Download my Book for FREE on Friday, Saturday and Sunday

Sometimes procrastination pays off! If you still haven’t downloaded my book yet, you can download the Kindle version for FREE on Friday, Saturday and Sunday July 13-15 (the paperback version is also available but not eligible for the promotion). Go grab it and let me know what you think! If you do, please leave a review on Amazon. It helps more than you know!

For those of you who don’t yet know about my book, it is a reflection of how I’ve changed my thinking in such a dramatic way over the past 7 years that I have literally gone from surviving to thriving. I was fortunate enough to be able to include writing from two of our fellow bloggers as well:

The Wonderful and Wacky World of One Single Mom

A Creative PTSD Gal

Thriving Not Surviving: Bravely Pursue a Life That Will Blow Your Mind!

As always, I’m eternally grateful for the support I receive from all of you!

It’s Scary to Admit How Crazy I Felt

Before his foot hit the bottom step as he came looking for me, as he did every time he returned home, I shoved the partially filled backpack in the dark recesses under the bed, concealing my intent to leave. I couldn’t let him know what I was thinking, couldn’t reveal my fears.

As I listened to the footsteps on the stairs I tried to think. I considered where I should be when he got to the bedroom, what I should be doing. What would be normal? I almost couldn’t imagine what “normal” would look like anymore.

I glanced around the room, fighting panic, when the open door to the balcony drew my attention. Yes! I ran on my tiptoes, hoping my movements would be inaudible, and threw myself onto the lounge chair. A dog-eared book rested on the small table nearby so I grabbed it and opened it just before he entered the room.

He called my name, his tone as tender as always.

Doubt began to creep in. I again wondered if it were possible I had misjudged the situation. I certainly hadn’t been feeling myself for a while, and honestly he had never said I couldn’t leave, never prevented me from going home. Technically I was free to go wherever I wanted. He wasn’t even here all the time. It was just more convenient for me to stay here, and I had to admit his home was incredible. Who wouldn’t want to live in such luxury?

Suddenly it occurred to me that I must be suffering from paranoia. Maybe it was a symptom of the illness I’d been fighting. I really hadn’t been feeling very well.

Determined to call my doctor in the morning, I called to him, “I’m out here.”

I took several deep breaths, attempting to calm myself and swiped at the tear still resting on my cheek. I felt ashamed about what I’d been thinking. How crazy was it to believe he was anything other than the sweet, attentive, caring man he’d been since we had met?

When he saw me, concern immediately shadowed his face. “What’s wrong?” he asked, worry apparent in his voice. He rushed to my side, sat on the edge of the lounge by my knees and grasped my clammy hands with his warm ones.

I shook my head, a silent no. Was it a rebuff of his attempts to console me, or a denial that something was wrong?

“Please,” he pleaded. “Tell me. I can help.”

Then out of nowhere I was crying again. Tears flowed freely down my cheeks as sobs shook my chest. I felt like I was losing my mind, that I no longer had control over my thoughts or emotions.

I couldn’t tell him that, couldn’t admit that I was sincerely afraid I was going insane.

Instead I let him hold me, his shirt becoming damp with my fears, as I took solace in his loving embrace.

This post is in response to the daily writing prompt Solace and is part of something longer I am working on.

This post is a part of the story about the ex and comes after Why Do I Hesitate When I Know I Should Escape?.

What Surprises Await on the Other Side of the Gate?

He quickly returned our snacks to the cooler and folded the large blanket, insisting on carrying both as we left the beach. Following a path through the sand dunes, he led me to a gate, different from the one we had taken when we’d left earlier. Even with his hands full he managed to unhook the latch and gallantly held it open for me.

Stepping past the lush vegetation along the fence I was surprised to find a large infinity pool, a hot tub with a waterfall perpetually pouring warm water gracefully perched above the deep end. Appealing lounge chairs surrounded three sides, two of them resting close together in the shallow water where the tile faded from pool to patio. On the far side was an inviting cabana, offering shade from the hot sun and comfortable sofas for relaxing. A wrought iron dining table and chairs overlooked this area from its raised deck adjacent to an incredible outdoor stone kitchen, closer to the house.

I was once again awed by the excessive extravagance of his home.

Placing the sandy items from the beach next to the fence he pulled me into his arms, his muscular body pressed to mine, his hands stroking my hair. The moment was both tender and arousing, almost as if her were expressing deep emotions without words.

What was he thinking? Did he feel the same connection I was beginning to sense? I’d known him less than 24 hours but already I was starting to imagine a future together. Was it possible this smart, successful, charming man could want to be with someone like me? Could he fall for a nobody, a plain Jane from a middle-class family? I fervently hoped so. I couldn’t imagine anything more perfect.

A delicate kiss on the top of my head shifted my attention back to him and I turned my gaze up to meet his. Bending, his kiss ignited exquisite anticipation within me. With my focus on that one point of contact I barely noticed as he slowly walked forward, gently forcing me back. I only became fully aware of our movement when my foot reached the warm water.

He continued to propel me deeper into the pool, until the water almost reached my shoulders. Stopping, his lips moved down my neck to graze my shoulder. Apparently finding the string holding my bikini top in place intrusive, he untied the knot and let it fall away from my chest. He caressed my warm skin with the tip of his tongue, sending the blood pumping through my veins. With a soft moan I leaned back slightly, welcoming his touch, allowing him to support me with his embrace.

Slowly working his way back from my chest he pulled me closer to him, finally removing his meandering lips and resting his cheek on top of my head. As he held me tightly he untied the final knot holding my top in place and let it fall into the water.

After several minutes he guided me from the water and led me to one of the lounge chairs at the edge of the pool.

“We should stop before I go too far,” he announced, his voice husky. The hungry look in his eyes contradicted his words. I too struggled to contain my emotions. I almost begged him not to stop, pleaded with him to finish what he had started, but he was right; I wasn’t ready. With a mixture of relief and disappointment I laid on the chair as he retrieved drinks from a small refrigerator concealed discreetly nearby.

Closing my eyes I was surprised at how relaxed I felt, especially now that I was topless. I’ve never been particularly comfortable with nudity but somehow with Clay it just seemed natural. Right before I drifted off to sleep I reflected on how time here appeared to be as abundant as the luxury, like we had all the time in the world.

This post is in response to the daily writing prompt Abundant and is part of something longer I am working on.

This post is a part of the story about the ex and comes after We Were Carefree as We Played on the Beach.

How Can I Challenge Him Now That I Know the Truth?

Come home.

That’s his entire reply. Nothing else. No clue to indicate if he’s angry, no hint that reveals if he knows where I am.

I had hoped for more…or less. I had wished for an angry tirade that somehow showed his hand, or proclamations of love and forgiveness; or maybe no response at all. Instead I get a simple command. Two words are not enough, but also far too much. My mind is stuck between these extremes, trying to read between the lines, words that don’t exist, unable to move beyond this, to parse out what I should do next.

Silently using his hand to lift my chin so that I’m looking up at him instead of down at my phone, Caleb says resolutely, “Don’t deviate from the plan. You can do this.”

More than anything I want to hand him the phone and tell him to do it, beg him to do it if I have to. He had been right though, the words have to be mine. Clay can’t know I have help. Our greatest advantage will be surprise.

I don’t know Caleb’s plan. He has only told me I need to get Clay to come to the cabin. He told me he would take care of the rest, that it was better if I didn’t know the details. In truth I don’t want to know. I want this over, however it happens. I tried to go to the police, tried to do the right thing, but they wouldn’t help. They treated me as if I were simply overreacting, or worse a scorned woman seeking revenge on her ex, but never did they entertain the idea that Clay was anything but the upstanding citizen he appears to be.

So I’m on my own, except not entirely alone. I do have help. I have someone who claims he can end this. I have just one thing I need to do. It’s my responsibility to bring him here.

I should have known he would expect me to go to him. Everything from the very beginning had been on his terms. I went along with it, only rarely challenging him, and those limited times he managed to turn circumstances to align with his wishes anyway. Some would call it compromise, but it feels different than that.

What would have happened if I’d stayed true to myself, stuck with my convictions instead of following his every wish? Would we have parted sooner had I not conformed as much? If I had insisted on living my own life from the beginning would he still have chosen me as his prey? All along I had complied with his wishes, without ever realizing that to do otherwise, to challenge his authority could be dangerous. Now that I’ve learned the truth, how can I possibly stand up to him?

Caleb, his arms still around me, gives me a squeeze, an unspoken question or perhaps encouragement. I need to do something, I just have no idea what.

What would prevent me from going to him? How can I convince him I need him to come here?

All at once it hits me. I know how to persuade him, so I begin to write:

I wish I could but I’m staying in a cabin and my car won’t start. I thought if I could get away I could think for a little while. Now I’m out here in the woods and honestly scared. I can’t even go home.

I hit send and hold my breath. Then one more thought begs to be added:

Please help me.

This post is in response to the daily writing prompt Deviate and is part of something longer I am working on.

This post is a part of the story about the ex and comes after Why Do I Tremble with Both Fear and Regret?.