Saturday, August 15, 2015

Chapter One from Thunderstruck

Final Cover

Release date: 8/20/15

Copyright © 2015 Bijou Hunter



 Temptation Takes Me

I forget who I am. Not at first or willingly. Yet over time, I lose my way. Too many nights in the dark. Too many lies whispered in my ear. Too much pain until I crave the lies offering me freedom.

Locke says my name is Rose, and I belong to him. He pretends to love the original Rose who embraced death as a way to free herself from the lies. One day I might do the same, but I can't give up just yet.

Days turn into weeks, and the lies feel more real than the truth. Weeks become months, and I don't remember the truth anymore. The memories of my life before Locke - when my name was Darla - are lies. My dreams of that time are only fantasies I tell myself to deal with the pain. The reality is I never existed before becoming Rose. I always belonged to Locke, and I always will.

The lies are so strong that I walk into public places where I might escape, yet I never forget to be Rose. Restaurants, hotels, and stores might offer me a path away from him and towards freedom, yet I never run. I can't explain to anyone why I didn't at least try to escape before today. They will never understand what it feels like to be Rose. She exists only to please Locke, and I see no escape.

Until Beyonce.

The boutique smells like a garden, and I lift my nose to the scent pulsing from the vents. I hate the odor, but Rose spent her days walking through the garden at Locke's home. She even jumped to her death, landing in her precious flowers.

The women around me are very skinny like walking hangers. I never consider speaking to them. I am here to try on clothes, but I won't choose what we buy. Locke will. Even without him in the store, he always chooses what he wants for his Rose.

The man at my left is Mister Pain. He never smiles for me. Once I saw him smile for a waitress, and he had razor sharp teeth. The waitress gasped at the sight of his mouth and was fired immediately afterwards. Locke refuses to allow anyone to shame Mister Pain.

Does Locke truly care for Pain? Does he care for anyone? Yes, he loves Rose. She belongs to him, and now I'm her. Today, I can keep things straight in my head easier than before. The darkness I normally hide in fades, and I see the world as it truly is.

When Beyonce's Single Ladies (Put a Ring on It) begins to play, I feel strange. This song means something. Not to Rose. Or Locke. Or even Mister Pain. The song means something to Darla - the woman I am in my dreams.

A memory flashes in my mind of Darla's sister dancing with her daughter and son in a big kitchen in a massive house. They are such a happy family, dancing and singing. In the memory, Darla dances too.

I see the blonde woman in the mirror, and she is Darla.

Outside the dressing room, Mister Pain waits to take a picture of my outfit for Locke's approval. I think of his size and know I'll never get past him. Rose wouldn't even think to try.

I am not Rose though.

My feet are bare, and I'm wearing a flowery dress with the store's alarm mechanism attached. Yet I shove open the door and run past Mister Pain. His fingers skim the fabric of my dress, yet he misses his chance to stop me.

I run out the front door, setting off the alarm. Behind me, the women gasp while Mister Pain gives chase. My escape takes him by surprise, but he recovers quickly. If he catches me, he'll return me to Locke who will punish me until I am Rose again.

Running as fast as my weak body manages, I sing the words to the song and remember when I was Darla. Around me, the noise on the street is unbearably loud. After too long in the quiet, I'm overwhelmed by the world's chaos.

My feet tearing open on the rocks and glass in the street, I rush through traffic and away from Mister Pain. Despite the pain, I can't slow down when he remains so close behind me.

I pass a pizzeria, inhaling the familiar scents of my life before I became Rose. Locke won't allow me to eat pizza. Rose has allergies and is on a special diet. Darla though eats whatever she wants.

Based on the expressions of the people I pass, Mister Pain is nearly upon me. They're afraid. Not for me, but for themselves. He looks terrifying when angry. His face turns red and veins pop out of his forehead. I have seen his angry face too many times in the last nine months.

Blinded to the danger behind me, I only see freedom ahead. I can't give up now. I refuse to be afraid. I have this one chance. If he catches me, I will never be free again.

"Do you believe in God?" Darla's niece Diana once asked.

"Sure," Darla said, giving a blasé shrug.

The old Darla didn't think much about God. However, I'll forever believe after a dozen uniformed officers appear from a deli on the street ahead of me.

Only when I see them do I realize I'm screaming. The officers stop smiling at their earlier conversation and look at me running in their direction.

"I am Darla!" I scream.

Mister Pain's fingers brush my shoulder once. They also graze my hair, tearing a few strands from my scalp. He's nearly on top of me when the officers appear.

Refusing to look back, I don't see him fleeing. I only hear someone say he has a gun. I think officers chase after him. What I know is I barrel into one of the policemen and hold on for dear life.

Mayhem surrounds me, first on the street and then at the hospital. Officers and doctors ask questions, but I don't know the answers. I cry when they promise my sister is flying into Los Angeles to get me from the hospital. Even with freedom at my grasp, I can only say one thing.

"I am Darla."