By: Madison Stevens

Chapter One

The rich aroma of coffee filled the little book store. Coffee and books. Those were the two things that always made Morgan feel more at home.

She let out a quiet sigh. They were also the two things that always made her think of Aunt Dee. She’d inherited the store from her, after all.

It was like her aunt was still right there with Morgan, laughing at some line in a story that tickled her or growing angry at some leading man in the romance she was reading.

But Aunt Dee was gone now. Gone forever.

Although it had been a year since Aunt Dee suddenly died from a stroke, in Morgan’s heart it felt like only yesterday the woman was complaining about a headache. The memory of those signs remained etched in her mind.

Morgan stared down at her hands. If only she’d known.

Aunt Dee said they seemed like normal headaches to her. The sort she sometimes got when it was allergy season. There had been no way of knowing that a blood vessel had burst in her brain or that one clot would be all it would take to kill her.

But that was it. One day Morgan’s beloved Aunt Dee was there, and the next a lawyer called to talk about her personal effects.

Morgan never imagined she’d be the one to inherit the book store. Although she’d been living with her aunt since she was fifteen, she always assumed that her mother would be named in the will, despite the problems the sisters had.

The last time Morgan remembered the two even speaking was the night she packed up everything and left home to go live with her aunt.

Just thinking about that night made her break out in a cold sweat. She wasn’t sure if she’d ever get over that sort of fear.

Things had been bad at the house. Even more so than normal, and that was really saying something. Her mother’s new boyfriend had been way worse than the others, or maybe Morgan had just been too young for the others to pay much attention to.

At fifteen, she entered into her womanhood. That changed everything.

She hated her breasts and hated the attention they seemed to be getting from men of all ages. But mostly she hated the attention of her mother’s boyfriend, Steve.

At first he just said how pretty she looked. All the while, he’d stare at her chest.

Morgan didn’t know what to do, so she did the only thing she knew how to do: escape into books.

The more Steve pressed her on her looks, the more she would lock herself in her room and read everything she could get her hands on. Her grades slipped at school, but it didn’t matter.

She didn’t focus on anything but the world she wanted to be living in. A world without Steve and his leering.

Her plan worked for a while. She continued to hide away from everyone, alone in the world of books she’d created.

Then one night, the walls of her world came crashing down.

It was a night like any other, which seemed to be how most of these stories started, as she later learned in therapy.

Morgan came home from school and heard Steve mumbling, her mother nowhere to be found. There was something else, but she couldn’t make it out.

The only thing she could be sure of was that Steve was in her mother’s bedroom, which meant she would have to pass the open door on the way to her own sanctuary.

As she passed, a loud shriek came from the TV, and she looked over on pure impulse. Large breasts filled the screen, bouncing around as a man stood behind a woman thrusting hard.

Her mouth dropped open. Morgan wasn’t naive about porn, but she’d never actually seen any.

Something moved on the bed, and she flicked her gaze over toward it.

Steve lay there, totally naked with his hand fisted over his dick.

He smiled at her and stroked himself.

Morgan felt her stomach roll and bile fill her throat.

“Come over here,” he commanded with a grin.

She bolted, ran to her room, and locked the door behind her.

He banged against her door, trying to get in. His words slurred the more he shouted.

Morgan opened the window and stared at the rickety fire escape. She glanced back over to the door.

It now shook as Steve slammed his body into it. The frame creaked, and she knew it wouldn’t be long before he busted through. She had better odds on the fire escape than with him.

She climbed out and made her way down step by step.

Above her, through the open window, a loud crash erupted: Steve busting through the door. Within moments he was at the window, shouting down threats to her.