Authors: K. B. Webb,Hot Tree Editing
Follow You Down
Copyright © 2014 K.B. Webb
Cover Design ©, Arijana Karčić
Cover It! Designs
Executive Editor, Virginia Cantrell,
Hot Tree Editing
Interior Design by Angela McLaurin,
This book is a work of fiction. Names, characters and incidents are the product of the author’s imagination. Any resemblance to actual events or persons, living or dead, is coincidental.
To Keitha Danielle
For being my heart, my soul, my best friend
“We made a deal ages ago. Men, babies, it doesn’t matter. We’re soul mates.”
Sex and the City 2
Growing up, my mother always used to say, “Dani, life’s hard; then you die.” My mother has never been an extremely poetic woman, but she’s always been right. Right now, hundreds of miles away from my family and the only life I’ve ever known, life is fucking hard.
I hate myself for the mess I’ve made of my life and the ones around me. I’ve become the person I swore I never would be, a selfish, self-centered child. I’ve done things without thinking of the repercussions of my actions. Even worse, sometimes I thought of the repercussions, and still did terrible things; still did things that I knew would hurt others, but I didn’t care. I did what I wanted. All I cared about was what would make me happy; fuck everyone else.
I have always believed in karma. I just never thought it would come back on me as hard and as hurtful as it has, but I guess it’s what I deserve. My karma came in the form of losing a man I thought loved me, a man who is very powerful and
much married. Apparently, the love we had could be easily thrown away when there was a multimillion-dollar business and a messy, public divorce at stake.
As I sit in this overpriced apartment, looking at boxes stacked against the wall, I hate how this place makes me feel. This gorgeous, empty apartment, with a balcony that has a breathtaking river view, makes me feel dirty and cheap. This stunning apartment, with its granite counter tops, stained hardwood floors, and custom cabinets were bought with hush money. Money I received after I signed a lengthy non-disclosure agreement that stated I would never speak of the torrid affair I’d had with one of Dallas, Texas’ most powerful men. When I signed that agreement, I signed my one-way ticket to hell. Not just the fiery pit I will likely have a window view seat to, but the one I’m currently living in.
Living in Monroe, Louisiana was not part of my plan, neither was bartending at a hole in the wall bar. All of this was a step down for me. Three months ago, I was dancing on the main stage at Temptations, the most exclusive strip club in Dallas, for businessmen, ball players, and musicians. Now, I would be working for tips serving drinks to rednecks and college kids.
I don’t really need the money, but I can’t sit around this apartment all day. I need something to do. It was my mother’s idea for me to bartend. She is convinced that being around people will bring my spirits up. She’s wrong, but I won’t tell her that. She is trying so damn hard to help me through this shitty time in my life. She has never judged me for my actions. She is my rock, my best friend.
Gail Hartley is the quintessential southern mother. Stay at home mom and wife, PTA member, and head of her social circle. She always has her blonde hair styled perfectly and wears pearls with every outfit. On the outside, she looks like the ideal Stepford Wife, but she couldn’t be more opposite if she tried. My picture perfect looking mother is a part time firearms instructor and teaches a self-defense class to victims of domestic violence. She can skin a deer and pluck a duck faster than any man I’ve met, and can cook them better than any chef. My mother is an amazing woman on every level. She also has a heart of gold. When I told her I had decided to put college on hold and work instead as a stripper, she never got mad. She just told me that she would love me no matter what and my life was my journey to map out; I had to make my own decisions. When my secret love affair blew up in my face, she never once said I told you so or tried to condemn me for my actions. Instead, she helped me pack up my house and did her best to help me mend my broken heart. After looking online for weeks, she found me an apartment in this small college town and helped me enroll in a few college courses. When she saw the sign at Ricky’s, stating they were looking for a new bartender, she basically demanded the owner, Geo, to give me the job. Even though I had basically no bartending experience, he agreed. That is the kind of person my mother is. She can pretty much convince anyone to go along with what she wants them to do, and do it with a smile on their face.
My dad is the polar opposite of my mother. Mark Hartley is a hard-ass. A police officer for over twenty-five years, he has seen enough shit in his life to assume that everything I do is going to send me either to the morgue or the county jail. When he found out his only child had decided not to enroll in college and take her clothes off for money instead, he didn’t take it well. “I will be damned if my daughter is going to take off her fucking clothes for some seedy, rich yuppies just so they will throw money at her. Hell no, Dani Gail Hartley. You’ll have to take my gun and badge because I will shoot any motherfucker who looks at you, and then arrest his ass. Hell. No.” Obviously, Dad didn’t win. He never does. My mother calmed him down, even though he didn’t speak to me for over a month. When he finally did, he agreed that I was an adult and could make my own decisions. He still didn’t like what I did, but I was his daughter, so he would be supportive.
Now, I am sitting alone wishing I was back in Texas with my quirky mother and hard-ass father instead of crying into my whisky on the rocks. But this is what I deserve. I tried to steal another woman’s husband. We had an ongoing affair for over a year, even though I knew he was her man, not mine. I acted like a possessive toddler, trying to take something that wasn’t mine, and now, I’m paying the price.
Sometimes, life is fucking hard, so hard you wish you’d just die.
“Does this shirt make me look fat?” It’s a Wednesday night and I’m getting dressed for my first shift at Ricky’s while talking with my mother on Skype. The shirt I am required to wear is a little tighter than I expected it to be. Even after taking scissors to the neckline, my boobs still feel like they’re suffocating.
“Of course not, Dani Gail! You look adorable, and those shorts look great on you,” my mother chirps in. She is doing what she always does Wednesday evenings, polishing her silver while drinking whisky and Diet Coke. I miss her. Usually, I would be drinking and polishing silver right along with her while we waited for my dad to come home. But that isn’t my usual anymore. Now, my usual consists of eating out of to-go boxes and drinking alone. My usual is fucking depressing.
“These shorts make my ass look even bigger than it already is, and Lord knows it doesn’t need help looking bigger.” I am blessed, as my mother would say, with an ass and hips that are on the curvier side. I inherited them from her side of the family.
“Hey now,” I see her look up from the silver salad fork she is polishing and stare at the camera while she points the fork at me. “Don’t complain about your ass. God blessed you with that ass. Hell, Kim Kardashian pays good money for injections and implants just so her ass will look half as good as yours. Speaking of her, did you hear that she’s marrying that rapper; you know the one who made Taylor Swift cry?”