The Right Time for Us

By: Stormy Glenn

Cade Creek 14

Chapter One

Robby Fletcher waited until he heard the front door slam shut and then a vehicle start up and peel away before he moved. And then he didn’t move far. He pulled himself over to the wall and leaned back against it.

He took a couple of minutes to just breathe before cataloging his injuries, and there seemed to be a few more of them this time around. He glanced down at his arm. It was swollen, turning purple at a rapid rate. He suspected it was broken. It wouldn’t be the first bone he had broken.

The rest of his injuries were bruises and abrasions, and a few nasty cuts on his side made with a knife. Barry always did like to play with sharp blades. Robby just wished the man didn’t like to play with them on him. It was as if the guy was trying to mark him or something.

Pressing his good hand against the wall, Robby slowly climbed to his feet. He gritted his teeth to keep from crying out when burning-hot pain ripped through him. Every movement pulled on his abused muscles. Moving was pure agony.

He stumbled to his dresser and pulled out some clean clothes. Robby had no idea how long it took him to get dressed—he had to keep stopping when the pain became too much—but it felt like forever. By the time he slipped his tennis shoes on and laced them up, he felt as if he was on the verge of collapsing.

He couldn’t, and he knew he couldn’t. Billy and his buddies had most likely gone off to get drunk, but they would be back. Robby couldn’t be here when they returned. He’d never survive another round with Billy’s buddies. They got worse when they were drinking.

Robby needed to get his backpack out of the closet. It had everything he would need in it. A wad of cash, some protein bars, bottled water, a change of clothes, pictures of his mother, and her cookbook.

He’d had a bag packed and ready to go since he helped his brother Moose escape. He had known then that he would eventually have to leave. He just needed to get the courage to do it. Robby wasn’t sure he had the courage now. It was more desperation that was making him run for his life.

Robby grabbed his backpack with his good hand and swung it up over his shoulder. He was too afraid to loop his other arm through the strap. He kept his arm pressed lightly against his stomach instead.

He cast one more look around his room, knowing he was never coming back. He had packed anything that held any importance to him, which wasn’t much. Whatever he had of value, Billy had taken and sold.

Robby had suspected for quite some time that his oldest brother was doing drugs. It was nothing he could prove, but the man was just a little too psychotic, some times more than others. He wasn’t always like that.

His heart ached for the brother he used to have, the one who taught him to ride a bike and took him to the park. That had all ended when their mother died. It was almost as if a switch had been flipped in Billy’s head and he went insane.

Their father wasn’t much better. He just wasn’t quite as psychotic as Billy. He was still violent and a roaring drunk, but Billy took things to a whole other level. Billy enjoyed inflicting pain. Their father did it only to get what he wanted.

Not seeing anything else that he wanted to take with him, Robby let himself out of his room and locked the door. It was stupid because Billy and his buddies would just kick it in—no matter how many times he replaced the lock with the hopes it would keep them out—but he always locked it, so now shouldn’t be any different. If they thought he was hiding out in his room when they came back, that might give him a little extra time to get away.

Robby had no idea what made him stop outside Moose’s bedroom door, but something had. A strong knot in his stomach maybe? A feeling that something wasn't quite right? The whisper of a cry? He wasn’t sure if he was grateful or not when he opened the door and saw the bloody and beaten woman lying on the mattress in the corner.

Robby dropped his backpack to the floor and raced across the room, then dropped to his knees next to the battered woman. He didn’t know where to touch her. Every inch seemed to be bruised or bleeding.

“Lady?” Robby swallowed tightly as he reached down and lifted the dark hair covering the woman’s face. “Holy shit! Carla!”

What in the hell was she doing here? The last he heard, she was headed to a dance school back east.

“Carla, honey, can you hear me?” Robby glanced around, looking for something to wipe the blood off her face. When he couldn’t find anything, he got up and ran to the kitchen. Robby wet a clean rag and grabbed a bottle of water before racing back to Moose’s room.

After gently wiping as much of the blood off Carla’s face as he could, he unscrewed the top off the water bottle and then held it up to her lips. Most of the water ran down her cheeks into her hairline, but at least it seemed to rouse her. She started to groan and move.

“Carla, it’s Robby. Can you hear me?”

“R-Robby?” Brown eyes peered up at him from between swollen eyelids.

“Yeah, it’s me.”

“Wh-what happened?”

“Someone beat you up, Carla.” Hell, it looked as if they almost killed her. “You’re at my house, in Moose’s room.”