Authors: Kaitlyn Stone
Walk with Me
What dictates the path in life we take and who we choose to walk with?
After escaping her abusive parents, nineteen-year-old Kenna Sloane is determined to create an independent life, free of emotional distraction. The last thing this focused college student wants is a relationship, especially with a hot rookie cop popular with the badge bunnies.
When Kenna reluctantly agrees to a double date with Santa Monica cop Donovan Alexander, she’s launched on an exciting and dangerous journey. With time, she discovers some souls are instinctively drawn together to quiet the pain of their traumatic pasts. But even after the revelation of Donovan’s own secret burden, Kenna continues to battle the fear she may be too broken for her modern day knight in blue.
Can Kenna open her heart to the healing light of true love before peril strikes?
Note: This book is written in one point of view.
Note: This book is written in first-person point of view.
Note: This book contains adult language used as profanity.
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WALK WITH ME
Copyright © 2014 by Kaitlyn Stone
E-book ISBN: 978-1-62741-888-1
First E-book Publication: June 2014
Cover design by Harris Channing
All cover art and logo copyright © 2014 by Siren Publishing, Inc.
ALL RIGHTS RESERVED:
This literary work may not be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, including electronic or photographic reproduction, in whole or in part, without express written permission.
All characters and events in this book are fictitious. Any resemblance to actual persons living or dead is strictly coincidental.
To my husband. My one, true love. Happy Anniversary.
Special acknowledgements need to go out to my sister writers who helped encourage and support me through this journey. There have been so many, but two need special mention because I wouldn’t have even thought to submit my work without their review first. To Kady Winter, my very talented critique partner. One day I will write as beautifully as you. And to Pamela DuMond, the dialogue queen herself, my generous Beta reader.
. You guys rock!
Copyright © 2014
It’s midnight, the day after my eighteenth birthday, and I’m escaping from my life of oppression and pain. With only the fear of being caught and dragged back to my cell of a life, I’m shortening the gap between what I know and the undiscovered world ahead.
The August air whips across my face and through the loose strands of my pulled-back hair. My internal will to survive, fueled by adrenaline, propels me forward into the night with no feeling of cold or discomfort. The wind stings my eyes and they begin to tear, blurring my vision as I sprint along the walking path between the condos and boat slips in the Marina, one foot in front of the other, pounding the pavement. Thump, thump, thump. The same beat of my excited heart.
After two blocks I realize they’re not chasing after me. I slow to a fast walk, scanning the area ahead and behind me. My chest is heaving as I try to catch my breath and regain my thoughts, but I’m not tired. I could run for miles if I need to, and I will fight tonight to protect myself and my freedom.
I can hear and see everything. A light flicks on in one of the condos and catches my attention, but everywhere else is quiet. Maybe they decided to get the car to follow me.
Richard, my stepfather, with a forty- or fifty-pound weight advantage, usually uses his strength to force me back into submission, but my motivation tonight to seek liberty balances his physical power. As a matter of fact, he seemed to be unusually passive, not his typical explosive self. The reaction from my mother, when she found out about me moving things over to my best friend’s house, surprised me the most.
I knew she wasn’t going to take the news of my getaway well, but I didn’t think she would try to force me to stay by threatening to manipulate Danielle’s parents. I had to run, to escape like a convict making a prison break, a slave unshackled for the first time.
For the past two years, I begged her to leave with me and escape this abuse, but for reasons I can’t understand she chose to stay. Well, she can stay behind with Richard and continue their sick, twisted relationship if she wishes, but I’m ready to start living for myself and I just made my first decision of all decisions for the rest of my life.
I sweep the area one more time before ducking into the shadows of the next condo complex. Catching my breath, I lean against the wall of the entrance, pull out my pay-as-you-go cell phone, and call Danielle and her mom—my lifeline, my ride to freedom. This is it. I pace nervously under the cover of night, still on high alert, and wait for the transportation to my new life. Pumped from the adrenaline surge, my thoughts are spinning and making me dizzy, but assuredly I won’t be coming back here anytime soon, if ever.
Eighteen months later…
I breeze through the front doors of the health food store, knowing I’m already ten minutes late for my shift, and head to the storage room to hang my bag on the hook and collect my apron. I walk by the checkout counter, ignoring Shane, and make my way to the lunch counter. Monica is prepping for tomorrow’s menu and the aroma of vegetable barley soup fills the air.
I slip the apron loop over my head, double wrapping the string around my waist, when Monica looks up from her work, eyeing me with her amber eyes and then shifting them to the clock on the wall above my head.
“Sorry I’m late.”
“Traffic?” she asks, blowing a wayward strand of ginger hair from her face.
“No. I had to stay behind in class and talk with one of my professors.” I pull my hair into a high ponytail, securing the strands with a band from around my wrist. “What are you working on, chicken salad?”
“Yeah. If you want to start on the vegetable salad mix, I’ll finish with this and move on to the tuna,” she says in her delicate British accent. A transplant to the States since her teenage years, Monica still holds on to her accent with pride.
“Okay. Do you want me to grab you a can of tuna while I’m in the storage room?”
“Sure. Thanks,” Monica says, smiling.
I wordlessly walk past Shane, who’s helping a customer at the checkout counter, and continue into the storage room. I hate having to come in here for supplies. Something about the confined space gives me the creeps. The large pantry, overflowing with canned goods, is poorly lit and the rickety stepladder shakes like it’s going to give way. Reaching toward the back of the top shelf, I stand high on my toes to compare expiration dates.
I cradle the seven-pound can in my left arm, using my right hand on the stepladder to guide myself back down to the floor. As I’m taking my final step off the ladder and I turn to leave, my peripheral vision catches a large hand coming at me. I instinctively cower from any pain promised to come from the cruel hand, and block my face and body with both arms, dropping the heavy tin can on my would-be attacker’s foot.
“Arrgh!” Shane screams in pain, hopping up and down on one foot.
I relax my stance when I realize it’s just Shane, but the adrenaline-fueled blood is still coursing through my ears, and my nails are digging into the flesh of my fisted hands down at my sides. I blink at him mutely, breathing to calm my reaction.
“God, Kenna. What you do that for?” Shane winces, trying to balance his weight again on both feet.
“What are you doing in here?” I reach down for the now-dented can of tuna, attempting to keep the tone of annoyance out of my voice.
“You looked unsteady coming down the ladder and I just wanted to spot you. Jeez,” he says.
I bite my lower lip, shrugging. “Sorry. You startled me. I need to get back to the counter.”
I walk out of the storeroom, leaving Shane to nurse his foot alone. I shake my head at myself.
Will I ever stop looking over my shoulder, ever live without the fear of hands hurting me?
Even though I haven’t heard or seen from my parents since my escape over a year and a half ago, I’m still uneasy about how quickly my mom backed down and left me alone. If Richard is the brawn in their relationship, then my mother is the brain—always in control of her environment and those she chooses to use for her personal pleasure.
I guess once the shock of my shrouded exodus wore off, they realized I was a legal adult and they couldn’t force me to do anything or move anywhere, and I think my stepfather was glad to be rid of me—an annoying obstacle to my mother’s attention. Did she really think I would choose to stay and start my college years as an adult in that hell?