Series: Wrecked, Book 1
Author: Priscilla West
Age Group: Mature New Adult (18+)
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Publication Date: December 16th, 2013
A New Adult Romance Novel by USA Today Bestselling Author Priscilla West
Two years ago, Lorrie’s mother was murdered. But that wasn’t the end of it. Reeling from the tragedy, Lorrie’s father spiraled into alcohol, depression, and finally suicide.
The two most important people in Lorrie’s life are both gone but she’s still alive.
Trying to recover from the tragedy, Lorrie returns to campus, ready to pick up the pieces of her life. All Lorrie wants is to get back to “normal.”
Then she meets Hunter. The man, the legend, “The Hammer.”
Hunter is a cage fighter who takes on every fight like he’s got nothing to lose. His life is a tangled mess of girls, booze, and fist fights. And while it may seem like he’s got a devil-may-care attitude, he’s fighting a private cage-match with a monster he can’t defeat.
Lorrie knows that Hunter is exactly the type of guy she should stay away from, especially in her fragile state, but Hunter has other ideas.
As Hunter and Lorrie grow closer together, will they be able to overcome their pain and heal each other? Or will they both end up wrecked?
RESCUED (WRECKED BOOK TWO: Coming Early 2014)
I was okay. Just okay. Not good, not bad—just okay. After what happened to Mom, I answered a lot of questions with that line.
“Lorrie, how are you coping?” they would ask.
Or: “I’m so sorry Lorrie, this shouldn’t have happened to a woman like your mother. How are you dealing with things?”
Before the trial, during the trial and after the trial, I gave that same answer. What the hell did they expect me to say?
Sitting on the edge of a low stone bridge spanning a narrow part of Lake Teewee, I looked out across the dark waters, idly gazing at the old, towering trees along the distant shore as if they somehow knew the answers I was seeking.
I dangled my legs over the side, my snow boots almost touching the high water. The bridge spanned over a narrow part of the half-frozen lake that eventually turned into a stream winding through and around the west side of campus. Some of the students liked to call the lake “Lake Peepee.” I thought it was a stupid name at first but then someone explained that there were frequent rumors of frat boys pissing in the lake. Whether it was true or not, the water in the lake was still covered in a disgusting layer of green algae.
I had finished unpacking and setting up my dorm room last night, and decided to take a walk this morning to refamiliarize myself with the campus layout. It would be nearly a week before classes officially started so there weren’t too many students roaming the campus yet which made the place rather quiet.
I exhaled deeply and my breath fogged in front of me.
After taking three semesters off, I was back on campus again at Arrowhart College, ready to start the Spring semester in the middle of the coldest winter ever experienced in Studsen, Illinois. The crappy weather made the timing of my move from my aunt’s house in Indiana back to Illinois unfortunate, but I didn’t want to delay coming back to school.
Aunt Caroline had suggested I take another semester off, but that was the last thing I wanted. I wanted to feel normal again. I needed to go beyond the denial, the anger, and the depression. The therapist had told me I was one step away from reaching the last stage of grief, which was “acceptance”, then I could move on with my life. She’d said this last step was the hardest for most people. For some it takes months, others years, and the rest . . . well, they never make it. I didn’t know which category I’d fit into; all I knew was being away from school didn’t help me cope. If anything, it just gave me more time to dwell on the past.
A high-pitched squeal to my left made me jump. Frantically reaching for a grippable stone on the bridge, I managed to find one and regain my balance, saving myself from falling into the water. I turned toward the noise and caught a glimpse of a black cat disappearing into the thick brush with a mouse in its mouth. It was probably a stray trying to collect enough food to last the remaining winter.
I wrung my hand like a disgruntled old woman warning kids to get off her lawn. “Hey buddy! You almost made me fall into the lake.” The cat had almost lived up to its reputation for being unlucky.
The cat poked its head out of a bush for a moment, looked at me curiously with its green eyes, lost interest then vanished again.
“That’s right. Get out of here kitty,” I said, a bit disappointed that he left. No one else was around and I could’ve used the company.
The cat was like most of the friends I’d made freshman year at Arrowhart; we had a momentary connection but then we quickly went our separate ways and lost contact. I’d only kept in touch with Daniela Stauffer, who was now going to be one of my suitemates this semester. Maybe I’d make new friends this semester. Thinking about that, I frowned when I imagined students’ reactions to me telling them that I was a twenty-year-old sophomore. I could almost hear the questions. Did she get academic probation? Could she not afford to pay for school?
I had good reasons for being a first semester sophomore when I should’ve been a second semester junior, but I’d prefer they didn’t know.
Unfortunately, most probably did know—through the media covering the trial and through campus rumors. Word tended to spread fast on a college campus with only a few thousand students.
I sighed heavily then inhaled through my mouth. The crisp winter air entering my lungs felt refreshing. The thick puffer jacket I wore kept my chest warm, but the cold stone beneath me sucked the heat from my bottom through my jeans, leaving my ass slightly numb.
My ass matched my feelings. I was numb when I should’ve been excited. Wasn’t it supposed to feel good returning to college? To go to fun parties and meet hot guys? To be moving on with my life again? Wasn’t that what Mom and Dad would have wanted?
Reaching into the inner pocket of my jacket, I pulled out a folded piece of notebook paper. I unfolded it and stared at the black letters shakily written in cursive by Dad. My chest grew tight and my fingers trembled but there were no tears in my eyes as I read the letter again, for the thousandth time.
Whatever happens after this, I want you to know that I love you and that this had nothing to do with you. Even after the divorce, I still loved your mother. I guess you always knew that. I can only blame myself for what happened to her. Maybe if I hadn’t worked so much, had paid more attention to her, we would’ve never gotten divorced, and she would’ve never met that monster.
I’m so sorry Lorrie. I’m sorry to you, and I’m sorry to your mother. She was so beautiful. She was the best thing in my world, and even after the divorce, I was happy to just be a part of your lives.
I know that you need me now, more than ever, but I can’t. I just can’t Lorrie. I’m too weak. It hurts so much that she’s no longer here. You’re the strong one Lorrie, you’ve always been strong. Ever since you were born, you were always so strong. You have to keep going, don’t make the same mistakes I made.
I’m sorry Lorrie. Goodbye.
I should cry now, I thought. That’s what normal people did right? In the movies, whenever someone read their father’s suicide note they cried afterwards. I’d cried the first hundred times I read it but now I couldn’t cry. I couldn’t feel anything. Not even when I wanted to. It was like there was a switch in my brain that was connected but nothing was transmitting. No sadness, no pain, no joy. Just numbness. Was that what dad meant when he said I was strong? That I could numb away the pain and move on?
I dipped the toe of my boot into the water and nudged a thick ice piece floating by.
Dad took his own life a few months ago, after the trial was over. It was a hell of a thing to do to your loved ones. It was a hell of a thing to do to his sister, Caroline. And to me, after I spent most of my time living with him after the divorce. Didn’t he know how much we cared about him? Didn’t he know how broken we’d be when he committed suicide?
I folded up the note and put it back into my pocket. When I patted my jacket for my phone to check the time, I remembered I’d left it back in my room. I should probably head back.
A soft gurgling drew my attention to the water beneath the bridge and I looked down. I almost didn’t see it at first, but then I spotted it. There was a large goldfish making slow circles under the water.
“Hey fishy. What are you doing? Aren’t you freezing in there?”
The fish glugged a few bubbles to the surface and I took it as a yes. It was slow but looked alive in the bitter coldness of the water. I envied that feeling of being alive. My ass was numb and I was numb on the inside. I wanted to feel something. Anything. Just to know that I was still here.
I tucked my legs beneath me and leaned over the side of the bridge, dipping my fingers into the water. A frigid chill spiked up my arm invigorating me.
I could still feel something.
I leaned further over the side of the bridge so that I could reach deeper into the water. My wiggling fingers must’ve looked like dinner because the fish approached and started nibbling at me. The icy bite of the water made me alert and awake, clearing the numb fuzz that I thought had settled permanently on my mind. I pushed up the sleeve of my jacket with my other hand, before leaning further, to plunge my arm deeper. The edge of my sleeve was getting wet but I didn’t care. The cold had a cleansing quality, even as the tips of my fingers were starting to lose their feeling.
I thought about leaning further, but it was already the furthest I could go without losing my balance. If I fell in the freezing water, I might die—there was certainly no one around to help me. I might have been numb but I wasn’t stupid.
Something felt odd around my shoe.
I twisted my head and saw a black, furry creature tearing viciously at my shoelaces.
“Hey!” I yelled.
The cat screeched and jumped three feet in the air, scaring the shit out of me. I wanted to pull my hand out of the water, but it was too late. I flailed for a split second, trying to grab onto the stone I’d used earlier to save myself, but this time I missed.
I tipped forward, losing all balance.
Then I was underwater.
About the Author
Priscilla West is the author of the popular Surrender series. Her next release titled: Wrecked will be available on December 16th. She likes to write stories with sassy heroines and strong but flawed heroes.
She enjoys: cuddles, men in suits, eskimo kisses, life-sized teddy bears, and eggs over medium.
You can find her at priscillawest.com
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