A Safe Surrender: A Donnelley Brother's Novel (Donnelley Brothers Book 2) (3 page)

BOOK: A Safe Surrender: A Donnelley Brother's Novel (Donnelley Brothers Book 2)
4.64Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub

“I can be there.” I announced before I’d thought it through, but once the words were out, I didn’t regret them. “I’ll see you tomorrow morning.”

“Perfect.” Gracie said. “I’ll see you then, Kamilla.”


Hanging up the phone, I stared dazedly at Ember. She was holding her breath and her eyes were wide. When she finally spoke, she gave a small squeal. “Oh my goodness! You agreed to an interview for tomorrow morning!”

“I did.” I stated numbly. “Holy crap!” I slapped my hand over my mouth. “That’s like a seven hour drive.”

“Uh,” she nodded. “You’d better get packing.”

Those words made reality sink in and my shoulders fell. “I can’t do this.”

“You can.” Ember pulled my hands into hers and she squeezed. “Go home, pack your clothes, and get out of here.”


“If you make excuses now, you’ll always make them, Kami.” Her tone was pleading. “Just go.”

Tears misted my eyes and I nodded. “What about my jobs?”

“I’ll take care of it all, sweetie. I’ll call in tomorrow morning so there’s no tipping off Rhett.” She glanced down at her watch. “You have three hours until Rhett is off work. If you’re going to make it, you’ve gotta leave now.”

Tears slipped down my cheeks as I stared into her warm green eyes. “Will you visit me?”

“Every chance I get.” She promised. “And we’ll talk on the phone all the time.”

I nodded, pulling her tight against my chest. “I love you.”

“I love you too, sweetie.” She squeezed me tight before releasing me much too fast. “Now get going!”

I flicked my tears and walked to the back door. I didn’t look back, not once, as the door swung closed behind me.


Pulling my little yellow, black, and white polka dot suitcase from the closet, I piled it with every article of clothing I could squeeze into it before hauling it from the house and tossing it into my trunk. It was 1:30 p.m. and I had never been more afraid of Rhett coming home early as I was in this moment. Running back into the house, I piled my shoes into a box before throwing the rest of my clothing into a matching polka dot suitcase. I didn’t have many keepsakes, but the ones I did have I piled into my arms before taking one last look around the house. For the first time, I saw it for what it was - a dump.

I couldn’t help but pride myself for my refusal to put my name on the lease when Rhett and I had rented. I had no ties or responsibilities to remain here. I could leave and I never had to look back.

With my car loaded, I shoved my key into the ignition and backed out of the driveway. As my tires claimed the asphalt, I thought of Rhett and how we’d began.

...Music pulsed from inside the house as I followed Jana up the walkway, a girl staying in the same foster house as me. I’d been with the Preston’s for six weeks now, but Jana had been with them for years. She adored Mrs. Preston, but like most pretty girls, she didn’t like Mr. Preston. Thankfully, I hadn’t caught Mr. Preston’s eye. He thought I was too fucked up to mess around with being that my mother was murdered the way she was.

For spending so many years in the foster system, I was really very lucky that I hadn’t been abused sexually. Most children, male and female, who were in the system, had been abused at some point in their lives.

“Are you sure we should be here?” I asked hesitantly, catching the sleeve of Jana’s coat. “It looks pretty crazy.”

Jana sighed, turning to face me. “I brought you because no one else is home but Mr. Preston. Don’t be a baby, Kami. You’re fifteen. You’re not a little girl anymore.”

I frowned. “I’m not a baby.”

“Then what are you afraid of?” Jana tapped her toe and I felt a blush stain my cheeks.

I grappled for an answer, and came up blank. “I don’t know.”

She linked her fingers through mine. “Let’s go. I’ll be with you the whole time.” She flashed me a smile. “You’ve got nothing to worry about.”


Jana didn’t knock on the door of the house. Instead, she walked right in, her eyes zeroing in on a guy playing pool. There was so much smoke in the air that I could barely see through the fog. A faint scent of marijuana tickled my nose and I bit back a sneeze.

Jana leaned down to speak against my ear. “See that guy playing pool?” She yelled over the base pounding through the airwaves. “I’m gonna go talk to him.”

My heart raced. “What am I supposed to do?”

Jana spun around, smiling brightly, “Flirt, dance - I don’t really care.”

I watched her move across the house to the man playing pool and wondered just how old he was. Jana was seventeen, but the man looked much older. Twenty-three, maybe twenty-four?

The music was so loud I could barely hear myself think. Bodies were grinding together in the living room, sweaty and undoubtedly intoxicated. People were making out on the sofa - their hands wandering to places no one had ever touched me.

My face flamed bright red as I averted my eyes to anywhere else. It wasn’t long before I found that my toes were the safest place to look. Leaning against the wall, I admired my socked feet with the little cartoon characters smiling goofily up at me.

“Nice socks.” A deep voice sounded in my ear and I jumped, looking up into water-blue eyes.

My heart stuttered as I took in his appearance. His hair was long and shaggy blond - like a surfer’s and his eyes were framed in thick blond lashes. He was tall, towering over my five foot four inches and his shoulders were broad. I could tell by the glass of his eyes that he was either drinking or doing drugs - but he seemed nice enough and I didn’t know anyone at this party.

“Hi.” I said shyly.

He grinned, cocking his head to the side as he studied me through those stunning eyes. “What’s your name?”


He held out his hand, and uncertainly, I placed mine in his. “Hello, Kami,” he shook my hand, but didn’t let it go. “I’m Rhett.”

“Rhett?” I smiled. “That’s different.”

“So is Kami.”

“It’s Kamilla.” I stated. “Kami’s short.”

“I like it.” He licked his lips and my heart raced. “I like you, Kami.”

I tried to ignore my racing pulse as I struggled to reply. “You don’t know me.”

He cocked his head. “Not yet. But I will know you.” He brought my hand up to his lips. “And I’ll make you mine.”

I didn’t say anything as I stared up at this handsome creature. Never before had anyone spoken such words to me. Never before had anyone made me want to belong to another the way Rhett did.

And I didn’t even know him...

Tightening my hand on the steering wheel, I shook my head at fifteen-year-old Kami and seventeen year old Rhett. He had been such a smooth talker then, sweeping me right off my feet. But the reality was very different. He’d sensed my insecurities then and like the vulture he was, he’d pounced. I couldn’t help it, I was blaming it all on the socks. If I hadn’t worn those damn childlike socks, I might never have attracted Rhett.

But if I hadn’t had Rhett, what would the last seven years of my life been like? Although he’d become a danger to me, he hadn’t always been that way. He used to be my safe place - his arms used to protect me.

Once upon a time, I thought Rhett would do anything for me. Fifteen-year-old Kami never would have thought, for even a moment, that Rhett was capable of the horrors he’d enacted last night.

But that Kami was gone. This Kami was ready to take control of her life and the first step was leaving.

Chapter 3

I pulled into the Banff Inn and prayed they had a room. People were everywhere, lugging ski’s and snowboard’s through the snow, checking into rooms, and congregating in cherry cheeked masses as they recounted the fun of their day on the ski slopes with an animation I couldn’t help but admire.

Killing the ignition, I pulled the hood of my sweater onto my head and darted from the car. Running through the swirl of falling snowflakes, I moved into the hotel. Placing my hands onto the check-in desk, I smiled at the receptionist.

“Hello. I don’t have a room booked, but I was wondering if you have one available?”

She smiled and scanned the computer screen. “We do. How many beds?”

“Oh, it’s just me.”

She blinked. “So one bed?”

Slowly, I nodded. “Please.”

She rang me through before handing me a key card. “There’s underground parking and you’re in room 208.” She smiled widely. “Enjoy your stay.”

“Thank you.” I gave a small finger-wave as I walked back outside. Unlocking my car, I sunk into the driver’s seat before driving toward the underground parking garage. I was exhausted and I couldn’t wait to get in the shower and let some of the day’s stress wash away.

I don’t exactly think my mind has really accepted my actions as reality yet. It’s only six o’clock right now and I don’t expect my phone to explode with calls from Rhett until around ten when I don’t return home from work. I doubt he’ll notice my clothing gone and I didn’t really take much else. However, I know that when he does realize I’ve left - all hell will break loose.

Parking my car, I pulled my suitcases from the trunk before wheeling them to the elevator. I pressed the second floor and waited. It didn’t take me long to find my room. Ignoring the rowdy bunches of college kids lingering in the halls, I closed and locked my door behind me, leaning my back against the door as I sighed. I breathed in and out, in and out, in and out.

Pulling my phone from the pocket of my hoodie, I dialed Ember’s number.

She answered on the first ring. “Did you make it?”

“I’m at a hotel in Banff. I’ll stay here the night and drive to the Donnelley Ranch tomorrow morning.” I whispered. “I can’t believe I’ve ran away.”

“You didn’t run away, Kami. You’re just taking the steps you had to take to make your life better.” I nodded as she spoke assuredly through the phone.

Holding back my tears, I replied. “I wish I was as confident as you that what I’ve done is the right thing.”

“Hey,” Ember scolded gently. “You’ve done the right thing. You’re just afraid and alone right now, Kami, but you won’t always be. I promise the people at the Donnelley Ranch are super nice and the Donnelley brothers aren’t bad to look at either.”

I scoffed. “I am definitely not looking for another man, Ember.”

I imagined her rolling her eyes. “You’ll change your mind when you see how hot they are. Seriously, sweetie, that’s hot with a capital H.”

I chuckled. “Thanks for making me laugh.”

“No problem.” She assured. “So, I’m figuring by the lack of panic in your voice that Rhett hasn’t figured out you’ve left yet, huh?”

“He hasn’t called.”

“He will, Kami.” She said matter of fact. “And when he does, you need to ignore it. Do not answer your phone. Just turn it off when he starts calling, you hear me?”

“I hear you, Ember.” I said under my breath. And then I repeated, not for her, but for me. “I’ll ignore his calls.”

“Good.” She kissed the air into the phone. “I love you, sweetie, and I’m proud of you.”

“I love you too.”

“Call me for anything, anytime.” Her tone was filled with warning and I knew she was serious.

“I will.” I promised.


I hugged myself. “Bye, Ember.”

Hanging up my phone, I padded across the little room. Tossing my phone onto the bed, I lifted my suitcase before emptying its contents onto the bed. In my frazzled packing moments, I’d made quite a mess of my suitcase. I didn’t have anything else to do for the remainder of the night, so I organized my suitcases, had a long hot shower, turned off my phone, and went to bed.


I arrived at the Donnelley Ranch at 9:32 a.m. feeling nervous and excited. True to my suspicions, Rhett had blown up my phone with calls and messages. I’d deleted every one of them without reading or listening. If I listened to them, I feared I’d grow weak and either tell him where I was or return home to him.

Home - I no longer had a home. I had nowhere to go or be but here at the Ranch. Every ounce of my strength to stay away from Rhett revolved around my getting this job and having a place to be without the man I’d relied on for comfort and the illusion of safety for much too long.

Wearing my best interview outfit of black dress pants paired with a fantastic pair of high-heeled boots, a flowing cream top and a black blazer, I felt confident and hopeful. I wore my hair down like usual. My hair was my favorite feature. It was thick, dark brown, and reached down to the small of my back in loose curls. I was of Spanish descent and it was obvious by my curvy, but toned figure. My mother had been positively gorgeous and Rhett had always said that I looked just like her by the photo’s he’d seen. That was a compliment - ever since I was little I’d wanted to look like her.

Pushing my car door open, I climbed from the low seat. There was a lot of snow out here on the Donnelley Ranch, but thankfully the roads, walkways, and parking lots had been plowed. It was a nice sunny winter day, but there were plenty of people wandering about the property. I hadn’t thought it would be very busy here in the winter as Ember had only bothered to come out in the summer, but it was obvious by the number of people who were cross-country skiing, that the Donnelley Ranch was an every season oasis.

I spotted a little sign-in shop that was connected to what looked like a large house and walked in that direction. The open sign was glowing and I didn’t know where else to go. Taking the steps carefully in my heeled boots, I pulled on the door and walked through. Comfortable warmth met me and I gave a small sigh at getting out of the winter air. I wasn’t exactly dressed for the weather as much as a position.

A woman walked out from a back room holding a little green mug. The liquid in the cup was steaming and the aroma of caffeine was mouth watering.

She smiled as she caught sight of me. “Oh, you must be Kamilla? I’m Gracie.”

She offered me her hand and I shook it. “Actually, I prefer Kami for short. It’s nice to meet you, Gracie.”

“Likewise, Kami.” Gracie smiled. “I have my coworker and future daughter in law meeting us here for your interview. It was actually Reese’s idea to hire some female guides for the Ranch.”

BOOK: A Safe Surrender: A Donnelley Brother's Novel (Donnelley Brothers Book 2)
4.64Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub

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