Authors: Cherry Shephard
This eBook is licensed for your enjoyment only. It may not be sold, copied or reproduced by any means, including print, scan, copying, fax or email, without express written permission by the author.
This book is a work of fiction. Any resemblance to businesses, people or activities is purely coincidental. Some events recalled in this story did, in fact, happen, however they have been heavily fictionalized and should not be taken as fact.
Flawed (Blaze of Glory #2)
2016 Cherry Shephard
This book contains scenes that may be considered a trigger for some readers. Please exercise caution when reading, and ensure that your files are stored safely, away from person under eighteen (18) years of age. The author accepts no responsibility for any minor that may pick up this book, or any damage caused by trigger scenes in reading this book
Cover design: Sara Eirew Photography
Cover model: Darren Birks
Photographer: Darren Birks Photography
Edited by Kristin Scearse of Hot Tree Editing
eBook formatted by Cherry Shephard
For all media enquiries, please contact Mischelly Velasquez at
For Mischelly, because you called Keets first
– Black Label Society
The Sound Of Silence
Where Do We Go From Here
– Seether feat. Amy Lee
Black Gives Way To Blue
– Alice In Chains
– Alter Bridge
– Stone Sour
Suicide Note Part Two
TO LAURA IN DEATH
By Francesco Petrarca (Petrarch)
Translated by MACGREGOR.
IN HIS MISERY HE DESIRES DEATH THE MORE HE REMEMBERS HIS PAST CONTENTMENT AND COMFORT.
My favouring fortune and my life of joy,
My days so cloudless, and my tranquil nights,
The tender sigh, the pleasing power of song,
Which gently wont to sound in verse and rhyme,
Suddenly darken'd into grief and tears,
Make me hate life and inly pray for death!
O cruel, grim, inexorable Death!
How hast thou dried my every source of joy,
And left me to drag on a life of tears,
Through darkling days and melancholy nights.
My heavy sighs no longer meet in rhyme,
And my hard martyrdom exceeds all song!
Where now is vanish'd my once amorous song?
To talk of anger and to treat with death;
Where the fond verses, where the happy rhyme
Welcomed by gentle hearts with pensive joy?
Where now Love's communings that cheer'd my nights?
My sole theme, my one thought, is now but tears!
Erewhile to my desire so sweet were tears
Their tenderness refined my else rude song,
And made me wake and watch the livelong nights;
But sorrow now to me is worse than death,
Since lost for aye that look of modest joy,
The lofty subject of my lowly rhyme!
Love in those bright eyes to my ready rhyme
Gave a fair theme, now changed, alas! to tears;
With grief remembering that time of joy,
My changed thoughts issue find in other song,
Evermore thee beseeching, pallid Death,
To snatch and save me from these painful nights!
Sleep has departed from my anguish'd nights,
Music is absent from my rugged rhyme,
Which knows not now to sound of aught but death;
Its notes, so thrilling once, all turn'd to tears,
Love knows not in his reign such varied song,
As full of sadness now as then of joy!
Man lived not then so crown'd as I with joy,
Man lives not now such wretched days and nights;
And my full festering grief but swells the song
Which from my bosom draws the mournful rhyme;
I lived in hope, who now live but in tears,
Nor against death have other hope save death!
Me Death in her has kill'd; and only Death
Can to my sight restore that face of joy,
Which pleasant made to me e'en sighs and tears,
Balmy the air, and dewy soft the nights,
Wherein my choicest thoughts I gave to rhyme
While Love inspirited my feeble song!
Would that such power as erst graced Orpheus' song
Were mine to win my Laura back from death,
As he Eurydice without a rhyme;
Then would I live in best excess of joy;
Or, that denied me, soon may some sad night
Close for me ever these twin founts of tears!
Love! I have told with late and early tears,
My grievous injuries in doleful song;
Not that I hope from thee less cruel nights;
And therefore am I urged to pray for death,
Which hence would take me but to crown with joy,
Where lives she whom I sing in this sad rhyme!
If so high may aspire my weary rhyme,
To her now shelter'd safe from rage and tears,
Whose beauties fill e'en heaven with livelier joy,
Well would she recognise my alter'd song,
Which haply pleased her once, ere yet by death
Her days were cloudless made and dark my nights!
O ye, who fondly sigh for better nights,
Who listen to love's will, or sing in rhyme,
Pray that for me be no delay in death,
The port of misery, the goal of tears,
But let him change for me his ancient song,
Since what makes others sad fills me with joy!
Ay! for such joy, in one or in few nights,
I pray in rude song and in anguish'd rhyme,
That soon my tears may ended be in death!
One of the most frequent questions I’ve been asked while writing this book, is “why did you choose to write about September 11?”
I don’t believe there’s a person alive today, who forgets where they were the day the Twin Towers fell. Can you remember what you were doing? What you were wearing? I can.
9/11 impacted the world. Whether you were in America, Australia, England, New Zealand, Japan or anywhere else, you saw it, you remember it. I chose to write about 9/11 because it was heart wrenching, it was bloody and raw… it was real.
The most important job as an author, is to make sure your readers connect with your story, and your characters. By placing Keets in the middle of a well-known disaster, you can immediately relate to him, because just like him, you were there. Sure, your stories may be completely different, but we are forever united in our mutual stories of that day.
I wrote about 9/11 to honor those who fell, to make sure we never forget them.
September 11, 2001
“Damien, stop it. I’m going to be late.”
I sit back with a grin as I watch Liz scramble off the bed naked. At three months pregnant, we’re past the first trimester and her stomach is just beginning to curve. We plan on telling her family at dinner tonight; I know they’ll be thrilled. Liz has a twisted sense of humor and plans to surprise her family by turning up with a large cushion stuffed inside her dress to resemble a heavily pregnant belly. I’m not sure how her conservative mother will react, but her father’s sure to have a great laugh.
I climb off the bed and wrap my arms around her from the back, my hands clasped protectively over the tiny growing bump of her stomach. We’ve both wanted this baby for so long, but I can hardly believe it’s finally happening; I’m going to be a father. I never imagined a more perfect life than this. I nuzzle my nose into her long, thick, jet-black hair as I kiss the nape of her neck, smiling against her skin as I feel a slight shiver of longing run through her. I glance at the digital clock on my bedside table. —
With a little luck, she’s not paying attention to the time. She smells delicious, a combination of honey and warm spices. My cock grows hard and I thrust gently against the lush curves of her ass with a low growl. She moans and presses back against me as I slide one of my hands from her stomach to dip between her legs. She’s already wet, her juices coating my fingers.
“Damien, I’m serious,” she moans, pushing away and turning to face me with a regretful smile. “I have to go.”
I growl and snake my arm around her waist, bringing her flush to my naked body, my erection pressing against the juncture of her thighs. “Stay,” I order, watching her eyes roll back in her head as my free hand passes lightly over her sensitive nipple. Encouraged by her swift response, I do it again, only this time I pluck at her rapidly hardening nipple with my thumb and forefinger. Her eyes close and I know I’ve got her.
Turning our bodies slightly, I press her back down onto our bed, my head settled between her parted thighs. I breathe deeply, reveling in the slight musky scent of her arousal. My tongue sweeps a long trail against her, and she cries out as my mouth latches onto her clit, sucking rhythmically. Liz tries to squeeze her thighs shut against my head as I increase the pressure, but I force her legs open once more, using my left arm to keep them apart. My right hand moves between her legs and I slide my index finger effortlessly inside. She cries out as she arches off the bed, and I immediately move my mouth away.
“Stay still,” I growl, waiting patiently until she drops her hips back down to the bed. Nodding my approval, my mouth returns to her clit, sucking it once more as my tongue beats a staccato rhythm against it. I slide my index finger back inside, followed by my middle finger. Turning them towards the ceiling, I make a ‘come here’ motion directly on her G-spot. She reaches down and tugs my hair and I increase the pressure, demanding her orgasm. It hits, hard, and she muffles her scream against the pillow as she clenches around my fingers. I slow my hand and release her clit as I withdraw from her wetness and rise from the bed. Liz’s face is flushed a beautiful light pink, her breasts heaving with exertion as she grins up at me.
“That was amazing,” she gasps, running a hand through her dark hair as she sits up on the edge of the bed. I grin and move to stand between her legs, fisting my painfully hard cock and tapping it playfully against her soft cheek.
“My turn now,” I say, wiggling my eyebrows suggestively.
“Give me a second to catch my breath.” She laughs, smiling playfully.
I flop down on the bed beside her and lace my fingers together behind my head. She turns and crawls up to me with a smile, planting a loud kiss against my lips. I groan and fist my hands into her hair, deepening the kiss, but she gently pushes me away and kisses her way down my chest. My hands leave her hair to grip the sheet beneath me and I let out a shaky breath as her tongue runs the full length of my cock, from my balls right up to the head. I close my eyes in expectation…
“Oh, my God!” Liz screeches, and I chuckle without opening my eyes.
“I know it’s huge, but we both know you can handle it.” My eyes snap open as she scrambles off the bed and reaches for her clothes. “Where are you going, sweetheart?”
“You bastard,” she hisses, pointing at the clock, but there’s no malice in her voice as she hurriedly dresses. “You were just trying to make me late.”
“Actually, I was just trying to get a blow job.” I laugh, uncurling myself from the mattress and dropping to my knees in front of her. Placing one hand on either side of her bump, I swallow a lump in my throat as I place a gentle kiss on her belly. My child. “I love you,” I whisper, resting my forehead against her soft skin as she runs a hand through my hair. Standing, I place another kiss on her lips. “And I love you,” I murmur, cupping her cheek in my palm.
“I love you, too,” she whispers dreamily, her eyelids fluttering closed as I place a feather-light kiss on them. “Happy birthday, Damien.”
“Now go,” I laugh, swatting her ass playfully. “I have to take a cold shower or I’m gonna tie you to the bed and finish what we started.”
She shrieks in mock indignation and punches me on the shoulder as I chuckle and head for the bathroom.
Stepping out of the shower, I wrap a towel around my waist and use my forearm to rub the steam from the mirror that hangs above the sink. Grabbing a small black comb, I slick back my short, dark hair and survey my body. As a New York firefighter, I’m required to keep fit, and the Boston tattoo on my right arm helps keep me grounded. Reminds me of where I’m from.
I quickly dry myself and walk through to the bedroom. Liz has already left, but a wide grin spreads across my face as I see her white lace panties sitting proudly on my pillow.
Message received, loud and clear.
I love my woman. Her mind is as filthy as my own; she’s my perfect match.
Dressing in grey sweatpants and a black t-shirt, I sit on the edge of the bed and lace up my runners before sliding my discman into the special pouch Liz’s brother gave me last Christmas. Grabbing my keys, I shove them in my pocket as I leave the apartment. It’s a beautiful September morning, with clear blue skies, and I jog on the spot as I hit
on my discman. Slipknot blasts in my ears, waking me up faster than any cup of coffee ever could.
Checking the time on my watch,
, I set off down the road. I love these early mornings in Manhattan; the city is already bustling as people open their stores for the Monday morning rush. Cafe workers sweep the sidewalk and trucks stop to make deliveries. I nod a silent greeting to the florist, Mr. Jenkins, setting up his display, silently reminding myself to stop by on my way home to pick up flowers for Liz’s mom.
Patty, the owner of Cakes & Things, waves me over with a steaming mug of coffee. “Happy birthday, Damien.” She smiles as I remove my headphones to accept the mug from her hands and take an appreciative sip.
“Thanks, Patty. Have you seen Liz yet this morning?”
“I see that girl every morning,” she laughs. “She wouldn’t be able to function without her cappuccino and croissant.”
I can’t help but laugh along with her. Patty has Liz all figured out; my soon-to-be-wife would go nuts without her morning ritual. “Are you heading into work today?”
“Not today, ma’am.” I shake my head.
“Ma’am? How old do you think I am?”
I look Patty up and down, trying to appear contemplative as I suppress a grin. She’s old enough to be my grandmother, and we both know it. “You’re right, Patty. I’m sorry,” I say with mock sincerity as I wrap my free arm around her affectionately and kiss the top of her head. “You don’t look a day over twenty-five.”
“Damn straight.” She sniffs, but she doesn’t pull away fast enough for me to miss the mischievous grin that crinkles the corners of her eyes.
I laugh again and swallow a mouthful of coffee, watching a young couple enter into a shop across the street. “Busy morning?” I ask, glancing back at her.
“Not really.” She sighs, running a hand over her sensible, greying bun. “Have you and Liz had your first ultrasound yet?”
“Now, how do you know about that?” I laugh, shaking my head. “We haven’t told anyone.”
might not have,” Patty says with a sly wink.
I shake my head with an inward groan. I should have known better; Liz can’t keep a secret to save her life. “How many other people know?” I ask.
“Just me and Trudy. Oh, and that nice Mr. Jenkins down the road.”
“We weren’t meant to tell anyone before her parents.” I laugh, shaking my head again as I roll my eyes.
“Oh, dear, I’m so sorry.”
“It’s not your fault, Patty. We both know what she’s like with secrets.” I can still recall that time when she blurted out the details of my surprise birthday party in front of me. The crestfallen look on her face had been enough for me to pull her into my arms and comfort her, all the while trying my hardest not to fall apart laughing.
She turns away as the butcher next door waves her over, and I take a moment to lean against the cool brick wall and sip my coffee; it’s hot and sweet, just the way I like it. I flinch as a large shadow passes overhead; the pebbles on the ground shake as a loud rumble fills the air.
“What on earth is that?” Patty asks, returning once more to my side. I look up, shielding my eyes from the early morning sun with a hand.
“It’s a plane.”
It’s flying far too low to the ground; so close, in fact, that I can make out the windows on the sides. I see no people, and my suspicion is immediately piqued. Watching as it flies over lower Manhattan, an uneasy feeling twists in my gut like a knife.
“Watch out!” I yell as an explosion blasts us both off our feet. There’s a ringing in my ears and a plume of black smoke clouds my vision, making it almost impossible to see. Car alarms are going off and people are screaming as they run up the street. My training kicks in and I force myself to lie perfectly still as I check for any major injuries. I seem to be okay, and I slowly roll to my stomach and brace my hands against the concrete as I push myself to my feet, groaning when I see my smashed discman on the ground. Stooping down, I grab the headphones and plug them in to my cell phone and hang them around my neck as I shove my phone back into my pocket.
I look down to see Patty lying in the doorway to her store, blood pouring down her face from a nasty gash on her forehead.
“Stay still,” I order, quickly checking her for injuries. Finding no others, I lift her clumsily into my arms, carrying her into the store and placing her on a seat by the window. She’s clearly in shock; her face is much too pale and her lips are tinged a slight blue while she struggles to breathe. Spinning away, I race into the back of the store and grab a clean dishcloth, running it under the cold water tap and squeezing out the excess. I grab a jug of water and a glass from the fridge then take everything back out to the table.
Pulling a chair up opposite Patty, I focus on gently cleaning the blood away from the wound. It’s not deep, thankfully, and won’t require stitches. I pour her a glass of cold water and urge it to her lips. “Drink,” I say softly, but she stares past me out the window.
“Damien,” she says in a choked whisper. There’s something in her voice that makes me pause, and I slowly turn my head to where she’s looking. At first, I see nothing… then I look up. The plane we’d seen just moments ago is now embedded in a wall of smoke and flames in the side of the north World Trade Center. Liz’s workplace. I’m frozen in place as I stare helplessly out the window, too shocked by what I’m seeing to react.
“Damien,” Patty chokes out again, and I turn my head toward her. She’s saying something, but there’s a loud buzzing in my ears and I can’t make it out.
“… Liz… your phone…”
The haze clears as I pull my phone from my pocket and see three missed calls. Hitting
, I shove my headphones back onto my head as I spin away from the window and start pacing the small cafe. “Come on, Liz, pick up,” I mutter, stalking back to the window and pressing my face against the glass, looking up at the plane once more. The World Trade Center is only a block away from where I stand. Pocketing my phone, I walk back to Patty and place my hand on her forehead. The bleeding has slowed and she seems to be breathing easier. I believe she’s going to be okay.
Crouching down beside her, I take her wrinkled hands in mine. “Patty,” I say quietly, waiting until she looks at me again. There’s a keen sadness in her once-wise eyes, and it presses against my chest, making it difficult to breathe. “Stay here,” I tell her, standing and patting her shoulder awkwardly. Part of me wants to stay, but I need to go. Something inside me screams that Liz needs me.
Stepping outside the cafe, I’m stopped by the sound of my phone ringing through my headphones. Pressing the button on the cord to connect the call, I stand outside the shop, leaning against the brick wall. “Hello?”