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Authors: Gabrielle Goldsby

Never Wake

BOOK: Never Wake
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Synopsis

Following an assault, Emma Webster spends two years as a self-sentenced prisoner locked inside her condo, living a lonely but safe existence - at least she thought it was safe until the world outside her window goes still and silent.

Troy Nanson, a bicycle messenger, awakens in a hospital with no memory of how she got there or how long she lay unconscious. When her calls for help go unanswered, Troy dials 911, but no one answers. As Troy explores a silent city, her suspicions are confirmed - the rest of the world has fallen asleep, and nothing she does will wake them. Fear and desperation cause Troy's tenuous grip on reality to slip. She's ready to give up, until then she finds Emma.

Believing they are the only people awake in the entire world, two women who are as different from each other as they could possibly be, come to depend on one another for safety and sanity—and eventually, much more.

Never Wake

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Never Wake

© 2006 by Gabrielle Goldsby. All Rights Reserved.

ISBN 13: 978-1-60282-063-0

This electronic book is published by:

Bold Strokes Books, Inc.,

New York, USA

First Edition: July 2008

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

This book, or parts thereof, may not be reproduced in any form without permission.

Credits

Production Design: Stacia Seaman

Cover Design By Bold Strokes Books Graphics

Prologue

Maybe Dwight feels bad about that last beating.

Seconds after the thought came to Reba, she dismissed it. She’d stopped believing Dwight had a heart the day he put her out on the stroll.

What a dumb ass she had been. Fresh off the train from Vidor, Texas, she had fallen in love with him the moment she laid eyes on his perfect white teeth. He had, she thought, rescued her from sleeping in homeless shelters. She had thought herself in love, despite the fact that all they ever did together was have sex. When he’d said he needed her to do him a favor, she had jumped at the chance to do something for him. When he’d told her what it was, she had hesitated. When Dwight’s “favor” walked into the hotel room and started to undress, she had closed her eyes through the whole thing. She had been closing her eyes ever since.

How long had it been? Reba frowned, her eyes clinched tight against any possible light that might make her feel obligated to get out of bed. Not quite four years. Dwight had beaten her from the start. Still, she hadn’t begun hating him until he had moved the others into her house.

Her house. Reba’s mouth twisted. She’d believed him when he had told her he had purchased the house for her. She should have known. She should have known from the very beginning that a house that large, that far outside of town, even with its overgrown garden and peeling paint, could never be hers. She should have known what that house was when she first saw it. Her prison.

*

It’s funny what the mind is capable of. Her mind had fooled her into believing that Dwight had realized what he had been asking her to do was wrong. He had then bought her a huge, old house and left her to make it into a home for them. Her days were spent digging up the weeds in the garden, her nights and evenings exploring the house and transforming her bedroom into her sanctuary. Those were the happiest three weeks of her life. Her delusion had been so thorough that she had begun to think that Dwight hadn’t been ignoring her when she talked about settling down. Maybe he had heard her when she spoke of having kids together. But like everything else in Reba’s life, that fantasy wouldn’t last either.

He brought the first of them to the house—was it Tawny, Keri, or Bambi? It didn’t matter. Once they came, she could no longer fool herself into thinking that she and Dwight were anything but hunter and prey, owner and slave, guard and prisoner.

After the other girls arrived, Dwight no longer felt the need to pretend kindness. Indeed, he had told her on several occasions that she was free to go any time she wanted. He had all the girls he needed, and if she left, it would just make room for a younger, prettier girl.

Dwight was good with his fists, but his words were capable of drawing blood, too. “Go on a diet ’fore I have to offer two-for-one specials. Not sure why anyone would pay for that.” And Reba’s personal favorite, “Go suck that prick’s dick.”

Reba remembered hearing the latter before she led Sammy Shit-face into her sanctuary. He would have been her last john for the day. She had hoped Sammy would be done fast so that she could get a hot bath and clean sheets spritzed with the apple linen spray she had bought from Bed, Bath, and Beyond on their last trip to Portland. She wanted alone time. He wanted something so nasty that the word “no” was out of her mouth before he could finish speaking. No. She would never have guessed how good one word could feel on her lips. She smiled even now, lying in this darkness, too scared to move for fear of stirring up pain.

She had never seen Dwight as furious as he had been when Sammy Shitface scurried out of the room complaining that she had refused him. But even when Dwight’s big diamond ring was driving toward her nose, she’d felt the slightest thrill. She had said no. It was her body. Hers, damn it, and she refused to let it be used as a fucking toilet.

Reba took a cautious sniff. The scent of stale sex always made her nauseous, which is why she kept a set of clean sheets stashed on the top shelf of her closet. She knew for a fact that some of the other girls didn’t bother changing their sheets for days on end. Dirty bitches! She looked forward to her nighttime ritual of removing the soiled sheets and replacing them with clean, fragrant ones after her last client. But she hadn’t had time to duck the blow, let alone have the strength to change her sheets afterward. She should have smelled the stink of fat, pasty-assed men with pumpkin tummies and pricks the size of Vienna sausages, but it wasn’t there. Reba frowned again; neither was the scent of Tide with a touch of Downy.

Reba pressed the sheet to her nose and inhaled. No scent. Maybe one of the girls had changed her sheets while she was out cold. Yeah right, that would be a cold day in hell. But what difference did it make? As long as she didn’t have to lay in stink, she should be happy.

Reba curled onto her side. No pain. Dwight must be losing his touch. Cool blue light crept between the door and the carpet. A fan clicked on somewhere and cool air drifted over Reba’s skin. Now that was odd. Dwight was a stickler for energy conservation. Or, to be more accurate, he would much rather spend three hundred dollars on a new tie than pay PGE one dime more than he had to. Any girl crazy enough to turn on the air conditioner would no doubt get herself a well-earned vacation. That was the one good thing about taking a beating from Dwight. It meant you got a break from having to fuck anyone with a hundred bucks. The length of time off depended on how fast a healer you were. Even clients who like it rough don’t like bruised goods.

Reba flipped onto her back. She didn’t remember ever seeing an air conditioner and she had explored the house from roof to basement. It had to be early morning. Otherwise some thoughtless bitch would have slammed a cabinet door or yelled something to someone standing two feet away from her by now.

Her room was too dark to make out the old lounger that she had found in the attic, nor could she see the picture that she had picked up at Saturday market for thirteen dollars and a smile.

Reba blinked into the darkness and squinted in the direction of the cheap digital clock she’d had for years. Another blink confirmed that she wasn’t wearing her contacts. She always slept in her contacts. She had this fear that she would wake up one night with the house on fire and she wouldn’t be able to see well enough to get out on her own. Lord knew none of those heifers would slow down long enough to help her—unless it was to put a foot in her ass on their way out the door.

Funny how she had nightmares about dying in fires when death by Dwight’s hand was more probable. She snorted, and the sound ricocheted around the room as if she lay in a tunnel. Unease crept into the room like the bluish tinted light peeking beneath her door. All the rooms in the house had taupe-colored carpet and paisley pink and purple wallpaper. The other girls resented the fact that because Reba had moved in first, she had been able to pick the biggest room and the least gaudy furnishings. What she hadn’t liked, she had swapped out.

Her room, when not occupied by some heavy-breathing tub of bacon drippings, had become her most favorite place in the world. Someone had to have removed her thick carpeting or at least some of her furnishings for the room to sound so hollow.
Leave it to a pack of hookers to steal your shit while you’re in a fucking coma.
Reba’s anger seeped from her body as fast as it flared.

I’m getting too old for this shit. I need to retire before Dwight retires me first.
Dwight’s voice cut unbidden through the darkness. “Can’t teach an old ho’ new tricks.”

She remembered how he cackled at the joke as if he had written it himself. He was, however, the originator of such doozies as, “Anyone with a name like Reba is gonna turn out to be a hooker or a country singer, and we all know our Reba can’t sing a tanch.” What the fuck did “tanch” mean anyway? She’d tried looking it up in one of the old dictionaries in the attic once, but hadn’t found it. She had to admit Dwight was right. Reba was a name made for a hooker. She could count on hearing that one at least once a month. That and “You’re a stupid, good-for-nothing…” She had begun to believe he was right. That she was good for nothing. It’s not like he was the first one to say it. Her momma had said it so many times she had begun to accept it as a truth.

She had her doubts about it now, though. How could that be true? Everyone was good for at least one thing, right? Hell, when she set her mind to something she was damn near unstoppable. Hadn’t she been the first girl in her senior class to get out of Vidor, even though all of them claimed they would?

To hear Momma tell it, you’d have thought Nicole was the first to leave, but she wasn’t. Nicole was still in pigtails and K-mart jeans when Reba waved goodbye from a Greyhound bus headed as far as two hundred dollars could take her.

BOOK: Never Wake
7.62Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

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