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Forget Me Not (Forget Me Not #1)
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I fell in love with a boy a long time ago.
I was only a small girl. Scared and frightened, I was taken from my home and held against my will. His father hurt me, but he protected me and kept me safe as best he could.
Until I left him.
I ran the first chance I got and even though I knew he wasn’t behind me, I didn’t stop. The branches lashed out at me, punishing me for leaving him in the hands of a monster.
I’ve never felt such guilt in my life.
Although I survived, the boy was never found. I prayed for him to be safe. I dreamed he’d be alright and come back to me. Even as a young girl I knew I loved him, but I betrayed him.
Twenty years later, all my wishes came true.
But the boy came back a man. With a grip strong enough to keep me close and a look in his eyes that warned me to never dare leave him again. I was his to keep after all.
Twenty years after leaving one hell, I entered another. Our tale was only just getting started.
It’s dark and twisted.
But that doesn’t make it any less of what it is.
A love story. Our love story.
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I can wait here longer than he can stand to stay away. I know that much.
A small grin pulls at my lips as I pick at the thread on the comforter. Always picking and waiting. There’s nothing else to do in this room.
My head lifts at the thought, drawing my eyes to the blinking red light. And he’s always watching. The sight of the camera makes my stomach churn, but only for a moment.
The sound of heavy boot steps walking down the stairs outside the closed door makes my heart race. I stare at the doorknob, willing it to turn and bring him to me.
I’ve waited too long for him.
The sound of the door opening is foreboding. If anyone other than me was waiting for him, I’d assume they’d have terror in their hearts. But I know him. I understand it all. The pain, the guilt. I know firsthand what it’s like when the monster is gone and you only have your own thoughts to fight. Your memories and regrets. It’s all-consuming.
And there’s no one who can understand you. No one you trust, whose words you can believe are genuine and not just disguised pity.
But he knows me, and I know him. Far too well; our pain is shared.
His broad shoulders fill the doorway and his dark eyes meet mine instantly. He barely touches the door and it closes behind him with a loud click that’s only a hair softer than my wildly beating heart.
It’s hard to swallow, but I do. And I ignore the heat, the quickened breath. I push it all down as he walks toward me, closing the space with one heavy step at a time.
He stops in front of me, but doesn’t hesitate to cup my chin in his large hand and I lean into his comforting touch. I know to keep my own hands down though and I grip the comforter instead of him.
It’s a violent pain that rips through me, knowing how scarred he is. So much so, that I have to hold back everything. I’m afraid of my words, my touch. He’s so close to being broken beyond repair and I only want to save him, but I don’t know how.
We’re both damaged, but the tortured soul in front of me makes me feel everything. He makes me want to live and heal his tormented soul. But how can I, when I’m the one who broke him by running away?
“My little bird,” he whispers and it reminds me of when we were children. When we were trapped together.
He’s not the boy who protected me.
He’s not the boy whose eyes were filled with a darkness barely tempered with guilt.
He’s not the boy I betrayed the moment I had a chance.
He’s a man who’s taking what he wants.
* * *
And that’s me.
One week before
“Doctor Everly?” a soft voice calls out, breaking me from my distant thoughts as another early spring chill whips through my thin jacket and sends goosebumps down my body. I slowly turn my head to Karen. Her cheeks are a little too pink from a combination of the harsh wind and a heavy-handed application of blush, and the tip of her nose is a bright red.
I grip my thin jacket closer, huddling in it as if it can protect me from the brutal weather. It’s too damn cold for spring, but I suppose I’d rather be cold and uncomfortable out here. Today especially.
I give Karen a tight smile, although I don’t know why. It’s not polite to smile out here, or is it? “How are you doing?” I ask her as she walks closer to me.
She nods her head, taking in a breath and looking past me at the pile of freshly upturned dirt. “It hurts still. It’s just so sad.” Karen’s only twenty-three, fresh out of college and new to this. I’m new to it too. Marie was the first patient I’ve had who killed herself.
Sad isn’t the right word for it. Devastating doesn’t even begin to describe what it feels like when a young girl in your care decides her life is no longer worth living.
I clear my throat and turn on the grass to face her. The thin heels of my shoes sink into the soft ground, and I have to balance myself carefully just to stand upright.
“It is,” I tell Karen, not sure what else to say.
“How do you handle…” her voice drifts off.
I don’t know how to answer her. My lips part and I shake my head, but no words come out.
“I’m so sorry, Robin,” she says and Karen’s voice is strong and genuine. She knows how much Marie meant to me. But it wasn’t enough.
I try to give her an appreciative smile, but I can’t. Instead, I clear my tight throat and nod once, looking back to where Marie’s buried.