by Abby McCarthy
One look was all it took for fifteen-year-old June Withers to fall in love with Jake Daniels. One moment was all it took for the river’s current to take everything from them.
June would have done anything for Jake. The two were inseparable. He was going to run away to be with her. Then, his abusive father destroyed their happiness.
Years later, June sits down to write a review for the band Silent Tides and is floored when she comes face to face with Lucas the keyboardist. Lucas looks so familiar; the resemblance to Jake is uncanny.
June falls fast and hard for Lucas, but she continuously questions her feelings for him, unsure if they are because he reminds her of Jake or because of who he is.
Just when June thinks she’s found happiness with Lucas, she loses him too. Their new love is torn apart, clouded in a veil of deceit and lies, shattering June.
Six years pass and June feels like she finally has found peace in her life. Once again, it’s ripped wide open when she comes face to face with a love from her past.
Now it’s June who has a secret.
“Jake! Where the hell are you? We should’ve been out on the water by now!” Shit, Jake thought. The old man didn’t sound good today. He wondered if he even slept. When Jake left early this morning, his old man hadn’t come home yet which could mean so many things.
Jake looked over to June who was decent and breathed a sigh of relief as his dad walked through the clearing. If his dad was just minutes earlier he would have seen June. The thought sickened Jake.
June stood up as soon as she saw Mr. Daniels, her cheeks flushed pink from embarrassment and she hoped he had no idea what they had been up too.
“Hi, Mr. Daniels,” she said.
“You again, huh? You’re the reason Jake isn’t where he’s supposed to be, aren’t you?”
June didn’t know what to say. She heard Mike Daniels say unkind things to Jake, but he had never been rude to June before. Jake reached June and slipped his hand in hers and gave her a look that said don’t answer him.
“I’m coming now, Dad,” Jake said. June was instantly sad that she had to leave Jake.
“I’m good at cleaning fish. I bet I’d be a great help on the boat Mr. Daniels,” June offered up ignoring the glare Jake gave her. She knew he didn’t want her around his old man, but she also knew her time was coming to an end.
Mr. Daniels was quiet and thought for a moment and said, “Fine. Let’s go.”
Jake felt it low and in the pit of his stomach that something about this was a bad idea, but when June squeezed his hand and said, “Please,” he couldn’t deny her.
The fishing boat was not a luxury boat. It was a dirty, slightly rusty boat, with large nets hanging off the front of it, and other fishing contraptions off the back that June had no idea what they did. When she thought of fishing, she thought of how her dad did it with a pole, a couple of beers and a day out with friends. There were poles attached on the side of the boat and baskets attached to the opposite side. It became very clear to June that this was not a leisurely trip down the river.
Jake cringed when June sat on the bench that he knew had dried fish guts staining it. He hated that her pretty dress was going to be ruined before the day was over. He hated even more, when he saw his dad take the whiskey bottle to his lips before pushing off their small dock. He never wanted June to be around his dad, and for once, he instantly regretted giving in to her quiet plea to go with them. He was shocked his dad agreed in the first place.
The boat pushed off the dock and Jake dropped cages to catch crawfish and he explained to June that they would sweep back around and grab them on the way back.
“Less talking. More work,” Mr. Daniels yelled more angrily than necessary at the young couple.
June quickly asked, “What can I do?”
Jake tensed at his dad’s tone and then tensed again when he watched him take the fifth of whiskey to his lips finishing the bottle.
Eventually, they reached a spot on the river where Mr. Daniels swore the fish would be biting. Jake showed June how to bait and cast out a line, taking his time in making sure she learned it right.
“If I’d thought this was going to be a day of you trying to get in your girlfriend’s pants, I’d have thought twice about letting her tag along,” Mike Daniels spat at the two, jealous that they had each other and angry that he no longer had his sweet wife. She was always the only person who made him good. Without her, he had nothing. He never felt connected to Jake. Jake always occupied his wife’s time and Mike resented that. He hated Jake even more for it when he no longer had her.
Jake cringed again at the vulgar words his dad used around June, mouthing, “Sorry,” to her.
June responded by squeezing Jake’s hand and for the first time she got a small glimpse at what Jake went through on a daily basis. Her heart hurt for him and she was going to do her best not to let Mr. Daniels harsh words get to her.
Mr. Daniels pushed past the two and intentionally shoulder-checked Jake. Jake knew not to stand up to his old man, especially not when June was there, so he gritted his teeth and tried to check his temper. Jake was angry that his dad was acting like this in front of June. He could take it, but didn’t need for June to put up with it.
Mr. Daniels threw a line out, stationed his rod and then cast another, doing it all rather clumsily. The boat swayed side to side and Jake thought there would be no swimming for the pair tonight, the river was far too choppy. It was one of the reasons he didn’t rush to the boat. He never thought his dad would want to fish in this.
June squealed with excitement when she felt a tug on the line. Jake told her to reel it slow at first and let the fish think that he was getting the bait, that way the fish would really get hooked. She did as instructed and after a few minutes of give and take on the line, she reeled in her first fish. It was small, too small to sell, and so Jake showed her how to unhook it and then he threw it back in. Jake caught several large fish while his dad had yet to catch one.
The clouds looked heavy and low, signaling to Jake that a bad storm might be coming.
“I don’t think we should stay out here, not if we’re going to pick up our baskets on the way back,” Jake said to his dad.
Mike Daniels looked furiously at Jake. He knew when to call it quits. It was his boat. He’d been fishing on this river since he was a boy. Maybe he shouldn’t have had that extra fifth of whiskey with breakfast-who was he kidding-for breakfast, but it didn’t matter he knew when to call it quits and that wasn’t yet. He needed more fish. He needed a bigger haul. He lost big on the tables last night and if he didn’t come up with money to pay Mr. Stevens there would be hell to pay. He’d already lost the farm and that shit son of his couldn’t even catch enough fish to help pay his debts. What good was he, anyways?
“The fuck did you say, boy? I’ll tell you when we’re ready to go.”
June flinched at Mr. Daniels tone but tried to not let Jake see it had affected her. She also tried not to flinch when Mr. Daniels threw out his line and snagged his rig against a bunch of turned up branches that the coming storm was pushing down the river.
“That’s a fifty dollar rig. Get your ass in the water and go get it,” he said to Jake. Jake wanted to argue about the fast current and how dangerous it was. He also hated the thought of leaving June alone with his old man even for a second, but he could tell by his old man’s tone that today could get even worse than it already was. Jake stripped off his jeans, into his boxers and quickly jumped into the murky water, looking back at June once before plunging under the water.
June’s stomach tightened. Every second Jake was in the water was a second she felt like she couldn’t breathe.
It happened fast. Mike Daniels was too close to June for comfort.
“You know I saw you two together. I didn’t figure you for a whore, but at least my boy is getting some. I’m thinking I should get a taste. See what all the fuss is about that’s been keeping him so busy.”
June froze. She didn’t want Mr. Daniels to come any closer to her, but she needed to make sure that Jake was okay.
Jake emerged from under the water near the brush. The water was choppy, and there were more limbs below the surface than above. He reached out and tried to unhook the rig, but the tumultuous waters pushed a sharp jagged stick into his ribs. He felt it cut his skin, but he had to go on.
“Stop!” he heard the faint cry from June, and turned his head back to see why she was yelling. His dad had his hands on June and was groping one of June’s breasts.
“No!” she yelled again and he watched as she struck out and smacked his dad. He needed to get to her, he knew what happened when he tried to fight back and. Fighting back only made it worse.
He couldn’t swim back fast enough to the boat. His arms burned with how hard he was trying to get to her. The sky opened up and sent large pellets of water everywhere. Jake could barely see through the dense rain. He pushed himself as hard as he could but felt like he was failing when he saw his dad grab her by the back of her hair and force her to her knees, with his other hand around her throat. He knew his dad was sick, but he never imagined him trying to do something as vile as this.
Jake reached the boat just as his dad’s belt buckle was being undone and his world went black.
Abby McCarthy is reader and a lover of words. She is a blogger turned author and released her first novel in May 2014. She is a mother of three, a wife and a dog person. She has always written, sometimes poetry, sometimes just to vent about failed relationships, however in parenthood she has found her voice to help keep her sanity. Words have flowed from her, to review and with the support of amazing friends in the Indie community she has decided to pursue her dream of writing! She loves to write and read romance, because isn’t that something we all yearn for? Whether it be flowers and hand holding or just the right tug on your hair. Isn’t that what life is about? The human connection?