Somewhere I Belong
by Barb Shuler
Shattered Lives Series, Book 2
Publish Date: February 28, 2017
Cover Design by: MadHat Books
Photography: Lindee Robinson Photography
Models: Victoria Morin & Chad Demchik
I was a woman on a mission. I wanted to be…. Somewhere I belonged.
My life as a small town gal kept me cautious, but I wanted to go travel the world, be free and not stuck in a bubble. I traveled through the states and kept moving until I got to Vegas. Flashing lights, casinos and the man in Armani who made traffic stop with his sparkling smile… A smile I quickly learned belonged to the devil.
Not anyone else’s devil – he was my devil.
Then, my world came to a crashing halt one night – the night my life went from dangerous to ready to flatline.
On the ride of my life, I went back to the past I’d abandoned years before. Back to the past that has never been the past. It could have been the present but I was too stubborn to see it.
I’m running back to the arms of safety.
To the arms I should have never left.
For as long as I can remember, I was taught to be kind and respectful to everyone. Yes, those are two entirely different things. Well, in my world they were. I was taught to say thank you, you’re welcome, and to address everyone older than me as ma’am or sir. There was no one in the small town I grew up in that didn’t have that same value. Good ole’ country folks were like that. They worked hard for their money, they respected themselves and the land. But when I decided to move away, I lost that. It was ripped away from me and I was tossed around like a rag doll in a cyclone. Each place I visited was different, but it was the flashing lights of Vegas that caught me. It was a beacon I could not look away from. I was a fly on the sticky paper. That sticky paper was controlled by the eldest son of none other than former Senator Grant Wainwright. Yep, you heard that right. Jacob Wainwright became a man I couldn’t escape, or so I thought.
When Grant decided Capitol Hill was no longer his cup of tea, he came back to Vegas where his family had a ‘vacation home’. Seems he hit it big in ‘underground activities’ that led him into the money pot of Vegas. Yep, that means casino’s. Lots of them. But, here is where it gets interesting. In some circles, the Wainwrights are like royalty. They have prestige, honor, and of course, class. But their son… oh, now, that boy is just trouble. He wears Armani by day, and leather by night. Frigging idiot thinks he is a big shot biker. The only thing that Harley riding douche canoe is good for is pushing drugs – the drugs his daddy pretends aren’t being siphoned through his casinos – and working through the whores in the back room. Some of those skanks have more mileage on them than an international jet has in a year of flight. I’d had to watch them paw at Jacob, doing anything they could to get a little of the white stuff he’d slip into their hands when no one was looking. God only knows what they did to get what was in his pants… let’s just say, there’s not much there to work with.
As it tends to do, though, all good things must come to an end. Karma catches you by the balls and says, “cough”. There was a raid on the casino and Jacob was lucky enough to not be there. I take that back, I had the unlucky fortune that he wasn’t there. When he heard, the news of the raid, he flipped out. All of his whores, his stash of cocaine, even some of his regular customers… gone. The cops cleaned house and left the mess for him to clean up. That was when his daddy stepped in and told him to fix it, get his money back however he had to, and shut the door in his face. I paid for this simply because I was there. The moment I spoke, telling him he could get out now, be productive other ways – legal ways – the hit came. Hard and fast. He, of course apologized and cried over it. The douche thought that was good enough. Not even close.
There was no way I could just up and leave. I’d seen too many things, knew too many things. He’d kill me if I tried. Hell, he’d probably kill me if he even thought I was thinking about leaving. Maybe. Maybe not. Though, I was willing to try now. I had to get out before I did wind up one of the dead bodies under a bridge somewhere. I couldn’t do that to my family. As I started to work on a way to get out, I found out there was someone else working to build a case against him. I didn’t know who the ‘other’ was, but I made sure to leave things laying around. In plain sight, even a snake can be overlooked. Then the unthinkable happened. They found the ‘spy’, and I was between a rock and a hard place. That was, until I was caught. My rock shifted and I was done.
The hits and screams faded away as they had before… but I had changed. I’d had enough and I fought back. I had been too scared the last time. Shocked, really. I’d never had a man hit me before. The first time he raised his hand to me was in front of some crackpot bikers, the kind that give real bikers a bad name. He got praise then for ‘handling his bitch’, as if that was a good reason to hit someone. Apparently, he thought that method would work. Just like last time, he ‘handled’ me, alright, but I broke his nose. I tried for more, but I was in ‘cause as much damage as possible and run like hell’ mode. His goons were not there to help him, and I think my retaliation caught him by surprise. He didn’t expect a real fight. His anger made him sloppy, but he got in a lucky shot and I got a knife to the side. The stab wound I could deal with, as long as I could fight my way out. My oldest brother Charlie had always joked I was scrappy. Scrappy had nothing to do with it. I was in for a fight of my life and I knew it. It was time to get the hell out of dodge before I became like the body… bodies on the floor. I ran as fast as I could to the only place I knew I’d be safe. Home.
No Easy Way Out
We all have choices to make in life. Do we take the road less traveled, or do we follow along the motorcade leading you to the lands of adventure, fun and a little danger? Do you take it all with a grain of salt, or a squeeze of lime? Can you outrun the devil in the red dress? In my case, the devil wears Armani during the day and leather at night. He’s no superhero, though. Hell, no. He’s a complete and utter jack hole who has more money than brains. Yep, that train left the station with no one aboard a long time ago. Though, on second thought, I’m not much better. I fell for the sweet smile and the stacks of green he had. I was a simple, naïve girl. I was living careless. Now, I’m running for my life from a man that has claimed me as his.
He may have been there when I thought I needed a man. He may have loved me even, but he isn’t the one that stole my heart. No, that was taken years ago by a man that has most likely forgotten all about little ole’ me. Here I sit, my heart racing – pounding out a rhythm to rival any drum beat – as I scan the bus station lobby. I needed this bus to hurry up and board already. The longer I sat out here in the open, the more I started to panic. The pain in my side was getting worse. God, if it started to bleed again I was going to be screwed. I’d dropped everything but the cell phone in my pocket when Jacob attacked me in the back parking lot of the casino. I left it all. I didn’t need it, everything would remind me of him…. and I just wanted to forget this life. My Aunt Trisha was wrong. You had to have more than attraction and money. You needed someone that respected you. Someone that would protect you, not someone that would do this to you.
I pulled the ball cap on my head down tighter and tucked my chin into my collared shirt as I said a small prayer. The first of many. The last six hours had been a roller coaster of adrenaline, chaos and overwhelming emotions. I’d seen too much. I had been stabbed, beaten and now was on the run. On the run from a mad man. Nowhere to run, but home.
“Anna, you’re so stupid,” I berated myself. For once, I deserved it. Every ounce of fear and pain that radiated through me confirmed that. I was stupid. I knew better than to try and get evidence against Jacob. See, Jacob Wainwright was the son of a wealthy casino owner and a former governor. He thought he was God’s gift to women. He treated them like queens until he got what he wanted from them, then he’d change them out like day old bread. All of that changed when I came in. He said he only wanted me, and I let him have me. That need turned to obsession. Greed. He was demanding. Jealous, and for all the things holy he was a fucking psycho. How I hadn’t seen that before, I don’t know. Maybe I had been wearing blinders or chose not to see it. I’m not sure, but in the end he truly thought he owned me.
I had been in Jacob’s office searching for a very important file. One that would guarantee me some time to get away from here, away from him. I would blackmail my way out of this God forsaken place. But Jacob came back earlier than I expected. I was left with no choice but to hide behind the lush curtains that pooled on the floor against the wall of windows. I could wait them out. That was when it all started to go downhill like a train with no brakes. You knew there was no way to escape being stuck in its tracks.
When the office door flew open I bit down on my bottom lip and tried to keep my breathing calm and low. Last thing I wanted was to be caught. Loud voices turned into men arguing, which turned into voices being raised even louder. That’s when the the hitting started. My gut clenched in sympathy to whoever was being pounded on. The sound of flesh on flesh was starting to wig me out. Someone grunted and a cry of pain rolled through the room. I felt their pain, I knew those feelings all too well. Jacob’s angry voice rang out as I clenched my eyes shut with each of the hits the person took.
“You… you fucking pig!” Jacob screamed, “You dare to betray me?”
“If I disappear, more will come for you. You’re going down, Wainwright. Daddy can’t save you this time,” the man’s voice was ragged from pain.
I couldn’t help it, I had to peek. I pushed the curtains apart at a seam slowly, trying to keep my shaking hands from giving me away and peeked through. It was then I saw him. Joshua. He was calling Joshua a pig. Oh God, Joshua must have been the undercover man they were looking for. I’d overheard them talking earlier about a spy but I had no clue…my salvation had been so close. I could have given him everything he needed to take Jacob down. That was why I was looking for that folder, or anything to get me out of here. I just wanted to go home.
It all happened so fast. Joshua was screaming at Jacob. The gun was pulled out and by the time the shot registered Joshua was on the ground, blood pooling under him. I must have made a noise because all eyes turned to me. I clapped the curtains together, only to have them ripped apart and me snatched roughly from the spot where I stood. My body slammed into the floor as I was thrown at Jacob’s feet. My tears were running in streams down my cheeks as sheer panic ran through me. I looked over to the lifeless body beside me.
“Well now, this is unfortunate,” Jacob sneered. He gripped my hair and snatched me back up to my feet. I shrieked as the pain his grip caused ate through me. His lips brushed mine as he spoke to the men behind us. “Get out!”
“But, boss,” one of them stuttered, only to have Jacob raise his arm, gun in hand and put a bullet between his eyes. It was in that moment that I knew he had completely lost it. The other two left the room after that display, so it was just me, him and two dead bodies on the floor.
“I love it when you beg, love,” he said pressing his lips to mine.
I fought to get away, but that only seemed to make him madder. He jerked me behind him as he went back into the office’s back room. His “I need space” bedroom. I wasn’t stupid. This was where he brought his whores. Then again, I was only a whore to satisfy his needs most days. I was nothing more to him. As my body slammed into the bed I cursed and tried to get away. I kicked and managed to get him off of me. He didn’t know I could fight. I was small, but I’d be damned if I was letting him do this to me anymore.
“Get off me, asshole!” I kicked out, my bare foot meeting his chest. He stumbled and I flipped off the bed. A roundhouse to the temple had him out. I ran for the door. I checked to make sure the hall was clear. I shut the door and grabbed the bag I had under his desk, slipped on my ballet flats, and took off out the door. My mind was racing. I needed to take the back stairs. No one ever used those except the cleaning people. This place was like a maze, though. I had to get to the bottom floor, but not run out into the lobby. I needed to avoid security, too.
I’d made it out of the building, running full out to my car. Just when I thought I was free, I was hit from behind. My body slammed into the car and he was on me. I head butted Jacob and his roar of pain made me grin. It was then that I felt the burning in my side. I cried out but pushed myself harder. Elbowing him as hard as I could in the solar plexus I shifted and kicked back, making him stumble. He doubled over in pain and I cracked him on the head with my bag. My shit went flying and I let it. I took off running. I ran through the crazy packed streets of Las Vegas until I was doubled over outside of some restaurant. There was a man with his back to me. He had a ball cap hanging on the back of his chair. I slipped it free and took off running again.
I hate to say this – my dad would be so disappointed in me – but there were a few pockets missing wallets and a pharmacy that was short a few packs of bandages by the time I got to the cold, dumpy little bus station. I’d managed to get the bleeding to stop and a bandage on the cut along my ribs. The fucking thing hurt, but I couldn’t tell just how bad it was. One thing at a time. I had to get on a bus and get out of here. I needed to get home – back to the place I should have never left. My safe place.
When I heard the bus being called for loading I stood up, walked slowly to get in line and made it to the bus. Step one was complete. As I curled into a seat midway into the bus I sighed and pulled out my phone. Two bars. That was all that I had left. I sent Charlie a message. “Coming Home :)” and turned my phone off. In less than twenty-six hours I would be safe again. There would be fourteen-hundred miles between me and that asshole.
“GET BACK HERE, ANNA!” No matter how far I ran, I couldn’t escape him. His meaty hand grabbed my arm and I was tugged back to where he stood. Scowling, Kicking, screaming, it was all fruitless. I couldn’t escape. He tackled me and held me down. My back scraping – burning – from being pressed hard against the floor. His lips met mine just as he decided to take what he had always wanted. No matter the fight I had in me, it wasn’t enough. I wished for death. His words echoed over, and over in my head. “You are mine! I will have what is mine!” As the panic took over I started to fight harder.
There was a sharp tug and the pain in my side made my eyes fly open as a scream ripped from me. Blinking, I stared back at the man that had been driving the bus. “Ma’am, are you okay? You need some help?”
Oh God. I scrubbed my hands over my face. It was then I felt the wetness. I had been dreaming. My utter horror turned to fear and embarrassment. There were so many sets of eyes on me now. My face burned with a blush as I pulled myself up in the seat and stood. “I’m… no. I’m fine,” I said.
He nodded as he spoke, “All right, then. We are at your stop. There is no station per se, but you should be able to find a phone inside to call for your ride.” I tugged at my shirt and walked with him to the front of the bus.
“I have a phone. I’ll be fine. Thank you, sir,” I said as I walked off the bus and closed my eyes. I was home and free of Jacob. I could start over again, pretend the last few years had never happened and move on with my life. Hopefully I could do this here. I had left once before because small town life didn’t seem as interesting as I had thought it should. Though, after seeing all of what I have seen… this is where I need to be. The place I should have never left. Lesson Learned.
My feet carried me down the sidewalk on Main street but there was no destination in my mind. I was just wandering. I had to clear my mind and find a reason to have all of a sudden come home. When your father is the old Sheriff – as in he used to be the Sheriff here but retired – and you have a brother who is like a damn drug sniffing dog, you need an air tight alibi. Both of them could spot a lie a mile away. I was screwed. I can’t lie for shit.
Sighing, I turned the corner and ran into a brick wall. Not the kind that doesn’t give, one that I had hoped to never see again.
~Meet Barb Shuler~
I’m a Carolina Girl by right and a Texan by birth. Best of both worlds. I have the brass sass to keep up with my Texas sized temper. Living and working in both states i’ve learned a lot about hard work, adapting to your surroundings and making the best of the path that you have been led down. My grandma Dollie once told me I would know what I was meant to do when it happened. She was right, as always.
As with most book lovers, I am an avid reader. Reading has always been a hobby – a passion, really and a way to get lost in other people’s lives, their drama and other worlds. It’s a private movie in your imagination that you get to cast and navigate through, at your own pace. Reading helps to expand the perimeters of one’s mind. That is what got me into writing. Writing has been something that I have done since I was a kid. If I had paper, I was writing. Nine out of ten times it made no sense but what are words if they are not to be used to your advantage? Words are a part of us all. Why not use them, right?
During the day I work as a ‘desk jockey’ and help the residents of my county navigate themselves around our little, but not too little country town. By night I am either blogging with my best friends, doing PA work for some of my favorite authors or fighting with the voices in my head. They can be stubborn at times. It’s a blessing and I am cherishing every moment. Tomorrow is never guaranteed so I want to make sure I live the day as fully as possible. For what is my creation, can become someone else’s treasure.
~ Connect with Barb here ~
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