Shatter Me Whole
Shattered Lives Series; Book 3
Genre: Dark Suspense/Thriller
Publish Date: April 25, 2017
Design by: MadHat Books
Photography: Lindee Robinson Photography
Models: Travis Bendall & Haley Jordan
Family is supposed to be there to help you when you’re in need. Love you when you are feeling down. To show support. Yours might… mine shatters me.
My stepfather thinks he has a right to take our freedom, and our power from us. They all do.
I’m the rebel. I grew up knowing this was wrong. I will not live my life in fear any more. The pain has to stop. He has to be stopped. I am but one girl on a mission to get out of this place and be free.
Only problem is… I may not be strong enough to defeat him. When I come across something that could possibly end his reign, I'll use it. I would pay to see his world come crashing down around him....
Whether I survive it or not.
Family... a group consisting of parents and children living together in a household… what a joke. That word - it’s six letters that should mean love, honor and respect. People to make you feel safe and cared for. A place to run to when you’re hurt or scared. Not. Well, for some it might be. For me, not so much. Family is just a word. One that is associated with pain, hurt and anger. Dysfunction.. deviation from the norms of social behavior in a way regarded as abnormal… Now, that is a word I can relate to.
My so-called mother married a man - Travis Jacobs - many years ago to be able to get away and belong to something. She wanted someone to love her. She wanted so many things, but what she got was a man that not only wanted to own her; he wanted to rule her. Her mind is so warped now that there is no turning back. She was stupid enough to fall for it all.
Now, she is his brainwashed little servant. She just does it without argument. Can you believe that? She just accept it like it was the right way to live your life. It sickens me. As I aged, I learned quickly that I was not allowed to be my own person. I had to fit into some mold they - mainly my stepfather - had for all women.
I rebelled. I refused to let him break my spirit. I've had to bide my time and suffer at the hands of the man she married and brought into our lives. Granted, when he came in I was merely a few months old.
I wasn’t his, thank God. He calls me ‘the bastard’, though that name fits him better.
If it’s not him torturing me, it’s his sons. I’ve suffered so much at the hands of my so called step-brothers, Gerald and Conner, in more ways than one. They see nothing wrong with it. I’m an outsider, not of their blood. I mean nothing to any of them. Just another woman to use and order around.
Let’s not forget the man that I’ve been promised to. Clinton ‘owns’ me, as they see it. Can you believe that? They think it’s that easy. Why does he ‘own’ me? Well, I was given to him by my stepfather as part of a business deal. Ridiculous, right? I’ve run away more than once, or I should say, I tried to. I’ve been caught and punished each time. With each escape attempt, the punishments grew more severe. And… I have the scars to prove it. The last time it was Clinton who caught me. Arrangements were made and now as far as they are concerned, I’m his. He’s taken liberties - so many of them, whether I was willing or not. And I wasn’t. I’d never agree to any of this. I’m not okay with any of it happening. I wouldn’t have thought anyone would agree to live this way purposely. The old bastard ruined me for other men. Do I mean that in a good way? Hell no. The nasty slimy bastard has always done everything he can to hurt me, to claim me and mark me as his.
Now that I’m eighteen, they think I am going to miraculously change my mind and stay in this hell hole. That I’m going to cave and agree to join in this sick fuck in marriage. I’d rather set myself on fire. Seriously, I’ve thought about that. Or one of the times I’m marking my body - a way I use to ease the pain - I could just hit the right spot and end it all... They can all go fuck themselves up the ass with a hammer. It’s not happening. I’d have given up long before now, but I have two reasons to carry on and get myself into a better place. Two very small reasons. I have to save my.... my baby brother and sister. Yes, my siblings need me. They have to be my one and only priority right now.
It was time to run. To take a stand and fight. To survive. I thought I had timed it right to get us all out before anyone noticed we were gone. Only thing was, I didn't expect to find out things about these sick bastards that would truly haunt me - forever. It's all a game to them, but everytime I close my eyes I see things that are truly disturbing. It was like walking into a horror movie and finding out your exit door has been taken away. I was ready, and had the help of another woman, someone I knew I could trust. The one person that has always looked out for me - it was time to get us free of this place. But somehow... they found out. There was nothing I could do. I had to leave Taylor and Ryan behind… if I could get out once, I could get back in and save them.
With every passing moment without them I die a little. I’d have to find a way to save them from these sick, twisted creeps. I'd make sure they did not endure the same life I had. I'd burn the whole lot of those bastards to the ground to save those little angels.
For now, I had to stay free. I had to run. If I didn't get away I wouldn’t make it much longer. Taylor and Ryan... they need me as much as I need them. I have to save them has been on repeat in my head since I ran through the woods to my own freedom. Or what I thought was freedom. It’s only a new form of torture for me. I have to stay strong and alive for the ones that mean the most to me. I would die to save them, and dying may be just what happens, but I won't go out alone. I'll take any of those sick fucks - who try to interfere - with me.
Hiding In Plain Sight
I took the red sharpie from my bag and used it to put a big ‘x’ over today on the wall calendar. With that action I swallowed back the bile that had risen in my throat. Almost two months - fifty-four days to be exact - and I was no closer to getting Taylor and Ryan out of that compound and away from those sick fuckers. I swiped a hand under my eyes and wiped away the tears as they fell. I would not cry. I would have to do more. Maybe I could get Jimmy to give me more hours at the station. That thought made me wrinkle my nose, but hey, it was a job and I desperately needed the money. Even if that meant ignoring his flirting and unflattering gazes up and down my body. I was so sick of men and their simple lack of respect for women.
The only good thing about my nights - or early morning I should say - were that it was quiet. Not too many people came in, unless it was the guys leaving the bars looking for snacks or more beer because they’d been cut off. Nothing went better with the stale smell of beer than a bag of Doritos and a bag of twizzlers. There could be worse combinations, trust me. I’d had to clean a few of them up. I wasn’t a fan of drunks. Not in the slightest. But my job was to keep the station clean, and make sales. So, that's what I do. How people stomached that crap I will never know. The beer and alcohol I mean, the Doritos and Twizzlers I could deal with. They were my number one junk food of choice after all - when I could afford them that is. Pop Tarts and Ramen noodles were staples in my diet as well.
There are other customers that come in from time to time. Truckers just passing through needing a shower and a nap. The local PD and Sheriff’s personnel… one of which stands out. He’s my Oreos and Mountain Dew snacker. Oh, and his pack of gum. That smile he shares with me each time I see him makes me melt a little. He always makes me feel safe when he’s in here. The moment he leaves that changes, though. I go back to my shattered, scared, on edge self. I shake my head at that thought and pat my belly as it growls. It was time to think about getting some food in me. Thinking of food makes me think of the corner grocery.
Mrs. Talbert, the grocery store owner - who is one of the few people I speak to in town - looks after me when I go in there. Her acts of kindness towards me make me want to do better for myself. It drives me to work harder. I hate needing the hand outs, and that is what it is, a hand out. But as they say, beggars can’t be choosers. In the last three months life has improved a bit. Now, instead of sleeping in the bathroom at the station - which no one knew about - I have moved to the store room. Jimmy lets me crash there for half my check. It’s a lot for a cot and blanket, but it beats a cold, hard tile floor. If I don’t argue with him, or seem to be ‘ungrateful’ as he calls it, he even leaves me snacks and sodas back there. It beats nothing.
I almost have enough saved up to move to the no tell motel down the street. They want one hundred and fifteen dollars a week. It’s a lot cheaper than Jimmy, but it’s a long walk in the dark and if it’s raining, I chance getting soaked, which could cause me to get sick. If I get sick I can’t work. It’s just one clusterfuck after another it seems. Scrubbing my hands over my face, I let out a groan and stretch. Time to get my weekly chores over.
I shoved all of my clothes into my pack and grab the roll of quarters and head out the door towards the motel. Thankfully the washer and dryer are between the front and back of the buildings and anyone can access them. I don’t have much to wash, as I don’t own much. Just what I could get from the local church. They get donations in from people in the area and give them to people in need. Again, I hate that I am one of those people in need.
Panting slightly I cough out a dry cough and make a face. I pulled the water bottle from my bag and sat it aside as I pulled out my clothes. I quickly tossed them into the washer and put in a few drops of the body wash from the small bottle in my hand. This stuff was expensive, I had to use it sparingly since I used it to wash myself too. Grabbing my bottle I moved over to the small sink on the opposite wall and fill it - which I quickly drained again, then refilled. Refreshed slightly I moved to sit on the dryer and crossed my feet under me. My back was to the wall so I could see who or what was coming my way.
I pulled the pen and small pocket notebook from the outside pocket of my pack and started to go over the simple list of things to get later from the grocery. I looked forward to seeing Mrs. Talbert today. I smiled as I twirled the end of my ponytail and started writing out my list.
loaf of bread
pack of sandwich meat
can of tuna
box of pop tarts
bottles of water 2
“Maybe I can get two cans of tuna this time… hmm...” I absently tapped the end of the pen against my knee. I wouldn’t change it yet. “Might scratch the water this time, this bottle might make it another week,” I grunted as the washer started spinning beside me. A weary sigh left me as I added to my list.
box of granola bars
bag of Doritos
cans of soup x4
Wrinkling my nose I nodded. “Guess that will do it. That should last a week,” as the words left me my stomach growled. “I know, we will eat something soon,” I promised myself. The dread and loneliness accompanied my hunger.
This was all my mother's fault. I pushed my pen into my hair and slid the notebook into my back pocket before laying my head back against the wall. One day this would all be behind me. I would be in a nice house, Taylor and Ryan would be with me again and we could live a happy life. I would make that happen.
“Come back here, bitch!” I was running as fast as I could. I could hear the heavy beats of the booted feet behind me, but barely. My heart was racing so hard. I jumped the small stream at the back of the property, cursing as I slipped. Thankfully I caught my balance before I tumbled over. My adrenaline was pushing me to move faster. If I could just close my eyes I could pretend I hadn’t been here. That I hadn't seen anything. It was that moment of thought that caused me to lose focus of my surroundings. I tripped over something, what didn’t matter when I landed. I hit the dirt and grass covered area before me hard, knocking the breath from my lungs. Wheezing I blinked, and brushed the dirt covered hand before me over my face.
“Fuck, that hurt,” I said with a groan as I scrambled back to my feet - but it was too late. The monster was here. I tried to step away, only to fall back on my ass.
“What did I tell ya about running, bitch?” Clinton sneered.
“Leave. Me. Alone!” I yelled.
“You will learn a lesson today if it kills you. You will do as I say, when I say it,” he growled out his words as he lunged for me. I was tired after all of that running and I wasn’t fast enough to escape him when I got back to my feet. I was slammed back against his chest - held there by his tight grip. I wiggled only to still when I felt his erection pressing against my ass. Oh no, not this again. With one arm across my shoulder his other hand trailed up under my tank top and squeezed my breasts.
The feel of his cracked and callused hands made my stomach flip. I jerked, trying to get away. “Stop!” I screamed as I stomped on his foot. Of course, it did no good. Tennis shoes vs. boots, means all I did was hurt my own damn foot. I bucked as his fingers squeezed my nipple, hard enough to make tears come to my eyes. “Please, stop. I don't want this!” I begged.
“You are mine. I own you, you seem to forget that, you little bastard. No one loves you like I do. Not even that whore you call a mother,” he said as his hand went down my body, the tips of his fingers circled my navel before he slid that nasty hand down into my pants.
I dug my nails into arm and squirmed. I wasn't letting him do this again. “No!” I tried pleading, again. Nothing ever stopped him though. His iron grip held me as he fondled me. When he thought I was ready he shifted and shoved me towards the ground.
“On your knees, bitch,” he barked out. I tried to get away. Once again he grabbed me around the neck and before I could react my back was on the ground. I gasped as the pain shot through my body.
“Just for that, you're gonna get the belt after I fuck you. You're mine, bitch. All mine,” his manic cackle filled my ears. My heart sped as the panic I had become friends with took me over.
Screaming, I jerked and fell off the small dryer I'd been sitting on. The tears that ran down my cheeks were wiped away with a hand as I wrapped my arms around myself.
When I heard a whine, I turned and there stood a small dog - he was just a puppy really. His big brown eyes met mine and I swallowed hard as he inched forward. I tried to focus on the dog and not the internal pain of that memory. He inched closer and I slowly raised a hand out to him to sniff.
He moved to sit beside me and nosed my hand. Those big brown eyes once again met mine. Something in me twisted as I ran my fingers down his side. He was scraggly looking. He needed a bath. God, he looked no better than I did.
“Hey, buddy, where'd you come from?” I asked as I gave him a little scratch behind his ear. The washer buzzed and I pulled myself up from the ground. I washed my hands and quickly switched the wet clothes to the dryer. I kept my movements slow as to not scare the dog. Standing here I got a better look at him. He was dirty and again those big brown eyes met mine and he whined.
“You hungry, too?” I asked as my stomach growled. I shifted on my feet and sighed looking down at the roll of quarters. There was four dollars left. I glanced back behind me to the alcove where there was a snack and soda machine. The soda machine long ago stopped working, though. I grabbed a dollar and went to see what the snack machine held. Chips, crackers and more chips. I sighed as I slid three quarters through the slot and pressed the buttons for a bag of chips. Grabbing them from the machine I moved slowly back to where I left the dog and sat back down on the ground and opened the chips.
I gave them a sniff, cause, let's face it, I wasn't sure how long they'd been in there. I took one out and held it out to him. He just looked at me. I raised a brow and took the chip in my mouth. I pulled another out and grumbled ‘cause they were a little stale, but not too bad. I held one out to the dog and this time he took it. I nodded and we quickly finished off the bag of chips. It looked like I would be redoing that grocery list to feed two, instead of one. No way was I leaving him out here alone.
My Own Nightmare
Shattered Lives Series; Book 1
Genre: Dark Suspense/Thriller
Published: November 26, 2016
**On Kindle Unlimited
Somewhere I Belong
Shattered Lives Series; Book 2
Published: February 28, 2017
**On Kindle Unlimited
~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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