Only When I Sleep, page 1
Table of Contents
ALSO BY E.V. LIND
ABOUT THE BOOK
A WORD ABOUT THE AUTHOR…
ONLY WHEN I SLEEP
ALSO BY E.V. LIND
ONLY WHEN I SCREAM (May 2019)
ONLY WHEN I DIE (July 2019)
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This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places and incidents are either the product of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously, and any resemblance to actual persons living or dead, business establishments, events, or locales, is entirely coincidental.
ONLY WHEN I SLEEP
Copyright © 2019 by Yvonne Lindsay
All rights reserved. No part of this book may be used or reproduced in any manner whatsoever without written permission of the author or Dolce Vita Trust, except in the case of brief quotations embodied in critical articles or reviews.
Cover Design by Tania Hutley
Discovering she’s pregnant gives Beth Campbell the impetus to break free of Detective Dan Henderson’s narcissistic and brutal control, but Dan won’t let go easily. Terrified, she runs for her life, but is her refuge even more dangerous? When Beth finds the diaries of a woman, missing since 1942, the ghosts of the past are unleashed on her present with menacing fury.
Forced to assimilate back into “normal” life in (fictional) Riverbend, Oregon, war weary veteran, Ryan Jones, is laden with survivor’s guilt. Which is why he’s pissed when he ends up with a secretive, vulnerable house sitter he’d be a fool to trust. His plans for a quiet life are shattered by Beth, the undead and her homicidal ex, and Ryan is thrust back into a protector role to save them both.
Hunted in the present, haunted by the past—they must learn to trust each other to survive.
She wheeled away from the bathroom mirror, the cheerfully off-key note she'd been in the middle of singing now trapped in a throat constricted with terror.
She didn't need to look to see who it was who'd just smashed her front door open and whose heavy footfalls echoed down the narrow central corridor of her small house. She knew. And she knew that this time he wouldn't just want to teach her a lesson. This time she'd be lucky if he let her live. She should have run the second the front door had opened. She might have made it out the back but now she was trapped in a small room with the window painted shut. She swung the bathroom door on its hinges. Leaned against it, desperate to get it closed, to slide the old-fashioned bolt.
In the next second, she was sprawled on the tiled floor. The door banged against the bathroom wall and Detective Dan Henderson's compact frame filled the doorway, blocking her in.
"Beth, Beth, Beth." He shook his head and sneered, then thrust a crumpled sheet of paper in her face. "An application for a restraining order?"
Fear for what he would do threatened to swamp her, to make her weak, but she couldn't—wouldn't—allow herself to be a victim any longer. She had too much to protect, too much to live for.
"G-get out," she said, her voice cracking.
She pushed herself along the tiled floor, away from him, until her back hit the side of the bath.
Dan laughed. The sound made her scalp crawl. "G-get out?" he mimicked her. "I don't think so, bitch. I decide who stays and who goes, not some pathetic piece of paper and certainly not you."
"Call who? The police? I'm already here, babe. One of Portland’s finest, remember? Just for you. Only for you, you know that."
He stared at her, his eyes burning with hatred, burning with love. He lied. He had always lied, but it had taken too long for her to realize that—to understand that he used the truth sparingly, to control people. And that wasn't all. He used pain—mental, physical, sexual, he didn't care which as long as he controlled. Dread for what was to come filled every dark corner of her mind. Dread and the realization that she'd been as stupid as he'd told her she was if she'd expected him to obey something as ephemeral as a restraining order.
His hand shot out and cruel fingers tangled in her hair, yanking her to him. She cried out in protest as pain tore at her scalp.
"Let me go!" she pleaded.
He tsked. "I told you, I never let go of what's mine, babe. And you're mine."
There was a flatness to his voice, an inevitability that filtered through her fear and fed her need to survive. For her baby if for no one else.
"Someone's coming. They know about the order. They'll see you here."
It was useless. He laughed—the sound echoing hollowly off the walls.
"I'd better not waste any time then."
Beth tried to twist out of his hold but he merely tightened his grip.
"Getting feisty, huh? Well, let's see about that." Dan reached with his free hand for the straighteners she'd been running through her hair.
She fought to keep her voice steady, to keep the panic at bay. He thrived on intimidation; she couldn't afford to give him any more power. But it was useless. The pain of his fingers pulling so tightly on her scalp made tears spill from her eyes.
"Dan, I mean it," she beseeched him. "I don't want you to get into trouble. My friend is going to be here any second."
Please let the threat of discovery make him leave, she prayed silently. As before, her plea only seemed to incite him. She should have known he'd relish the challenge.
"Friend, huh? You're such a lying slut. You're mine, remember. Not someone else's whore. Mine!" He dragged her face to his. "Do you want to die, bitch? Were you making yourself pretty for him?"
"No, it's not like that—" Beth began to protest but she could already feel the searing heat of the ceramic plates as he drew them inexorably closer to her cheek.
"Let's see if he's still interested after this," Dan taunted as he pressed the straightening iron against the soft flesh of her cheek and dragged it down toward her jaw.
She screamed—high-pitched, uncontrollable. Agony seared through her face, the scent of her own burned flesh filled her nostrils. The slap across her burned cheek came as a shock, laying more stinging pain upon the agony. Beth's breath caught in her throat as she rode the wave, as she fought the nausea that threatened to choke her.
"Shut up, slut. Or I'll stick this where it will really hurt."
She held onto that breath. If she allowed herself to take another she would only scream again. From past experience, she knew this was the only way she could hold herself back because Dan Henderson was a man of his word. She knew without a doubt he would follow through on his threat. She would do what she had to, endure what she had to, as l
"That's it, that's my girl," he crooned, loosening his hold on her hair.
Beth let the breath out in tiny increments. Slowly, carefully drew in another.
"Oh, lookie, what have we here?"
Dan grabbed her hand and pressed it against his crotch. Through the denim she felt his erection and shuddered. "You know what that means don't you, babe?"
He let go of her hand and shoved her skirt up past her thighs, tearing away her underpants before freeing himself from his jeans.
"Please, Dan. Don't. Not like this," she begged.
"Exactly like this," he whispered harshly. "I want, I get. Remember? Oh no, wait, you forgot didn't you. You forgot you can only think what I tell you to think. You can only do what I tell you to do. And you do not, ever, go out with anyone else. Got that, slut?"
He yanked her legs, pulling her flat on the floor and making her head strike the hard surface as he did so. Stars swam in her eyes and nausea rose again from the pit of her stomach. And then he was inside her. Thankfully it was over quickly. Maybe now he'd go. Please, God, make him go. Beth rolled onto her side as Dan stood up and straightened his clothing.
"I'll be back tomorrow. Make sure you tidy yourself up." He aimed a boot at her back, delivered a sharp blow. "D'ya hear me bitch?"
"Yes, I hear you," she whimpered, her entire body tense, waiting for the next kick, the next blow of his fists.
"Look at me when I'm talking to you," he said, his voice deceptively calm.
She looked up, met his gaze, saw the madness that lingered there. Nausea rose again but she swallowed it back, she would not show weakness. Dan bent down and grabbed her hair again, she didn't even flinch this time. His eyes narrowed.
"You're different. What is it? Hmmm? Do you think that you're still going to go out tonight? Or maybe you think you'll just march back down to the station in the morning and refile that order."
He thrust her backward and she flailed across the floor, her arm striking the small trash bin she kept in the bathroom and sending its contents flying. A plastic wand stood out like a beacon among the detritus that had scattered out of the small trash bin. Dan's eyes alighted on it and his free hand shot out to pick up the stick.
"What the fuck is this? Tell me it isn't yours."
Cruel fingers curled around her shoulder and shook her, hard.
"Answer me, bitch!"
"It's mine," she whispered.
Beth curled into a ball, knowing what would come next. The blow that came from his fist struck her in the kidney area with unerring accuracy. Beth gagged on the wave of pain. Pain she could deal with, she was used to it.
His voice was low and deadly as he punctuated his words with blows. "Bitch! Whore! You think you're good enough? You'll never be good enough to have my baby! I didn't say you could have a baby. You don't have my permission—as if I'd ever give it to someone like you. You know I have to get rid of it, don't you?"
The beating continued in earnest. A fist to her head and torso, kicks to her legs, her buttocks. Through it all she refused to unfurl, tried to prevent him getting access to her abdomen, her lower belly. It was getting harder and harder to hold onto consciousness but somehow, she did it and eventually, mercifully, he stopped.
"You're not having that baby, do you understand me?" he growled.
Another blow to her back by a well-placed boot.
It was the first time he'd raised his voice to her and she took it as a measure of how close he was to losing control. The thought terrified her. If this was what he could do to her with purpose, how bad would it be if he truly did lose it?
"Yes," she said through the waves of pain that begged her to release her hold on consciousness.
He dropped down beside her, and his fingers closed around her throat, squeezing tight.
"Say it properly," he demanded.
"I. Understand. You," she choked through viciously compressed vocal chords.
"Good girl." He sounded almost indulgent but Beth knew he was anything but.
After one last squeeze he released her, leaving her gasping on the cold tiles. Beth's head swam on waves of agony. Unable to control herself any longer her stomach contracted before expelling the remnants of the cup of tea she'd had before her shower. She retched and retched until there was nothing left. Unable to move any more she lay there, her face and hair in her own waste.
"I guess you won't be going out tonight, after all," Dan said conversationally from somewhere over by the door. She was vaguely aware of him bending down to retrieve the crumpled application from the floor. "And you won't need this again."
There was the sound of his lighter flicking, a faint crackle as the flame caught the paper and began to consume it. Through the fog of near blackout, Beth saw the burning paper fall to the floor of the hallway where it burned and blackened on the fringes of a cotton rag rug. The cotton flared, a sullen orange flame coming to life and growing ever so slowly.
"Look at that. Always so careless leaving stuff lying around. You'd better take care of it before it spreads any further."
With that, he turned on a booted heel and his footsteps echoed down the hall.
Riverbend, OR, August 1941
I saw him again today, working on the parcel of land they have next to our house. It feels odd to admit it, but he's such a beautiful man. My eyes ache when I see him. My heart, also. I think I'm in love. Stupid really, when we haven't even spoken.
I know he sees me watching him. It was so hot today and I guess he was hot, too. He took off his shirt and I saw his bare chest, saw the muscles across his shoulders and his back as he hooked up hay bales and stacked them on the truck bed as if they were no more than balls of cotton fluff. I swear I stopped breathing for a full minute at the sight of him. It made me feel uncomfortable in those places Mamma said are bad. That feeling though...it tingled deep inside me, even now it's doing that while I think about him and write about him. While I see him in my mind again.
How can that be a bad thing? I knew, at the time, I should tear my eyes away before Mamma caught me staring, but I could not. His skin was burnished gold and it shone with his perspiration. It gilded him like polish. I've seen men in the fields before when they take off their shirt but I've never felt like this. Never felt this wanting that drags from deep inside of me. Mamma caught me, of course. She tried to cleanse my eyes afterwards, saying that I was evil for staring. But how can admiring beauty, even male beauty, be bad. He's one of God's creatures, too, isn't he? My eyes still hurt and my letters keep blurring before me. No matter how much soap she used, I still see him.
I will always see him.
Beth lifted her head and groaned at the pain that surged through her. She reached for the rolled edge of the bathtub and dragged herself semi-upright.
"Beth! Beth? Are you okay? Your front door is wide open and I smell burning."
Colleen. Thank God she'd arrived. Beth could barely move on her own.
"Bathroom," Beth croaked.
Her friend was there in an instant. She gingerly lifted the smoldering mat with one hand and tossed it into the tub before turning on the faucets to drench it.
"Oh, my God. Look at what he's done to you. I'm going to call an ambulance. And the police. This has to stop now."
"N-no. No police," Beth rasped. "No good. No help."
"He can't have everyone there in his pocket. Seriously, Beth. He could have killed you, let alone burned your entire house down. At least let me take you to the emergency room."
Beth shook her head, the movement sending spears of pain like shards of glass through her head.
"Honey, you need more than to clean up. You need medical help."
"No...one...else. Just...you. Please?"
She sensed, rather than saw, Colleen's agreement. The next half hour passed in a fog
Beth heard Colleen moving around the place, muttering to herself as she gathered things together, then felt Colleen’s comforting presence as she returned to sit on the coffee table in front of her.
"Right," she said firmly. "Let's get a good look at you."
Beth felt cool, gentle fingers at her chin, tilting her head up to face her friend.
"Oh, Beth. What did he do to you?"
Beth closed her eyes, tears leaking out from beneath her lids to trickle down her cheeks.
"Here, honey. Let's rest this against your burns for a bit, hopefully it'll help draw the heat out until I can get a proper ice pack."
A cool damp cloth against her skin made her flinch but Beth endured the initial shock of it.
"What the hell was he thinking, branding you like that? The man's a monster. He has to be stopped. He's gone way too far this time."
Beth made a sound of protest. Her throat was swollen, painful, as she tried to speak. "He knows...about the baby."
Her voice was little more than a husky croak.
"What? How?" Colleen shook her head. "How he knows doesn't really matter. It doesn't take a rocket scientist to know he wasn't happy about it."
"I have to get away, Coll, or he's going to kill me and the baby. I just know it."
"Honey, you can barely stand, let alone move. There must be someone in town we can report him to."
Beth shook her head, the movement sending spears of pain through her skull. It didn't matter what she did, he'd always win. Colleen went to the kitchen to retrieve an ice pack from the freezer. When she came back, she eased the cloth from Beth's cheek.
"What about the women's shelter. Surely they can help?" Colleen asked.
"He'll look for me there."
"Then you can stay with me until you're better."
Beth started to protest but Colleen was adamant.