Read A Safe Surrender: A Donnelley Brother's Novel (Donnelley Brothers Book 2) Online
Authors: Alannah Carbonneau
By the time I’d finished my shower, dressed, and hidden my bruises, I didn’t even have enough time to make a pot of coffee. Throwing open the bathroom door, I stiffened when I saw the kitchen light was on. Rhett didn’t wake up until seven on a good day.
With a pounding heart, I moved through the hall. Hesitantly turning into the kitchen, my eyes caught sight of the man I’d once viewed as my savior kneeling on the floor with the trash can, picking up the pieces of his plate. The sight was shocking. Usually, he left his messes for me.
“Hey,” he said as he caught sight of me standing in the entrance. “I, uh, made you coffee.”
“Oh.” I glanced to the coffee pot that was full and steaming. “Um, thanks.”
I didn’t move and Rhett rose to his full height. He pointed to the coffee pot. “You gonna pour a cup? I thought we could talk.”
“I’ll have to take it to go.” I shifted awkwardly. “I’m going to be late if I don’t head out now.”
He nodded. “Kay. When will you be home?”
“I work until nine at the animal shelter.” I offered a forced smile as I passed him to retrieve my coffee mug from the cupboard. “I’ll see you then.”
“Okay.” He moved to stand behind me as I poured my coffee and I felt my every muscle tense. “Can I have a kiss?”
I stiffened, adding a dash of cream into the black liquid. “Uh, sure.”
I felt his hand settle on my waist and then he was turning my body to face him. “Do you want to kiss me?”
His eyes were tense and I didn’t want to make him angry. I didn’t have time for another fight. “I always want to kiss you.”
“Good.” He slammed his mouth against mine kissing me with a possessiveness I was only just beginning to see for what it was. Dangerous. Obsessive. Terrifying.
When Rhett pulled back, my lips felt raw and swollen. He smiled, wiping his thumb over the plump flesh. His voice was deep and husky and I felt my belly clench in ill feeling. “I like seeing my marks on you.”
I shivered, thinking that he didn’t even realize how many marks he was leaving on me. Not only had he bruised and scratched my body, but he’d cut my soul and stabbed at my heart. His actions and words had left their marks - some could be seen by the eye while others were a little harder to spot, but they were there none-the-less.
“I’ll see you later, okay.” I pulled my mug of coffee from the counter. “Have a nice day at work.”
“Yeah,” Rhett watched me scurry from the kitchen. “Later.”
I pulled my little burnt orange Chevrolet Cobalt coup into a parking stall of the Animal Shelter, killing the ignition. This car was the most expensive thing I had purchased at seven thousand dollars. I had a bank loan for it and never failed to make my payments. I was assured that these payments could make or break my credit score. I was aiming for a perfect credit score and I didn’t purchase anything that I couldn’t buy outright - apart from my little baby.
Throwing open my car door door, I stepped out into the snow, bending down to tug the bag with my change of clothes from the back seat. I didn’t like getting my expensive workout gear dirty with dog slobber and cat hair. At the Shelter, I tended to wear jeans and a t-shirt.
Stepping through the door of the Shelter, I waved at the girl manning the front desk on my way to the back room. Pulling open the door to the small change room, I caught sight of Ember and sighed audibly.
Ember was my best friend, and the only one who knew anything about my life before this town, apart from Rhett. She was a bombshell of a woman with loud morals and even louder opinions. If she didn’t agree with something, you knew it, and if you didn’t know it, you were deaf, blind, or both.
“Hey, girl,” she tipped her head back, taking a long swig of her water bottle. “How are you this lovely snowy day?”
“I can’t wait for summer.” I huffed my grunted reply. “I’ve even been wearing dresses around the house trying to push the season.”
She chuckled, shaking her head. “You do realize it’s only February. You’ve got at least another two months left of snow.”
I groaned before adding hopefully. “March can be nice.”
“Yeah,” she nodded. “If you live anywhere else in the world but lovely Alberta.”
My eyes turned deadpan as I glared at her. “You’re determined to kill my hope.”
“Just telling it how it is.” She said sweetly, but bluntly, and I rolled my eyes.
“Do you ever tell it any other way?” I asked as I pulled my shirt over my head, clipping my chin roughly in the process. I hissed in a breath and flinched at the feel of the pressure against my tender flesh.
Tossing the shirt into my bag, Ember gasped. “Oh shit,” she crossed the distance between us in a flash.
Reaching up, she ran her hands over what I was assuming were now visible bruises. Glancing down at the workout shirt in my bag, I groaned at the sight of the cover-up staining the light pink material.
“Ember,” I pushed her hand away. “Please don’t.”
“Did this happen last night?” She demanded, pinning me with determined eyes. “Tell me the truth, Kami.”
“Yeah,” I nodded, pulling my t-shirt over my head as I walked to the mirror with my bag of makeup. I seriously hated wearing this crap, but Rhett left me with little to no choice.
“He came home late and drunk.” I shrugged. “It’s what always happens.”
“He didn’t,” she frowned. “He didn’t do anything else, did he?”
“Why do you ask?” My eyes connected to hers in the mirror. Goosebumps prickled my flesh and my heart raced at an uncomfortable pace.
“You’re not usually this flippant about it. You’re acting like it doesn’t even matter.” She said quietly. “So, I’m asking, did he do anything else?”
Sighing, I debated on lying to Ember, but then I decided against it. She deserved the truth. I was leaving him - soon. I just didn’t know when or how yet, but I’d figure it out eventually.
“Yeah.” I nodded, feeling so deeply ashamed. “He did something else.”
She pulled in a shaky breath, but held her eyes on me. “Tell me.”
I frowned at her in the mirror. “I’d rather not.”
“If you don’t tell me, I’ll confront him about it, Kami.” She threatened and I tensed. Because as much as I didn’t want to talk about this - I knew Ember. No one scared her. She would go to Rhett and she would confront him. And then I would be in trouble.
“I don’t really know how to explain what happened.” I snapped, closing my eyes to keep the tears from falling. “I guess - I guess he forced himself on me.”
“He raped you.” I barely even heard her words. Opening my eyes, I saw that her hand was covering her mouth and her eyes were wide and misted. “I’m so sorry.”
Again, I shrugged. “I understand the power of lust better than most people, Ember.” My tone was bitter, but when you had a past like mine, it was hard not to be. “It shouldn’t be a surprise. Rhett’s been cracking for a while, crossing lines - changing. I should have anticipated it.”
“Sweetie,” she shook her head, reaching out for me with her tender touch. It was too much.
I was too ashamed.
I stepped away from her, feeling suddenly tense. “My mother was a stripper. She induced lust that was never satisfied and she was murdered for it, Ember. Don’t
, and don’t try and make it into something it’s not. I know what happened is wrong, but I’m just as at fault as Rhett.” I knew my next words were going to break her heart, but I said them anyway. “I didn’t even fight him.”
Ember shook her head and I watched her desperate eyes search my face. “You can’t seriously think you’re to blame for this, Kamilla. That’s fucking bullshit and you know it.” She ran a hand through her hair, seeing right through my defensive tone. Ember always saw through my defense and right down to the raw, bleeding source, of my pain. “You’ve got to leave him.”
?” I cried, raising my hands.
I’d finally cracked. Ember, the one person who knew me better than Rhett, had made me crack. All my cool calm control just went right out the window. Emotion threatened to drown me. My throat was tight and the air that existed around me made me feel as though it was a moment away from suffocating me. It was life, but in this moment, its weight was threatening. And I was terrified.
“You can stay with me.” She said sternly.
“Your place is the first place Rhett is going to go to look for me. When I leave him, I can’t chance going somewhere he’ll find me, Ember.” I blinked and the tears that had so desperately longed to fall slid down my cheeks. Ember sighed, pulling me into her arms even against my struggle. “He’ll never let me go willingly. I don’t know how to leave him or where to go.”
Giving into her determined affection, I fell against her chest, before my arms circled around her body and I held her tight. I held onto Ember with a desperation that said she was my one and only lifeline. I knew my hold on her was a painful one. My arms were locked so impossibly tight around her small frame, but not once did she protest or wince. She didn’t pull away or even wiggle in my arms to relieve some of the pressure of my arms. Instead, like the admirably strong woman she was, she held me just as tight. She let me know she was there for me. That I could hold onto her as long as I needed to.
And I cried in her arms.
I cried because despite the loss I had faced in this cruel world, I had gained someone like Ember who possessed not only the strength to pull me to my feet when I was too beat down to pull myself up, but the spirit I needed in my life to show me that there was another way.
“You can’t stay with him, sweetie.” She pulled back to catch my eyes with hers - ensuring I understood her words. “It’s too dangerous.”
I sobbed at the complete and utter hopelessness of my situation. I was terrified and hurting and I had nowhere to turn. I had no family. Rhett and Ember were all I had - they were the only two people I’d allowed inside my heart after my mother’s murder. And now Rhett wasn’t a safe place. He was a danger, and eventually, if I remained with him, my fate would be my mothers.
“I have an idea.” Ember announced, glancing up at her phone and grinning. Her eyes were glowing brightly and her cheeks were puffed in excitement as she waved the piece of technology at me.
I peeked at her phone before my eyes flickered back up to hers and I frowned. “What?”
“You know that Ranch I spend a week at every summer riding horses?”
I nodded slowly, still not understanding where she was going with this. “The Wild something or other?”
“The Donnelley’s Wild Land Tours.” She corrected promptly.
“What about it?” I asked with hesitation.
“They’re hiring.” She waved her phone again. “I saw the ad a while back. I have them on my Facebook and Twitter. The ads right here.”
I held out my hand, feeling my heart race with the forbidden hope of a way out. And the fear of leaving the only life I’d ever built to start over from scratch. “Can I see it?”
She nodded. “Absolutely!”
Glancing down at her screen, I began reading through the ad posted into her Facebook feed. With every sentence my eyes gobbled up, I felt something that resembled relief form inside of me and I knew that my leaving Rhett was possible. It was the right thing to do, and as intimidating as it was, it had to be done. If I didn’t put myself out there, nothing would change.
The Donnelley Ranch is NOW HIRING for Wild Land Tour Guides!
Wild Land Tours is a family run business, offering guided tours through the wild Alberta Mountains. We’re located an hour outside of Banff. We offer many services, including lessons on mountain climbing, white water rafting, horseback riding, and lengthy expeditions into the wild. At the Donnelley Ranch, we strive to find peace from everyday life in the steady calm of the wild. We offer cabins for our guests to rent while they stay at the Donnelley Ranch, but we also offer areas for our guests to camp by tent or RV.
We’re looking to hire for a few positions, mainly females who either are experienced in mountain climbing, white water rafting, or horseback riding. We’re looking for experience, however drive and desire will always triumph over experience here at the Donnelley Ranch.
If you’re interested and can show your desire to be part of our team, we would be willing to provide you with the training you’ll need to excel here at the Donnelley Ranch.
You can contact my colleague, Reese James, for an interview at the email or phone number below, or me, Gracie Donnelley.
We look forward to hearing from you.
By the time I was finished reading through the ad a second, and then a third time, I was determined.
Glancing up at Ember, I asked. “Can I use your phone?”
She grinned, support shining through her eyes. “Make the call, sweetie.”
“Good afternoon, Gracie Donnelley speaking.” An older woman answered the phone and I swore I could hear my heart pounding in my ears.
“Hello, Gracie. My name is Kamilla Reyes and I’m calling about your ad for hire.”
“Oh, lovely!” She exclaimed into the phone, making me feel a little less nervous with her bright, contagious enthusiasm. “Do you have any experience?”
“Oh, um, not really.” I replied uncomfortably. “But I really want a shot at a position with you and your ad said that experience wasn’t as important as drive if I wanted to learn. You wouldn’t even have to pay me until I know what I’m doing. I can do anything you want me to do,”
She interrupted me with a chuckle. “You certainly sound driven, Kamilla. Do you have a preference for what you’d like to learn? White water rafting? Mountain climbing? Horseback riding?”
“Um, not really. I actually have never done any of those things.”
“What’s interesting?” I breathed into the phone.
“That you’re so desperate for a position to do something you’ve never even tried.” She replied without missing a beat.
“I,” I didn’t know what to say to that. “I like to learn. And I’m looking for a different pace of life.”
I thought I heard a smile. “I’m going to say, that tentatively, you’re hired, Kamilla. I’d like to meet you tomorrow morning if you can get here - I’m not sure where you’re calling from.”