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9780999531 (ISBN13: 9780999531808)
He lets the darkness consume him. He is rugged, hot headed and trapped in the ghost of a memory.
X is a professional fighter running from a dark past. His true identity is a mystery. The only battle he’s ever lost is the one within himself. He uses alcohol, drugs and violence to dull the pain and anger that consume him. His rage keeps everyone at arms length. What happens when he runs into a girl with a past so dark even he can’t turn away?
As their worlds collide, Aly finds her life in danger and must rely on X to save her from the ghosts of her past.
Can Aly ever escape her former life? Is she right to trust X, or is she placing herself in even more danger by letting him in?
The heart is a hard thing to heal.
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I woke up that morning with a brutal headache. I reached across my pillow for my phone so I could ask Sarah what the hell I did last night. A newspaper fell to the floor as my arm brushed across the edge of my dresser. By the time I had my phone in my hand, I already knew there would be no one to text. Sarah had been gone for days… months… years. When would I stop reaching out to her? On my deathbed, I suspected. My phone buzzed in my hand, and I glanced down at it.
Mac: Did you read the paper?
I didn’t bother answering him. Instead, I immediately reached over to thumb through the paper I’d just knocked to the floor.
“FUCK THIS SHIT!” I yelled as I threw my phone across the room. I stood up and paced the floor, running my hands through my hair in frustration. I turned the second I heard my mom’s footsteps approaching. She stood fidgeting in the doorway.
“Axel, Hun, is everything okay?”
Mom was a tiny little thing –five feet, two inches– with brown curly hair chopped just above her ears. She never understood me and it only got worse when I got out of juvie. Our relationship changed from being one of general indifference to her treating me, her dark-haired, seventeen-year-old son, like a man on the verge of committing murder.
“I’m fine,” I snapped.
“Well, is there anything I can help you with? Your father should be home soon if you want to talk or anything.”
I bit my lip. My father was the only person who could put me in my place. He was like six foot five, well over two hundred pounds, and very stern. He was a businessman, and I respected the hell out of him. That respect was what always got me to back off when he asked it of me, at least most of the time.
Like when I was fourteen, my mom insisted I go and see a psychiatrist to try and work out why I was so angry all the time. She suspected that I had some sort of chemical imbalance because my life was great at this point, completely normal. I had no valid reason to be so on edge. She thought that maybe there was a medication that could help me. I hated the idea of therapy with a passion. I hated the idea of being medicated even more. When I found out they booked an appointment without telling me, I flipped my shit. I stormed up to my room, cursing my way up the stairs. I made as much noise as I possibly could. I went to my room with the intent of destroying everything in sight.
Dad immediately followed me up and came into my room, slamming the door behind him. He wanted to discuss why I was so pissed about the idea of therapy and blocked the door with his body so I couldn’t leave and avoid the conversation. I fought him with everything I had, but my dad stayed in there until I sat on the bed and talked it out with him. He knew there was not much I could do because I wouldn’t actually hurt him, even if I wanted to. We made a compromise that night. I agreed to go to therapy on the condition that they didn’t force me to medicate. I saw what medication did to people; it made them zombies. I could learn to control my anger, but I refused to live my life under the influence of a chemical drug.
During my therapy session, I got diagnosed with the intermittent explosive disorder. That seemed to ease my parents a bit, but it didn’t help me. I had a name for my anger yet I still didn’t understand it. It was this incident, along with the encouragement of Sarah and my parents, that led me to take on boxing as more than a hobby.
“I don’t need him,” I snapped at back at my mom. “What I need is for it to be June and me to be the fuck out of here.”
“Axel, it doesn’t have to be all bad.”
I looked at her. Unfortunately, we both knew that wasn’t true. I watched as my mom bit her lip, shifted, and looked down at the floor as she tried to find something to say. We both knew what I was thinking, though. Everything about this town reminded me of her. Town square reminded me of all the times we used to go down and eat ice cream cones at the corner while I made fun of people and Sarah defended them. Then there were the townspeople constantly apologizing to me for “my loss,” as if I wanted to be constantly reminded of the beautiful auburn-haired girl that was everything to me. I couldn’t think of a single place that didn’t remind me of her smile, her laugh… and her death.