Zinnia Hope, author of multi-genres and erotic romances; also writing as J. Emberglass
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Saturday, January 20
Dedicated to my green gemstone whose belief in me never wavers and who has been with me through all the chaos and misery. We made it, sweetie, and now the wounds heal.
Seven years ago in New York City.
Beauty and bliss visited for a while.
Shock arrived, and for a few moments, the reality of what she’d committed took a backseat. Slowly, awareness finally returned, but shame slammed into her like an unexpected hit-and-run vehicle.
Rustling fabric and footsteps permeated the haze in her brain. She managed to raise her head and look up at the man looming over her. He shrugged into a jacket and grinned.
“It’s been great, but I don’t want the baggage that comes with you.” He scooped up a few tiny tablets on the coffee table with one hand and pulled a set of car keys from his designer slacks with the other. Without a backward glance, he dismissed her, and shut the door quietly.
She raised her head, her gaze sweeping the immediate area. The room lay in ruin from their lovemaking. Her clothing hung from lampshades and the backs of chairs. Throw pillows lay helter-skelter on the sofa and carpet. Scattered magazines from the coffee table rested on the large area. One corner of the room held the shattered remains of a ceramic vase and its silk peonies.
A baby’s cry erupted from her bedroom gradually transforming into a sweet chant, but to her, it might as well have been a fire siren intensified one thousand times.
She had to get up, but her head weighed a ton. She pressed her cheek to the cool hardwood floor and listened to the neighbor’s party upstairs. Pain bloomed in her head, an unfurling mushroom cloud of torture. The misery in her skull continued to crest until it matched the bass that boomed from above her apartment. Her roommates had gone to the party hours ago.
If only she had accepted their invitation, she wouldn’t be on the floor now, feeling as though a tractor-trailer had just smashed into her, sounds heightened to mind blasting proportions.
Deep down, she knew she was lying to herself. She had been so eager to please him, so intent on keeping him. He’d played upon her fears and insecurities, forcing her to give in to him.
She should have ended the relationship weeks ago.
How could I be so weak?
She groaned at the noise. It grew quiet in the bedroom, and when she didn’t appear, the infant began to fuss.
God, if you haven’t abandoned me, I need your help. I’ve really made a horrible mess of things, but Alex needs me right now.
Finally, naked and dizzy, she struggled to her feet and stumbled to her bedroom. A chubby, dark-haired boy angel stared back at her with innocent blue eyes. He pulled himself up by the crib bars and pointed at a bottle of juice on the floor.
“Mmph.” He grinned. One lonely bottom tooth glimmered in the light.
She retrieved the bottle, her senses spinning as if she had just stepped off of an amusement ride. Carefully, she laid her baby down and placed the bottle in his fat little hands.
He sucked greedily; his eyelids fluttered and closed.
She staggered out into the hall and wobbled along to the bathroom, one hand on the smooth beige plaster to steady herself. Upon reaching the doorway, she lunged for the toilet and spewed the remains of her chicken-fried rice and Lambrusco supper into the porcelain bowl. She’d heard that sometimes people experienced bizarre reactions to Ecstasy, and prayed the physical repercussions didn’t worsen.
Satisfied that her belly wouldn’t rebel anymore, she nearly fell into the shower and fumbled to turn on the water. She knew he’d been rougher with her than she would have preferred, but his cruel hands seemed loving and gentle despite what her common sense had told her. As the water slid over the bruises on her breasts, arms and thighs, she realized that the drug had disguised nightmarish pain as pleasure.
An idea arose from the steam.
Luckily, her grandmother was gone for the weekend, and their roommates wouldn’t be home until late. She would clean up the room before anyone returned to the apartment, sweep up all the glass, and develop an acceptable excuse for the broken vase.
No one would ever know.
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