Authors: Skye Warren
It’s the worst thing, the one thing I can’t survive, and I’ll do anything to save him.
Even hurt him.
his is very
important, Hannah. Mrs. Moreno has the pictures of your bruises. We need to know who hurt you.”
I refuse to look up, to meet his eyes. My voice is a whisper. “I told her.”
“We have her statement, but I need to hear it from you.”
After a long beat of silence, I look up into the kind eyes of a judge. He looks sorry for me. Everyone is sorry for me. They just can’t help me. Isn’t that what Blue told me? That they don’t understand what it’s like in the system. They shove us around like dolls in cardboard houses.
I grasp the wood handles of the chair, already slick from my palms. “What will happen to him?”
The judge looks tired. “That depends on a lot of factors.”
He doesn’t want to tell me. I can see that much. “It depends on if there’s a trial or not.”
This isn’t a trial. It’s just a hearing to figure out if I should be left at the house or removed. Blue probably has a hearing just like this one. Of course Matthew won’t have one, because he’s not a foster kid. He’s one of the actual kids who live at that house.
“There won’t be a trial.” I don’t say it like a question. I may be young, but I know that much. I’m just a stupid little girl from the wrong side of the tracks. A girl whose daddy ended up in jail. A girl whose mother took too many pills and never woke up.
Girls like us, we don’t get trials.
The judge looks down at his papers. He shuffles them around. He doesn’t want to tell me the truth, but he doesn’t want to lie. I appreciate that, at least.
His voice is severe when he repeats, “Hannah, we need to know who hurt you.”
“It was Blue,” I whisper. “Eugene Blue.”
If I say it was Matthew, they’ll remove me from the home. And Blue too. But they won’t be able to prosecute Matthew. He won’t go to jail. He won’t be punished in any way—except by Blue.
He’ll go back and finish the job. It took two of the older boys at the home plus Matthew’s drunk-ass dad to pull Blue off him. And I’m grateful. They’re the only reason Blue isn’t standing trial for murder.
It doesn’t matter that he’s a minor. There’s no way they’d let him off a second time. And if they let us out, Blue will finish the job. He’ll get himself in prison. I know it.
If I say it was Blue, if I say he hurt me, he won’t go to prison—not as a minor, not for getting a little rough with a girl like me. Oh, but they’ll definitely send him away from this house, away from Matthew. Far away, exactly where he wanted to go.
He won’t be able to come back.
He won’t want to come back, once he hears what I’ve done.
* * *
“Nothing’s going to
happen to him,” Lucy says. “I mean, that kid last year was caught
and they still didn’t prosecute.”
I don’t answer. Of course they aren’t going to prosecute, not because some foster girl got hurt. I had known that from the moment I knew what sex was, from the time I realized it could be used to hurt me. We’re just bulldogs fighting in a cage. Like Blue said, that’s almost the point.
“I’m so sorry,” Mrs. Moreno had said, before dropping us off.
She’d been worried how I would take the news that they were letting Blue go. And if I had told the truth about who hurt me, I would have been terrified. Matthew would have been out for blood, out for revenge. Now it was Blue who would want revenge.
“What will happen to him?” I had asked, holding my breath.
It’s not exactly safe, but at least there he’ll get training. He’ll have weapons. He won’t be in trouble for defending himself. He’s out of this place, and I should be happy about that. Even though I’m still here with Matthew and Lucy. It’s not the bliss that I felt with him, but it’s enough. I just wish he didn’t hate me, wherever they shipped him off to.
That’s the part that hurts the most. Not even that I’ll never see him again. He’s better off away from here. It makes me ache to know that wherever he is in the world, he hates me.
My first boyfriend, if you could call him that. My first real kiss.
My first heartbreak.
Another girl comes in and gives us a nod, so Lucy grabs her clothes and heads for the shower. The entire upstairs is wrapped in plastic, so we’re crammed three to a room. At least until the state can move some of us to other houses.
I kneel by my knapsack to get a nightgown. We were all allowed upstairs for a few hours yesterday so we could grab any clothes that weren’t ruined by the fire—or the water that drenched everything. I make a face at the smell of smoke that blasts me when I open the canvas flap.
It smells almost like…leather?
I reach inside. My hand grabs a familiar leather jacket. My eyes widen, and I pull it out. I know this wasn’t in my room when I went up there to grab my stuff. When could he have put this here? I spread open the jacket and search the pockets. There’s a piece of paper folded inside one, a rough scrawl inside.
Thanks for the memories,
it says, and I can feel his fury and betrayal lacing every word.
Until next time.
* * *
I hope you enjoyed this special look into the first love and heartbreak of Blue and Hannah. Find out what happens when they meet again in
Better When It Hurts
, a dark and sexy second chance full-length novel. It’s payback time.
“Better When it Hurts is an intense and heartbreakingly beautiful story. I couldn’t read fast enough to see what would happen next with Blue and Lola. A definite 5 star read for sure!”
~ Jenika Snow, USA Today bestselling author
Be sure you sign up for my
so you can find out when I have new books!
You can also join my Facebook group,
Skye Warren’s Dark Room
, to discuss Blue and Hannah and enter exclusive giveaways.
I appreciate your help in spreading the word, including telling a friend. Reviews help readers find books! Please leave a review on your favorite book site.
Turn the page for an excerpt from Better When It Hurts…
here are no
I know because I check the entire locker room after Oscar leaves me here. I’m sure he’s standing guard at the only way out. There are three shower stalls with only bricks dividing them—no doors or curtains for privacy. The urinals are also out in the open, up against the wall. Lockers line the other two walls with benches made of scarred wood and dark metal.
The door slams open, and Blue strides into the room. A burst of sound follows him in the seconds before the door swings shut. I shrink back against the lockers before I can help it. That doesn’t stop him. It doesn’t even slow him down as he steps right into my space, just inches from my face, still breathing hard.
“What the fuck are you doing here?” His eyes are still wild from the fight, violence and victory mixed together.
I try not to flinch. “I wanted to…to talk to you about something.”
“How did you know I was fighting tonight?”
I’m not going to tell on Candy, even if he’ll figure it out as soon as he sees her here. Instead I bite my lip and try to remember the speech I was going to give him. “Congratulations?”
That wasn’t it.
He shakes his head. “No, Lola. This isn’t one of your little games. I’m not one of the men you can lead around by my dick. Not anymore.”
And then I do flinch, because the reminder of our past is too painful not to. “I’m not trying to lead you anywhere,” I whisper.
His lips curve into a cold smile. “No? You brought me here, didn’t you? Just you and me and the rest of the world locked out. You made that happen.”
Something pricks my eyes—tears. No no no. I can’t possibly cry in front of him. I don’t know why I’d cry at all. This is my life. I’m long past wishing for something different, aren’t I? I look down at the concrete floor so he won’t see me struggle.
Of course he doesn’t accept that. His fingers—sweaty and gloveless—lift my chin. “Why’d you come here, Lola?” His voice is suddenly lower and strangely seductive. Maybe that’s how fucked-up I’ve gotten, that cruelty turns me on. “What do you want?”
My fingers fumble as I pull the wallet from my back pocket. It’s still warm from my body as I hold it up. “This is yours. I stole it. I—I took it by accident.”
That wasn’t what I’d meant to say at all. I’d meant to explain the situation like it happened—that I’d woken up with the wallet in my bed. That I had no memory of it, but obviously there had been a mistake. I’d taken nothing from the wallet, no harm no foul.
Instead I’d stuttered like I was thirteen again, stealing everything I could slip into my pockets, confessing to my foster dad before he whipped me with his belt.
Blue takes the wallet from me, his expression speculative. It’s almost as if he’s never seen it before, even though I know it belongs to him. I rifled through his things, touched the stone-faced plastic image on his license. And he knows I invaded his privacy that way, just like I invaded his pocket when he brought me home.
He tosses the wallet onto a bench behind him, dismissing it. His hand lands on the locker beside me, blocking me in. His eyes meet mine. “You still steal.”
“No,” I say, but his wallet calls me a liar. Naturally he’d remember the worst thing about me. I’d helped him remember. “Not anymore. Not usually except…I must have been drunk or something.”
“You didn’t used to drink.”
“A lot’s changed.” I used to hate the taste of beer. It reminded me too much of foster brothers with groping hands and tongues. I still couldn’t touch the stuff, but every now and then I used alcohol to try and numb the pain. It was just a shame it never worked.
His gaze scans my body, unapologetic as it measures me, probes me, demands all my secrets. “I can see that.”
I shrug, pretending to be unaffected. No, I
unaffected, damn it. “You see more than this every night.”
“Less. When you’re naked up there onstage, that’s what you show to every man.” His eyes are hooded. “This is what you wore for me.”
My breath catches. I’d picked a white tank top and jeans because I’d had no idea where Candy was taking me. If I’d been to see any other man, needing a favor, apologizing, I’d have played up the sex-kitten act. I may have been the one on my knees, but he’d be the one begging. With Blue, I knew better than to try. There would be no power for me. Sex was just another tool he could use against me.
“Please don’t tell Ivan what happened, okay?”
One eyebrow rises. “Getting drunk?”
I snort. “As if he’d care about that, especially since Candy is the one who got me that way. He’d probably pay to watch.”
A smile curves those cruel, sinful lips. “Doesn’t he?”
Any amusement I’d felt fades away. “No. He doesn’t. No one gets to see me that way.”
I didn’t fuck around. Not for any amount of money.
Blue leans close, so close I can smell the sweat and heat of him, so near that his bulging shoulder blocks my view. His mouth is inches from my ear. “Not even if I tell Ivan you stole from me?”
I stiffen. “Are you threatening me?”
“I’m just figuring out the boundaries here.” His other hand slides over my hip and cups my ass. I let out a gasp before catching myself. “I want to understand exactly what you’re offering.”
“I’m not offering a damn thing,” I snap.
His laugh is low and sexy and frustrating as hell. “I think that’s exactly what you’re doing with those tight jeans and your tits like fucking heaven. You think I don’t see it? You think I’m fooled?”
I want to insist he’s wrong about me. I want to tell him to go to hell. But I can’t because he’s right. Even if I hadn’t dressed up for him, I would have for some other man. I’m exactly the kind of girl he thinks I am. I’ve already sunk that low.
So I let myself sink against the cool metal lockers behind me. I press my
tits up toward his face. He wants a taste of this? Fine. Then maybe he can feel better about the fact that I stole his wallet, even if I gave it all back. And maybe then he’ll feel better about what happened all those years ago.
Even if nothing can ever make that right.
He grunts in approval. “Gorgeous. They look gorgeous naked and gorgeous with clothes on. How fucking unfair is that? That someone like you could look like this?”
My heart stops for a beat at the insult, my heart like a raw wound. Then his hands are cupping my ass, lifting me up against the lockers. His mouth is open and hot against my skin, sucking on the tops of my breasts, making me squirm against him. I’m off balance, up high, and I grab on to him for support. He’s slippery with sweat but somehow solid too, his shoulders massive, his body warm and unmovable.
I know I should hate him, but I can’t. I loved him too much as a girl. And even though he’s colder now, bigger and meaner now, he’s still the same boy I loved.
He finds the hollow at my throat, and just like all those years ago, he flicks his tongue against it. I shudder and rock myself against him, shameless and hungry for him. Only he knows about that spot on me. Only he has ever bothered to find it.
His hands are rough on my thighs. “Gorgeous,” he mutters as if to himself.
He hates me.
No matter what I said, no matter how much time has passed, I’m still the same girl he once loved. I deserve every bit of hate he has for me, considering what I did to him. Deserve the red marks he leaves on my skin with his stubble and his teeth. Deserve the crude way he rocks against me, thrusting his covered cock against my belly, getting himself off like I’m a fucking doll.
It’s degrading and humiliating—and still a disappointment when he sets me down and steps away. With him I want to be degraded. I want to be humiliated. Just being with him is its own sweet agony, and that alone makes my cheeks flush with tormented want.