I have a new project on the way. Title and release date will be announced soon. If you haven't liked my Author page or joined my mailing list, I'd advise you to do either or both because I'll be sharing details there first! My goal is to have this baby out soon... like in one week soon... but let's link up so you can stay in the loop just to be on the safe side!
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Okay, now here's the sneak peek!
*Unedited and subject to change*
People die or leave when you need them most. Nothing is ever certain. Nothing is ever sure. In my twenty-one years of living, I’d learned that to be true. My mother died exactly six months ago today, and I don’t think there was ever a time when I needed her more than I do right now. Well, I was actually in the predicament I was in because she was gone. If she would have been alive, I’m confident that my circumstances wouldn’t be the same.
I’m confident that I wouldn’t be leaning against the doorframe of our home, watching as moving men carelessly gathered up her most prized possessions and tossed them into the back of a truck. As if the things that meant everything to me meant absolutely nothing to them. I guess they didn’t mean anything to them but a paycheck. A paycheck that my stepfather, Aaron, was responsible for.
Cancer claimed my mother six months ago, and for some reason, my mother left everything to him. Okay, so I know the reason. It was because she thought he would lovingly and responsibly take care of me. Because she thought he would lovingly and responsibly comfort me during my time of need.
Not so much.
Aaron had always had a problem with me and my mother’s relationship. He said she coddled me. Sheltered me too much. Hid me from the world and what I needed to be able to confidently maneuver my way through life without her. Doesn’t really surprise me that I come home after looking for a new job to find my home is no longer my home. Just… sucks that I had to find out by the door being almost beat down by the moving company per his orders.
“Excuse me, miss,” the youngest of the moving crew spoke. He’d been moving with the speed and strength of ten men all morning.
Deciding to finally accept what was happening, I went into my room to grab the last of my bags. I’d packed up all that I could fit into my car. Aaron had shut down and sold my mother’s restaurant a month ago, too. The restaurant I was the manager for. The restaurant that was my main source of income. Fuck it. I refused to let this bastard be proven right. There was no part of me that would keep me from being able to function like a normal adult without my mother.
After placing the last tote bag handle onto my shoulder, I looked around my room for what would be the last time. The movers had been gracious enough to save my room for last. Maybe because they felt a tinge of pity for me. Whatever the case, my time was up, and I had to say goodbye to the room I’d spent the last twenty-one years in. When I graduated high school, I promised my mother that nothing but marriage would pull me away from her and this room.
God had other plans.
He allowed death to rip her from my arms and a selfish, money hungry bastard to pull me from what had been my safe haven for all of my life.
Not wanting to get wrapped up in my feelings, I inhaled deeply and made my way out of my room, but my feet stopped at the sound of Aaron yelling my name. His voice was frantic, like he didn’t expect to be caught. Like he thought he could get away with selling the home I grew up in and I not find out. My grip on the handle of my tote tightened as I ground my teeth, trying my hardest not to let my emotions get the best of me.
Walking down the hall, I prepared to lay eyes on Aaron. In all honesty, I could see why my mother had become smitten over him. He was the complete opposite of my father. That alone was enough to make him perfect in her eyes. There was one major difference between Aaron and Michael, though. Michael never turned his back on his kids. Well, his first set at least. They were the reason he ended things with my mother.
“Kailor,” Aaron called at the sight of me. His face washed over with relief as he quickly made his way over to me. My steps were slow and unhurried, and even though I had absolutely no desire to talk to him or even see him, I did want to get this conversation over with. “I was hoping I’d get off work early enough to have time to talk to you.”
“Yea?” I gave him a slight nod as I looked straight through him to the opposite end of the hall. “And you thought the morning we were supposed to move was the right time to tell me that you sold my home? What gives you the right, Aaron?”
He chuckled quickly and shook his head – his telltale sign of frustration. I’d seen him do that one too many times with my mother before he’d yell and storm off. But I wasn’t my mother. He could get it if need be. There wasn’t enough love or respect in my heart for him to keep me from flipping the hell out if he so much as tried to raise his voice at me.
“Your mother gave me the right when she left it and the business to me.” My eyes rolled as I headed down the hall with Aaron on my heels following behind. “You need to gain some independence, Kailor, and this is the only way I know how to make you.”
“By forcing me out of my home?” I snapped, turning on those same heels and getting into his personal space. Before I could stop it, my finger was in his face as I gritted, “That wasn’t the way to do it. I’m running low on money because I haven’t gotten another job yet, and now I have no clue where the hell I’m about to sleep tonight. I’m homeless thanks to you.”
Not giving him the benefit of seeing me cry over my jacked up situation, I turned when I felt the tears start to well up in the corners of my eyes. I inhaled deeply through my flaring nostrils as I hastily walked down the hall. The walls were closing in on me, and I needed relief. Desperately.
“I’m sorry, Kailor. I know this may seem cold of me, but it’s tough love, Spot. Your mother spoiled you, and you know I’ve always had a problem with that.”
“So what.” I barely recognized the low snarl of my voice. “You are not my father, Aaron, and it wasn’t your place to choose how my mother raised me. Just because we were close doesn’t mean…”
“Close?” The sound of his laughter had me turning to face him once I’d made it to the door. “No. That wasn’t close, Kailor. That was toxic.” He got so close to me his body touched mine as he lowered his mouth to my ear. His voice was just above a whisper as he said, “God must have felt the same way, otherwise she’d be here don’t you think?”
My eyes popped open as my heart stopped. Literally stopped. As soon as my body stiffened my heart began to work again, beating rapidly. I lifted my hand to slap him, but Aaron grabbed it and used it to press me into the wall. “She’s gone. Get over it. You’ll figure something out, Kailor. You’re a smart girl.”
He may have had my arm bound, but my knee was not. With all of my force, I knee’d him between the legs. He doubled over instantly. Since my arm was free, I slapped him like I’d been wanting to do every time he yelled at my mother. Every time he made her cry. Every time he had her questioning why she wasn’t enough.
“You never loved her. Not like she deserved.” I stood over him, wanting to make sure he heard me over his wailing. He rocked back and forth, cupping his throbbing manhood. “So I know there’s no way you ever cared about me. You wanted to cash in, I get it, but don’t think karma won’t bite you in the ass, and don’t think I won’t make it out of this.”
Resisting the urge to kick him in the stomach, I grabbed the bag that had slid from my shoulder when he pressed me into the wall and left the house. As soon as the blazing sun connected with my skin I felt even more drained of my energy. He chose what had to have been the hottest day of June to pull a stunt like this. The air hadn’t been working in my car all summer. It hadn’t been much of an issue because I rarely drove anywhere besides to work until the sun went down. Now, I had to find a place to clear my mind and come up with a masterplan.
As I walked, I looked up at the cloudless sky for as long as I could without my sunglasses. The sun was bright, the complete opposite of the darkness rising up within me. There were three men leaning against the moving truck, sweat seeping through their clothes. My gaze turned to my home one last time, and the lack of my mother was evident.
Plants were wilting in their pots. The grass had died out, having no need to be cut. Droopy’s black water bowl at the door was now white on the inside and had become useless. He was the neighbor’s dog, and after mama died he stopped coming around. I couldn’t even blame him. My heart had stopped coming around too.
I scratched my scalp as I blinked back tears. We weren’t toxic. She was my best friend. And my mother. My whole heart. My everything. And now I had nothing without her. Releasing a heavy sigh, I headed towards my car. No destination in mind, but anywhere would have been better than here. Maybe Aaron had done me a favor. Maybe holding on to this house and our memories was torturing me in a way that I hadn’t even realized.
If tortured memories were the only way to remember my mother…
“Will we be in your way, ma’am?”
My eyes lifted to the oldest man of the crew. The one who hadn’t lifted a finger. Just delegated duties. I shook my head, trying to give him an easy smile, but it was so damn hard.
After putting the bags in the back seat, I got into my car just as Aaron was coming outside, still holding himself as he mugged me. Now that made me smile. I lifted my hand to flick him off, and that only made him madder. Once I was inside of my car, I said a quick prayer for guidance.
Sure, I had a few friends and family members that would have welcomed me in, but I didn’t want anyone to know about this. Call it pride, but I would rather wander until I land than accept anyone’s handouts. Aaron may have thought my mother spoiled me, but she did the opposite, actually. She taught me to not have to depend on anyone for my necessities – except for her.
Admittedly, I didn’t look back as soon as I put the car in reverse, but the sound of tires screeching had my head lifting to see who was pulling up behind me. The sight of India’s car made me smile. She was my mother’s best friend and my Godmother. She threw her car into park and hopped out of it, jogging over to mine. My window was already down, on account of my air not working, so India leaned inside as she asked, “Where do you think you’re going?” I shrugged, honestly having no idea. “Why didn’t you call me, KK?”
I shrugged again, even though I knew the answer to that one.
“I don’t want to be a burden on anyone, India. I’ll figure something out. How did you even… you mean he told you before he told me?”
India rolled her eyes, twisting her mouth to the side. “Follow me to my house. I have something for you.” My head shook, but before I could decline she clarified, “It’s not a handout, proud Mary. Just follow me.”