Authors: M Jet
All rights reserved. No part of this book may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, including photocopying, recording, or transmitted by any means without written consent of the author.
This is a work of fiction. Characters, establishments, names, companies, organizations and events were created by the author. Any resemblance to persons, living or dead, or actual events, companies or organizations is coincidental.
Published by Headtrip Productions
Text Copyright 2015 by M Jet
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ayla Dane learned long ago not to wake her mother and step father up in the mornings.
For one thing, the effort of waking them up was usually futile anyway. At eight years old, Layla was mainly an early riser. And with the late hours her parents kept, paired with their heavy drug and alcohol use, she usually couldn't rouse them.
But if she did manage to wake them, they rose raging. Between her mother's quick, stinging backhand, and her step father's onslaught of verbal abuse, Layla knew it was best not to wake them for any reason. So on school days, she set her own alarm clock, rose, prepared herself, and left for the bus stop all on her own. And on the weekends, she got up and stayed very,
One particular Saturday morning, Layla woke at seven a.m. One glance out her small bedroom window revealed a rainy spring day. The window was open and a warm breeze lifted her tattered curtains. She sighed; disappointed she couldn't go play outside.
Layla crept to the living room where she put in a movie and sat down on the floor to watch the TV turned almost all the way down. They didn't have cable, and only a small selection of movies. So she'd watched her choice,
, probably two hundred times. She sat staring mindlessly at it for a time.
She became alarmed when she heard them in their bedroom. There was a rough thud as though one of them had fallen, or been shoved, out of bed. Then her mother started shrieking profanity at her step father, as though resuming an argument that had been in progress before they'd passed out. When she heard the resounding smack of her step father delivering his first blow to her mother, she scurried off the floor and slipped out the front door.
Layla trudged through the drizzling rain along the uneven sidewalks of her dismal neighborhood. Six streets over from her house was a small playground which was nearly always empty because of its sad state of disrepair. Layla made her way there. She figured her parents had no idea how much time she spent alone on the playground. It certainly wouldn't be hard to find her, but she doubted anyone ever looked.
Once she arrived, Layla climbed the monkey bars. Carefully minding the wet slippery metal, she perched on her lofty post atop the contraption. She liked to sit high above the playground, legs dangling, watching the quiet neighborhood. And there she sat for a long time, bored, lonely, and soaking wet.
Until a little boy wandered onto the playground.
She recognized Seth St. John, a new kid from her third grade class. He was quiet and polite, and hadn't been in her school long. She hadn't realized he lived in her neighborhood. She wondered why he was there all alone. Of course, she was always there alone, but in general, eight year olds were usually accompanied by a grown up or big sibling in that particular suburb of Portland, Oregon.
As Seth got closer, she noticed he had an angry red mark around his right eye, like a fresh injury that would soon turn black or blue. And his lip was bleeding.
Layla dropped from the monkey bars and a familiar jolt of pain shot up her shins as she hit the ground feet first. She scampered over to where Seth had taken shelter inside the small enclosed area at the top of the twisty slide. She wondered if he knew her.
"Hi, Seth," she said shyly as she climbed up the ladder to his roost. She hesitated, hoping to be invited in out of the rain.
He stared angrily ahead. "Hi," he muttered grouchily.
"I… Uh… I'm Layla Dane, from your class."
"Um, are you OK?"
"Yes," he grumbled impatiently.
"Well," she said her concern mounting. "What happened to your face?"
Finally he looked at her. His face blanched as he began to cry. "My dad hit me."
Layla began to cry too. She climbed onto the slide, and put her arms around Seth. From that time on, Layla Dane and Seth St. John became inseparable. Not because they could protect each other. Because they couldn't. Just for the simple fact that for the first time in either of their lives, they finally had someone to suffer through the hell with.
Eight Years Later
od, that was frigging amazing!" Seth exclaimed, emphasizing his excitement with a graceful leap into the air. Layla giggled as he took her by the hand and pulled her into his arms for a kiss.
When he pulled back after kissing her, she trembled with the dizzying effect he had on her. Their breath plumed visibly in the frigid night air. Thick wet snow had begun to fall just as they'd emerged from the back door into the alley. She watched it begin to gather in his jet black hair.
were frigging amazing," Layla said softly, her voice thick with the arousal she always felt after playing a show with Seth. They played in a five piece band called Victim Unknown. The other three members were in their twenties. It was basically unheard of for any Portland rock band to hire sixteen year old front men. But from that first fateful day Seth and Layla sang together on an empty playground, they'd shared a magical chemistry. Then they'd taken time and great effort to learn their instruments. Seth played lead guitar and Layla rocked rhythm. And now listeners found them irresistible. Because of their ability to mesmerize audiences and fill venues, Victim Unknown had snapped them up, and even 21+ clubs booked them.
And after every show, Layla and Seth both returned home to families who didn't give a shit.
He wrapped a black leather clad arm tightly around her shoulders and the couple hurried through the cold a couple blocks over where Seth's old beat up truck was parked. He placed both their guitars in the bed and they climbed in.
In only a few minutes, they slid up to the curb outside Layla's house and Seth sighed. He swiveled to face her. "Why don't I just come in, Layla? I'll stay with you."
Layla's porcelain face darkened and she stared at him with wide brown eyes. "Seth, come on baby. You know you can't!"
Anger passed over Seth's chiseled face. "Sure I could," he said, clearly frustrated.
Honestly, he was probably right. They both knew her parents had likely both been passed out for several hours. But Layla never knew what she would walk into. And things had gotten weird lately in a way she didn't want Seth to know about. She didn't know what might transpire if her step father caught her with a boy in her room at night. So, she always refused.
"Well, why don't I just come to your house with you, Seth?" Layla said petulantly. Her request wasn't serious, she was mainly just antagonizing him.
"Like you don't know why," Seth snapped.
Seth lived under the tyrannous rule of his ex-military father. His mother left before Seth could even remember, leaving him alone with the harsh man. Military discipline might not necessarily be a terrible thing. Except, when that sort of personality became paired with a nasty whiskey habit, the result was one mean son of a bitch. Mr. St. John hated women and barely tolerated Layla coming over in daylight hours to study under his direct supervision. For Seth to sneak her in at night would inevitably earn him a severe beating from his father, and Layla knew it.
She smiled and stroked his face lovingly. "Yes. I know. Just like you know why you can't stay here with me, baby," she said softly. "We just have to be patient."
Seth's face softened and he gave her a gentle kiss. "Waiting for eighteen," he whispered.
"Waiting for eighteen," she replied with the special sentiment they exchanged when times were tough.
Layla slipped in the front door and shut it ever so quietly behind herself. She startled and stifled a gasp when she discovered her step father sitting on the couch. But closer consideration revealed he was actually asleep. She crept past him, down the hallway, and into her bedroom. She carefully put her guitar in her closet and quietly shut herself in.
Playing shows was an amazing, fun, exhausting experience. She quickly undressed and put on a nightgown, then climbed sleepily into her bed, collapsing under the covers.
For a moment she contemplated her step father on the couch. Her parents certainly weren't the waiting up sort. Why had he been there? Lately, she'd begun feeling highly uncomfortable around her step father. She'd noticed him watching her a lot, whereas she'd always been basically invisible to him in the past. She often caught a chilling, leering expression on his face when he watched her intently. And many times, if he passed her in the house, he made a point to touch her, or brush his body against hers. Numerous times, she'd overheard her parents fight viciously because her mother didn't like the attention he all of the sudden showed Layla.
She wanted to ignore it, but something bad was brewing beneath the already tumultuous surface of her household. It terrified her. She knew it would be a mistake to pretend it wasn't happening. She desperately wanted to tell Seth. But, he had a bad temper too, and the prospect of what he might do to her step father terrified her almost as much as what might happen at home if she let her guard down. So, she tried to stay gone most of the time and she anxiously waited for her eighteenth birthday. That was what she was thinking as she drifted off to sleep.
However, almost as soon as her eyes drifted closed, they snapped back open at the sound of her door clicking and swinging open.
Layla shot bolt upright in bed and pulled the covers up to keep herself covered. Her heart raced and she immediately began to hyperventilate as her step father stumbled into her room.
Phil Cox was a tall, menacing man. He wore a rumpled flannel shirt and dirty overalls. His shoulder length dirty blonde hair looked stringy and unwashed. At one time, Phil may have been a handsome man, but years of hard living had left him looking rough and mean.
Which of course, he was.
The look on his face was the single scariest thing she'd ever seen. His glassy blue eyes were wide and unhinged and he wore a wicked smile-snarl. Just a glance told her he was rocked out of his mind. And here he was, tripping into her room and tumbling noisily onto her bed.
She scrambled back against the wall, hot tears spilling down her face. She threw back her covers and made an attempt to jump out of bed. But one of Phil's huge hands shot forward to place an iron grip on her ankle. He brutally dragged Layla down and flat onto her back.
"Phil," Layla sobbed. "Please! No!"
He omitted a low growling laugh. She struggled violently but he easily climbed on top of her, resting his full heavy weight onto her small writing body.
"Stop!" she cried, clawing and fighting. "PLEASE!" she squealed. He laughed more and planted a hand over her mouth. The other hand moved clumsily under her night gown. His hands felt icy against her flesh and in seconds he roughly fondled her small breasts.
Layla sunk her teeth into his hand. He yowled in pain and she began to scream.
Phil reared back, straddling her midsection and rising up on his knees. He drew back his fist. She slammed her eyes shut, bracing herself for the blow. But then there was a crack, and Phil lurched to the side, dove from the bed, and clattered to the floor.
Her mother stood seething at the foot of the bed. It was almost as though a replica of Layla stood there, chest heaving, shoulders angrily rising and falling. They shared identical looks with their petite, wraithlike bodies, soulful dark eyes, and waist length brown waves. The only difference was the belligerent unhappy expression that Bess Cox always wore. Particularly right then. She looked murderous.
Layla wept and fumbled to once again cover herself. "Thank you, Mama," she blubbered.
Bess ignored her and instead stalked to the spot where Phil laid grasping his head and moaning almost incoherently. The frying pan she held slipped from her hand and clanged on the floor. "Get out," she snarled.
He moaned a response that was unintelligible. She spit on him. "GET UP AND GET OUT, PHIL!" yelled Bess.
Using a violent system of screaming at him, and bending over to claw at him, she finally managed to get him off the floor. Layla watched wide eyed as Bess shoved him out the door and then listened as the pair stumbled down the hallway, falling into the walls.
"It's over, Phil! Get the fuck out of my house!" Bess raged.
Phil began to come back to his senses a bit, and formed a halfhearted plea. But she cut him off.
"I mean it, Phil," she said in a slightly calmer, shaking voice. "You walk out of here right now and don't ever look back. Or, I call the cops and tell them how you tried to fuck my MI-NOR daughter!"
Seconds later the front door slammed so hard the matchbook house shook. Layla held her breath, staring into the darkness, and listening to the nothing. And then she heard her mother burst into hysterical, gut wrenching sobs.
Layla finally climbed out of her bed and tiptoed out of her room, down the hall, and to the living room. She found Bess crumpled on her knees and weeping into her hands. Layla's heart swelled. This had been the only instance she could recall of her mother rising to the occasion of motherhood. She literally could not believe her step father was gone. Visions of forging a relationship with her mom sprang to mind. Things were going to change!
She dropped to the floor and threw her arms around her mother. She could feel the pitiful woman violently shaking. Layla's tears began again. "Thank you, Mama," Layla whispered.
Her mother jerked back and regarded Layla with a stunned expression. "Thank you?" she whispered. "THANK YOU?"
Bess backhanded her with such shocking force, Layla flew to the floor. Her mother sprang to her feet.
"Whore," she spat. Then she turned and stalked away, once again retreating to her bedroom.
So that's it,
Layla thought, her face and pride stinging. It wasn't a protective mother's instinct that had spurred Bess to act on Layla's behalf. It had been stone cold jealousy. And in its vicious wake, blame was the only thing left.
Things wouldn't change.
But regardless, Phil did not return.