REDEEM ME by Eliza Freed (February 3, 2015; Forever Yours E-Book; $3.99; Lost Souls Book #2)
Charlotte O’Brien desperately needs redemption. Torn apart by her parents’ tragic deaths, Charlotte has no one to turn to after she alienates herself from everyone and everything. Fate sends her a lifeline when she runs into a childhood friend. Now all she sees is Noble Sinclair-tall, gorgeous, with a body made for sinning. But Charlotte knows better than anyone how quickly the things you hold dear can be taken away-and though loving Noble feels like it could be her salvation, Charlotte knows it could also destroy her.
Noble Sinclair has always loved Charlotte. Now seeing how far she has fallen, Noble vows to be the man who can make her happy and bring her out of the darkness that has haunted her for far too long. But to save Charlotte, he must make her learn to forgive everyone who has forsaken her . . . starting with herself.
The house phone rings. It must be 8:00 a.m. Every morning his calls begin at eight. As usual, I don’t pick up, but the machine does.
“Annie.” My middle name on his lips cuts through me and I begin to cry again. “Please pick up the phone.” His voice is low, tormented. “I love you.” I run to the bathroom and make it to the toilet just in time to throw up, a little bit getting into my hair. I can still hear his voice, but I can’t make out the words. My back aches as I try to stand and catch a glimpse of myself in the mirror. My reflection is horrifying—bloodshot eyes, mangy hair, and dry, cracked lips. I look like I have a serious drug problem. I shrug at the fresh idea and go to my parents’ room to search their medicine cabinet for any kind of painkiller. As I enter the hall, I hear, “Not knowing where you are is killing me. I need you. I need to talk to you. I need you here, Annie. Or there. Anywhere, please pick up.”
“Fuck you, Jason Leer!” I yell at an outdated answering machine.
No pills here. How difficult would it be to establish a drug connection? Apparently lots of people are hooked on drugs. I can probably get an addiction up and running in a few days. If I’m not going to kill myself, I’m going to need something to cope. This house is like walking around in an old photo, except my parents have been missing from the picture for the past two years.
I turn each bottle in my hand and read their names and birthdates on the prescriptions. Kathryn O’Brien…Jack O’Brien. Where are the Percocet, Mom? Didn’t you guys ever have any pain? I’ve always blamed the delivery truck driver for their deaths, but everything’s different now. I completely understand the desire to be out of my mind on something. Now I assume the driver discovered that his reason for living had sex with someone else, and he only knew about it because there was a baby on the way. For the first time in two years, I feel some empathy for him.
I head back to my bedroom and stare at the bed Jason spent every night in last summer. It’s still at least six inches lower on the top left corner from the time we broke the frame…yet another source of agony. I walk over to the headboard and untie the scarf he gave me last Christmas. It’s never been worn except that first night when he tied my wrists to the bedpost with it. A dull ache in my pelvic bone subsides and I put the scarf in the pile on the floor with my semiformal dress, my Oklahoma sweatshirt, and some pictures of Jason and me.
I walk to the garage and get a screwdriver. The headboard detaches more easily than I thought it would. I put it next to my mattress with the other things that need to be destroyed.
“I hate you, Jason Leer.”
This is my new daily affirmation. I should be looking in the mirror when I say it, but after that first glimpse, I can’t stand the sight of me.
I fall back on my bed and switch on my laptop; the homepage announces it’ll be sunny today with a big, happy sun. Yippee! It’s August 21, officially seven days since I heard the outstanding news—Jason had sex with Stephanie Harding and now she’s having his baby—and I’m still not recovering as well as my brother would like.
I shut the laptop and toss it across my bed. This is not a life. I slide off the side of the bed and wander back to the mirror in the bathroom, this time wanting to masochistically bask in the effects of loving Jason Leer.
“What? I look awesome,” I say sarcastically as I wince at my reflection. This is what safety looks like.
I am gross. My emerald-green eyes have been replaced by blood-drenched circles surrounded by black shadows. My hair, once long and lustrous, is a matted web atop my head. I think there’s a hair tie in there, but I’m no longer sure. There’s barely a trace of its former bright, blond color. Angry, selfish, and gross. No wonder he cheated on me with Stephanie. Oh yeah, and depressed. Angry, selfish, gross, and depressed. Wretched in general.
My pep talk is interrupted by a knock at the door. In keeping with my new system of communication, I ignore it completely. Whoever the hell it is can continue to lead their life without interrupting my progress through the stages of grief. I yawn and my lip cracks and starts to bleed.
I return to my computer and google “signs of dehydration.” This is fun. Much better than moving all my things to Oklahoma to be with the man I love.
Want to set on fire.
I have one more week off from work for the move. A move from a city I love and an office I love. Six months it took. Six months of working insane hours with impeccable results to sell my boss on the idea of me telecommuting from Oklahoma. Now I’ll have the pleasure of explaining why I’m still in New Jersey. First I’ll have to figure it out myself because when I can complete a thought, it’s usually, What the hell am I doing in my hometown? Our hometown. Mine, Jason’s, and that whore Stephanie, who’s carrying his baby. I think I’ll just quit my job and focus full-time on sleeping.
The knocking stops and I head back to bed, exhausted by Day Seven of my new life.
Other Books in the Series:
College student Charlotte O’Brien is lost and she can’t find her way home. Devastated by her parents’ tragic deaths, she aches for any kind of connection . . . and finds it in a man who is all wrong for her. Jason Leer is a rough-hewn steer wrestler from Oklahoma-and the hottest thing Charlotte has ever laid eyes on. Yet he has his own dark secrets . . .
Burying herself in Jason, Charlotte soon discovers that life doesn’t have to be so painful. When they’re together their passion eclipses everything-and Charlotte can finally begin to see a way out of the darkness of her past. Fighting for a future with Jason won’t be easy, but for the first time since her parents’ deaths, this lost soul might have finally found a place that feels like home.
Luckily for Charlotte, Noble has proven time and again that he cherishes her in a way which heals her every gaping wound. But first love never dies. Apparently it moves home to torture Charlotte with daily reminders of what could have been. And while Charlotte may have quit Jason, Jason will never quit her. Suddenly, it’s becoming harder and harder for Charlotte to remember why Noble was the right choice . . .
She settled into Corporate America, learning systems and practices and the bureaucracy that slows them. Eliza quickly discovered her creativity and gift for story telling as a corporate trainer and spent years perfecting her presentation skills and studying diversity. It’s during this time she became an avid observer of the characters we meet and the heartaches we endure. Her years of study have taught her laughter is the key to survival, even when it’s completely inappropriate.
She currently lives in New Jersey with her family and a misbehaving beagle named Odin. An avid swimmer, if Eliza is not with her family and friends, she’d rather be underwater. While she enjoys many genres, she has always been a sucker for a love story…the more screwed up the better.