Authors: Trenia Coleman
Other works by Trenia D. Coleman
In The Shadows
Trenia D. Coleman
Copyright © 2010 by Trenia D. Coleman.
Library of Congress Control Number:
All rights reserved. No part of this book may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying, recording, or by any information storage and retrieval system, without permission in writing from the copyright owner.
This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places and incidents either are the product of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously, and any resemblance to any actual persons, living or dead, events, or locales is entirely coincidental.
This book was printed in the United States of America.
This book is the first that I’ve dedicated to my beautiful children, Gabriel and Brianna. I am proud to say that I’ve written a book you both can read and enjoy without reservation. I must also take this time to let you know that I love you immensely and am very proud of your accomplishments. Remember to always put God first in everything you do, never limit yourself, always keep your options open, and let God direct your path.
I’ll love you forever,
* * *
I would also like to take this time to bring awareness to the seriousness of breast cancer and the importance of monthly breast self-exams. Early detection
To Miranda Sumblin of Temple Hills, Maryland, a very dear friend and coworker, who passed away in September 2009. Just last year, you were helping me with the writing of
; and this year, I no longer have you here with me. It has been said that with time, the pain subsides, but I, along with so many others here at NGB, find it difficult to fill the void your departure has left in our lives.
I’m sure you’re doing a great job keeping the laughter going in heaven, just as you did here on earth. May God continue to bless your beautiful family.
Until we meet again.
Without God, I am nothing.
I am blessed beyond words with the ability to create new stories, work on new projects, work full-time serving my country, be a full-time wife and mother of two very active children, and still keep my sanity. None of this would be possible without the grace of God.
I would like to give all the praise, honor, and glory to my heavenly Father for directing my path down this incredible literary journey.
Secondly, I would like to thank my husband and children for supporting me and allowing me the time to write. I would also like to thank my family and friends for their love, support, and encouragement.
Finally, I would like to thank my friends who have always been there to act as my toughest critics yet my and strongest supporters. Thank you for your love, honesty, and never-ending support—Safiyah, Denise, Cynethia, Talisia, and Shirlene. I love you all!
It was Andrea’s last weekend in Tuscaloosa, and she was going to make the best of it. Her two-week summer vacation had been fun filled and exciting. The sixteen-year-old liked the South so much that she was considering leaving Ohio and moving to Alabama.
Andrea examined her denim jeans and jacket in the mirror as she put the finishing touches on her makeup. Andrea had made a few friends in the Northport area since her arrival. She was looking forward to meeting up with Carlos after the show. Andrea had met Carlos shortly after arriving in Alabama, and they instantly became friends. That night, after the movie was over, Andrea was going to wait at the theater as instructed for Carlos to pick her up.
Andrea had to be home by 1:00 a.m., and Carlos had always been responsible and made sure she got home on time. Andrea remembered the conversation she’d had with her cousin, Japera, back in December. Andrea had been visiting for the Christmas break and seemed taken in by the smooth talker she’d met at the mall. Carlos was very handsome and well-groomed, and although he was smooth with his conversation, he never said anything out of the way. Andrea liked that about Carlos. She felt he truly enjoyed spending time with her and respected her as well.
Carlos was older than Andrea by seven years. Andrea had dated older men before who truly looked their age. Although Carlos was twenty-three, he could have easily passed for nineteen. Andrea was terribly disappointed when her cousin told her that Carlos was married to his high school sweetheart and had a baby. Andrea was heartbroken and immediately stopped communicating with Carlos and soon found other things to keep her busy during her stay in Alabama. Andrea had asked him not to call her anymore, but once she returned home, Carlos started calling her again, telling her how much he missed talking to her and laughing with her on the phone. Andrea had to admit she missed him too.
Andrea was a pretty girl and had a cute slender build. She wasn’t quite honor roll material, but she maintained a C average. She’d been having a difficult time at home since her mom remarried and would spend time away from home every chance she got. The authorities had been called a couple of times when Andrea disappeared, but she would always turn up not far from home. Andrea often wondered how her behavior would affect her baby sister, who seemed to be quite taken in by her new stepfather.
Friday night, they went to Carlos’s friend’s apartment in Tuscaloosa. Carlos was asked to keep an eye on the place for the weekend, and he was happy to take Andrea along. It was almost midnight when they decided to leave. After Carlos dropped off Andrea down the street from her cousin’s house, she made it inside right at curfew. Japera had no idea she was still seeing Carlos, and Andrea wanted to keep it that way.
Saturday night would be her last opportunity to see Carlos before she left town. This would be her chance to say good-bye to the man she’d fallen head over heels in love with. As Andrea waited outside the theater, she grew more and more anxious to see Carlos. They had been meeting at all hours of the night, when she could manage, and at some of the oddest places. Their main hangout was this vacant lot near the cemetery, which was where they agreed to meet that night.
Not long before she was to meet Carlos, he asked her to meet him in a different location. It was farther away from their usual meeting place but closer to the lot. Since Andrea couldn’t risk revealing his identity to Japera, she couldn’t very well ask her for a ride. Andrea hailed a cab and had been waiting for fifteen minutes when she received a text message from Carlos saying he’d be a few minutes late picking her up. Disappointed but desperate to see him, Andrea started walking to the lot in hopes of meeting him there. She couldn’t see herself sitting still another minute. It was already dark, and the roadway wasn’t very well lit, which was one of the reasons they preferred this area.
As she passed the cemetery on her left, she was spooked when she heard a gate clanging in the distance. Andrea nearly stopped in her tracks but knew the lot was still a few minutes up the road, and she knew she would feel safe there. Andrea walked more quietly now; she took a glance in the direction of the cemetery and saw a light shining in the distance. No sooner than she focused in on the light, the light disappeared.
Andrea kept walking faster and soon arrived at her destination. After waiting almost thirty minutes in the dark alone, Carlos sent another text message saying he couldn’t make it. Andrea began to cry and sent him a text message begging him to come to say good-bye. Not only did she want him to come so she could spend time with him, she was now stuck in the middle of nowhere with no way home.
The last text she received said he would try to make it. Andrea decided she’d wait a little while longer before she gave up. She found a nice rock to sit on, and as she got comfortable, she began to dream about Carlos and making plans to return to Alabama.
Suddenly, she heard something in the woods not far from where she sat. It sounded like someone walking, and it quickly brought Andrea out of her thoughts. She knew it was Carlos trying to surprise her as she felt her heart lift; she knew he wouldn’t let her down. Turning around looking in the direction of the path, Andrea was surprised when she didn’t see anyone. She figured Carlos had parked at the top of the trail and walked down to meet her.
Before Andrea could check her phone for another text, she felt a presence right behind her, and now she could hear heavy breathing. Not having a chance to say anything before the big hand covered her face and mouth with a towel, Andrea soon found herself gasping for air before she closed her eyes.
Initially she thought Carlos was playing around, but after being dragged through the woods with no regard for her safety, Andrea was terrified because she now knew the man was not Carlos. The whole ordeal seemed to last for hours as she remembered trying to cry out when she discovered her mouth was gagged.
Hours later, Andrea woke up and discovered her hands were tied behind her back. She heard a loud sound like a heavy door closing with a thud. With her eyes darting around the dark room, she searched for the direction of the heavy footsteps now coming toward her. Andrea tried to calm her breathing, pretending she was still unconscious. She began to shake uncontrollably when a big burly man dressed in overalls entered the room.
There was a dim light shining in one corner of the room that now allowed Andrea to study the strange man. She watched him while he had his back turned to her as he cut rope with a knife and carelessly let the rope fall to the dusty wooden floor. Realizing her feet were free, she figured the rope was to tie her feet. The man briefly left the room and returned with a shovel in hand and a pair of work gloves stuffed in his back pocket. He carefully dropped an old blanket on the floor beside Andrea.
Believing her fate was to be buried alive, Andrea wondered if he believed she was already dead. She noticed how slowly he moved, with no sense of urgency, like he had all the time in the world. There was a full moon that night, and Andrea knew it would be daylight in a few hours. Her thoughts quickly focused on Carlos. She wondered if he had ever showed up and if he’d alerted anyone that she was missing.
The strange man walked slowly over to the lamp, and soon the room grew dark. If it weren’t for the moonlight, Andrea would be left in total darkness. Paying attention to everything she heard, she listened as he began to hum a tune she’d never heard before while he worked. He must’ve been in the room with her for at least fifteen minutes before he took the shovel and locked her inside the room, leaving the blanket on the floor. Andrea knew for sure he’d be back before daylight to get her to finish her off. She wondered where he’d gone since she never heard a vehicle in the distance.
Every night he would enter the room just as he had the first night and bring her food. Andrea had never been a big fan of peanut butter, but she was starving and couldn’t afford to pass it up. Besides, he was a big scary man, and she didn’t want to make him angry, so she ate what she was given.
He would come in and feed her every night then rape her repeatedly like clockwork. Andrea tried to kick and scream during the first attack as she attempted to fight him off. Although her efforts to fend off her attacker were in vain, Andrea now realized that whatever was in the food and water caused her to be oblivious to the pain.
Every morning when she opened her eyes, she wondered if anyone was coming to her rescue, and every morning she would be sick to her stomach from the night before. Andrea was thankful for the drug and felt she would be better off dead than to have to endure the torture.
* * *
Andrea’s family had been worried sick since she had not returned home. They were shocked by her disappearance. Andrea was looking forward to going home and had already packed her belongings. It was late Sunday morning when her cousin discovered her missing. Once her family realized she’d not slept in her bed, they called the police and filed a report. Her family made several calls to her cell phone, but all the calls went unanswered. It had been a week since Andrea disappeared, and the family knew something terrible had happened.
* * *
As Andrea began to stir from her sleep, she realized he had forgotten to bind her ankles the night before. Blinking her eyes repeatedly, Andrea processed the possibilities. Just as she mustered up enough strength and courage to use her elbows and knees to pick herself up from the floor, she found herself extremely weak as if she’d been given more than the usual dosage.
She listened carefully for any outside noises. Andrea couldn’t believe her luck as she crawled to the middle of the floor, trying to keep the wooden floor from creaking. Just as she was convinced she was alone, she found herself wobbly as she balanced her feet to stand. Seconds later, the footsteps were back and this time moving faster than before. Andrea stood helplessly in the middle of the floor and made a run for the window. Just as she reached the window, the door creaked as it opened. As fear raced through her frail body, she listened as the footsteps neared her. Without turning around, Andrea closed her eyes as the man struck her in the back of the head, and she fell to the floor with a loud thud. Andrea felt her eyes roll back in her head as pain shot through her body, and suddenly she went numb all over.
* * *
It was right before daylight when the caretaker finished preparing the grave for a funeral scheduled for the next morning. Mrs. Jones had lived to be eighty-seven years old and died of natural causes almost a week ago. She had a host of nieces and nephews as well as grandchildren. She would surely be missed by all, especially since she’d lived in Northport her entire life and seemed like a grandmother to many.
The entire town was in mourning and showed up in record numbers at the service. Mrs. Jones was known for watching out and caring for youths when she would see them go astray while away from home. She had no problem correcting someone else’s child in their parents’ absence. It was known all over Northport that Mrs. Jones had helped raise many children in her time.
* * *
Later that afternoon, as the mourning friends and family stood around the gravesite, one of the locals was perturbed by a ringing cell phone. But as they made their way through the crowd, they couldn’t figure out whose phone continued to ring. As the minister said the closing prayer, and the family said their final good-bye, the phone could still be heard faintly in the distance but was not found.
* * *
Carlos had missed another day at work because he attended a funeral for his grandmother. He’d been almost like a zombie the whole time Andrea was missing, and he couldn’t confide in anyone. Almost looking around for Andrea, Carlos was stunned to hear what sounded like her ringtone as they stood around the gravesite. At first he thought it was her cell phone, but that was impossible.
After searching the area, trying to find where the sound came from and coming up empty-handed, he knew he was hallucinating. He had been through a horrible ordeal after losing his grandmother and then with Andrea being missing in the same week. Carlos knew he could probably benefit from counseling as he mourned them both. He was sure his family would understand his behavior due to the death of his grandmother, but no one would understand him mourning a complete stranger.