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Trouble(5)
Author: Samantha Towle

All of these attributes work perfectly for Forbes.

Men like him choose a woman like an employer chooses candidates for jobs—cold and methodical. Love has nothing to do with it, even though Forbes probably makes himself believe that love is a part of it.

Then one day, in the not too distant future, I’ll become Mrs. Forbes Chandler. We’ll have kids, and Forbes will continue to beat on me regularly as an outlet for his anger and failings.

On the outside, we’ll have a perfect marriage. And behind closed doors we’ll be everything that could be wrong with a marriage. Day in and day out I’ll wear the façade. I’ll be the perfect wife to Forbes just like I was the perfect daughter for Oliver to parade around.

Then degrade and beat senseless the moment the doors to our house slammed shut.

Forbes has never asked about my past. Never questioned the scars that mar those secret parts of my body.

I remember being so afraid the first time we made love. Afraid he would ask about them, but he never did. Part of me was relieved but disappointed.

I encouraged myself to believe that he hadn’t asked because he didn’t want to make me feel uncomfortable, or upset me by highlighting them.

Truth is, he didn’t ask because he didn’t care. My scars probably validated that I was exactly the right girl for him.

Maybe he saw it in me the second our eyes met in that bar that night.

Like knows like, right?

Reaching into the fridge, I start pulling out food, setting it on the counter.

Leaving the door open for light, I turn to the cabinet to get more food. When I’m sure I have enough to see me through, I tear off the foil from yesterday’s saved chicken. And I start eating.

***

I’m sitting on the floor, sweat dampening my skin, my hands sticky from food. My stomach full and aching, my back pressed up against the door. Surrounding me are empty food containers and wrappers.

Knowing I can’t sit here all night, I get to my feet. My stomach aches under the pressure of gravity.

I’m uncomfortable. I feel sick.

I relish the feeling.

I tidy the mess. Containers in the dishwasher. Wrappers pushed to the bottom of the trash can, so Forbes won’t see them. Not that he’d question it, but better to be safe. I try never to leave a reason to set his anger off.

I wash my hands clean. Then go to the bathroom and lock the door.

I leave the light off. I don’t want to risk catching a glimpse of myself in the mirror in this moment.

Kneeling before the toilet, I lift the seat.

Fingers poised by my lips, I push back, and make all the hurt go away.

Chapter Two

Mia

I’m back at Oliver’s house to finish packing. My last day here. After today, I will never again have to come to this house.

The knowledge is like clean air in my lungs.

All that’s left to empty is his office.

I left this room until last because I despise this room.

Oliver always beat me in his office, as though he thought that if he kept it to one room, he could leave this room and lock the door on it when he was done.

That’s never been the case for me, but being in here does bring things back full throttle.

Bad memories start to scream out in the silence.

I sit down on the floor and get my iPhone out. Setting the music to play, I place it up on Oliver’s desk.

He loved this desk. It belonged to his grandfather.

I should burn it. Just like I should have burned Oliver’s body. Cremated him to dust. Make sure he was gone for good.

Unfortunately for me, Oliver had it set in his will that he was to be buried.

He’d already purchased a plot. I also discovered he had bought one for me too.

The plot next to his.

I’d rather burn in Hell than spend an eternity trapped beside him. I’ve served my time. I’m done.

Reaching for the last flat pack box, I stretch too far, and my ribs ache. I’m sporting a nice black bruise on them courtesy of Forbes outburst last night.

I check my bag for Advil and remember that I took the last of them first thing this morning.

Knowing everything is packed, I start to search through Oliver’s drawers in the hope there may be something in here.

I tug on the bottom drawer, but it’s locked.

I search the other drawers for a key but find nothing.

Then a thought crosses my mind. Oliver’s keys, the ones I was given with his things at the hospital, have a few keys on it that I hadn’t found a use for.

I retrieve the keys from my bag, and start trying the three keys. The second one fits, so I turn it, and the lock opens with a click. I pull the draw open, and there’s nothing in it, but a manila folder. I take the folder from the drawer and sit down in the chair, placing the folder on the desk.

In the top right hand corner, it has one word – Anna.

Seeing my mother’s name on it has me opening the folder.

There are two pieces of paper inside. Both are titled: ‘Sawyer, Davis and Smith. Family Lawyers.’ Dated: October 12th 1990.

I was born 1990. January 10th is my birthday.

The first letter is addressed to Oliver. I start to read.

No.

This … this can’t be right.

Blood starts to pound in my ears.

With trembling fingers, I turn to the second piece of paper and read quickly through the lawyer jargon. I’m getting the basics of what this letter is about.

It’s not a letter. It’s a contract.

I, Anna Monroe, do decree to cease all parental rights of my daughter, Mia Monroe, giving sole custody to her father, Dr. Oliver Monroe.

   
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