Sunday, November 10, 2013



Head over to I'll Be Reading on facebook and check the pinned post for instructions on how to win a copy of "Slow Hand Quickens"!! 

Allie Matthews

Allie lives in North Carolina and works at a University bookstore. 

She reads and writes in her spare time, including lunch breaks. 

When she's not reading or writing, she's usually watching something on television, whether a good show or movie; or she's hanging out with friends.

She's always open to book recommendations.

Allie listens to music while she cooks, usually throwing in a few dance moves.

She's prone to sarcasm, singing out of tune, and a good rum and coke.


Kristen Weatherly is surviving. She's been surviving her whole life. She can't wait to get her diploma so she can leave town and create a new life, one worth living.

Having been hurt, Kristen doesn't trust, and with good reason. But when she gets a job at the county library, a fellow co-worker and student, Mila, breaks through Kristen's walls and befriends her. She shows Kristen that there are good people in the world, sometimes when you least expect it. 

After a spontaneous run in with a boy named Chris that Kristen dubs Mystery Eyes, Kristen wars with herself about opening up to him because that can lead to more hurt and rejection. 

As the two get closer, and secrets are revealed, will they be able to move beyond their pasts together? Or will those pasts come between them when they need each other most?

This is a story with dark themes and subject matter. It is intended for mature audiences only.


(Head over HERE to read Chapters 1-4 ,and part of 5 -
"click to look inside" for chapters)

For CHAPTERS 5 & 6, read on!


Weeks passed and nothing changed. Not much ever did. Except for the fact that I had a friend now. And Clara became less strict about when I needed to be home, given only with the rules that I didn't slack with work, school, or taking care of the house. I became a non-entity to her again as long as the money wound up on the table every other Thursday and that the table she took the money from was clear of any mess.
Travis was hardly around, and neither was John. I was thankful for the respite. That wasn't to say I never dreaded walking up and opening the front door to find him inside, but I was thrilled I didn't have to do anything for him. I had to remind myself not to get lulled into a false sense of security. He was still around. He'd come back. And I couldn't let myself be thrown off any more than I already was by his presence just because I wasn't expecting him.
Mila and I hung out more. She told me about her crush on this guy named Brendan. I had no idea who she was talking about. When I told her this, she started rambling on about how she had a class with him and she swore she kept seeing him look at her and on and on and on.
I loved spending time with Mila, but I wasn't one to listen in about boys. I had enough to deal with in my life. I couldn't bring myself to look at anyone at school and imagine myself with him. Sure, I thought about my future and that I'd have someone for myself, but these guys were in the here and now; they were the present. In my present, I couldn't afford to make googly eyes on someone. I wasn't going to start a relationship when nothing good could come of it. I was getting out of this town as soon as my name was called to grab my diploma.
Peace. Out.
Seriously though, I didn't want the drama. Mila, God love her, she was all about some drama. She talked about some of her other friends and their issues. She said I was a great listener. If she thought about it, or looked at my face more, she'd see it wasn't so much about me being a great listener as it was about me not wanting the subject to turn to me and be about me. So I nodded and made affirmative noises when it called for it.
Mila wanted me to join her and her other friends to go see a movie. Mila was one thing - she'd wormed herself under my skin and I couldn't be rid of her. Allowing other people in for the hell of it? Not happening.
She appeared disappointed, but said she understood. In the months since we'd become friends, we never much delved into my life. I hardly ever got too personal. I knew this upset her, because she talked about her family; but really, if the worst thing she had to say about them was that her dad was too strict about her curfew time, I honestly couldn't find much sympathy.
She learned I called my parents by their names, not Mom and Dad. I could tell it was hard for her to understand why, but when I slipped and called them by their names, she didn't ask questions.
Last Saturday, after we got off work at the library, she wanted to eat lunch together. We'd just gotten paid and I had some money I could spend on a meal given it wasn't too swanky. In Omalahn, that wasn't an issue. She wanted to eat at Howie's. I tried to say no, but she had a hankering for this burger the diner was known for and she wouldn't take no for an answer.
We walked into Howie's and sat down in the only table available. I knew, from coming in for years, that this was usually Clara's section. Sure enough, she came over with a fake smile and a notepad in hand to take our order. Her smile faltered for a fraction of a second as she took me in with someone. Her eyes looked to me, silently reprimanding me for distracting her and not going to some other place for lunch. I wanted to sink into my booth cushion and collapse on the floor.
We placed our order and Clara asked to see me outside for a moment. Mila was confused so I had to say that Clara was my mother. Mila, bless her, she stood up to shake Clara's hand. Clara didn't know what to do, so she took Mila's hand and smiled and said the traditional "nice to meet you".
We walked outside to the back stoop where people took their breaks and Clara went off on me.
"What in the hell do you think you're doing here?"
I really wanted to be sarcastic and reply "eating lunch," but I knew that would get me a smack on the face.
"She wanted Howie's burger. She wouldn't take no for an answer."
"I want you in and out. I'll make it a rush order. I can't have you in here today."
I cut my eyes to her. I'd thought she was being like this because she didn't want me around in general. I was a nuisance. She didn't want to be bothered or distracted by me. It was because I shouldn't be here? What the hell did that mean?
"Uh..." I trailed off, unsure of where to take the conversation.
"Just...just go inside. I'll bring out ya'll's food."
I walked inside and went back to the booth. I didn't like how she said she couldn't have me here today. Other days I was apparently somewhat tolerable, but today she couldn't have it? What was happening here today I wasn't supposed to know about?
Mila sat forward, leaning her elbows on the table and whispered harshly, "I didn't know your mom worked here. Why didn't you tell me? No wonder you didn't want us to come here for lunch. Why didn't you say something?"
I shrugged my shoulders. It was done now.
Clara came by with two sweet teas for us. She was true to her word. Our food came out quickly. She came by and asked us if everything was tasting fine and if we needed anything else. I could tell Mila thought Clara was nice enough. I could only think Mila hadn't been around her too long to notice how off-putting Clara was. Or mean. Or bitchy. Or...
"Here's your checks. Thanks for eating at Howie's." Clara wouldn't look at me. She directed her statement at Mila, even though it was for the both of us. Mila could tell there was a strained vibe between the two of us, but she smiled her Miss Perky smile which threw Clara off. I secretly smiled. Mila offsetting Clara with a smile that looked genuine when Clara knew she'd been acting rudely the entire time we'd been here. Go Mila, go!
We were putting our money down and I was trying to decide how to tip my mother - what was too little, what was too much? What would she try and infer by the amount I placed on the table for her? I looked up and met John's eyes. It was a punch in the stomach. I hadn't been thinking about him. I hadn't been thinking of anything except Mila and Clara meeting and nothing blew up and now John was looking between me and Mila and his lips were set in a thin line. Why should he be upset?
I watched his gaze move to Clara. She finished with a table and pointed to the back door where the stoop was. He nodded his head and didn't look back over at us. He was wearing a green army jacket over a simple black shirt and jeans. His hands were in his jacket pockets and he walked with purpose toward the door. I'd not seen him wearing his cowboy boots in a long while since he liked to wear black steel-toed Timberlands, but I noticed his boots as soon as I could see his entire body as he headed for the back door. This was one of his under-the-radar outfits when he was selling. I looked over at Clara again and saw her looking at me. Well, not looking so much as glaring. A "get the hell out while you know what's good for you" kind of glare. Mila saw it too and grabbed my elbow, quickly and efficiently guiding me outside into open air. I took in a lungful and started for her car.
"Don't. Mila..." I put my hand up to stop her from saying anything else. I trailed off because I couldn't fathom what to say to her; I had no coherent thoughts on what just happened inside myself. "Just don't."
I got in and buckled up. I faced forward even though I saw Mila outside the passenger door in my periphery. She stood there for a few seconds before walking around the hood of her Civic and getting inside.
"Where to?"
"Anywhere." I didn't want to go home. I didn't want to think about what I saw in there. "Just drive for awhile."


I kept my mouth shut whenever anyone was around at home. I didn't look at anyone or talk to anyone. I knew Travis did some bad drugs, but Clara too? I knew she did pot sometimes, and through conversations she'd had with people, I knew she'd tried other things, but I thought she wasn't on anything anymore. Was she getting it for Travis? That didn't make sense though, because John and Travis were so chummy.
I felt betrayed. I thought there was this silent secret that Clara and I had. We hated what Travis did, but what else was there? We coped in our silent way, but I thought we did that together. Now she was enabling him? Unless...unless it wasn't about Travis at all. And not about drugs. Just...the two of them. I shivered at the idea of it. I was disgusted. Whatever the case might have been, I hated John more and I couldn't have been more disappointed in Clara.
Today was my birthday. November ninth. I had the day off of work. There were no balloons. No cake that said Happy Eighteenth Birthday on it. No gifts. Clara brought home a large slice of chocolate pie from Howie's that hadn't been bought. At least she remembered. It was more than I was expecting - nothing. Travis and John walked in as I ate my pie and Travis dropped a card by my plate. I picked it up. A fake driver's license.
Whoever did it did a really good job. My name was Carla May Simpson and I was twenty-three. Whoever the chick was, I would look just like her if I dyed my hair black. Uncanny.
Clara took it from my hand then looked between the two men. "Just what the hell is this?" She shook the card to make a point.
"Clara, baby, she always gets the groceries. I don' wanna always have ‘ta go out special for a case ‘cause she can't buy. Or get a bottle. S'not like she drinks anything. She's never raided any of our stuff."
Clara folded her arms. "And why has she never raided, Travis?"
"'Cause she knows better."
I trembled and paled at the intensity of his voice. I hadn't been threatened with a whipping in years, because I knew better - of what to do and not do. I hadn't been beaten in years. Even then it was just a slap or two. I never did anything to warrant a beating. I always made sure to do good. To be good. I decided to ignore them and finish my pie.
I'd overheard people at school talk about getting fake IDs and how cool they were and how awesome it was to go somewhere and use them and get alcohol or get into a club when they went to a city during the weekend. To me this seemed ludicrous. It was horrible. I didn't want it. My father got it for me so I could help keep him drunk.
Happy birthday, Kristen, I thought to myself sarcastically.
I heard a chair scrape back and John sat down beside me. When I went to grab another bite of the pie he took the fork and cut himself a piece and ate it. I quickly peeked at Clara and Travis, but they were engulfed in their yelling match, not that I understood why they were fighting. I didn't get Clara at all. She glared at me, she hated me, then she wanted to be a parent and tell Travis he shouldn't have gotten me an ID? I looked back at John. He gave me a soft smile.
I didn't understand John either. Fuck all was this confusing. I hated John too. But then he would smile at me and I wondered if he actually had a soul. But if he did, he wouldn't touch me. So why smile at me? Bring my guard down? Make me like him so I'd get into everything more? Be happy to see him? Hell to the fuck no.
How would I escape from this hell? If I shoved the chair back and left uneaten chocolate on my plate they'd know something was up. They knew I loved chocolate. They'd look at me like I was crazy. It was them. They were all crazy.
John gave me back my fork and reclined in the seat, staring at me. Waiting to see what I'd do now that he'd used the fork. Why would I care about a fork? A fork was nothing compared to him and other things. I looked down and tried to eat my pie quickly without looking like I was rushing to finish and leave. The yelling stopped. I turned my head slightly and saw them making out. My God. They were so hot and cold with each other.
They broke apart and Clara came over to me. She placed the ID down by my plate and said, "Only get something when Travis or John asks you to. Nothing for yourself."
I'd only do that for them if I was using Clara's money. I wasn't giving her part of my check to keep him drunk and drugged up.
I nodded my head for Clara to see I'd heard her. I stood up and whispered thanks, making eye contact with all three of them, before I put my dishes in the sink and walked to my room for the night. I'd wash the plate and fork in the morning.


"Why didn't you tell me it was your birthday yesterday?"
Today had been sunny and I told Mila I wanted to walk to work when she asked me at my locker. She shrugged her shoulders. She knew I liked walking when it was nice out. I was just getting into the library and she was ambushing me. Ms. Krinshaw must have mentioned my birthday to her. I sighed.
"I don't know. It's not that big a deal." And it wasn't. I wanted to forget about yesterday. The fake ID, Clara's odd behavior, John's soft smile, all of it.
"Well, what do you want for your birthday? I have to get you something."
"No, you really don't." I knew I was being short with her, but I didn't want this to be a thing.
"What is with you? Let me do something nice for you." Her feelings were hurt and it was my fault.
I took a deep breath and hoped patience would come to me.
"Mila," I started, "I don't want to think about my birthday. I'm eighteen. I feel no different than when I was seventeen. I haven't changed. The fact that you want to get me something is enough for me." It was, actually. It felt nice that someone wanted to do something for me because they liked me, not out of obligation or to get something in return. I didn't know how to handle it.
"You're different. You talk more and aren't as afraid to say what you're thinking. Now, what do you want for your birthday?"
Had I changed? I didn't feel different. And God, she was persistent.
"Shit, woman, fine, I don't know. Surprise me." I huffed at her and she smiled a huge smile before she hugged me.
"You'll love it, I promise."
I didn't like the idea of a surprise. Nothing good came out of being surprised, at least nothing had for me yet.


Head over to I'll Be Reading on facebook and check the pinned post for instructions on how to win a copy of "Slow Hand Quickens"!! 



1 comment:

  1. I shared :)