My Own Nightmare
Shatter Lives Series; Book 1
Est. Pub Date: November 29, 2016
Published by: Barb Shuler
Cover Designed by: MadHat Books
One night a life changed. My life.
I used to write about chaos – about lives turning on a dime. Never once did I think it would ever happen to me. I went from a blossoming career to a prisoner in the span of a single evening. A living nightmare I was determined to escape.
The price of evil was high, but I wasn’t backing down. I knew in my heart the men in my life would be looking. I just had to survive. One day at a time. Minutes turned to hours. Hours turned into days. Then, it was time to make a choice.
Live or Die?
I chose to live.
Hell hath no fury and I had no more time...
A few months ago if you would've asked me what I was going to do with the rest of my life, I would've said live it, and to the fullest. Go out, fall in love, be merry and live today as if you won’t see tomorrow. Things change so fast that you can be blindsided by a shit ton of bricks at any second.
Now, I say, why bother? Then I re-think that, even. Life just sucks you dry sometimes. You walk around and say, “I quit! I’m just done.” It gives you false hope and then you die. You spend your time and money on meaningless shit, and then you die. No matter what you do, you, in the end just die. Then, by the grace of all that is holy, you get smacked on the head, and your brain wakes up, screaming at you to live.
That is what I had to tell myself for twelve days... that I should just die. Twelve days of the worst, most wretched things imaginable. I never imagined the things a body and mind can endure, when it has too. Because in the end, I had to live – if not for me, for the secret that I alone held to my heart and couldn’t let go of. One day, one little day can do so much to break your soul. I lost the will to live; the joy of life itself was drained from me. Even the secret I held to myself… It gave me hope, but I wasn’t looking to make it out. Yet, I survived. Twelve days... that is how long it took before I was rescued by him. The one my heart had belonged to for so long; before I could escape and start to live again.
Today, all I do is sit in my room and think, replay the moments over and over. God help me, but I actually missed parts of the time I was there. Am I sick? I have to be! There was so much wrong... where had it all started? How in the hell did I let her get to me? How in the name of all that’s holy did my life get turned upside down? She did it. Though it was all horrifying, she opened up the true writer inside me. The window to my soul has me thirsting for more. To live. To love. To grow old and that is what I’m going to do.
Can I forgive her? Hell no, not in a million years, but I do have her to thank for what is to come next in my life.
~ One month earlier ~
“Dani Lynn, hurry your ass up! We'll be late for the book signing. You can't be late. Think of your fans, they'll be disappointed,” Katie screeched from downstairs.
Katie was my best friend, and had been since we were kids. She was also my publicist. And currently, a major pain in my ass. But… God help me, I loved her. This book tour was not something I was looking forward to. Twenty-four cities in... well, I had already lost count of how long we were gone. We would leave, come back, do a signing here in town, and then head back out. I stayed in that ‘dazed and confused’ state of mind a lot. If I didn’t have Katie by my side, I wouldn’t be able to do any of this. I gave myself one last look in the mirror and sighed. I was so plain. Long, curly dirty blonde hair with highlights, blue eyes, and a few extra pounds where I wish I didn’t have them; but hey, that’s me. It was going to get worse before I could do anything about it. I moved from the mirror and walked out to grab my bag. My black dress and black knee boots were cute, but I knew by the end of the night my feet would be killing me.
“DANI LYNN CARTWRIGHT!” Katie’s high pitched voice soared up the stairs where I was now glaring down at her. “Hurry up before…” she trailed off, seeing me coming down toward her. I would have thrown something at her if I had anything in my hand to throw. She was nervous, and that was making me all the more nervous. How much could my poor body and mind take? How did people do this all the time? Ugh, I hated crowds. I hated attention... and this was nothing but masses of people in my face, noise and silently being judged. Maybe I would get used to it… or maybe not. I was ready to hurl as it was, and that was all my mind could focus on. Not hurling. I couldn’t ruin my dress or boots. Vain, but that was the way it was.
“I'm coming, Katie, damn. Relax, and stop full naming my ass. It’s a great name and all, but sheesh...” I winked as I walked down by her and swatted her ass with my hand. “We’ll make it in plenty of time. It takes what, two minutes to get to the high school?" I said, rolling my eyes as she huffed.
“Relax, my ass,” she snapped. Her voice had a tinge of anger to it. “Hurry it up. Your dad and the guys are waiting on us, and so is the whole town. You're a celebrity….”
“I swear on my mother’s name if you finish that sentence we are done as friends,” I snapped back, internally laughing as her face puckered into a frown. She rolled her eyes at me again when I walked back past her. I knew my father, Gabriel, the town's Sheriff and her brothers, one of which owned my heart, were waiting on us. Apparently, I needed armed security. I am sure that was one thing Dad and Drew agreed on for tonight. Who did they think I was, Stephen King? Yeah, no, just a hometown girl trying to play in the big leagues.
Katie’s mother, Carole, ran the independent publishing company that Katie worked for in town. She was a very talented and business oriented woman. Nothing ever seemed to be big enough to knock her off track. Katie’s father, Stephen, was the judge in town. You know, the kind every small town has. Nice, sweet, but would toss your ass in jail for jaywalking. He, as with my father, took their duties of the law very seriously. I guess that is why they went together so well. Two good ole’ boys that had a soft spot for the law. They’d toss the book at you for, just say, spitting on the sidewalk. I actually saw that once, and yeah, it was gross, so they deserved it. Dad and Stephen had been best friends, almost like brothers since they were toddlers, which made that bond even more profound.
Not that us, their kids, weren’t close… we were, to the point that we thought we were unstoppable. Growing up in a small town and having our parents as the town's law enforcement did not entitle us to get free passes. On the contrary, we were slapped, figuratively of course, harder than anyone else. Community service, helping with bake sales, sweeping off sidewalks… the dirtier the job, the better. They were trying to instill big values in us, and thankfully, we caught on and grew up into responsible adults. That isn’t to say that we don’t still act out as my daddy says, but hey, it’s just a part of life. You live and learn, right?
Though, now that I think of it...her brothers had it harder than we did. But they were worse than us girls ever were. They knocked down a barn once... that was a fun day until that point. Stupid asses. They always seemed to be starting something. Then again, you really can't blame them entirely, they were defending our honor after all. Seems boys of all ages are idiots. Especially when you pick on the judge and sheriff’s babies. The boys came to our rescue and then old man Cooper’s barn came a’ crashing down. We were given three weeks of community service, and we all had to repaint that monster of a barn that was put up to replace the old piece of shit barn that was there. I’m still not sure why Katie and I were punished, but I guess we deserved it somehow.
The Landry boys, now there were two very nice, well mannered... most of the time and gorgeous men. I could so see them in GQ or Playgirl. I won't even lie that I’d be the first one in line to get either. Not that I could hide my crush on either of them when we were kids. I tried, but whenever Drew looked at me I became a babbling fool and Katie would crack up. Embarrassing, yes, but I wouldn't change any of it. It’s the little things that help ground me now.
Katie also has a sister… well not a blood sister, but an adopted sister, Nicole. She was one twisted… person. She was always the outcast in school. She was mean, vile and a total bitch to everyone. I avoided her as much as possible. When we were kids I would catch her watching me, following me around. I told Katie once that she creeped me out. “Why?” Katie had asked me. My response, “because she likes to touch me. It’s just...weird,” set her anger a blaze and caused a fight between Katie and Nicole. As I got older I learned how to get away from her, to keep my distance. It was like let’s make a deal. You stay there, and I will stay with someone at all times.
As I walked into the kitchen to look for my keys I could hear Katie behind me. Her toe was tapping against the tile floor, and her arms were crossed over her chest as she looked at me. “You need a reality check, woman! You. Are. A. Writer. A damn good one, at that. You have fans waiting to meet with you.” Her face turned beet red as she glared at me and kept on talking, ignoring my blank expression. “You need to act like…”
“Katie Landry, if you tell me to act like an adult, I will smack the taste out of your mouth,” I hissed as I pulled myself out of my own head and snatched up my keys. “You are making me mental! Just breathe, and let’s go.” She knew good and damn well that I was not one for public debuts as it was. I hated attention. Have I mentioned that? And that I never have liked people staring at me.. it’s just creepy. Katie, on the other hand, thrives off of the attention. Well, I would be happy for her to do the public party and book signing affair, because this wasn't what I expected. I just wanted to write my books, be happy, and live my life in my little bubble.
I made my way to the front door, slipped into my mom’s necklace, the one my dad gave her on their wedding day and took a deep breath. I mumbled to myself, “here goes nothing.” Turning, I grinned as I called out, “Alright, Landry, hurry that cute little ass up; let’s go,” I smirked to myself as she grumbled at me and I opened the door. My face fell and I stopped dead in my tracks. Standing in front of me was Nicole. Her black devil eyes were boring holes in me. I jerked and had to bite my lip to keep from screaming. Holy shit! “What in the hell…” Are you doing here, I thought, but kept it to myself. “Are you trying to scare me to death?” I said as my hand curled around the door knob harder.
“Maybe. Where's Katie?" she said, sharply. Her lip curled slightly into a jokerish smirk. I grimaced and called out to Katie who had disappeared on me.
“Hey Landry, your uh...” psycho bitch, “sister is here.” I shook off my negative thoughts about Nicole as I moved a step back, using the door as a leaning post. She doesn't deserve that, Dani Lynn, she’s has never done anything too bad to you...except stare and creep you out… and maybe send you disturbing notes… I shuddered.
“Nicole?” Katie said in a questioning tone, pulling me from my thoughts.
“No, the other one,” I said as rolling my eyes as I moved back so Katie could get to the door. Katie cut her eyes at me, giving me that ‘don’t be scared’ look. I nodded as she turned her attention back to Nicole.
“Why are you here, Nicole?”
“Carole… err… Mom,” she amended, “she sent me. You forgot this,” Nicole said, handing Katie her wallet. That smile didn’t fool anyone; or I should say it sure as hell didn’t fool me. I looked at my watch and shifted as Katie faked a thank you to Nicole. Knowing her she took it to take cash out, then decided Katie may miss it and didn’t want to look guilty, so she returned it.
“Oh, I thought… okay, thanks, Nicole. That would've gotten me in all sorts of trouble. Now, scamper off, back to the house you go. I’ll be back home in a few hours, okay?” Katie said as she watched me.
I could see the panic in her eyes as Nicole walked off and down the sidewalk without a word. Katie turned and smiled and waved. As soon as she was out of sight Katie shut the door and engulfed me in her arms and squeezed me tight. Katie knew about the letters, and I was sure she assumed the same thing that I did. That it was Nicole that had sent them. But without proof what can you do?
“Landry? What the… ugh, stop that mess,” I said nervously, laughing and trying to push her away from me. I was glad I had her here to keep me sane when I needed it most.
“I'm just... gah! I'm so excited for you, Dani Lynn.” Yeah, Katie...sure, you're a bad liar. What the hell was that all about? “Come on.” She laughed and grabbed my hand, pulling me out of the door and down the sidewalk. The cold air skimming across my face, and up my dress, making me shiver.
We made our way to the high school on foot and were frozen by the time we got there. And, yes, my feet were already killing me. It was unreasonably cold this time of year, for Texas, anyhow. But I had to push past that as we stepped into the gymnasium. The high school seemed to never change; it looked the same year after year. It was decorated with congratulation and welcome home banners for me. Our families were truly proud of the work I had accomplished, as was the whole town. I was proud to say I was from Burke, Texas.
Copyright © 2016 by Barb Shuler
~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, 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 ~