Home > True Abandon

True Abandon
Author: Jeannine Colette

PROLOGUE

 

Sometimes, when I close my eyes, I can see him.

“Are you ready for this? It’s not too late to change your mind.”

“I want it to be you. I’ve always wanted it to be you.”

Those warm, caramel-colored eyes. His wavy, brown hair falling in front of his face as he looks down at me. He is the most beautiful boy I’ve ever laid eyes on. And he’s gazing at me like he feels the same way.

“Do you feel how fast my heart is beating? That’s because of you. You’re my heart.”

“You’re my soul. You’re a part of me. Forever.”

I feel his skin as it brushes up against mine. His mouth feathers kisses on my neck. Hands caress me gently; he takes his time knowing how scared I am.

“Thank you for letting me be your first.”

“Promise you’ll be my last.”

“Always.”

I reach up to brush a hair from his forehead. He leans down and kisses me softly.

“I love you, Triciana.”

“I love you, too, Jackson.”

And, then, the dream becomes a nightmare.

“Are you filming this?”

The voice sounds from the background. A camera appears, and it’s pointed in my direction. When I turn back to Jackson, I no longer see him, but the faces of strangers—pointing, laughing, staring at my body.

My hearts races. Sweat pours down my hairline and past my jaw. I want to run, but my feet are numb. Tied to the bed without ropes, invisible chains bind my limbs. Regardless of how I try to move, my body remains paralyzed.

To the left, girls hiss and snicker in disgust.

“What a slut. Letting a guy make a porno of her. It’s like she wants the attention.”

I try to scream. Tell them the video wasn’t my idea. I didn’t know he was going to share it. But I can’t. I open my mouth. The words won’t come out.

“I heard she has videos with the whole football team.”

“Did you see the way she went down on him? Yeah, right, she was a virgin.”

To the right, a group of men leer at me.

“Who’s the sweet, little blonde? So young and innocent. Maybe I can get a turn.”

I pull on the invisible binding. The need to run is so urgent, I panic.

“What will your daddy think now, Little Princess? We always knew you were trash.”

Suddenly, the scene changes. I’m at my high school. In the middle of the football field. Everyone is approaching me. Hundreds—no thousands of students and people from our town; strangers who saw the video on the Internet. Everyone is crowding me. They rush in to take their turn slinging painful insults.

“Whore.”

“Skank.”

“Tramp.”

I glance down. I’m naked. Hugging my arms around my body, I crouch to try to cover up.

Vulnerable. Nude. Afraid.

They’re getting closer. I spin around, searching for a way out. There is nowhere to go.

Hands reach out, clawing at my exposed flesh. The calloused hands of grown men, and the finger flicking of girls my age, make my skin crawl. The taste of heavy fog in the air lingers on my tongue, and the smell of the disgusting scent of sweat from the mob, sends me reeling in fear. I swat them away. Endless hands grab my hair, my ankles, my breasts. Tears trickle down my cheeks. I search in horror.

“Jackson,” I cry.

Where are you?

Jackson.

Why did you do this to me?

Jackson.

I thought you loved me?

“Jackson!”

 

 

PART I

MANHATTAN, NEW YOR

 

 

chapter ONE

 

My body bolts up in bed; chest heaving and skin prickling with sweat. My fingers grip the sheet as I take a second to get my bearings and focus on the wall in front of me, and the painting of the setting sun that hangs over my dresser.

“It was just a dream.” A sigh of relief escapes my lungs.

It’s been months since I had a nightmare like that. At twenty-five years old, I should be able to move on from the sins of the past. Not my sins–I did nothing wrong. It’s his sins that live on my skin. His sins that have me calling out his name as I emerge from tormented sleep.

I raise my hand to eye level and watch as it quivers like a leaf. Actually, that's a false comparison. What my hand is doing is nothing like a green blade dancing in the breeze. I’m more like a petal that is clinging to the end of a branch, desperate not to get swept away.

Falling back on the mattress, I pull away the hair stuck to my neck and rest a hand on my chest—my palm feeling the rise and fall of each breath.

It astounds me that one man could leave a scar so deep that I’m still affected. It’s not just the dreams or the nervous ticks – it's the way I live my day-to-day life straddling the past and the present, unable to see the future.

The theme song from Law & Order plays as my ringtone alerts me to a call. I pick up the phone and see Kevin’s name in white.

I swipe the screen. “Hey, babe.”

“Did I wake you?” he asks in an apologetic tone.

The clock glows ten in the evening. I must have dozed off after running errands all day.

Pressing my thumb and forefinger into my closed eyelids, and swallow down my nerves. “No,” I lie. “I'm just sitting in my room.”

“You sound shaken up,” he asks with concern and my eyes widen at his quick observation. “It’s the storm, isn’t it?”

“Yeah,” I clear my throat and give my body a shake. “Yes. It’s really coming down out there.”

“I’ve been watching the news, and I think you should come over here. The weather’s getting rough, and forecasters are calling for power outages and flooding. We should be together.”

There is a hurricane warning for the East Coast, with New York City in the eye of the storm. The Mayor has evacuated all beach areas and coastal neighborhoods. For a city made up of islands, that’s a lot of people.

“I’m fine where I am,” I assure him while rising from the bed.

Pulling back the sheer rust-colored drapes, I gaze out the window at the rain hitting the slick Manhattan streets making it look like there’s an oil spill on Avenue C.

“Trish, there’s a hundred-mile-wide storm driving up the coast. I’ll come to you,” he offers. “It’s weird you don’t want to be with me tonight. Couples run to each other in times like this.”

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