Read Fresh Ice Online

Authors: Rachelle Vaughn

Tags: #Romance, #Adult

Fresh Ice

BOOK: Fresh Ice
2.28Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub









Rachelle Vaughn


Copyright © 2013 by Rachelle Vaughn

This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places and incidents are the product of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously, and any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, business establishments, events or locales is entirely coincidental.

No part of this book may be reproduced, scanned or distributed in any printed or electronic form without permission in writing from the author.

hapter One



Sarah’s breath hitched in and out as she shoved her clothes in
to her backpack. She only had a matter of hours, maybe less, before he’d be back. This was her one and only chance to escape the hell she’d been living in. The living nightmare that was her life. She’d been preparing for this moment for months,

She didn’t have much. It wasn’t the first time she was grateful for that.
Having so little allowed her to travel light. She didn’t own any jewelry or pretty knick-knacks. Dwight had destroyed anything beautiful of hers years ago and she’d learned to live without. Besides the clothes she was wearing, Sarah only had a pair of jeans that were a size too big, a skirt and a few tops she’d purchased at Goodwill.

Dwight loved to destroy what belonged to her.
Her possessions, her dignity, her freedom. Her body. She’d been his personal servant and punching bag for long enough. Sarah was getting out.

She swallowed down the nerves that threatened to paralyze her.

As fast as she could, she packed the few items from the bathroom that were hers and even grabbed the spare bar of soap from under the sink. The more necessities she didn’t have to buy when she arrived in Red Valley, the better.

When everything was packed, she set her backpack down and picked up the worn paperback novel off the bed. The book was bestselling novelist Felicity Johns’ first novel and Sarah’s
absolute favorite. She’d read it several times and knew the chapters by heart. It was the story of a plucky heroine who sets out for a new city and finds love in the process. Sure, it was fiction, but the concept wasn’t so foreign. Sarah owed her own bravery to the book for giving her the guts to escape the hell she’d been living in for so long.

For years, s
he’d kept the book hidden from Dwight in the heating vent. The corners of the pages were folded and the spine frayed. She lovingly ran her fingers over the tattered cover before slipping the bus ticket receipt inside. Then she set the book down on the floor by the closet to make it look like she’d accidentally dropped it in her haste to leave.

pained her to leave the cherished book behind but she was counting on Dwight finding it.

Inside the closet,
Sarah crouched down to find her sandals and was reminded of Dwight’s “secret” stash. Not his stash of drugs. No he didn’t bother to hide that. His money.

At first she hesitated. Stealing didn’t come naturally to Sarah, but she’d had to lie about
a lot of things to Dwight in order to get to this point in her life. Her job at the maid service, the real amount of her paychecks, her classes at the beauty school. Lying and stealing went hand in hand and could be justified when the situation was life or death. In the end, Sarah decided she didn’t have a snowball’s chance if she didn’t help herself to the money.

Her hands shook as she sorted through
the shoes in the closet. Finally, she found the dirty old work boots and dug them out from the very back. The fact that Dwight even owned a pair of “work” boots was ironic because he’d never done an honest day’s work in his entire life. The only “work” Dwight participated in was dealing drugs and bashing in heads. Sarah knew the latter from personal experience.

Hidden in the toe of the left boot was
the cash. She reached in and came out with a half dozen twenties. Disappointment flooded her. She thought for sure he would have more stashed away than a measly hundred dollars. After tucking the boots back into their spot, she quietly slid the closet door shut.

arah took a deep breath and reminded herself that by the time Dwight found out the money was missing, she’d be six hundred miles away. Along with the skills sweet Miriam had taught her, it just might be enough to start fresh and keep on her feet for a while.

Tears burned at the back of her eyes. Oh, dear
, sweet Miri. If it wasn’t for her friend’s unwavering kindness, Sarah would never have been able to pull this off. If angels did exist, Miri was the definition of one.

Sarah shook away the thought
and slung the backpack over her shoulder. There was no time to reflect because Miri was due to arrive any minute.

When s
he tiptoed into the living room, Sarah saw that her cousin Troy was still passed out on the couch. Good.

bloated stomach spilled over the waistband of his acid wash jeans. His jaw hung open and drool leaked down into the crease of his double chin. He resembled a rhinoceros that had been shot in the ass with a tranquilizer dart. Troy’s looks were deceiving. He could be as dangerous as his father when the mood struck. Luckily, though, he was more interested in junk food lately than her.

Dwight had left Troy to keep an eye on
Sarah while he was away. Good old Uncle Dwight was down in Mexico buying or selling drugs or whatever else kind of illegal activities he was a part of. Sarah didn’t know the details and she was content to keep it that way. All she knew was that Troy was a lot easier to dupe than Dwight.

Sarah had laced Troy’s favorite whiskey with sleeping pills and he’d passed out like a sorority girl after a rave. She’d ground up enough sleeping pills to sedate an elephant. Troy was dead to the world, but Sarah still didn’t have much time.

In the kitchen,
she hurried over to the cabinet under the sink and fished out the coffee can hidden way in the back corner. Rats must have started to gnaw on the lid because there were tiny teeth marks in the plastic. Dwight was going to have to find a new container or his stash would be sawdust soon.

There had to be at least a thousand dollars
inside. Sarah started to count out half for herself but thought better of it and shoved the whole roll of bills in her pocket. The thought of stealing that much money made her stomach wrench, but if she had a nickel for every time Dwight had violated her over the past decade, she would have a hundred times that amount. Carefully, she sealed the lid back into place and put the can back where she found it.

Neither of
Dwight’s stashes was as substantial as she’d hoped, but it would sure help to cover the cost of the decoy bus ticket she’d purchased to throw him off her trail.

Just then,
Sarah heard a car pull up out front and hoped to God it was Miri and not someone else looking for a drug deal, or worse, Dwight coming home early.

A flock of butterflies fluttered in her stomach
as she looked out the front window. She let out a sigh of relief. It was Miri.

Sarah did a mental checklist in her head to make sure she hadn’t forgotten anything. Clothes, check. Money, check. The real bus ticket, check.

With her hand on the doorknob,
Sarah paused and looked around the filthy living room of the house she’d lived in since she was fourteen. The gruesome image burned into her mind. The grimy windows, the various holes in the walls from when Dwight had gone on a rampage pummeling everything in sight, including her. The section of carpet in the living room that Troy’s strung out friend had torn up, convinced there were surveillance wires underneath. The spider webs in the corner that swayed whenever anyone walked by. The dirt and cigarette butts ground into the ancient carpet.

Dust and a layer of cigarette ash covered virtually every surface inside these walls. The whole house smelled of cigarette smoke and misery.

In the early days, Sarah had tried to keep the house clean, she really had. But Dwight loved to knock things over and create spills just to watch her scramble to clean them up. And the ashtrays filled up faster than she could empty them anyway. So she just let it all deteriorate along with any hope of getting out.

As she opened the door,
Sarah vowed never to step foot inside this house again. Carefully, she pushed open the screen door that hung on by one rusty hinge and closed it behind her so it wouldn’t slam and wake Troy. Sarah jogged across the brown yard, the dead grass crunching beneath her feet.

was too excited about starting her new life to look back.

* * *

Miri sat in her shiny white PT Cruiser with the engine running just like Sarah had asked her to. Thank goodness for small miracles.

As soon as Sarah was
safely inside, Miri pulled swiftly away from the curb and looked in the rear-view mirror. Sarah could’ve sworn she saw Miri shudder.

“Did you have any trouble getting out?”
Miri asked.

” Sarah breathed out a jagged sigh. “Troy was asleep and I snuck out.” She didn’t tell Miri she’d drugged her cousin into oblivion. She didn’t want Miri having bad thoughts about her. Oh, she’d probably understand, but it was better if no one knew the things Sarah had done to survive the past few years.

was the only person Sarah had ever confided in. Even though Miri was only a decade older than Sarah’s twenty-four years, Sarah thought of her as a mentor and maybe even a mother figure. She didn’t tell Miri about her situation for pity, she told her so Miri would understand how grateful she was for her kindness. And, she hadn’t even told Miri
. Just enough to give her an idea of how badly she needed to get out.

Sarah’s teeth started to chatter she was so nervous. Miri patted her hand and gave her a warm, reassuring smile.

As Miri drove out of the neighborhood and onto the main road, Sarah watched the familiar landmarks pass by. The liquor store on the corner where Sarah purchased alcohol for Dwight. She shivered at the thought. It had been like buying ammunition for a madman. Then there was the minimart where Dwight had beat her in the parking lot for taking too long buying his cigarettes. And the alley behind the diner where Dwight had left her for dead after “convincing” her never to run away again.

A few blocks
later, Sarah’s breathing and heartbeat started to return to normal. She was far from being in the clear, but she’d managed the first hurdle in escaping the house.

they passed the beauty school where Sarah’s life had changed in a matter of weeks.

“You okay?” Miri asked at
the stoplight in front of the school.

Sarah took a deep breath. “Yeah
, I think so. I still can’t believe I got out of there in one piece.”

“It’s going to be all right, Sarah. No one besides me knows you’re going to Red Valley and I promise not to tell a soul.”

“I know. I just can’t believe this is actually happening.”

Sarah had dreamed of this day for years. She would have left long ago but she was too scared and didn’t know where to go where Dwight wouldn’t find her.  He’d always threatened to track her down if she ever dared to leave. And Dwight
followed through with his threats.

Besides, s
he never had enough money to get far, didn’t have a job to go to and without a job she couldn’t get a place to live. There weren’t many ways around the giant catch-22. The few dollars she skimmed from her paychecks here and there wasn’t enough to get out of the city much less far enough where he wouldn’t be able to track her down. Even if she filed a restraining order against him, a piece of paper wouldn’t keep a monster like him away.

But now, thanks to Miri,
Sarah had the opportunity to start a new life in a new city with a new job lined up.

After years of begging Dwight to let her work outside the home, he finally relented and Sarah
found a job with a maid service that specialized in cleaning small businesses and office buildings. One of the businesses was Miri’s beauty school. Sarah met Miri and an unlikely friendship blossomed.

BOOK: Fresh Ice
2.28Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub

Other books

Absolutely Almost by Lisa Graff
The Siren's Song by Jennifer Bray-Weber
The Cry of the Sloth by Sam Savage
Privateers by Ben Bova
A Shift in the Water by Eddy, Patricia D.
The Operative by Falconer, Duncan