Authors: Paige Dearth
Tags: #Thrillers, #Suspense, #Fiction
Copyright © 2011 Paige Dearth
All rights reserved.
ISBN : 1461105676
E-Book ISBN: 978-1-4392-8973-0
SOME DIRT ON THE AUTHOR:
Born and raised in Plymouth Meeting, a small town west of Philadelphia, Paige Dearth was a victim of child rape and spent her early years yearning for a better life. To escape the unwanted attentions of her molester, a pedophile uncle who lived with the family, she married at the age of nineteen and moved with her new husband to Chula Vista, California. After two years of marriage during which she struggled to make ends meet, she became pregnant, only to discover that her husband was a heroin addict. Paige waited for the birth of her daughter and when the baby was just eight months old, moved back to Pennsylvania. With no formal education or money to fall back on, she courageously set out to pick up the pieces of her shattered life and make it whole once more.
Living through the fear and isolation of her youth, Paige developed the ability to create stories that would help her cope and finally put them to use by embarking on a series of novels.
Believe Like A Child,
the author’s debut offering, is the darkest version of who she could have become, had fate not intervened in the nick of time. It presents a fine balance between what lives on in her imagination and the evil that lurks in the real world.
CONNECT WITH PAIGE:
Visit her website at
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This book is dedicated to my daughter, Sweetpea, the love of my life.
Thank you for putting the Ivy Eye to the words on these pages.
Thanks to my husband, my Remo. You saved my life. I am never alone, knowing that you believe in me with such certainty. You are the greatest idea guy ever born! I will always love you.
Thanks to the Big E for coming over to the dark side with your eyes wide open.
My appreciation and love to my real-life Ebby. I will never forget what you did for me.
Thanks to Debbie (Flyers Pin Lady) and Deneen for being my first Facebook friends.
Finally, thanks to my entire family for all of your love and support.
lessa awoke in the middle of the night to find her nightgown bunched up around her chest and her uncle’s fingers between her legs. Just seven years old, she was scared and confused by what her so-called protector was doing to her and pretended to still be asleep, hoping it would make him stop. Alessa didn’t know if what he was doing was right or wrong; all she knew was that it filled her with dread. Ten minutes later, she felt as if she were going to explode right there in her uncle’s bed from the terror welling up inside her. She pretended to be just waking up, and gathered the courage to look up at him with wide, terrified eyes.
“Just lie back and be quiet,” he rasped. “I’ll make you feel really good.”
Then he placed his thick, wet mouth, still stinking of cigars, over hers and continued to explore her undeveloped body until he had finally entered her. Alessa was young, but knew instinctively that no one would believe her, if she reported what her uncle had just done to her.
Alessa was the youngest of four children and the only introvert in the group. While her family was loud and opinionated, she was quiet and timid. And because she was so different from the rest of them, she often found herself watching the chaos that ensued during family gatherings from the periphery, like an outsider who didn’t belong. She wondered why God had placed her with them. She couldn’t relate to her parents; nor did she share any of the qualities that characterized her siblings. In the constant arguing and heated debates that they had with each other, the seven-year-old found herself lost and forgotten.
Alessa lacked all of the right characteristics for becoming anything important in life. Shy and unexceptional, with rarely a smile to light up her solemn expression, she led people to believe she was a miserable little child. Her lank hair and large, serious brown eyes made her look homely. Her small frame was always draped in threadbare hand-me-downs that were always too big for her and never seemed to sit on her the way they did on her two older sisters. The youngest in the family, she stood in stark contrast to her siblings—Anna, the firstborn, and Rosabella—and Anthony, the brother who came between the two. All three flaunted thick black hair, beautiful brown eyes and radiant olive complexions. From the time she was very young, Alessa had known she was not like the rest of them. The sheer force of their outgoing personalities appealed to all and overshadowed her meek demeanor. Simply put, Alessa was forgettable.
Their maternal grandmother, who they called Grammy, lived with the family and since their mother, Caterina, was the youngest of fourteen siblings, they always had people visiting. Being an insignificant part of such a large family was unbearable for the solitary seven-year-old. She would listen to them argue with each other over the most trivial matters, as they spent hours sitting around the kitchen table, drinking coffee and passing judgment on people they knew, bitterly criticizing the way they lived their lives or raised their children. As each of these evenings drew to a close, someone would invariably stomp out of the house either in a fit of silent rage or screaming at another family member. The constant friction was traumatic for the little girl, a fact that no one else in her family sensed or understood. Turmoil was what her family thrived on, whereas all she wanted was to be in the company of people who would make her feel she belonged.
Alessa found an ally in Grammy who, given the limited number of bedrooms in their house, shared one with her. The child loved sleeping with Grammy whose very presence instilled in her a sense of security amid the ominous darkness teeming with imaginary monsters that settled around her bed at night. Every evening, when it was time for bed, Alessa would snuggle up close, her small arm linked as tightly as a vice through her grandmother’s. As Alessa lay beside her, Grammy would go through her rosary beads and murmur her evening prayers, assuring her granddaughter that monsters didn’t exist.
Alessa’s grandmother was a happy woman. Her cheerful face was framed by short, curly gray hair and her skin felt as soft and smooth as silk. The matriarch of the family, she was a gentle soul, loved and respected because of her kindness to others. She often invited neighbors and relatives to their home so she could provide them with a hot meal. Even though she wasn’t a wealthy woman, she believed in sharing what God had provided her. She would knit for hours on end so she could gift afghans in the winter to people she knew. Alessa would squeeze in beside her grandmother, as she sat knitting on her rocking chair, and often find herself dozing off, lulled by the sound of her infinitely soothing voice. In her company, Alessa always felt tranquil and completely at peace.
The family was poor and enjoyed few luxuries. One of Alessa’s most memorable ones was the weeklong vacation she had taken with her grandmother in Atlantic City, New Jersey, as a five-year-old. At the Chalfonte-Haddon Hall Hotel where they stayed, the child had felt as though she were in heaven. Wearing the new bathing suit her grandmother had bought her, she had played on the beach, building sand castles and jumping the waves. She had loved eating in the elegant dining room where she could choose whatever delicacies she wanted from the dessert table. The waiters were nice to her and attentive to their every need. Grammy had let her order Shirley Temples that were served in tall glasses with crushed ice and topped with a cherry. The vacation in Atlantic City was Alessa’s only good childhood memory. She would relive that week a million times in her mind, as she grew older and found less and less to look forward to.
When Alessa was six years old her grandmother died. Unable to imagine life without her, the child was devastated by her loss and felt there was no longer a place in her home that she could call safe. She felt bereft and abandoned without her ally, but soon found solace in a new one. It was her Uncle Danny who held and comforted her through her bereavement. She felt special and deeply loved because of the kindness he showered upon her during those dark days following Grammy’s death.
Everyone loved her Uncle Danny. He was extremely popular, a family icon, the man with all the money, and everyone sought his company. He often told stories about the mafia and most people secretly believed he worked for them. But eventually, Alessa realized, they were just stories concocted to make everyone live in awe of him. Uncle Danny’s tales were so persuasive that most people who knew him ended up giving him far more respect than he deserved. He wielded a lot of clout and everyone around him automatically bowed to his demands.
Six long months after her grandmother had passed away and shortly after her Uncle Danny’s live-in girlfriend died tragically in a car accident, he moved in with Alessa’s family.
“After all,” Caterina told her husband, “we need the money. We can’t keep this house going and raise the kids, if we don’t get some help.”
It was she, in fact, who had invited her brother to move in with them. Danny promptly accepted the offer and before they knew it, he had taken over one of the four bedrooms in their house and, along with it, Alessa’s life.
When her uncle first moved in, the little girl was excited at the prospect of having him there. Uncle Danny loved her more than anyone else in the family did and was almost a substitute for her grandmother. He had an air of confidence about him that made Alessa feel utterly safe when she was by his side. He was generous and loving with her and made her feel special, like she was the only person on earth.
Grief-stricken and vulnerable and still fearful of the monsters that lurked in her imagination, she turned to Uncle Danny who found the perfect reason to console her. Shortly after he moved into her house, Alessa’s uncle invited her to sleep in his bed. Just as she had done with her grandmother, the child would link her arm through his as she lay waiting to fall asleep. For the next several months, Alessa slept peacefully next to her protector, unafraid that the monsters of the night would attack her—until the night he raped her.
Alessa’s parents knew that their youngest child had been sleeping in Danny’s bed, but any concern they might have had over the situation was silenced when the income from their new tenant promptly alleviated their anxieties about how they would pay their bills. Caterina chose to believe her brother was in the mafia, a fact she took great pride in. She had a twisted view of reality and of the world in general. As far as she was concerned, the world revolved around this overgrown beast, her older brother. After all, he was paying her 750 dollars a month just to live in their house, a sum Alessa’s whole family lived off. Her parents didn’t go to work. Her father couldn’t, because he had been disabled in combat during the war; and her mother just wouldn’t, claiming she “needed” to stay home with the kids.
Until Uncle Danny moved in, the family had survived solely on welfare. In middle-class circles, they were known as poor white trash. Alessa was the golden goose Caterina needed to indulge her unwillingness to work and keep her finances afloat. In a short period of time, the child became the ultimate sacrificial lamb, the bargaining chip her family could use to retain their home, buy the things they needed, and maintain the lifestyle they could ill afford otherwise.
The first time Alessa’s uncle raped her, she felt isolated and helpless. The abuse became more frequent thereafter. It did occur to the child that she should tell her mother about her uncle’s behavior, but Danny enjoyed a certain standing both in her family and in the neighborhood where they lived and she was not confident about being taken seriously. By abusing her, he had stripped her of all confidence and she felt entirely defenseless, unable to resist his assaults, and at times, she felt like it was her who had caused the abuse.
What confused Alessa even more was her uncle’s assertion that whatever took place between them was a natural thing shared between two people who loved each other. After that first night, she had started sleeping in her own bed, but Uncle Danny would still wake her up in the middle of the night to quench his own sick desires. His six-foot-four-inch, two-hundred-and-seventy-five-pound body would crush her small frame so she could barely breathe in her tiny single bed.
About a year after he had started having his way with her, she woke up one night as he was thrusting his tongue into her vagina. She was still too young for pubic hair and Uncle Danny told her how much he liked her bald pussy. He was groaning and inserting his fingers inside her and grabbing at the small nipples on her completely flat chest. When he was sufficiently aroused, he shoved his penis in her face and ordered her to suck on it. When she hesitated, he grabbed the back of her head, forced her mouth open, pushed his penis between her small pink lips and repeated his order.
There were other occasions, when he would jam his thick fingers be-tween her legs just to wake her up and have sex with her. He would be gentle, at first, but when his sexual excitement got the better of him, he would forget it was just a small child lying below him. He would ram himself further and further into her until he came. Her groin ached and she would feel as though his penis were encroaching right into spaces that lay beyond her ribcage. Her vagina was sore for days afterward, making it painful for her to urinate.
Sometimes, when the family was out, leaving the two of them alone at home, Uncle Danny would find her on the sofa watching television and tell her to unzip her pants. He would remove all of her clothing with slow deliberation and proceed to do whatever he was in the mood for that night. When there was no one else in the house, he would groan and talk loudly during sex. Breathing heavily into her ear, he would tell her how much he loved her wet pussy and that she was the love of his life. He would grunt with each thrust as he ravaged her insides, finding his peculiar form of gratification between the small legs of a child. By the time Alessa was nine years old, this had become a nightly ritual for her uncle.
Year after year, the child lived cocooned in her own misery, feeling like a freak in every way imaginable. She had gradually come to understand that what her uncle was doing to her was far from normal or natural, but few options lay before her. With each passing year, she despised him more and withdrew further into herself. That monstrous being had come to consume her thoughts and her life, terrorizing her just like the imaginery monsters of the night had once done.
After she turned twelve, Uncle Danny wanted more from her. One night, she woke up to his customary groping. It was the middle of summer and the house had no air-conditioning, except for the window units in her parents’ and uncle’s rooms. The heat was stifling and a thin film of sweat covered her small body, clad in old, worn baby-doll pajamas that were frayed around the neck and along the hem of the shirt. The pajamas, which she had worn for the last four summers, were too small for her now and barely covered her body. At twelve, Alessa knew she was too old to be wearing baby-doll pajamas. But she also knew there were many other things she shouldn’t be doing, including putting up with her uncle’s sick demands.