Friday, January 17, 2014

A Taste of Friday with Carole Brown and The Redemption of Caralynne Hayman


Carole Brown loves to weave suspense, tough topics, a touch of romance and whimsy in her books. Together, she and her husband enjoy their grandsons, traveling, gardening, good food, the simple life, and did she mention their grandsons?






 

The Redemption of Caralynne Hayman
Carole Brown
The Lighthouse Publishing of the Carolinas  September 2013




 

The Redemption of Caralynne Hayman

Chapter One

Twenty years earlier

 

The shadow creatures on the wall shook their wings and legs. Heads with horns nodded.   Scary, dark faces watched.

The little girl clasped her floppy-eared rabbit against her chest and stared into the dark.

“Mmm …” Mommy’s murmur reached to her through the walls, and the giggles from her mother tiptoed in, shooing away the fear.

Whoosh. She blew out a breath and squeezed her rabbit tighter. “Mommy has a friend with her, Ramsey. She loves me just like I love you and will give me hugs in the morning after the man leaves.”

Ramsey said nothing. She ran her fingers over his face and could feel his black button eyes staring at her, trusting her to protect him.

“And she’ll read to us, and I’ll sit on her lap and we’ll snuggle—all of us together.” She nodded and tugged on Ramsey’s left ear.

She rolled over.

Real live whispers and laughter floated into the room.

Opening her mouth in a wide yawn, she patted Ramsey’s tummy and whispered again, “Don’t be afraid. I’m right here.”

“Please. That hurts.”

“Mommy?” The little girl frowned but her eyes wouldn’t open. Just like when she and Mommy put cucumbers slices on their eyes. 

“Stop it—”

Rubbing at her eyes, the little girl sat up. Mommy had never sounded like this before, and neither had any of the men—the men who brought flowers and candy and money. What were they doing? Maybe Mommy was angry at the man and had sent him away.

She slid her feet to the floor and hesitated. Mommy didn’t like her to leave her room whenever any man visited.

“Come on, Ramsey. We have to go check on Mommy.” She tucked her rabbit under her arm then padded barefoot to her door and edged it open. Mommy’s room was the next one, and a second later she’d tiptoed to it and pressed an ear to the crack. Someone grunted and whispered in an angry voice.

“Serves you right, whore.”

Horse? The little girl frowned. That wasn’t Mommy’s name. Was the man calling Mommy a bad name? She touched the door, and it swung open wider.

The man was on top of mommy, leaning over, his hands wrapped around—her neck.

The big eye on his arm glared at her, scaring her, making her want to run back to bed. But she had to help Mommy. Tiptoeing closer—behind the man—she peeked around him at her mother.

Mommy’s mouth was open as if she was screaming, but she wasn’t. Mommy stared at the man, her eyes wide and blank. Every once in a while he jerked her and said words Mommy always told her not to say.

She whimpered. “Mommy?”

The man’s head turned, his eyes scary and mean, and not at all like Mommy’s laughing ones. His lips twisted into a snarl. “Who are you? Are you this—is she your mother?”

His hands released their grip on Mommy’s neck. He crawled out of the bed, grabbed for a pair of pants, and slid into them, turning his back to her. Then he straightened.

She backed away and raised a fist to her mouth.

“Come here, girl.” His voice had softened, but not his eyes.

She backed another two steps and whispered. “Mommy?”

“Your mommy can’t talk right now.” The man flipped a glance at the still figure in the bed. “You have a pretty barrette in your hair. Come let me see.”

She lifted a hand to the barrette. Mommy always let her wear it when she was with a man ’cause it was a special treat for a special girl. “No.” She shook her head. “Go away. I don’t like you.”

The man growled and sprang at her. Ramsey dropped to the floor as she sobbed and dodged the groping hands. “I want my mommy.”

The man said a bad word and stopped chasing her. “Come here and let’s talk about your mother.” 

Her mother hadn’t moved, hadn’t spoken. “Did you hurt her?”

“Of course not.”

“What’s wrong with her?”

“Your mother’s sick.”

“You hurt Mommy.”

Bad words spilled from his mouth in a steady stream.

She wanted to clap both hands over her ears. Mommy told her over and over she shouldn’t say those kinds of words.

He folded his arms across his chest, the big eye rippling on his arm, never blinking, only staring. “You keep your mouth shut. Do you hear me?”

She closed her eyes and opened them—fast. The eye still stared.

“If you talk, your mommy will die. Do you want to kill her? Do you?” His lips spread into a clown’s grin.

Her stomach hurt. Her eyes burned.

Go away, you.

All she wanted was to climb on Mommy’s lap and have this bad man go away.

“Remember, it’ll be your fault if she dies, and everyone will know you killed your mother.”

No. She didn’t want to kill Mommy.

He eased forward, crept closer, capturing her, holding her tight with his eyes. Like the snake that’d almost bitten her last summer. 

Closer.

Closer.

His hand shot out and touched her shoulder.

She screamed.


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