SNAP (The SNAP Trilogy Book 1), страница 1
SNAP-Copyright 2015 by Tara Dawn
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This book is a work of fiction. Names, characters, establishments, or organizations, and incidents are either products of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously to give a sense of authenticity. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, events, or locales is entirely coincidental.
SNAP is intended for 18+ older, and for mature audiences only.
Cover Design & Interior Design by RMGraphx
Formatting by Danielle James
© Tara Dawn- 2015
Thank you for picking up SNAP and giving me the chance to share my story with you. It's been a long road with this one. Originally, it was supposed to be a standalone novel. But as I wrote, the story continued to grow and get bigger and bigger and the characters grew more complex. I apologize to those of you who have waited for SNAP expecting it to be one book. In order for me to tell the story in its entirety, I had to split it up. If I hadn't, you would've been very disappointed. A lot of information would've been left out and the ending would've been rushed. I couldn't do that to my characters or to you. And I wouldn't have been true to myself.
There's a lot that happens in this book that could trigger some readers. Please be aware before you turn the page and get started that Hazel's journey is not an easy one. There are detailed accounts of rape, brutality, and drug use throughout. If any of these things bother you, please do not go any further.
For those of you willing to turn the page, I hope you love Hazel's story as much as I loved writing it.
Thank you for supporting my dreams and loving my stories as much as I do.
I love you.
Pain is a strange thing. Some people know it well, others don't. Some can endure it, others can't. But there comes a point when the pain goes beyond insufferable; when it no longer hurts. You feel dead inside. Those silent prayers begging for it all to end are answered. Maybe not the way you intended, but it does. The agony diminishes, the throbbing pain fades, and you stare at the blood stained comforter of your bed thinking the strangest thoughts for someone who is about to die.
Like if your boss will find someone to replace you quickly so they aren't left hanging. Who will end up being the one to kiss the lips you adore for the rest of their life. Not being there to comfort your best friend when they find you lying in a pool of your own blood. Or just how much your body can sustain before you slip into oblivion. I don't want those questions answered, I don't want to die. But there comes a time when you greet death head on and have to decide if you will go with it peacefully or fight with every ounce of energy you have left.
I choose to fight. As the belt makes contact with my backside over and over again, splattering more of my blood around me, I choose to live. I focus on those drops, tethering me here in the now. I count what drops I can through my swollen lids to keep my sanity. Because if I let it slip, even a fraction, I'll let myself slide into the peaceful darkness that beckons me.
My body flips over like a rag doll bringing my personal demon into focus. He's seething and foaming at the mouth like a rabid dog. His black eyes burn into my flesh as they travel down my body before wrapping the belt around my throat. The incoherent words he's been spewing all night hit a crescendo as he pulls on the leather cutting off my airway. His words dwindle away with my oxygen leaving me bereft and alone.
They say when you die that you see a bright light and you're greeted by your passed loved ones. I wish I could say that were true. I would love to see my father again. To have him hold me in his arms and tell me I did everything right and that he is proud of me. He tried his best to raise me alone and was determined to turn me into a woman who could stand on her own two feet. Did I become the woman he tried to mold me into? He taught me work ethic, the value of a dollar, and that everyone deserved respect, even if they didn't give it. I tried damn hard to remember those lessons. They were all I had left of him. He used to say, "You don't know what others' lives are like behind closed doors, Hazel."
I stare into those black eyes squeezing the life out of me and wonder what his life was like. My heart constricts, and at first I think it's out of sorrow for the man choking me to death, but it's not. It's my body sounding the warning alarm. Adrenaline kicks one final time as my heart beats faster to push oxygen to the rest of my body. It can't. There is none. He's taken it from me, along with everything else. Maybe my death will bring him a peace he's never known. My body attempts one final breath before it goes slack and gives up.
Absolute nothingness. No more pain, no more fear, no more tears…no more him. This is peace. This is the solitude I have searched for since he came into my life.
Too bad I have to die to find it.
"Why are you even going?" Cady asks as she leans against my headboard and files her nails. "You don't like him, and truth be told, I can't stand the guy. Just call him and cancel and go out with me."
"I want to, but I can't. I don't want to be mean to him." I sigh as I push the hangers aside in my closet looking for something boring to wear. Maybe if I look unattractive he won't want to see me again.
"Canceling a date isn't being mean, Hazel. You don't like him and it's not gonna go anywhere. Just tell him you're not interested or you don't have time for a relationship. It wouldn't be lying, 'cause you really don't."
Aggravated, I grab a random shirt from the closet and turn toward her. She doesn't understand. I may not like him, but I don't get asked out like she does. The last time I dated anyone was over a year ago and I've missed having someone around who shows interest in me. So what if we're not really compatible. It's still nice to go out every once in a while. It's better than sitting at home on my big ass doing nothing and watching movies alone.
"I wanted to give it one more shot before I gave up on it," I tell her as I sit on the bed near her feet.
She rolls her baby blues at me and shoves her light red hair over her shoulder. The fading sunlight from my bedroom window makes it look like orange flames flickering around her head. I've always envied her hair. It soft, like corn silk, and has strands of red, orange, and blonde weaving together. Quite different from my drab caramel brown hair that doesn't stand out in a crowd.
"Well, order the lobster and get your fill before you cut off Mr. Moneybags." She snorts and starts chuckling as she goes back to filing her nails.
I swat her leg with the back of my hand and laugh at her. "That's awful!"
"Hey, I never said I was the nice one in the bunch. That's you."
That's for damn sure. I can never bring myself to be rude or mean to anyone. I've tried, but it never comes out sounding that way. Don't get me wrong, I can hold my own and sure as hell stand up for others, but I can't bring myself to be ugly with people. It's not my nature. It's not how my father raised me to be.
"I'm heading out," she says as she stands up. "Cut the date short and call me when you get home so we can go out."
Cady slides her feet into her flip flops and gives me a cheesy grin. She's in a mood, which means she's probably up to no good tonight. Waving at me, she disappears into my apartme
Groaning, I pull myself up to start getting ready for my date. This is one of those nights I'd rather be laying around on the couch or working. My feet ache at the thought of standing on those concrete floors another day. Working at Maggie Mae's Tavern isn't a dream-come-true job, but I love it there. The past eight years of my life has been spent there working ten to twelve hour shifts, and sometimes over two weeks straight before I get a day off. My loyalty to the place and patrons is paying off though. Roger, the owner and boss man, has been training me to take over. He's climbing up in years and would like to spend more time home with his family before all his children grow up and he misses it. I don't blame him. I'd want the same thing. But being short staffed is killing us and getting Roger to hire anyone else is like pulling teeth. I will wear him down. I have to or I'll be the only idiot left there working 24/7.
Just as I'm finishing getting ready, a knock sounds on the front door. I don't care enough to double check my appearance and head straight for the living room. Grabbing my purse from the couch, I ignore the mess lying around everywhere. It's my only day off, and instead of cleaning like I need to be doing, I'm going out with a guy that'll make me wish I were home scrubbing my kitchen floor with a toothbrush instead.
I push the negative thought from my mind and plaster on a fake smile as I open the door. Phil is standing on my short stoop with his hands shoved in his pockets. There is not a platinum hair out of place in his perfectly sculpted hairdo. I bet he pays his barber big bucks to make his hair look like that. Not that it would hurt his wallet. The man doesn't have to work, living off his trust fund provided by his grandparents.
His thin lips pull back in a smile that mirrors mine. It looks just as forced making me wonder how this evening will go. His eyes drift over my shoulder and take in my dirty living room, widening a bit in disgust before traveling down my body. I guess it's to see if my clothes are as gross as my apartment.
Phil's eyes linger on my chest for a moment making me feel uncomfortable. He's never done that before that I have ever noticed. It's our fourth date and he has yet to really make a move on me. We held hands once and after our last date he gave me a kiss goodnight. I swallow a gag. The kiss was clinical almost. His wet tongue stabbed around in my mouth as if he were giving a dental exam.
"Do you need a minute to get dressed?" he asks as he looks at his watch impatiently.
At first I'm shocked by his question, but it quickly turns to anger. I know I didn't dress to impress, but I don't look bad. My clothes are clean and wrinkle free. He's not dressed much differently than I am, except maybe that his have brand names slapped all over them. Not everyone can afford two-hundred dollar jeans.
"No, I'm ready to go." His ice blue eyes pierce mine in disdain.
What is up with him? Our last date was strange too. After pursuing me relentlessly, I agreed to go out with him. He's not really my type, but he was polite and kind. Although, during our last date he was short with me and raised his voice. I remained quiet for the rest of the date and his mood seemed to improve. Because of that, I debated on whether or not I even wanted to see him again.
"Let's do this then." His pretentious ass strolls toward his pretentious car. I turn to lock up my apartment and when I face the car he's already gotten inside and closed the door.
We don't speak as he drives us across town to have dinner. Instead of a decent restaurant, he pulls into the local drive-up burger joint and parks in the first stall that is open. I'm not uppity, I actually love this place, so eating here is just fine by me. I won't complain if this is where he wants to take me, but he has a no drink or food rule inside his precious baby.
I don't need to see the menu, I know it by heart, but I lean over the console to check out the specials while he rolls down his window. Without saying a word, he punches the button and orders our food without asking what I want. I turn to look out my window and cross my arms. I've never had anyone order for me. It's not like he did it in a gentlemanly way and asked if I was okay with it. I'm getting my first glimpses of who Phil really is, and I don't like him. Looks like Cady will be getting that call after all.
The back of the menu in the next stall over displays faded deserts through the cracked plastic. This place opened long before I was born. It was the happening place to be, according to my father, who hung out here every day so that he could give my mom kisses between orders as she skated by delivering food. There's a picture of my mom in her carhop uniform and her skates balancing a tray up by her shoulder. She was beautiful. My dad said every boy there flirted with her relentlessly trying to get her number and give her theirs, but she always told them she was happily taken. My dad wasn't the jealous kind. He was dumbfounded every single day that he was able to land my mother.
She was the bubbly nice girl who didn't realize how beautiful she was and my dad was the stoner party boy who didn't have a lick of sense. Those two together raised eyebrows all over town, but they were perfect for each other. Or so I've heard.
My mother passed away when she gave birth to me. Her blood pressure was heightened causing a massive stoke and they couldn't save her. Dad was absolutely crushed. Instead of wallowing in his loss, he embraced what my mother had given him. Me. He named me Hazel because his favorite thing about my mother was her eyes. Most of my features come from my father, but I have my mother's smile and happy-go-lucky personality. I think a lot of that had to do with how my dad raised me.
"Come on," Phil says, getting out of the car. I follow and meet him at the front where he's buffing something off the shiny black paint with his shirt sleeve.
Who wears long sleeve button downs in July? This douchebag.
The carhop comes out to deliver our food, but she's not in skates. No one here wears them anymore, that era has come to an end. Phil leads me to a picnic table under the awning in front of the walk-up order window. We sit in silence eating while he looks around as if he's expecting someone. Maybe that's why we came here instead of the normal restaurants he's taken me to. Maybe he's finally going to introduce me to some of his so-called friends that I've never met.
A few minutes later, a scruffy guy walks over to our table and sits down next to Phil. I look between the two in confusion because they look like they came from opposite sides of the tracks. Literally. Trinity, our town, is divided almost down the middle by railroad tracks, with upper and middle class on one side and lower and poverty class on the other. About the only time you see them interact is during business transactions where the lower class are doing jobs for the upper class.
"Hey, Phil. What's up man?" the scruffy guy asks. He glances my way, but doesn't make eye contact, and nods before turning his attention back to Phil. He scratches his jaw with a dirty hand and I can't help but notice the filth crusted around his fingernails and under them. His unkempt, oily hair shines under the lighting.
"Nothing. Just grabbing a bite to eat. Whatcha out doing?"
Phil and Scruffy have their conversation as if I'm not even here. The newcomer twitches and taps his fingers on the table the entire time. He's on meth. Has to be. I gather our trash to throw away and walk toward the trashcan hoping Phil will realize I'm ready to go, but I don't think he even noticed me leaving. What an awesome night this is going to be.
The blip of a car unlocking sounds behind me and I turn to see Phil and his friend standing by his car looking at the interior and Phil pointing things out. If we had dated longer, I could see him doing things like this and it wouldn't bother me. But after the way this date started, and the fact that he hasn't said more than a sentence to me since we left my house, I'm getting pissed off. I watch as Scruffy walks around to the passenger side and gets in closing the door. Phil follows getting in the driver's side and shuts his as well. I can't tell what they are doing through the tinted windows in the dark, but Phil's probably showing off his fully loaded sportster.
"Hazel!" I turn toward the shout to see Cady bounding up to me smiling.
"Hey! What are you doing, girl?" I ask her as she comes to a stop in front of me.
"Grabbing a burger then we're heading to a party in Swanson. Where's your date?" She looks around and finally spots his Aston Martin. Rolling her eyes, she turns back to me. "How's it going so far? Any repeats of last time?"
"Oh, you have no idea." I sigh and cross my arms. "I wish I'd done what you asked me to do," I say under my breath.
"You still can. Grab your purse and come with me. There's room for you." She smiles an evil grin glancing in Phil's direction. "Ditch that dickwad."
The idea is exciting. I've never done anything like that to anyone before, but my guilt kicks up a notch and I shake my head. "No, I'm going to finish this night out. It'll be the last one, though, that's for damn sure."
"That bad, huh?"
"Yeah, that bad."
I walk over to the table and grab my purse Phil left unattended when he took off and follow Cady over to her car. If he's going to hang out with his friend and ignore me, I'll hang out with mine. I notice a guy sitting in the passenger seat of her car and give him a smile and a wave. He climbs out of the car and joins us on the patio.
"Hazel, Erick. Erick, Hazel." Cady makes introductions then sits on the hood of her old beater car.
We smile at one another as I take him in. He's a couple of inches taller than my five-foot-eight. His sandy blond hair brushes the tops of his shoulders as he shuffles from foot to foot. Bright bottle green eyes shimmer in the florescent lighting above us. They are positively beautiful. I've never seen eyes as green as his.
"Nice to finally meet you, Hazel. I've heard a lot about you." He shoves his hands in his pockets like a bashful child and kicks at a rock near his foot.
I glance at Cady and widen my eyes in wonder. This guy is absolutely adorable.
"Nice to meet you, too, Erick. I can't say I've heard a lot about you," I say to him then turn to Cady. "But I have a feeling I'll be hearing a lot, later."