Authors: Scarlett Jade
Wild Rose Series
Christina didn't stop the crash of reality from coming down on her best friend Grace after she fell in love with the sexy professor Drake Stone. She hated herself as she continued to lie to her, but lying was the only thing she'd ever known. It had always been easier to tell a colorful lie than admit to a dark truth.
Protecting Grace from the truth until the last minute was the goal, when she'd need her best friend's forgiveness and help more than ever. All she could hope for when the dust settled from the bombshell of the biggest lie she'd ever told was that what was broken could be repaired. Christina had a plan all along from the minute she found her time was running out—the littlest wild rose would have a family. At all costs.
This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places and incidents are either the product of the author’s imagination or used fictitiously, and any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, business establishments, events or locales is entirely coincidental.
All rights reserved.
Copyright 2014 © Scarlett Jade
Published by Beau Coup Publishing
Cover by JRA Stevens
For Beau Coup Publishing
ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. This book contains material protected under International and Federal Copyright Laws and Treaties. Any unauthorized reprint or use of this material is prohibited. No part of this book may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying, recording, or by any information storage and retrieval system without express written permission from the author / publisher.
Christina knew from the moment her teacher suggested she suck his dick in exchange for a good midterm grade, she was in trouble. But what she never expected was things getting out of hand. Way out of hand. She’d always thought she had everything under control, but then again, most liars believe that about themselves. Then suddenly, the secrets she had struggled to keep kept getting bigger and bigger, and soon the waves of lies took over, burying her.
Lying about her family being nudists to Grace had been a silly, simple lie, but they had just continued to grow. Next thing she knew, she was lying about her professor, saying she had rebuffed his advances. Truth be told, it thrilled her knowing she had power over him by using her body to get straight A’s in his class. Too soon, she found herself lying on his desk while he clumsily thrust into her body. His fumbling and thirty seconds of thrusting made it worth it, because once he was done, she reminded him of what he'd done and told him to take a look at Drake Stone.
“Do you want to end up like that? Don't you dare screw me over, because if you do I will tell.” Professor Humphrey had been all too eager to shut her up with a great grade. She finished the first semester of Yale with all A’s and B’s, and another secret. This one made her sick to her stomach and she couldn’t push it to the back of her mind as easily as her other ones. Some niggling feeling wouldn’t leave her alone about this lie. It was a big one, the biggest yet. But no one would ever know, and hey, what was the worst that could happen?
Christina knew she was beautiful, she had been told that her whole life, as long as she could remember. The parade of men her mother brought into the house were big on telling her she was beautiful, right before they would fondle her. In a way she began to hate her looks. She longed more than anything to be average, to be someone no one took another glance at. Grace was that kind of girl, before Christina pushed her. That was another regret Christina carried, pushing her best friend to be someone she really wasn’t. But Grace seemed to be happy now in her new life.
A part of her wondered if her mother had known what the men she loved did in their spare time. She hated to imagine that someone who was supposed to love her unconditionally, and keep her safe, would allow something like that to go on. There had been that time, when she was six, and her mother's latest boyfriend Paul had molested her; going all the way, penetration and convincing her to touch him. Then she had seen Paul give her mother money and a big kiss when it was over. That money had bought her a doll, a beautiful, porcelain doll that she hated. More than anything in the world.
It had flaxen hair just like hers and huge blue eyes that closed when it lay down. Just like Christina’s own cobalt eyes would slide closed when she was forced to lie down and comply. “Just hush, baby, lie back for me. This will be our little secret. You’re so beautiful.”
When she was eight, the beautiful doll had an unfortunate “accident.” Christina had climbed the tree in their backyard after husband number four had slipped his hand in her panties. When she reached the very tip top of the tree, she threw the doll down. A gleeful little smile had crossed her lips as the doll shattered. First her little arm cracked on a branch, then her creamy, perfect leg broke, and finally, her beautiful face shattered against a rock at the bottom of the tree.
Christina happily took the spanking for breaking her doll. She never had to look at the tangible evidence of her abuse again. She’d known it was wrong from the first time it happened, but as her family taught her, what happens in this house stays in this house. We keep our secrets. We keep ourselves safe. As time and men went on, her mother had more children. It seemed like each new man brought on a new kid and after a while, the passel got out of hand. Maybe her mother was hoping that getting pregnant again would make the man stay, but they never did. They all skipped town before the pee would dry on the pregnancy test. Her mother had more abortions under her belt than hookers had STDs. Kelly Morgan was well known around town for being the biggest slut. All it took was a man wiggling his finger at her, folks said, and she’d spread her legs.
Christina had seemed like she was going down the same path. At least until she got pregnant at fourteen and was shaken up completely. That pregnancy had been caused by husband number five. Christina had developed a little earlier than most girls and good old Earl had decided she was ready for some backwoods teaching about real life. A forced back alley abortion by her mother’s favorite chop shop and some mental and physical scars had her and her siblings bouncing from foster home to foster home, after she told her counselor at school who had impregnated her. Seemed like the state wasn’t real keen on that backwoods real life teaching. Her mom got them all back within the year and with that, husband number six and baby number six. Christina had fallen between the cracks and the state didn’t even seem to care anymore. Maybe they had more pressing things to deal with. It was made perfectly clear that she should just shut her mouth and deal with it. In fact, as the social worker had taken them home, she’d pointedly told Christina to stop being dramatic and grow up.
School ended up being Christina’s safe haven. The counselor at school had told her that her life was her own and she could pull herself out of the hell she grew up in, but that she had to want it more than anything in the world. Christina had fostered those words deep in her heart as she studied hard. She ended up graduating and acing her SAT, which had impressed Yale. They considered her a “special interest” person and offered a scholarship.
Christina had been beating husband number six, when she found him jerking off in front of her baby sister Chrysalis as the letter came telling her she was free. Free from the bonds of shit she had grown up in and that she could leave it all behind. At least for the semester. With Christmas coming up, she would have to go back home. Yale didn’t allow students to stay in the dorms.
Grace had offered a room at the porn mansion in Phoenix, and while the thought seemed tempting, she didn't know if she could face her best friend for two weeks without spilling the ugly, dark secrets burdening her soul regarding Grace and Drake. She knew she’d never be able to hold everything in, seeing Grace. And keeping it all inside was something she had to do. Christina was afraid that if she started to talk she’d never be able to stop and there were some things in her past she wasn’t ready to dredge up.
Lying to them both was one of her biggest regrets. To ease her soul sometimes, she would type out an e-mail to Drake, but she could never send it. If she sent it, it meant telling him that she never told Grace how he felt. Because she was trying to save her friend. Even though her friend didn't need saving.
Maybe I am the one who needs saving, who needs to be found.
The day before she left for home, Christina was rushing around the dorm, packing for the trip to upstate New York when she began to notice spatters of crimson dotting the floor.
What the hell?
She searched her arms and hands, thinking perhaps she had nicked herself somehow. Only then did she notice the dampness on her lip and with a groan, ran for the bathroom. Blood trickled slowly from her left nostril and she jammed a wad of toilet paper in there and tossed her head back.
Sometime later, the bleeding stopped and she cleaned up the splatters through the room.
Maybe my nose was dry from being inside so much, like the hot air from the vents dried out my nose. Ugh stupid body!
She’d had allergies for as long as she could remember and was always coughing a tiny, dry, annoying little cough. Nothing seemed to help, so she just dealt with it and kept peppermints and cough drops in her purse like an old lady. Shrugging off the strange thoughts that coursed through her, she continued to pack. A quick flight and being picked up by her mom at the airport would get her home for the holidays.
Leaving her laptop sitting on the desk for last, she finished her packing and sat down to pen a quick email to Grace.
I'm so glad to hear things are going so great with your dad, and I think it's really awesome that your grandparents are coming down for the holidays. Are you gonna tell them what your dad does? I can only imagine what they will think! Hah! I'm all packed and ready to go home, well, as ready as I can be. I appreciate your offer of coming to Phoenix, and I wish I could come down, but with mom being sick and all, I think it's best if I head home.
Have a great Christmas and I'll email you probably sometime after I get back to school in January. I'm heading out in just a couple of hours and Internet is spotty out there, and cell phones? Fuggetaboutit! Anyway. Merry Christmas, slut. :P
Closing her laptop she smiled and slipped it into her bag.
It's just one more lie. Mom isn't sick, but it's not really hurting Grace...at least she's happy, right? She has a family that loves her and being in Phoenix is a great thing for her. Maybe I'm being selfish. I could tell her that he left, and that he loved her. But what's the point? It would do nothing but cause trouble and make her feel bad. No one should feel bad at Christmas.
Christina raised her tray and buckled her seatbelt as the plane prepared to land. Taking the last sip of her now lukewarm soda, she grimaced at the dull ache in her throat.
Oh great, am I getting sick?
Running a hand down the length of her neck, she frowned as she felt lumps under her skin.
Eww, I guess I’m getting sick, my lymph nodes are huge.
Glancing around the cabin of the plane, she silently cursed all that joined her on the little plane.
Thanks you crusty jerks for getting me sick!
She knew she couldn’t have picked something up that quick, but it made her feel a little better to mentally shake a fist at them all.
The plane taxied down the runway and came to a shuddering stop. She’d always hated riding on the tiny planes to upstate New York. It felt much like being a tiny gnat in the sky. One good gust of air and they would tumble to the ground. Gathering her coat around her and pulling her small suitcase from the overhead compartment, she followed the other passengers out of the tiny plane and down the steps to the cold tarmac below. A chill breeze wafted by, followed by a few snowflakes and Christina groaned.
Great, it’s gonna snow.
She hustled across the expanse between the plane and the door, groaning in relief as she opened the door and warmth from inside wafted over her. Her mother was nowhere to be seen in the terminal and Christina plopped down in one of the bright orange plastic chairs that lined the walls to wait. Kelly had never been known for being punctual and even picking up her eldest child from college wasn’t apt to make her hurry. Christina knew she had at least an hour to wait. She’d texted her mother twice to let her know the time and Kelly had promised to be there. She opened her purse, pulled a worn paperback out and opened it to read. She found herself caught up in the story and didn’t notice the passage of time. As she finished the book, she glanced up and moaned as she realized it was pitch black outside.
“Really, Mom?” she mumbled to herself as she thrust the book back into her bag. Once again it looked like she’d be paying for a taxi out to the middle of nowhere. Christina had been saving for years for college, but it didn’t mean she was made of money. Fast food restaurants hadn’t paid that much. She picked up her bag and hurried to the front door of the terminal. Stepping out into the icy night, she muttered a soft
, as she saw there were no taxis to take. A light layer of snow covered the ground and tiny flakes steadily fell from the murky sky. She rushed back inside and walked to the information desk.
“Excuse me, can you call a taxi for me?”
The middle-aged woman at the desk looked up with a bored expression and shook her head. Her short, bobbed black hair swayed around her pudgy face. “Nope, sorry, sweetheart, the taxis are all out. It’s gonna be a wait. With all this snow they have to drive real slowly. Heck, most of them might not even work much later.”
Christina groaned and smiled tightly at the woman. “Okay, thanks.” She turned away from the desk and ran her hand through her long blonde hair.
What am I gonna do?
“Excuse me, miss. I heard you needed a taxi? Where to, sweet thing?” An older man with a heavy paunch and balding head stood nearby.
Christina sighed and smiled again. “Near Oswego.”
“Ooh, that’s a little bit of a jaunt. But I’d be happy to haul you out that way. I have a jeep. I just got into Syracuse myself, and I’m not too far from where you need to go. What do you say, sweetheart?”
Christina weighed her options quickly. Sit and wait on her mom maybe coming, a taxi, or take this stranger’s offer. His face seemed kind enough, but she’d never been a great judge of character. Taking a leap of faith, she held out her hand for him to shake and pasted a bright grin on her face. “Sure! I’d love that. I’m Christina…and you are?”
His slightly damp hand gripped hers and she shuddered. “I’m Rand. Come on, Christina, my jeep is just out here.” He thumbed toward the parking lot and walked in that direction.
Apprehension prickled at her as she followed him out into the dark lot, but she shrugged it off.
I gotta get home. When I see my mother, she’s going to get a damn earful! I told her like twice I was coming in today and what time. Now I have to take a ride from this old dude named Rand just to get home. My throat hurts, I don’t feel good, and I want to go to sleep. I’m probably catching the flu or something. Man, my classes were killers and with all the stress, it’s no freakin’ doubt I’m sick. At least we’re only forty minutes out or so, depending on the roads. Then I’m going to get some cheapo hot cocoa mix and drink it in water, because I know Mom won’t have milk. But it will work. And I’ll be warm.
She climbed in the cab of his black jeep and stuck her bag between her feet before buckling up. “Hey, thanks a bunch for giving me a ride, I really appreciate it.” He started the car and loud country music blared from the speakers. She winced until he turned it down and replied.
“Sure thing, sweetheart. A pretty girl like you shouldn’t be hanging around an airport all by yourself.” She pressed herself back against her seat and stared out the window as he turned onto the main road. The back of the jeep fishtailed slightly and her breath caught in her throat. Rand glanced at her quickly and his hand patted her knee. “Don’t be scared, sweetheart. Old Rand will take care of you.”
A shudder coursed through her as he gripped and massaged her knee for a moment and she pushed his hand away quickly. “Thanks, I’m just fine.”
“You sure are…you sure are.”
Snow pelted the windshield and Christina held her breath several times as they drove out of Syracuse. Rand liked to drive a little faster on the slick roads than was safe and they had fishtailed too many times already. The road stretched out before them and snow lay thick on the road. The darkness penetrated the cab of the jeep and the vehicle shivered as a gust of wind swept around them.
Suddenly the jeep began to slow and Christina glanced at her beefy, balding driver. “What’s going on?”
Rand didn’t answer. He continued to slow the vehicle and pulled over on the side of the road before he spoke. “I’m going to collect your fare.”
“What?” Christina choked out, her voice high in her rising panic. She unbuckled herself and moved to open her door. Horror filled her as she couldn’t open the door. “Let me out of the jeep.”
“No, I’ve driven you this far, and now I’m going to settle our debt right here and now, before I drive you any further.” Rand shut off the engine and the only thing Christina could hear over the thunder of her heartbeat was the rush of the storm around them and Rand’s coarse breathing.
“Please. Don’t do this,” she begged softly.
“Come on now, sweetheart, a pretty girl like you ought to know what to expect. Nothing in life is free, precious. Not a damn thing. Pretty girls get to pay extra.” Rand reached over for her leg again and Christina swatted at his hand, pushing the beefy appendage away for the moment.
“I can give you money,” she cried, knowing even as she uttered the words that her fight was futile.
I’m screwed. What did I get myself into?
Rand laughed, the sound harsh to her ears, and fear crawled even higher up her spine. “Sweetheart, I don’t want your money. I want something else entirely.” His hand came back across the cab and landed firmly on her upper thigh, where he squeezed tightly.
“You’re hurting me,” Christina breathed, grimacing from his grip.
“Then don’t fight me. Just lie back like a good girl, close your eyes and it will all be over soon. God, you’re so pretty…”
Christina choked on the bile rising up her throat. Every man who had ever abused her whispered the same words to her.
Just lie back, like the beautiful porcelain doll and close your eyes. Be pretty for me, baby. Let me show you how beautiful I think you are.
Tears filled her eyes and she rasped out as his hand crept higher. “Please, don’t do this to me.” Her fingers gripped the handle of the door and she jerked it over and over, praying that she could get out of the car.
Rand’s crushing grip inched ever closer to the place that had never been private or sacred and she winced with each inch he moved. Her thigh would be covered in bruises. She sobbed out as his fingers swept against her mound and she pushed at his hand. “Don’t do this, please!”
“Shut up, bitch. Lie back, close your eyes and take it. You’re gonna pay to ride in my truck. A ride for a ride.” Christina shrieked as suddenly her seat fell back and her seatbelt was unbuckled. Rand gripped the front of her jeans and ripped them open. She slapped his face and screamed as his hand shoved inside her thin lace panties.
The sound of fabric ripping filled her ears as his rough fingers jammed deeper between her legs. “Fight me all you want, you little bitch, but I’m going to get what I want.”
Christina doubled up her fists and hit Rand as hard as she could on the side of his face, her shrieks growing louder as she beat everywhere she could reach. The crack of his hand against her cheek made her head recoil to the side and she sobbed out in pain. “Stop!”
“Don’t fight me, dammit!” Rand growled, and Christina only fought harder. She punched him in the face again, connecting somewhere between his nose and eye along his cheek. The last thing she remembered was his hand coming around her throat and the painful grip of his fingers as he bounced her head up and down against the seat. A final sharp, blossoming pain somewhere behind her eyes made her close them, and the last thing she saw as she succumbed to the darkness was her beautiful doll’s face, the sweet crystalline eyes sweeping closed.