Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Cover Reveal: Until You by Penelope Douglas and Chapter One

**Contains explicit language **Not suited for anyone under the age of 18!

WARNING: This chapter will hit you hard. There will be a prologue before it in the book, so please keep that in mind.

Chapter 1

The blood spills over my lips and onto the floor like a long strip of red paint. I let it pool in my mouth until it dribbles out, since everything hurts too damn much to spit. It’s coming out of my gums and tongue, but I only hope it’s not coming up from my stomach, too.

“Dad, please.” My voice shakes as my body shivers from the fear. I haven’t called him “Dad” in weeks, but I’m so scared. If he can see me as his son, then maybe he won’t hurt us anymore. Maybe he’ll just go back to the couch, drink, and leave us alone.

I kneel on the kitchen floor, shaking, with my hands tied behind my back. The itchy rope bites into my skin, but it doesn’t hurt like everything else. 

“Are you begging, you little pussy?” And the strap whips my back again.

I squeeze my eyes shut, wincing, as fire spreads across my shoulder blades.  Closing my mouth, I will myself not to make any noise as I breathe through my nose until the burning fades away. I just have to keep my head up. Last time it dipped with the pain, and he kicked me in the face. The skin on my lips feels stretched and swollen, and the slippery metallic taste of blood fills my mouth.  


Her face flashes in my mind, and I crawl back into my head where she is. Where we are together. Her sunshine hair floats on the wind as we climb the rocks around the fish pond. I always climb behind her in case she stumbles. Her stormy blue eyes smile down at me.  

But my father breaks through. “You don’t beg! You don’t apologize! That’s what I get for letting that cunt raise you all these years. Nothing but a coward now.” 

My head jerks back and my scalp stings as he yanks me by my hair to meet his eyes. My stomach rolls when I smell the beer and cigarettes on his breath. I want to breathe though my mouth so I won’t have to smell him, but I am so afraid to open it. Any sound or movement and he might hurt us more.

“At least Jax listens,” he grits out, and my stomach shakes from the nausea.  “Isn’t that right, Jax?” he yells over his shoulder.

My father releases me and walks over to the deep freezer in the corner of the kitchen and pounds twice on the lid. “You still alive in there?”

Every nerve in my face fires with pain as I try to hold back tears. I don’t want to cry or scream, but Jax has been in the freezer for almost ten minutes. Ten whole minutes and not making a sound! 

Why was my father doing this? Why was he punishing Jax when he was mad at me?

But I stay quiet, because quiet is how he likes his kids. If he gets what he wants, maybe he’ll let my brother out. He has to be freezing in there, and I don’t know if he has enough air. How long can someone survive in a freezer? Maybe he’s already dead.

God, he’s just a little kid! I blink back the tears. Please, please, please…

“So…” My father walks over to his girlfriend Sherilynn, a wacko crack head, and his friend Gordon, a fucking creepy ass lowlife who looks at me weird.

Both sit at the kitchen table enjoying whatever drug is on the menu today, not paying any attention to what is going on with the two helpless kids in the room.

“What do ya’ll think?” He puts a hand on each of their shoulders. “How are we gonna teach my boy to be a man?”

I jerked awake, my pulse pounding in my neck and head. My eyelids were heavy as fuck as I tried to blink away the blur, but I sat up and hurriedly scanned the room anyway. The morning light blared through my window like an air horn, and I brought my hand up to shield my eyes from the painful rays. 

I knew my father wasn’t here. I knew Gordon and Sherilynn were long gone, but I could never ignore the nip in my head that told me to always make sure.

So I scanned the room.

The shit on my dresser had been shoved to the floor, but it wasn’t unusual for me to make a mess when I was wasted. Other than some disarray, the room was quiet and safe.

It wasn’t until I’d made a full circle that my eyes finally rested on the lump next to me under the covers. Ignoring the thumping in my chest from the dream, I peeled the blanket back to see who I was dumb enough—or drunk enough—to let spend the whole night at my house.


Another fucking blonde.

What the hell was I thinking?

Blondes weren’t my thing. They always looked like good girls. Not exotic or even remotely interesting. Too pure.

They looked like the girl-next-door type.

And who really wanted that?

But the last few days all I wanted were blondes. It was like I had some sick pull to self-destruct over the one blonde I loved to hate.  

But…I had to admit, the girl was hot. Her skin looked smooth, and she had nice tits. I think she said something about being home for the summer from Purdue. I don’t think I told her about me still being in high school. Maybe I’d spring that on her when she woke up. Just for kicks.       

I leaned my head back but jerked it up again at the knock on my bedroom door.

“Jared?” my mother called, and I cringed.

My head throbbed like someone had stuck a fork in it all night, and I didn’t want to deal with her right now. But I hopped off the bed anyway and headed for the door before the girl next to me stirred. Opening it just a little, I eyed my mother with as much patience as I could muster.

She was wearing pink sweatpants and a long sleeve fitted t-shirt—nice for a Sunday, actually—but from the neck up, it was a mess as usual. She had her hair stuffed into a bun, and her make-up from the day before was smudged under her eyes.

Her hangover probably rivaled mine. The only way she was up and moving around was because her body was a hell of a lot more used to it.

“What do you want?” I asked.

I think she was waiting for me to let her in, but that wasn’t going to happen.

“Tate’s leaving.”

My heart started thumping in my chest again. Shit, was that today?

“So?” I overloaded on attitude.

She rolled her eyes at me. “So I thought you might get off your ass and say goodbye. She’ll be gone for a whole year, Jared. You were friends once.”

I just shook my head before shutting the door in her face.

Yeah, like I was going to go outside and give Tate a hug goodbye. I didn’t care, and I was happy to be rid of her.

But a lump formed in my throat all the same.

I slumped back against the door, feeling the weight of a thousand bricks fall on my shoulders. I’d forgotten that she was leaving today. I’d been pretty much drunk non-stop since the Beckman party two days ago.   


The air in the room got thick, and my chest felt tight. I could hear car doors slamming outside, and I told myself to stay where I was, because I did not need to see her.

“Jared!” I tensed up when my mother called from downstairs. “The dog got out. You better go get him.”

Great. Fucking great.

Wanna bet she let the damn dog out to begin with? And wanna bet she let him out the front door? I pinched my eyebrows so close together that it actually hurt.

Throwing on last night’s jeans, I jerked open the bedroom door, not caring if Purdue girl woke up, and stomped down the stairs.

My mother was waiting by the open front door, holding up the leash for me and smiling like she was so clever. Snatching it out of her hand, I walked outside and over to Tate’s yard.

Madman wouldn’t have gone anywhere else.

“Did you come to say goodbye to me?” Tate knelt on her front lawn near her dad’s Bronco, smiling like it was Christmas morning. Her eyes were squeezed shut as Madman nuzzled her neck, and I swallowed at the sound of her giggle, loving it more than I wanted to admit.

He was happy, too, wagging his tail with giddy delight, and I momentarily felt like I was intruding.

“Oh, well, I love you, too!” She sounded like she was speaking to a child, all sweet and shit, as Madman kept nudging and licking her face.

He shouldn’t love her this much. What had she done for him in the past two years?

“Madman, come,” I barked, not really to the dog.

Tate’s eyes shifted up to me. “You don’t have to be such a jerk.” She stood up, scowling, and it was then that I noticed what she was wearing.

The Nine Inch Nails t-shirt I’d given her when we were fourteen, and my chest swelled for some stupid unknown reason. 

I’d forgotten she had it. Okay, …not really. I guess I didn’t realize that she still had it.

She probably didn’t even remember that I’d given it to her, but I didn’t mind that she still wore it. She could definitely fill out now.

Kneeling down to hook Madman’s leash onto his collar, I fixed her with a very polished, bored expression. “You’re talking again.”

My disinterested tone, though, was a complete lie.

The truth was I lived to mess with her. Even now, knowing that she was leaving for a year, I had a tough time trying to convince myself that she didn’t matter.

I’d be happier without her around, I told myself. She was nothing.

And yet, I heard the little voice in the back of my head. She was everything.

As a childhood friend, she’d been my rock. But as my enemy she’d been my food. She’d been all of my nourishment to keep me strong.

She shook her head, the hurt in her eyes clear as she turned to walk away.

She wasn’t fighting back, I guess. Not today. The party on Friday night must have been a one-time deal. 

“Is that what you’re wearing on the plane?” I asked, sneering.

What the hell, dickhead? I should’ve just walked away, but hell, I couldn’t stop engaging her. It was an addiction.

She turned back to me, her fingers fisting up. “Why do you ask?” 

“Just looks a little sloppy is all.” But that was a bold-faced lie.

The black t-shirt was worn out, but it clung to her fit body like it was made just for her, and her dark jeans hugged her ass, telling me exactly what she would look like naked. She looked like fire and sugar, and I wanted to gorge and burn at the same time.

“But no worries,” I continued. “I get it.”

She narrowed her eyes. “Get what?”

Leaning in, I taunted her with a smug grin. “You always liked wearing my clothes.” My voice was almost a whisper.

Her eyes widened, and with as pale as her skin was, there was no mistake that she was pissed. It was raging all over her tough little face.

And I smiled to myself, because I fucking loved it.

She didn’t run away, though.

“Hold on.” She held up her pointer finger and turned to walk to the truck. 

 Digging under the front seat, in the emergency pack her dad kept there, she fished out something and slammed the car door shut. By the time she’d huffed back over to me, I saw that she had a lighter in her hand.

Before I could even register what was happening, she’d peeled off her shirt and exposed her perfect chest in a sexy ass sports bra.

My heart damn near shifted with the fucking pounding in my chest.

Holy shit.

I watched, not breathing, as she held up the shirt, flicked the lighter, and dipped the hem into the flame, bringing it to ash piece by piece.

Son of a bitch! What the hell was happening with her all of a sudden?

My gaze flashed to hers, and time stood still as we watched each other, forgetting the flaming material between us. Her hair danced around her body, and her storm-filled blue eyes pierced my skin, my brain, and my ability to move or speak.

Her arms shook a little, and her breaths, although steady, were deep and fueled by emotion. She was nervous as hell. 

Okay, so breaking Madoc’s nose the other night wasn’t a fluke. She was fighting back. Maybe she thought that since she was leaving town, she could throw caution to the wind.

But she wasn’t doing that exactly. No. She was just throwing caution away all together.

And my fists balled up with renewed energy.

It may have been a moment or an hour, but I was suddenly paralyzed by how much I would miss her. Not miss hating her or controlling her.

Just miss her.

And with that realization, I tightened my jaw so hard it ached.


She still owned me.      

“Tatum Nicole!”

Her dad yelled from the porch, and we both jumped back to reality. He raced over and grabbed the shirt out of her hand, stomping it out on the ground.

My eyes hadn’t left hers, but the trance was broken and I was finally able to let out a breath. “See you in a year, Tatum,” I bit out, hoping it sounded like a threat.   

She said nothing, only glared at me while her father ordered her inside for a shirt.

I walked back over to my house with Madman at my side and wiped the cool sweat off my forehead.  

Goddamn. I sucked in air like it was going out of style.

Why couldn’t I get that girl out from under my skin?! Her hot little pyrotechnics weren’t going to help flush her out, either.

Fear took root in my brain as I realized that she was really leaving. I wasn’t going to be in control of her anymore. She’d live every day not thinking of me. She’d go on dates with any asshole that showed interest. And what was worse was that I wouldn’t see her or hear of her. She’d have a life without me in it, and I was scared.

Everything, all of a sudden, felt foreign and uncomfortable. My house, my neighborhood, the idea of going back to school in a week.

“Fuck,” I growled under my breath.     

This shit had to end.

I needed a distraction. Lots of distractions.

Once inside, I released the dog and climbed the stairs to my bedroom, digging my phone out of my pocket on the way.

If it were anyone else calling, Madoc wouldn’t answer this early. But for his best friend, it only took two rings.

“I’m. Still. Sleeping,” he grumbled.  

“You still up for throwing a pool party before school starts?” I asked, switching on Buckcherry’s Crazy Bitch on the iPod dock on my dresser.

“We’re talking about this now? School isn’t for another week.” He sounded like half of his face was buried in a pillow, but it was how he talked these days. After Tate broke his nose the other night, he had trouble breathing out of one of his nostrils.  

“Today. This afternoon,” I said, walking over to my window.

“Dude,” he blurted out. “I’m still dead from last night.”

And in truth, so was I. My head was still swimming from the liquor I’d tried drowning in the night before, but there was no way I could sit around all day with nothing but my thoughts keeping me company.

Tate going to France for a year.

Standing in the front yard in her bra, lighting fires.  

I shook the images from my head.

“Then hit the gym and sweat out the hangover. I need a distraction,” I ordered.

Why did I just say that? Now he would know something was wrong, and I didn’t like people knowing my shit.

“Is Tate gone?” he asked, almost timidly.

My shoulders tensed, but I kept my tone even as I watched her come out of her house in a new shirt. “Who’s talking about her? You throwing a party or not?”

The line was quiet for a few seconds before he mumbled, “Uh, huh.” He sounded like he had more to say but wisely decided to shut his damn mouth. “Fine. I don’t want to see the same people we saw last night, though. Who are we inviting?”

Looking over at the Bronco pulling out of the driveway and the fucking blonde driver that didn’t once turn around to look back, I clenched the phone to my ear. “Blondes. Lots of blondes.”

Madoc exhaled a quiet laugh. “You hate blondes.”

Not all. Just one.

I sighed. “Right now, I want to drown in them.” I didn’t care whether Madoc connected the dots or not. He wouldn’t push, and that’s why he was my best friend. “Send out texts and get the drinks. I’ll grab some food and head over in a few hours.”

I twisted around when I heard the purest little moan coming from the bed. The Purdue girl—I forgot her name—was waking up.

“Why not come over now? We can head to the gym, and then gather supplies,” Madoc suggested, but my eyes were hot on the bare back of the girl in my bed. Her squirming had nudged the blanket down to the top of her ass, and her face was turned away from me. All I saw was the skin and her sunshine blonde hair.

And I hung up on Madoc, because my bed was the only place I wanted to be right then. 


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