Connecting Strangers:Discovering Emily Series Book 1By: Rachel Carrington
Discovering Emily Series Book 1
To my friend, fellow author, and mentor, Lisa Renee Jones. You started me on this independent journey two years ago, and I’m so glad you didn’t give up on me until I listened.
Your friendship is my saving grace. Your guidance and encouragement is a light that shows me the way to numerous possibilities in this publishing world. And your career achievements bring joy to my heart while your belief in me is a never-ending comfort.
I love you, and I will always treasure you as a friend.
I close my eyes and slowly squeeze the trigger. The shot sounds so loud I jump backwards. But the bullet hits its mark, tearing a hole through Mark's shoulder. With a curse, he falls to the ground. I know I haven't killed him because he's making so much noise and trying to scramble to his feet. So I snag the keys from the hook by the back door and run.
He'll come after me which means I don’t have much time to get a head start. The mud tries to suck my shoes off, but I clench my toes while Mark’s promise bounces around inside my head.
You’ll always be mine.
At the time, I thought it was romantic, but I was only eighteen. What the hell did I know? It didn’t take me long to learn it meant Mark doesn't take no for an answer. In high school, his determination was a compliment. Nowadays, it would get him arrested...if we didn't live in a town that worshipped him.
Shaking so hard, I have a hard time jabbing the key in the ignition. Relief floods through me when I can finally start the 2000 Volvo my grandmother got me when I graduated from high school seven years ago.
As I gun the engine, I see Mark's reflection in my rearview mirror. He's made it to his feet, and though blood is dripping down the front of his shirt, he’s running after me.
The Volvo kicks up plenty of dust and gravel when I stomp on the accelerator, showering Mark with enough pebbles to bring him to a halt. His loud curses follow me down the old, dirt road where our clapboard home sits. It’s the one his daddy built us once he knew Mark wouldn’t be leaving town anytime soon.
Staying in rural Broomtown, Kentucky definitely hadn't been my choice. That had been all Mark. After my parents died, I wanted to get as far away as possible to start our lives fresh, but Mark, well, he figured since he was going to be trapped in a dead end job once his dreams of playing football were over, he might as well do it around family.
I keep looking in my mirror to make sure he isn't following me, and I don't dare relax until I make it to the highway. Even then, the trembling continues.
Ten miles down the road, I realize I left my purse on the kitchen counter, and I have no money and less than a half a tank of gas. In a car that chugs gas like this one, that isn’t going to get me very far. But anywhere is better than Broomtown with Mark.
A tear trickles down my cheek, and I swipe it away. No more tears. I have cried enough for him. When I was still young and foolish, I thought Mark and I would be together forever. I know now that forever can be a hell of a long time when the love of your life morphs into a raving lunatic.
My heart aches when I think about what we had once. We were the love story everyone dreams about. Me, the head cheerleader, and Mark, the captain of the football team. I still remember the night the Broomtown Broncs won the state championship. No one thought a team from the sticks could win such an important title. Mark had carried me on his shoulder through the cheers and the drums. Then he had to go and do something stupid for a senior prank that changed everything.
I switch on the radio to drown out the memories, but they've always been louder. The thump of the wheels hitting pavement releases some of the pressure in my chest, and my shoulders begin to relax. I might not be free of Mark forever, but tonight I wouldn't have to listen to his drunken complaints.
The Volvo's lone headlight illuminates the long, winding road ahead then bounces off the side of a white car heading in the opposite direction. I wish I could stop the person, warn them where there going. That road dead-ends in Broomtown. Hopefully, the driver doesn’t have plans to stay long. It’s the kind of place that sucks you in and while you’re there, it drains your soul a little piece at a time until you’re moving in slow motion. Just putting one foot in front of the other.
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