Neverlove (Shadow Jumpers) by Angela Brown
Providence, Rhode Island
Six. Whole. Months.
The longest time her mother stayed home in the last few years.
Enough time that a sense of security snuck into Abigail’s heart, lulled her mind into forgetfulness.
But the monster hadn’t forgotten.
Abigail bolted awake at the squeaky turn of her bedroom door knob. The scent of lavender flooded the room. It tickled her nose and she sneezed, refocusing her gaze on the open doorway. Her father stood there, the shadowed hall an ominous backdrop.
She replayed her nightly routine in her mind, cringing at the part where she was supposed to lock the door. I didn’t have to. Mom’s home. Or so Abby thought. No need to ask him why he was there. Her belly twisted in knots. Please, God. Not again.
Instead, she asked, “Where’s mom?”
Her hand crept to the bedside table, nervous fingers taking twice as long to click on the lamp. More shadows crowded around her father.
“End of the month crisis. Something only she could handle. It’s just me and you.”
Abigail sucked a breath through her teeth. Her. Him. Alone.
Not good. She pulled her blankets closer, tighter to her body. Fear shoved her heart into overdrive, a thrumming beat in her ears. She couldn’t keep up the charade any more. It had to stop.
“Don’t come any closer.” After years of blind obedience, she’d grown too aware of how wrong her father was to do the things he did – to her – his only child.
His wild eyes radiated a sickening yellow glow, teeth bared and bright white. “Have you lost your mind, Abigail? Don’t you know I love you?” His words slipped through clenched teeth, voice graveled by anger, disbelief.
“No,” she answered. “This was never love. From the first time you…ugh! This is sick, Walter.” Nauseous turmoil twisted deep within. “Please, leave me alone.”
She’d never said no. The extra bolt on her door usually did the trick. But she’d forgotten. It didn’t help that her father was the pillar of the community, accustomed to getting what he wanted. People who didn’t want to be him wanted to be with him, something Walter always tossed in her face. Like that made everything all right.
Telling someone about the real Walter – the monster? Not an option.
One teacher suspected something, quietly approached Abigail about her Goth girl look, then mysteriously resigned within a day of their conversation.
She tried telling her mother. A lot of good that did. Her father’s denials, his handsome face and his “I’m shocked our daughter would say such a thing” act, earned Abigail a slap across the face.
There was no one.
Abigail reached up and wrapped her fingers around the small, crystal, soccer ball dangling from her necklace. It used to belong to her older brother. He died when she was twelve years old, a car accident that should have taken both father and son. Somehow, Walter escaped without so much as a scratch. Abigail lost her closest, and only, friend. That’s when her father’s visits began.
“Your mother won’t be back for a couple of days.” He stepped closer. Abigail backed further on her bed. Each step he took out of the shadows brought him into the tiny light of her bedside lamp. Gone were the hazel eyes with flecks of green they shared. Matching skin a sandy tone, flawless. The same cheekbones set high within heart shaped faces. She even inherited his deep set dimples and full lips. Nothing left but the monster she dreaded.
Abigail tightened her grip on the charm, calling on all her strength. Five years of it was long enough. Too long. This was her moment to put her foot down. “I’m serious, Walter! Go away!”
“So I’m Walter to you, now. Huh? It’s like that?” His voice rose in pitch, the tension like a weighted mass bearing down on her.
Abigail held her head high, face tilted upward, defiant…silence her answer.
He rushed to the bed in a rustle of tailored Italian garb, backhanding Abigail. Her heart leapt in her chest. Shock cut her breath to the quick. Her head whipped to the side, cheek stinging. But what followed burned into her mind.
Up until then, he’d taken her innocence one bit at a time, touches and kisses that confused her, affections that would have been okay – if they came from a high school crush. Not her father. He’d allowed her to keep her virginity…the last pure thing she had.
He stole it from her, taking a sick joy in her pleas for help going unanswered by the silent night.
A raspy voice crept along the fringes of her thoughts after her father left her alone to deal with the damage he dealt.
End the pain. End the fear.
End it all.
There’s no one to save you.
In death, your father can no longer hurt you. And he will come for you again.
You’re lonely and deserve to be. No one wants to understand you or care that your Goth look blends the black and blue into something trendy.
End it. Be at peace. Now.
The words settled in Abigail’s mind clear and true, as if Death itself knelt by her side whispering in her ear. Taking her own life was a terrible option that would damn her soul to hell. But it also promised peace. After what her father did, fire and brimstone at the hands of the devil appealed so much more than hell on earth at the hands of one meant to love her.
The following morning, sunshine filtered through her blinds and mottled her bedroom floor. The beautiful day beyond her window could not break the perfect storm that consumed Abigail. She struggled, pained in all the wrong places, and got out of bed. Glancing at her clock, she knew she had the house all to herself. She pressed a finger to her cheek and moaned at the soreness. Abigail trained all her thoughts on putting one foot in front of the other, leaning on the wall for support. She was determined to make it to her parents’ bathroom if it killed her.
Ironic, since that was her intent anyway.
Minutes passed to an hour when Abigail finally sank into her parents’ claw foot tub. Steam rose in white, smoky wisps from the water’s surface. Stinging warmth seeped into her skin, her pores taunted open by the heat. Just the thing to cleanse her father from her system. Release the filth of his still-lingering touch. Not that it would matter soon. After last night, she’d made up her mind. Seventeen wasn’t such a bad age to die.
Abigail cast a glance toward the bathroom floor. Ripped pieces of her mother’s stationary littered every inch, her failed attempts to come up with a poetic message, something meaningful to leave behind. The lace edging of each pink scrap curled from the steam, pitiful imitations of rose petals. Her tired gaze slid up to the mirror where her final words stood out bold in her favorite shade of dark red:
Deciding to die should have been the hard part. Not the stupid note!
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Genre – YA Paranormal Romance
Rating – PG13
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