Read Haven from the Storm (Storms of Life #1) Online

Authors: Sarah Dosher

Tags: #Contemporary

Haven from the Storm (Storms of Life #1) (10 page)

BOOK: Haven from the Storm (Storms of Life #1)
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I tried to stand, but my muscles ached from the struggle with my father. Every inch I moved, I felt my muscles pull tighter. The cold had seeped into my body and made my young joints creaky. I could feel my eye swelling and I guessed that by tomorrow it would be a lovely mix of black and blue. My lip felt busted and I could still taste the nasty metallic blood in my mouth. I ran my tongue across my lips and felt a sharp pain shoot through my whole face when it touched the gash.

I inched my way to the door and opened it slowly, poking my head into the room to look around. I was afraid of what might be waiting for me on the other side. It was exactly how I’d left it, but better safe than sorry was still the best option for me. Red flew toward me and landed on the windowsill to my right. I could see his yellow eyes looking over my bruised face and body.

“Thanks for waking me up,” I said, as I turned my head from side to side mimicking his movements. He let out one last small scream, then flew away. I noticed a feather fall on the step near my foot and picked it up. I’d add it to my collection of Red’s pictures on my wall.

I really just wanted to go to bed. I started to remove my filthy clothes and saw clumps of dirt fall to the floor. I had to take a shower. I was covered from head to toe with crusty mud and the warm water would probably help with my soreness. The clock on my bedside table told me it wasn’t quite midnight so it wasn’t late enough for my father to have drank all my money at the bar - I should be safe. I quickly gathered what I needed and made my way to the bathroom across the house.

 

 

I was awake long before my alarm beeped at me. After my shower last night I couldn’t get comfortable. My entire body hurt. I finally took a pain reliever, but it didn’t seem to help at all so I was awake long before the sun, trying to hide the damage to my face. It really didn’t look so bad. I'd definitely had worse. I knew that no matter how much makeup I caked on my face, everyone would still see it. But I also knew no one would really care because it wasn’t like this was something new.

My eye was swollen and showed definite signs of black and blue. The amount of dark grey makeup I put on helped camouflage it a little. Okay, maybe that was just wishful thinking, but I had to at least try to cover it up because that’s how we played the game. I got hit, turned varying shades of black and blue, pretended I was some famous makeup artist while trying to cover it up, and everyone acted like they couldn’t see it. The guilt that anchored me to my father was what had kept us playing this game successfully for years. However, this time my busted lip was harder to hide. It was very swollen with a long cut that ran vertically over my top and bottom lip. I knew leaving it alone was best. I'd learned that trying to hide wounds on your lips only made them look worse than they already did.

Figuring out a way to get to school with two flat tires was difficult. I debated sending Adley a text, asking if Violet could drive us to school, but since it was so early I decided to just walk the few miles to Violet's house and wait for her to wake up. Maybe the walk would help clear my head and the cool air would help with the swelling. Waiting at Violet’s house I ran the risk of seeing Dean, but having them come to my house to get me meant they could run into my father which would only make things worse. My rain boots were still sitting outside, so I slipped them on and started walking.

It was a little after 7 a.m. when the sun started to peek from behind the horizon. The temperature couldn’t have been above freezing. I was glad I’d layered my clothes and thrown on the only heavy coat I owned. I was less than a mile from Violet’s house when I heard the pounding of feet and heavy breathing. Not far in front of me, Dean rounded the corner and came to a complete stop. He was dressed in dark sweat pants with no trace of a shirt, his hair was tousled and steam was rising off his sweaty body.

Holy abs! Who knew men actually had abs like that! I thought that was something you only saw on the cover of romance novels. He looked exactly like the Dean I had been dreaming about for years.

His eyes were searching my face and his surprised expression quickly turned menacing. I was so busy drooling over him that I had forgotten about the marks on my face. I instinctively dunked my head, allowing my long hair to cover the damage.

“Lily, what are you doing out here?” he finally asked.

“Um, my car…tire…flat,” was the only reply I could come up with. My heart was pounding in my chest and butterflies danced in my stomach. He took several steps in my direction and I looked up into his black eyes, clearly seeing concern mixed with anger. I knew the anger wasn’t directed at me, but it still sent tingles down my spine. He reached out and gently ran his thumb across my bottom lip, causing a tiny spark of pain on my tender lip. But his touch also caused the butterflies in my stomach to reproduce until I felt like I was choking on them.

“What happened? You didn’t have this last night?” His eyebrows were drawn together as his eyes searched my face for answers I knew I’d never give him. I stepped away from his hand and lowered my head again.

“Nothing. My car has a flat tire that I thought I could fix myself, but obviously I’m too clumsy for my own good.” I shrugged my shoulders and peeked at his face to see if he believed my story.

“Lily, please don’t lie to me. You can lie to yourself all you want, but I know what that man is capable of. I saw it myself and I’m not gonna believe your made-up stories. So, are you still gonna say this happened trying to fix a flat tire?” This time the anger I saw was directed at me, but I would rather have his anger than his pity.

“Yes, I can’t help it that I’m clumsy,” I snapped back at him.

“That’s the excuse you’re going to use? Really?”

I ignored his comments and continued to walk toward Violet’s house. After a few seconds, Dean appeared by my side.

“I’m sorry. I wish you trusted me enough to tell me what happened, but I also don’t blame you if you can’t yet. I just hope one day you will.” He took my hand in his and lightly kissed it.

We continued our walk side by side, neither speaking another word. He continued to hold my hand. I knew I should pull away because I didn’t want his pity for what my father had done to me to further complicate things between us, but his comforting gesture felt nice and I didn’t want him to stop. We reached Violet’s front porch and I stopped at the porch swing to sit and wait for everyone. He paused and stared at me as I huddled into my jacket for warmth. Finally, he shook his head and walked into the house.

The broken look on her face will haunt me for a lifetime. Even though I knew Lily was safe - I could see her laying on the swing outside my window - it took all my strength to fight the urge to gather her in my arms and protect her from anything in this world that would cause her harm.

When I rounded that corner and saw Lily standing there, my heart jumped. I was so happy to see her, especially after the way we’d left things last night, but once I saw her battered face I felt a rush of adrenaline take over. It took all my willpower to stop myself from running to her house and doing even more harm to her father. I didn’t understand why she refused to tell me the truth about what happened - it was obvious that no accident had caused the damage I saw on her face. At that moment I promised myself I’d find a way to protect Lily from him, even if I had to force her to let me protect her.

I smelled the aroma of bacon coming from the tiny kitchen at the back of the house and knew Grandma Violet was cooking breakfast for everyone. She was alone when I peeked around the door, so I took what might have been my only opportunity for a private conversation.

“Grandma Violet, have you seen Lily this morning?”

“Good morning to you too, my loving grandson,” she said sarcastically. I stared at her, refusing to play along. “Yes, dear. I saw her asleep on the swing outside so I covered her with a blanket, but I haven't spoken to her so I wasn't sure why she was out there.”

“Did you see her face?” I didn’t have time to waste on beating around the bush.

“Yes, I did. But let me warn you to approach this topic with care.”

“I can't promise anything and I assume you already know that.”

“Well I figured as much since I know I raised you right and wouldn't expect anything less,” she said proudly.

“How long has this been going on?”

“It's been happening for exactly the amount of time you think it's been happening, Dean. I don't suppose you'd be quite so upset if you thought it was a one-time occurrence.” She placed more bread into the toaster and gathered the butter and jelly from the refrigerator, handing it to me.

“I suppose you’re right.” I turned to help her set the table. “So no one has tried to do anything to stop this for the past four years?” I knew my statement would come across as an accusation, but at this moment that didn’t matter as much as getting answers. I had more important things to worry about.

“Oh lots of people, including me I'd like to add, have tried different approaches. But as you know, she's stubborn and denies everything. She always has some reason or another for the bruises on her body. I even talked to Child Protective Services and the Sheriff, but they both say nothing can be done if she denies the abuse. A few have tried to approach Michael, but after the last fella ended up in a fight with him we all thought there wasn't much that could be done.” She lowered her head and slightly shook it before wiping her hands under her eyes to hide the tears. “I think I'm just glad she is so resilient and I'm doing my best to help her until the day she gets out of that house.”

“Have you tried to get her to come live here?”

“You bet your bottom I've tried. Over and over I might add, but she knows Michael better than any of us and I suppose she has her reason for not wanting to come here. I think she’s probably protecting us from him.” She let out a long, ragged breath and I could tell this was hard for her to discuss.

“Well, I think it might be time for her to come up with a new strategy. I won’t sit here while I know he’s hitting her and doing God-only-knows what else to her. I'm here now and she will not go back to that house, even if I have to lock her in my room until she sees it my way. I'm sure I sound crazy right now - I haven’t been around for years or even spoken to her, but I care about her and I can't just sit by while she’s getting hurt. Surely she’ll understand that and let us help her!”

Grandma Violet shook her head at me. “Why don't you ask her since she’s standing outside the door listening?” Grandma Violet said, pointing toward the kitchen door.

I heard the floor creak as Lily slowly entered the kitchen, stopping to lean against the doorframe. She was looking down, her long blonde hair covering the side of her face. Shifting from one foot to the other, she folded her arms across her chest before letting out a long, uneven breath. She finally raised her head and met my eyes, pushing her hair back over her shoulder. Grandma Violet gasped softly when she saw Lily’s face. Lily immediately lowered her head again.

“Do I really look that bad?” she asked softly.

Grandma Violet moved to stand in front of her and placed her hand under Lily’s chin gently, forcing her to look up. “No, sweetie. I’m sorry, I was just taken aback. It hasn’t been like this for some time, I just wasn’t expecting it that’s all.”

“Yeah, I know,” she whispered, moving to take a seat at the small square table under the only window in the kitchen. She kept her gaze out the window, refusing to look back to us.

I moved to take the seat next to Lily and reached for her hand. “Can you tell us what happened?”

BOOK: Haven from the Storm (Storms of Life #1)
11.55Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

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