Fragile innocence, p.1

Fragile Innocence, page 1

 

Fragile Innocence
 


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Fragile Innocence


  Fragile Innocence

  A Dark Menage Romance

  Dani René

  Edited by

  Emily Lawrence

  Copyright © 2018 by Dani René

  Published by Dani René

  All rights reserved, including the right to reproduce this book or portions thereof in any form whatsoever.

  The following story contains mature themes, strong language, and sexual situations. It is intended for adult readers.

  No part of this book may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying, recording, or by any information storage and retrieval system, without permission in writing. 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 enjoyment only, then please purchase your own copy. Thank you for respecting the hard work of this author.

  This book is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents either are products of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual events or locales or persons, living or dead, is entirely coincidental.

  The author acknowledges the trademarked status and trademark owners of various products referenced in the work of fiction, which have been used without permission. The publication/use of these trademarks is not authorized, associated with, or sponsored by the trademark owner.

  ISBN: 978-0-639-90015-5

  Contents

  Blurb

  Prologue

  Ella

  Carter

  Ella

  Carter

  Ella

  Carter

  Ella

  Carter

  Ella

  Carter

  Ella

  Bennett

  Ella

  Carter

  Ella

  Carter

  Ella

  Bennett

  Ella

  Carter

  Ella

  Bennett

  Ella

  Carter

  Ella

  Carter

  Ella

  Carter

  Ella

  Carter

  Bennett

  Epilogue

  Playlist

  Exclusive News

  Acknowledgments

  About the Author

  Stalk Me

  Also by Dani René

  Innocence is fragile.

  I learned from an early age that monsters are real.

  They don’t lurk beneath the bed, instead, they hide in plain sight.

  I spent two years in hell. Then I ran.

  I escaped the monster to find two princes.

  They eased my pain, healed my wounds, and stole my heart.

  Although, monsters never die quite that easy. No.

  Mine returned to haunt me the moment I felt safe.

  And that’s when the fairytale ended.

  Can I save what little of myself I have left?

  Or will the monster take that too?

  * * *

  This is a dark ménage romance which has scenes that may upset some readers. Includes MMF and MFM scene. Due to scenes of an adult nature, this book is for 18+ ONLY.

  Dedication

  To the girls who’ve met the monster.

  To the women who’ve run from the monster.

  Don’t be afraid to speak up. Don’t let the monster win.

  You are strong. You are strong. You are strong.

  Prologue

  Ella

  Experiences define us. Memories taunt us. Dreams remind us.

  Mine are dark, vicious, and demanding.

  They’ve pulled and tugged at me, dragging me into crippling sadness.

  Dreams, nightmares, images of what happened, of who I became.

  The reality of my past has shaped me, molded me with its vicious claws.

  When you’re a child you’re taught about the boogie man. The monster beneath your bed, the one hiding in the dark corner of your closet. But they’re all just stories. They’re tales made up to scare us.

  Aren’t they?

  Not for me because I’ve met the monster. I came face-to-face with evil.

  He, however, didn’t lurk under my bed. Or in the recesses of my imagination.

  And it was in the shroud of darkness that my soul was ripped from me. When all I knew was taken and I was left a shell of a girl.

  I no longer believed in fairy tales.

  The day I turned sixteen I learned the devil lurked in plain sight. And for two years, I had no way of escaping the clutches of the man I once trusted.

  The scars are not external, but internal, and they haunt me when I close my eyes, leaving me crippled and damaged, and there’s nothing I can do about it.

  The memories of those years plague me on a daily basis. Like a horror movie playing out on a film reel. He violated me, stole my mind, and tainted every cell in my body. Wicked, vile images of when innocence was wretched from me violently, leaving me what he always called me—a broken girl.

  * * *

  I glance out the window and gaze at the stars twinkling in the night sky. As it always does when I’m lying in bed, the memory comes to me unbidden, unwanted, and it pains me as if I’ve cut myself and I’m bleeding out onto the pristine sheets.

  Two weeks ago my life changed forever. When the girl I was became a stranger. The birthday party my mother held for me was beautiful. She went all out with a cake, decorations, and all the kids from my grade were invited.

  What made me happiest was the fact my stepfather was home late from work. I didn’t want him there, but I could tell Mom was angry—even though she put on a smile for me.

  I noticed the ongoing fights, the bruises, and marks on her arms and legs.

  They got married two years after my father passed away and even though most kids would think their mother was replacing their dad, I didn’t. She looked happy again, so I accepted him. Our new family.

  He was amazing, friendly, and polite. When he took us on trips it felt like we were a real family, but something changed and it was only after the night of my birthday I realized what it was.

  I was the problem.

  It was my fault.

  At least, that’s what he tells me.

  I had noticed the change in him in those weeks leading up to my birthday. He stopped hiding the way he looked at me. Or the way his hand would brush against me and I could feel his disgusting drunken glare on me, especially when I wore my gym shorts.

  When he’s been at the bar and comes home late, those are the days he hurts her. I don’t know why she doesn’t take me and leave. Even though I’ve mentioned it when he wasn’t around, she laughed it off and told me to go do my homework, or that I didn’t understand.

  I did, though.

  I hate when they have those arguments that turn into bruises and cuts. I hide in my room, curled up, trying to drown out the noise. After the first night, I made the promise to myself to get out.

  Once I’m eighteen, I’ll be free.

  Rolling over, I glance out of my bedroom window. It’s almost midnight. The full moon bathes me in its blue light and the stars twinkle in the inky sky. I used to love the dark, when everything is calm and quiet, but now it brings my nightmares. The sound of the lock has my ears pricking and I glance at the bedroom door, realizing too late that he’s used his own key.

  The door cracks and the large, formidable bulk watches me from the entrance of my bedroom. I want to scream, but no one will hear me. Mom passed out again. She told me she had a migraine, but I knew she was drunk.

  I’m not stupid. The foul smelling liquor wafted from her like a sickly perf
ume.

  I watch him walk into the room and shut the door behind him. Only when the lock clicks does my body start trembling with fear. I want to be stronger, to fight back, but then he only hurts me more.

  I used to hear stories about men like him, sick monsters who lurk in the dark waiting, watching.

  My heart thunders in my chest and there’s a lump in my throat threatening to choke me. My mouth opens, but no words come.

  “Hello, little snowflake,” he slurs, and I know why he didn’t come home for dinner. The bar down the road must have been more inviting. He trudges toward me with a sway in his step. He’s drunk again.

  The man I used to trust, who used to care for me, is now the monster in my nightmares. He’s the one who makes me cry.

  “Answer me!” His gruff tone is enough to make me puke, but I swallow down the acidic bile and close my eyes.

  “Please, don’t do this again.” My whimper annoys me because I want to sound stronger. I want to make sure he knows I hate him, but I’m afraid and the fear makes me weak.

  “I’ll fucking do what I want since your frigid bitch of a mother is passed out again. She doesn’t let me touch her anymore, but you can make me happy.” My stepfather turns to my window, tugging the blinds closed.

  They say the strongest people are the ones who cry behind closed doors. Maybe that’s me. Maybe I’m strong. The cotton sheet that was covering me gets ripped away and the cool breeze that sweeps over my body sends a shiver through me.

  “My sweet girl, a fragile snowflake. I won’t hurt you. I know you like to feel how much I love you. You’re my temptation.”

  The sinister smirk that curls his cracked lips has revulsion crawling over my skin.

  “Our little secret. You won’t tell your mother because you know what you are. You’re a whore. And you know she’ll see you that way. She’ll throw you out of this house so fast your head will spin. You’ll never find someone to love you and you know why? Because you’re broken and tainted. By me.”

  The demented chuckle echoes through my room and that’s when the tears spill.

  I’m strong. I’m strong. I’m strong. I chant in my head, hoping the words will one day ring true.

  “Don’t do this, please.” Begging does nothing to stop him, but I ask anyway, hoping he’ll see the error of his ways.

  Rough, calloused hands stroke my legs and I want to crawl inside myself. I want to hide from him, from my mother, from the world. “Open your fucking legs.” Without waiting for me to move, he forces my thighs apart. His heavy bulk now presses my body into the mattress. My eyes are shut so tight I can see white behind my lids. “That’s it, you feel that? Feel how happy you make me.” His erection painfully presses against my core.

  The pain is coming. The pain is coming. The pain is coming.

  I get a small reprieve when he sits up to pull my shorts down along with my panties. Then suddenly I’m pinned down and he’s driving into my body. His big, rough hand over my mouth muffles my scream at the searing pain that shoots through me as he takes my body. The same way he did the first night when he took the one thing I held onto—my innocence.

  I am strong. I am strong. I am strong.

  There are memories that bind us, memories that free us, and memories that destroy us.

  I’ve been destroyed for too long.

  I severed myself from friends, family, and even love because I couldn’t be near anyone. I couldn’t bring myself to smile and act like life was perfect when it so clearly wasn’t. When my soul was carved out, held in the hand of a man I grew to love.

  A man I grew to trust.

  Ella

  My attention is dragged from the rows of people queuing to the young man in front of me when he clears his throat. “Miss, can I see your passport, please?”

  Handing over my little blue book, I watch the customs officer stare at my photo a little too long. It’s always the same reaction. When I was growing up, it was my white-blond hair and gray eyes that used to capture unwanted attention. Now, my mocha color waves and the color contacts that give me a slightly amethyst shade to my irises garner me quizzical looks.

  With my pale skin, it was easy to change my appearance when I ran. I didn’t want him to find me. I did it to reinvent myself. My dark hair helped me forget the nickname he gave me. I was no longer Snowflake.

  “Is something wrong?” I question, annoyed that he’s been ogling my photo for far too long.

  His head jolts up and he offers me a grin. “No, ma’am.” Finally, he stamps the page and hands my passport back to me with a smile. “Enjoy your stay.”

  “Thank you,” I respond with a tight smile and shove the damn thing into my bag. Luggage retrieval is easy since I don’t have much. I never settled anywhere for too long and it made moving easy. Not getting attached to things, only needing the basics to survive.

  On my eighteenth birthday, I ran as far away from him as I could, spending the first two years on the move, and I learned to never look back. I promised myself I’d never get caught, and now that I’m a thousands of miles away, I can finally breathe. But as much as freedom is within reach, I can’t let my guard down. The man I ran from is a villain. I’ll never be safe as long as he’s still alive.

  But running is second nature to me now. As long as I can keep two steps ahead, I’ll be okay. At least, I pray I will. I’ve survived all this time, I’m sure I’ll be able to keep doing it.

  For so long, that’s all I focused on.

  Surviving.

  Now, I hope a new city will give me a life and I’ll be able to live.

  When I landed my first job as an assistant to a real estate broker, it didn’t take me long to figure out what I wanted to do with my life. My boss offered to pay for my studies in exchange for my long hours and a minimum of four years of servitude. It was a challenge, one I accepted. That’s what brought me to one of Europe’s busiest cities. London.

  Now at twenty-four, I’m finally starting fresh in another city on the other side of the world where he can’t find me. The job offer was one I couldn’t refuse and when I packed my bags and walked out of the apartment in Brooklyn, a weight lifted off my shoulders.

  Leaving the States has been a godsend because I’m far from what happened. At least, as far as my nightmares allow me to be because I still see him in my sleep. As soon as I close my eyes, he’s there, haunting me.

  Once my luggage is on the trolley, I glance around and find the arrivals terminal bustling with people. I hate airports. Emotion always seems to spill from every corner. It’s too much for me to handle. I love traveling, but watching others’ happiness when they’re reunited with their families saddens me, knowing I’ve never had that, perhaps never will.

  There are instances I wish there were someone eagerly waiting at the entrance for me. Someone I can run up to and throw my arms around. But I’ve become detached from others. Pushing rather than pulling.

  My relationships, as short-lived as they’ve been over the years, have always ended up with me running for the hills. I keep my relationships with men strictly professional. It’s been years since I’ve dated or allowed a man in my apartment, or even been to his. I don’t do one-night stands. The initial reaction for me is fear rather than desire.

  Pushing my way through the crowd, I take stock of where the exits are and head that way, hoping to find a cab rather than having to wait. Unexpectedly, heat sears me from the throng of people as if there’s a flame licking its way up my body—from my black trainers, over my skintight jeans, up to my soft woolen jumper. Turning my head, I dart my gaze around, trying to find the pair of eyes burning a hole through me.

  Normally, fear would be creeping up along my spine, but this is different. The stare pinning me to the spot is so much more. Turning to the large floor-to-ceiling windows that overlook the runway, I cast my gaze left and right.

  When I find them, my heart stutters. I swear it stops.

  I find the deep blue pools shimmering through the hordes
. They’re almost reflective in the sunlight streaming through the window behind him, effectively blinding me to their beauty. Swallowing the lump in my throat, my gaze drags itself over the man as he in turn watches me.

  He regards me like a predator ready to pounce.

  Deep in my gut, I realize I’d let him.

  His immaculate suit is fitted to his body as if it was tailored specifically for him. I’m sure it was. A chiseled jaw is free of stubble. As if he’s been molded from granite, his angular face is that of a Greek god. He stands taut and composed. Oozing confidence, sexuality, and dominance like a cologne that wafts around him, hypnotizing me.

  His silky, jet-black hair is perfectly tousled, as if he’s run his fingers through it, and my hands tingle, wanting to feel if it’s as soft as it looks. One stray lock falls down the middle of his forehead and into his left eye. I haven’t been ensnared by a man like this before, especially one like him—he looks like the ultimate specimen of the male species.

  Unbidden desire coils deep in my gut, as if a noose is being tightened around my neck and he’s the one controlling it—tugging me toward him.

  From here, I’d say he’s beautiful, perfect even. But then again, nobody’s perfect.

  His full lips lift marginally into a smirk—a dark, sinful smile.

  A promise of something devious, decadent, and devilish.

 
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