ashley, Elisa, Stephanie P., Leia, Crystal and Heather W. for their continued support and optimism.

Special thanks to my wonderful editor and friend Kristen Smith for encouraging me, Nordlig for patiently translating and explaining the Italian language to me, and P.M. Blake for the beautiful artwork.

 

 

Table of Contents

One
Two
Three
Four
Five
Six
Seven
Eight
Nine
Ten
Eleven
Twelve
Thirteen
About the Author
Addition

 

ONE

 

I sighed in relief when the pilot announced our flight would be landing at Hartsfield-Jackson International in approximately an hour and a half, and let my head fall back against the blue, padded headrest. The plane was crowded and confining, and after eight fitful hours wedged between a mother with screaming infant and a businessman who smelled like cheap booze, I longed to plant my feet on solid ground and see my own mother and best friend again.

I’d enjoyed my time in England. My trip had been undoubtedly therapeutic when it came to chasing away lingering demons from my personal life, but I had never been very far from home before. The need to see my family and friends again had intensified greatly since halfway through the now-completed semester, when I’d started really missing them.

It was unusual for students who were not several semesters into the technical portion of their programs to study overseas, but after I explained to my mother that I desperately needed time away from the stressful situation I found myself in, she was able to pull some strings—perks of a few prominent connections she had.

While I had a general idea of what I wanted to do with my life, I wasn’t entirely sure of what specific field I wanted to work in, and I hoped being away from home, away from the pressure of what was expected of me, would allow me a clearer view of my options. Of course, the principle reason was so I could escape all the gossip that surrounded my breakup with my high school sweetheart, Colton Malver.

At twenty-two, it was painful to realize that while I was maturing beyond a teenage mindset and attitude, leaving all of the adolescent drama behind, my boyfriend remained static. More than that, I had become aware that what I’d once thought was romantic, youthful attention was nothing more than demanding jealousy. Never during my high school career had I realized Cole was a pretentious, condescending asshole. I should have. Our past was littered with such tell-tale moments, like when we attended junior prom at Atlanta's revolving Sun Dial restaurant.

You can learn a lot about someone by how they treat wait staff, and that night’s events should have been a warning. The fact he’d called the waiter an unpleasant slur when he walked away, simply for trying to list the ingredients of the soup to me, wasn't exactly impressive, though I hadn’t really given it much notice at the time. Back then, I'd thought his interruptions and insistence on ordering for me were his attempts to be charming and chivalrous, but in hindsight, I realized there was nothing romantic about speaking over my orders to the waiter to demand he serve me a drink I didn't want.

It wasn’t healthy to have that sort of relationship during my youth, but to continue after having recognized the destructive traits was foolish as well as detrimental.

So I had ended our relationship—much to my ex’s ire.

It really was no one’s business, but I came from a small southern town and knew it wouldn’t remain private for long. Sure enough, once the town gossip (and my own personal tormentor) got wind of the news, rumors started spreading like wildfire. The nastiest ones depicted me as a cheating whore, pregnant with another guy’s baby. And the worst part of that entire situation was that while Cole never corroborated the rumors, he never denied them either; he simply allowed everyone to turn me into an evil villain.

Thankfully, my mother and my close friends, the people who
meant
something to me, knew the truth and did not allow the gossip to paint their opinions of me. They knew me, and that was all that mattered,
would ever
matter to them.

Unsurprisingly, my mother was furious with Cole. She had never liked him to begin with, had seen what I could not in my adolescence, but she had tolerated him, as I was completely smitten by the captain of the basketball team. When the rumors first started, she said my father would have hunted him down with a shotgun were he still alive. I believed her.

I had always been a daddy’s girl before he passed away. I’d sat on his lap while he sang old Red Sovine songs, like “Daddy’s Girl” and “It’ll Come Back”, and from what I could remember of my father, he had been wrapped around my little finger. I remembered my father being a strong and proud man, but I also remembered he was never above playing dress up and tea time with his little princess, or riding me on his back like a pony.

I had been so close to him, and I took his sudden death harder than my family would have ever imagined. It took quite a while for me to finally come to grips with his death, but sometime during my junior year, after nearly thirty-one months of therapy, I was finally able to find some peace with the circumstances of his passing.

The fact that Cole had mentioned my father in the fight which ensued after our breakup, and that some of the people in our town had dared to comment about how disappointed my father would be in me if he had known I’d cheated on my boyfriend and gotten pregnant by another man, was beyond appalling.

I could remember one of the few times he’d acted like a caring lover, holding me while I cried on the anniversary of my father’s death. I had told him everything that night about the events which led to his death, about how it was my father’s own fault, about how I was angry and bitter. I told him
everything
. So I found it disgusting and infuriating, not to mentioning heartbreaking, when he dared tell me I had overreacted to the tragedy and to “get over it”.

For the most part, I could handle the ugly looks from the people in our small town. I even held my peace when I was buying groceries one day when my mom was working late, and the cashier, who had known me since I was born, made a harsh comment about my supposed promiscuity under his breath. I could ignore the sermons every Sunday, in which there were constant references to sex before marriage and having children out of wedlock. I managed to shoulder through all of it, until I tried to talk to Cole about the situation and the discussion dissolved into a brutal argument.

When he told me my father died because he couldn’t get away from the house, from
me
and my
mother
fast enough every time he was on call, I knew I was done. That shot was the deciding factor in my decision to leave my home for four months, and it was a good four months over all.

My time abroad was beneficial in allowing me to deal with my anger and pain without the constant stares, behind-my-back-chitchat and blatant comments. It wouldn’t make dealing with the rude and hurtful gossip any better now that I was back, but for now, it gave me a chance to purge the root of my emotions and prepare myself to handle whatever happened upon my return.

Overall, my trip allowed me to find peace, and I was happy.

 

I smiled when I saw my best friend, Brianna “Brie” Hartwin, and my mother waiting on the other side of the fabric tape. I felt a little silly for doing so, but I couldn’t help but wave—I hadn’t seen either of them in what seemed like a lifetime.

Everyone said I looked exactly like my mother, because I had her heart-shaped face, the cognac-brown color of her eyes and her black hair. Indeed, the only real difference now in our more obvious features was that my black curls had recently been bleached in some places and dyed magenta. I saw more of my father in my face than my mother, as I had his nose and my doe-shaped eyes were deeply set into my skull. I also knew that my full lips were not my mother’s.

I quickly collected my luggage, looping the straps of my largest non-rolling bag over the handle of one of the mobile cases and draping the other over my shoulder before making my way to the two people I had missed on my lengthy sojourn. When I came to a stop, I could only stare for a few moments at my best friend.

Her once shoulder-length hair was gone. The red locks had been shorn at a sharp angle, the front framing her face down to her chin with the back wildly spiked.

“You cut your hair.”

It was probably one of the most inane comments I had ever made in my life, and with a brilliant grin on her face, she confirmed my silent thoughts. “Yeah, and you dyed yours. Surprises all around!”

“Yeah, but yours suits you. I don’t know if I can say the same for mine,” I said through a laugh, aware of the less than impressed look on my mom’s face.

“Are you kidding? It looks gorgeous.” Brie grabbed the bag hanging from my shoulder while my mother took the lighter rolling luggage. “I bet all those hot British guys loved it.”

“I wouldn’t know. I wasn’t paying that much attention.” I smirked at her annoyed expression. “Really, Brie, what did you think would happen? I’d go over there and find the new love of my life?”

“No, but I thought you’d at least have some fun,” she retorted waspishly.

“I broke up with Cole less than a year ago,” I said solemnly, before a small smile tugged the corners of my lips. “But there was this really cute blond I saw at a club a few times. He was a fan
tastic
dancer.” I shot her a smug look. “Happy?”

“Very.”

I noticed my mother had been silent through the whole exchange, and I nudged her gently. “Do you wanna go out to eat tonight? My treat! We can do Italian. How’s Aunt Bell?”

“Her doctor said she’s doing good,” my mother answered. “Belinda goes back for a check-up on Monday. And despite what you and your father think, Olive Garden does not qualify as real Italian.
Nonna
Iacoba would roll over in her grave,” she huffed. “How about sushi instead?”

I really wasn’t in the mood for sushi at that particular moment, but I agreed anyway to make her happy.

The drive home was slow thanks to weekend traffic, but it gave me the opportunity to discuss my studies and, more importantly, all the sight-seeing I had done on my days off. My mother wanted to know about the architecture, art, and more refined facets of the culture, and Brie wanted to know about the party scenes and the nightlife, so by the time we made it home almost two hours later, I’d discussed almost every major event that occurred and sight I’d seen in my time over there.

 

After dumping my bags in the living room and changing into fresh clothes, I decided to straighten my curls for my night on the town, the wild highlights less noticeable in the sleek ‘do. I glanced in the mirror to determine whether or not I wanted to put on any makeup, but a shout from Brie to hurry up was all it took to make up my mind.

For the most part, dinner was a pleasant affair, but at one point during the evening, I knew I had to ask the obvious question: What had happened with my ex-boyfriend when I left?

My question seemed to create a moment of awkwardness at the table, and after it passed, I was surprised to learn that Cole had started looking for out-of-state colleges after my departure and left mere months after I had. Rumors had soon died down without their source of inspiration, and I was more than comforted by the fact that I would no longer have to deal with Cole’s sarcastic and patronizing comments or the town’s cutting words about being a disappointment to my father.

Despite the unhappy topic of Cole, the conversation soon progressed to more pleasant subjects, and the night ended on a high note. I was relaxed and happy, and without the weight of homesickness and the discomfort of spending the summer in a strange bed, I was able to fall into a deep slumber with ease. It was the first time in a good three weeks I had slept serenely throughout the night.

BOOK: Feral: Part One
9.58Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
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