I shall be releasing Liberated very shortly, but here is a snippet from chapter 1.
Please note this is subject to change!
Waking slowly, the wipers squeeze across the windscreen intermittently, working hard against the rain descending the heavens. I gaze up at the dusky street outside, not exactly sure where we are. My body wouldn’t allow me to do anything other than sleep after we left the M25.
Turning to the front, I’m alone. Rubbing my eyes and looking around, Jeremy is nowhere in sight. Considering the events that have lead us here, it is extremely fucking disturbing he can just leave me like this. Especially when I’m in no fit state to fight back – not that I ever could.
Dragging the cover aside, I stretch, wincing under the soreness of my skin as the tattered shirt and dried blood pull apart at my chest. Shuffling over the back seat and opening the door, a crack of thunder and lightning illuminates the horizon beautifully. Breathing in, that damp, distinctive smell penetrates my nostrils, while the rain continues to bounce off the pavements, soaking me through. I relish in it, but a part of me shall never be clean.
“What the hell are you doing?!”
Jeremy comes running towards me, already half way out of his jacket. Placing it over my shoulders, he zips it up. I shake inconspicuously, unable to control the burn flaring up as he holds me and moves to the boot. Lifting out a few large bags, he lets me go and guides us towards the building.
Stepping inside, the delightful aroma of bleach and disinfectant clears my foggy head instantly, while the three small flights of stairs are murder on my stiff, sore thighs.
Standing behind him, he unlocks a door and pushes it back. Passing me a holdall, I drag it, since I’m unable to carry much more than my own body weight right now.
Abandoning it in the living room, I draw back the curtains. Insurmountable dusk seems to be the decoration of choice. Not that I am bothered, because this bolthole will save whatever is still intact of my dignity and pride.
And my broken, bleeding heart.
“It’s not much,” Jeremy says behind me.
“Well, I wasn’t expecting Buckingham Palace. Not even the Travelodge,” I mutter under my breath. With a defeated sigh, he passes me my bag and a supermarket carrier.
“I stopped while you were asleep. I picked up some new clothes, a few toiletries, towels and some items to clean up…” His eyes drop and I instinctively touch my chest. The tenderness is brutal, punishing my resolve to stay strong.
I drop my head; I don’t want him to witness my decline. A part of me wants to wallow in solitary confinement, hiding away where I cannot be found.
“Look, get settled in. The bathroom and bedroom are through there,” he points. “I’ll be back in a few hours. Stuff to do.” Stroking my cheek tenderly, I pull back.
“Make sure you lock the door and remove the key. I don’t fancy sleeping in the car.”
“Sorry?” I shake my head. He drops a phone on the sofa and then he’s gone.
Doing as requested and locking myself in, he’s out of his goddamn mind if he thinks we’re going to be playing house together.
No fucking way.
With a body that feels groggy and like lead, I pick up the towels and toiletries. Moving slowly down the landing, I pull the cord, illuminating the small bathroom. Like everything else I have seen so far, again it is also in need of cleaning.
Rinsing and running the bath, I carefully strip off the remnants of my torn clothing and stuff them into the carrier, ready to be incinerated at the first opportunity. Standing naked, brushing my teeth, I’m mesmerised by the painful truth that now partially covers my chest. Under the stark light there is nowhere to hide. It looks like I have taken a red marker and drawn on myself. In time they will fade, but I will still feel them.
Sadly, feeling means I will also remember. And that is the one thing I know I can’t make myself forget. This time I need to remember, because remembering will ensure I survive.
Turning off the taps, I tentatively lower my foot in first. Bracing my hands on the sides, I sink deeper. The heat fires my skin as it passes over my thighs, covering my stomach. Hissing a little, I force myself to continue. The steam billows up, fogging the small room, and I come over lightheaded.
Lying back, needing to relax and momentarily forget, the hot water envelopes my back, before lapping over my front. I cry out the instant the first scar is inadvertently cleansed. The raw sensation is indescribable. Searing pain culminates in the open wounds, and I yank out the plug and reach up to turn the shower on. The hollow sound of water draining, accompanied by the falling patter, does nothing to quell my tears. Hugging my knees, watching the water level drop, I shiver constantly.
Reaching over the bath, I fumble around for the shampoo and body wash on the floor. Inhaling deeply, I mentally disengage as my soapy hand reaches my chest. Holding in the gasp, the chemical irritates, but it’s an unavoidable task. It’s either suffer or become infected. I bid myself to tolerate it, because I have suffered far worse in the last forty eight hours.
This is the lesser of two evils.
Getting to my feet, I carefully wash myself, ensuring I don’t scratch or rub too hard on my new injuries. Everywhere else, however, is a different story, as I scrub as hard as I can, over my arms, my legs, between them. Ridding myself of the monstrous touch through saturation.
Lathering my hair and tipping my head back, my memory is assaulted with all the times Sloan has held me. Pressing my forehead to the tiles, I really know how to destroy myself when I think I am doing something for the best.
Turning around, I slide down and curl up. With my arms around my head, resting on my knees, the annihilation of my sanity begins. My cries fill the silence, partially concealed by the falling water pooling at my feet. Unable to control the pain consuming me, I don’t try to fight it. Finally, I allow it to flow freely.
The sound of banging seeps into my psyche, while water floods my mouth and distorts my vision. Half awake, I lift my head up. The shower is still running, warming me a little and pruning my skin severely. I grip the sides the same moment someone comes rushing inside. The curtain is ripped back, and I stare as Jeremy quickly shuts off the water. He throws a couple of towels over me, covering the last shred of salvageable dignity I still have left.
Lifting me out, he wraps the fabric tight and sits us on the floor, soaking himself in the process. Cradling me in his arms, I shake incessantly, not from being cold, but because his skin is touching mine. He traces down the side of my face, slides back my wet hair and wraps a towel around my head. No words are spoken, while I reminisce of joyous days and joyless nights of late.
“Stay strong, Kara. He needs you,” he whispers. “Don’t give up.”
“I can’t, Jeremy. I have nothing left to give.”
Resting my head on his shoulder, my flame finally dies out.
Copyright Liberated by Elle Charles 2015