Excerpt for Keeping Her: Prequel by , available in its entirety at Smashwords

This page may contain adult content. If you are under age 18, or you arrived by accident, please do not read further.







KEEPING HER

~PREQUEL~





ANGELA SNYDER













KEEPING HER: PREQUEL

by Angela Snyder

Copyright © 2017 Angela Snyder

Smashwords Edition

Cover Art ~ Addendum Designs

This book is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places and incidents either are products of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously.

All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in retrieval system, copied in any form or by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording or otherwise transmitted without written permission from the publisher. You must not circulate this book in any format.

This book is licensed for your personal enjoyment only. This book may not be resold or given away to other people. If you would like to share this book with another person, please purchase an additional copy for each recipient. If you’re reading this book and did not purchase it, or it was not purchased for your use only, then please return to the retailer and purchase your own copy. Thank you for respecting the hard work of this author.



NOTE FROM AUTHOR

This is the prequel and preview to my dark romance series, Keeping Her. The prequel does not have to be read before starting the series.

The books in the series, including this prequel, feature adult content and touch upon some very serious issues and sensitive topics that could be considered as triggers for some readers.

I hope you enjoy this prequel. Keeping Her, book one, will be released on 7/7/17.

Find out more about my series on my website: http://authorangelasnyder.wordpress.com

And please sign up for my newsletter to be notified of all of my new releases, giveaways, sneak peeks, freebies and more: http://eepurl.com/cNF0o5



CHAPTER 1



LUCIEN

THE PAST (AGE 11)



I WAKE UP to the smell of burnt toast.

My stomach clenches with both hunger and nausea at the same time. Mama's only nice before something terrible happens.

And if she's making me something to eat for breakfast, then it's probably gonna be a bad day.

I stand up from my small, dirty mattress on the floor and get dressed for school. It's Thursday, which means it's pizza day. My belly growls loudly at the thought of food, and I grimace in pain when my stomach cramps up from being empty for so long.

Mama didn't make dinner last night, not that it was out of the ordinary for her, and my search for food in the cupboards left me empty-handed.

After shooing away Lucy, a black cat with yellow eyes, off of my book bag, I slip the straps around my shoulders and walk out of my room, pushing past the shower curtain serving as a makeshift door. It's almost time for the bus, and I don't wanna be late.

The acrid smell of burnt toast grows stronger as I trudge through the cluttered living room, littered with beer cans and boxes of junk that Mama buys for next to nothing from yard sales and auctions.

We live in an old, single-wide trailer, and there's not much room for even the two of us, let alone Mama's numerous boyfriends and friends that come over all the time to party and crash on the ratty couch or recliner.

Her current boyfriend must still be in her room sleeping off his hangover from drinking all night. At least all he does is drink and occasionally hit or kick me. Her prior boyfriends were much, much worse.

A shudder passes through my body as I think about the things they've done to me…and the things my mama let them do to me.

I walk into the small adjoining kitchen and watch Mama standing over the toaster with a cigarette precariously dangling from two fingertips. Almost the whole cig is ash, waiting to fall at any second as Mama stares off into the distance as if she's in a trance. She probably has no idea I'm even here, and I can't help but always wonder if that makes it easier for her.

To pretend like I'm not here. To pretend that I don't exist.

Dark smoke rises from the toaster, which Mama found in a neighbor's trashcan a long time ago. It always burns the bread almost to the point of no recognition, but she usually scrapes the charred parts off in the sink before giving it to me. Sometimes I have to do it myself if she's too far gone after having taken her medicine.

The toast suddenly pops up, causing Mama to jolt and snap out of her trance. The long ash from her cigarette falls to the filthy kitchen floor. With a frown, she smashes the butt into a nearby ashtray, and then places the toast on a dirty plate from the sink before handing it to me.

I sit down on a rusted and squeaky metal folding chair in front of a small wooden table. Mama's hands are trembling as she lights up another cigarette, so I figure she must be out of her medicine again. She always gets the shakes when she's out of her medicine.

Mama didn't even bother to scrape off the burnt parts this time, but my empty stomach growls loudly for food. I only manage to sneak food here and there whenever I can get it or when Mama lets me go to school, and I feel like I'm always starving.

Other boys my age are all much bigger than me, and I'm always asked how old I am. I guess I look much younger than eleven because I'm so small.

I manage to swallow down several bites of dry, scorched bread and tell Mama, "Almost time for the bus."

"You're not going to school today, baby," she tells me while running a hand through her greasy, matted, blonde hair.

A sick feeling instantly sours my stomach, and I push the plate away from me. She must really need her medicine bad. And when she gets desperate like that…really, really bad things always happen to me.

"I need you to go next door to Mr. Merton's place and do a couple chores for him, okay, baby?"

I freeze, my blood instantly turning to ice in my veins, and now I'm the one who's shaking. "N-n-n-o, M-Mama. I c-c-can't," I stammer, while tears are already collecting in my eyes.

"You will do as Mama says now," she tells me sternly. "Mama needs money for her medicine. He said he only needs you to do a few things for him this morning, and then he'll give you the money."

I think about the past couple of times I went to the next door neighbor's house. Mr. Merton touched me. And he made me touch him.

He hurt me.

Shaking my head, I get out of my seat. If I can just make it outside and get onto the bus, Mama will have to come up with the money herself. I know some other kids who have fathers and mothers who work. I don't know why Mama can't find a job to afford her medicine.

Mama wraps her thin, bony fingers around my shoulders and shakes me. Hard. "Lucien, I need you to be Mama's little helper today. Okay? Can you do that for your mama?"

I want to tell her no. I want to tell her again about all the evil things Mr. Merton makes me do for the money, but the words just won't come out.

Besides, Mama already knows what happens over there. After the first time it happened, I told her he touched me. But Mama told me it was because I was bad and that I deserved it.

Mama tells me I'm bad all the time even when I try not to be. But even when I'm good, nothing good happens to me.

Maybe I'm always bad and just don't realize it.

She slowly takes off my book bag as I start to cry. "Now, now, don't cry. You'll be back home before you know it. And when I go to get my medicine, I'll buy you a Snickers from the gas station up the road. How does that sound?"

I nod even though I want to scream at her and tell her all the horrible things swirling inside my head. I hate her. I hate my mother. But I can't say the words out loud or even more bad things will probably happen to me.

"Such a good boy. That's why Mama loves you so much."

I cringe at her words. Mama only loves me when bad things are about to happen. I associate love with horrible things now because of her.

She gives me a rough push towards the front door, and I almost stumble. "Go on now. He's waiting for you," she snaps, her voice stern.

I slip on my old, scuffed tennis shoes that are too tight for my feet. And then I run out of the trailer and down the porch steps, stopping at the bottom to upchuck the burnt toast. I dry-heave for a few moments, tears streaming down my face.

I hear the bus pulling up at the end of the trailer court lane, and I numbly watch as all the kids from the neighboring trailers get on it.

Wiping the spit from my mouth on my sleeve, I glance back at our trailer. I want to run and get on the bus…but I can't leave. I just can't. Mama needs her medicine. And if I don't get her the money for her medicine, I'll get punished. And sometimes her punishments are even worse than what happens next door.

Sometimes.

Besides, she took my book bag with all my stuff. And my teacher, Mrs. Conner, always gets mad when I forget my books and homework.

Releasing a quiet sob, I watch the bus pull away, wishing that I was on it and on my way to school instead of having to get money for Mama.

Balling my right hand into a fist, I lash out and strike the side of the trailer. Pain wracks my hand as my knuckles land against the unforgiving aluminum siding. Clutching my bloody, bruised knuckles against my chest, my entire body shakes with pent-up anger.

It's not fair that other kids have mothers who cook and clean and tuck them in at night and that they have fathers who play ball and read them bedtime stories.

Why didn't I get to have parents who do things like that? Parents who love me? What did I do to deserve a life like this?

I must be rotten inside, just like Mama says. She's told me a lot of times that I was a mistake; that I wasn't supposed to be born.

Maybe she's right. And now I'm being punished for it.

Reluctantly, I force my feet to move to the rundown trailer next-door. I climb the rickety stairs of the porch and slowly push through the front door, which is ajar.

Mr. Merton is waiting for me in the living room when I walk in. He's old and fat, but he always gives me something to eat…after the bad things happen.

A cruel smile is on his face as he leads me back to his bedroom.

But that time is different with Mr. Merton, because he doesn't just make me cry.

He makes me scream.

CHAPTER 2



LUCIEN

THE PRESENT



I AWAKE FROM the nightmare, jolting straight up in bed, drenched in sweat. After struggling out of the maze of tangled sheets, I swing my legs over the side of the mattress. Running my hands through my damp hair, I draw in deep, urgent breaths as I try to forget the visceral assault on my senses that just occurred.

It's the smell that stays with me the longest. It's as if the overwhelming stench of cigarettes, booze, chemicals and cat piss somehow seeped into my lungs, drowning me in my sleep.

Memories of my past come to me almost every night in the form of petrifying, vivid nightmares. And no matter what I do, peaceful sleep always seems to escape me.

Standing, I make my way to the en-suite bathroom, ready to begin my day even though the clock on the nightstand reads that it's three in the morning. As I walk, my body is coiled with tension, and I just can't seem to shake the nightmare.

My childhood was something you'd likely hear about on the local news station. I could be one of those people that they invite on daytime talk shows to discuss their horrible pasts and how much suffering they endured as a child. Hell, I'd have enough material for a two-part episode, keeping the audience riveted to their seats and crying in pity.

But my past was never discovered by talk show hosts or police officers or case workers, for that matter. I knew from a young age that no one was coming to rescue me or save me from my retched life like in all those godforsaken fairytales I read as a young boy.

No. I had to suffer and endure as best I could until the age of twelve…when everything suddenly changed.

My savior came in the form of my uncle, my mother's brother, whom I had never met before that day. William visited our single-wide trailer in the middle of blistering hot summer to tell his sister that their father, my grandfather, had passed.

I never knew my grandparents. My mother ran away from home when she was seventeen after getting hooked on heroin. Her family never heard from her again, and no one ever knew I even existed. She got knocked up with me at the age of eighteen and never sought the help she most certainly should have from her parents.

And so after the death of their father several years after their mother, my uncle decided to hire a private investigator to find his long-lost baby sister.

Imagine the shock on William's face when he saw me, a twelve-year-old boy covered in his own filth and weighing as much as a kid half his age.

William saw me that day. He actually saw me…instead of looking right through me like I didn't exist and like I had grown accustomed to over the years.

And then he saved me. Ripped me out of the clutches of that horrible life and brought me into his world.

And what a world it was.

My uncle was rich. Beyond rich. And he had things I only ever dreamed of, but never knew existed.

However, I knew from the moment I stepped foot into the 12,000-square-foot mansion that I didn't belong there…and probably never would.

I refused to sleep in the queen-sized bed that smelled like fresh linen, and instead opted for the closet, never wanting to become too comfortable or letting my guard down.

I snuck food constantly, so afraid that my next meal would never come and that I would once again feel the excruciating hunger that I used to feel when I was a boy.

I think at that point I was waiting for the proverbial rug to be pulled out from under me at any given instant.

And so I waited…and waited…and waited, but my uncle never sent me away. No matter how many times I acted out and no matter how many times I disappointed him.

Eventually, I began to accept my uncle's help and kindness, along with that of his son's. Jackson, my newly acquired cousin, was the same age as me, but we couldn't have been more opposite. The biggest difference being that Jackson was…normal. And I was anything but.

I was able to become a chameleon of sorts, however, hiding my obsessive compulsions and blending in to the point of normalcy. It took a lot of practice, but in time, people began to regard me with looks of respect instead of expressions of pity.

Nothing came easy to me back then or even now, but I wouldn't want it any other way. Every single accomplishment is another fuck you to the nasty whore who brought me into this world.

And as I glance at my reflection in the bathroom, I regard the man staring back at me in the mirror. The scared little boy I once was is gone now, hidden deep down in the dark recesses of my mind.

My dark eyes are bloodshot from lack of sleep, and my chestnut hair is a complete wreck from running my hands through it a few moments ago.

Letting out a frustrated growl, I turn the water in the shower on as hot as I can stand it before stripping out of my clothes and stepping into the spray.

Once the scalding hot water cascades down my body, I instantly begin to feel better. Lathering up my hands with an antibacterial soap that smells masculine and clean, I scrub my body for over an hour.

Showering is like a ritual for me. When I'm in this glass-enclosed safe haven, nothing seems to bother me, and I can just simply focus on the task at hand. It's a very short reprieve in my day from my fucked-up thoughts and neurotic impulses.

After my very long shower, I dry off, style my hair into a perfect coif and iron my shirt and pants before getting dressed. While I'm buttoning the cuffs of my dress shirt, my phone alerts me to a new email. It's the email I've been waiting for for weeks now.

A wicked smirk appears on my face as I stare at my reflection in the mirror.

My day just got a whole hell of a lot better.

CHAPTER 3



LUCIEN



WHILE THE ENCRYPTED email is running through a special decryption program, I think about what it might contain.

My interaction with this particular supplier has been a difficult but rewarding one. Even though he's always right under the deadline date, he manages to somehow pull through with exactly what I need.

He has supplied me with the last four girls that have been to my home. The first two were from a different supplier, who couldn't find me what I needed in time.

I give the handlers a specific set time to comply with my demand. If they fail, then they don't receive one red cent from me. But if they succeed…then they're paid handsomely for delivering exactly what I want.

An alert pops up on my large computer screen, notifying me to the fact that the email has been decrypted and is ready to read.

Taking a deep, steadying breath, I close my eyes for a moment before clicking open the message.

Big Bad Wolf,

I have what you want, but it's going to cost you. One-hundred percent pure, virgin, 5'4", around 125 pounds, beautiful with dark hair, as you requested.

You will receive the goods once I receive the cash.

And I expect her to be released once you get what you paid for.

Signed,

Supplier

My eyes rake over the words again and again until my vision blurs. Squeezing my eyes shut, a rare smile graces my lips.

This will be the seventh girl that I have purchased to fulfill my obsession.

Lucky number seven.

The number has great significance to me. It was July 7th, 1997 when my uncle rescued me from the hell formerly known as my childhood.

Perhaps this will finally be the one to end my sick obsession, I think to myself.

I've been trying for years to get over this fascination I have with purity and control. So far I've been unsuccessful in finding a cure….if one even exists.

My fixation with cleanliness, order and control started soon after my uncle found me. It started off small with not wanting to eat off dishes or drink from glasses that someone else had used before me even though they had been thoroughly washed. That somehow manifested to wanting perfection in every possible thing around me…including people.

The thought of being with someone who had slept with other people sickened me. I needed someone pure, someone unblemished.

Unfortunately, it's been hard for me to find such women over the years. And that is precisely what led me to my latest supplier, Giovanni Morello. I pay him large sums of money to find exactly what I desire the most.

Now, putting my fate into the hands of corrupt people is not ideal, to say the least, but I have an uncontrollable need that must be met…no matter the cost.

I buy these girls, most of them stuck in a world they don't want to be in, filled with filth and abuse, not much unlike my own past, and I turn them into the perfect specimen right before I take one of the most valued assets they have to offer --- their virginity.

And even though it makes me feel full of shame that I'm, in a sense, helping the supply and demand aspect of human trafficking, the girls I take are all willing. In a way I feel as though I'm actually their savior, rescuing them from a much more horrible fate than what I could ever produce.

After I'm done sleeping with a girl once, I send her on her way with a large sum of cash and a new identity, if she so chooses. Then she's able to live the rest of her life in luxury.

All they have to do is give me one time with them --- their first time. That's all I want. And then I send them off into the world with more money than they could probably spend in a lifetime. I know they receive a small cut from their handlers, but I would imagine it doesn't amount to much, if they even get paid at all. It definitely wouldn't surprise me to learn that the handlers, who are from the seediest underground in the world, are dishonest to the girls I buy.

Unbeknownst to any of the girls that I've purchased in the past, I check on them periodically. All six girls that have left my home are living the life they always wanted but could have never had before they met me. And I suppose in that way, I feel like their knight in shining armor. They just don't realize it while they're here how much of a savior I am to them. No, that realization comes much later...after they leave this place…after they receive their money.

I like to think that this seventh girl, who meets my specifications to a T, is going to be the girl that ends it all for me. Maybe once I have her, I'll finally be satisfied.

I can only hope that is the case.

Lucky number seven.

My eyes flit over the message even though I have it memorized.

I wonder what condition she'll be in when she gets here. All six of the previous girls have come in here dirty and damaged, roughed up by their handlers, against my wishes, of course. But I have to admit that part of the fun for me was returning them to prestige condition before I took what I paid for.

I need complete and utter perfection before I lay a finger on them.

And I won't settle for anything less when this girl comes under my ownership…even if her beauty most likely will disarm me.

No.

She will be exactly what I crave and precisely what I need.

She will be absolutely perfect.





THANK YOU FOR READING!

I hope you enjoyed this prequel. Keeping Her, book one of my dark romance series, will be released on 7/7/17.

Find out more about my series on my website: http://authorangelasnyder.wordpress.com

And please sign up for my newsletter to be notified of all of my new releases, giveaways, sneak peeks, freebies and more: http://eepurl.com/cNF0o5




Download this book for your ebook reader.
(Pages 1-14 show above.)