Unbroken, page 1
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
IF YOU LIKED UNBROKEN...
COMING SOON-JASMINE CAROLINA
COMING SOON-JASMINE CAROLINA
For Lanita. You know why.
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Unbroken is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents are the product of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, events or locales is entirely coincidental.
First Edition: February 2015
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Cover designed by Jasmine Carolina
To find him.
To love him.
To heal him.
That’s all Sabrina Matteo wants.
When he stumbles back into her life, she’s determined to make sure he stays this time. Convinced that the secret of her past will haunt her forever, she makes it her mission to prove to him how worthy he is of love…even if she’s not the one who gets to love him.
To see her.
To love her.
To deserve her.
That’s all Brody Durham wants.
When she fights her way into his heart, he’s determined to protect her at all costs. Convinced that the demons of his present will put her in harm’s way, he makes it his mission to keep her at arm’s length…but that proves difficult when he finds himself falling for her.
She’s afraid her secret will drive an impenetrable wedge between them, but it’s not her secret that threatens to break them both.
This novel is a spin-off from my Nickayla Quinn Trilogy. However, Unbroken is book one in its own duet of novels. It can be read as a standalone.
Before proceeding, I’d like to leave a disclaimer that this is a YA/NA Contemporary Romance. The majority of the topics touched upon in this novel are more mature. The characters in this novel are teenagers who have sex. Some scenes are done through fade-to-black while others are played out in their entirety. Also, this novel is primarily for teenagers, and those in the young adult-new adult age bracket, therefore, the characters curse. So beware of profanity. Please do not leave a negative review of this novel because you don’t like the way my characters talk.
This novel may have triggers for people with PTSD, have suffered sexual or domestic abuse, and mental illness.
If you loved Unbroken, I’d love it if you left a review on Amazon and/or Goodreads.
I thought I was saving her.
I thought I was the knight in shining armor.
But it turns out she was the badass princess that was rescuing me.
Two Years Ago
WE WALK THROUGH THE DOORS of Lewellyn’s, a small bakery on the outskirts of Harlow, California. Daddy sent us inside for some baked goods, so that we could have something to snack on before we make it to our new house.
He’s driving the U-Haul with Macbeth and Scout, our Golden Retriever and Yorkie, and Mom’s in the Tahoe behind him with Gracie.
As far as I can tell about Harlow is that it’s one of those small towns where everyone knows everyone. People are friendly here for no reason, and they smile like they know us even though we barely made it into this town about twenty minutes ago. The bakery is made of brick and mortar, but most of the building is composed of large picture windows. It looks like it could have been someone’s home a long time ago.
Either way, my sister walks in before me, flouncing inside like it’s the corner store Tia Adrianna owned back in L.A. and like she knows everybody in here. I roll my eyes at her excitement and follow her inside. There’s a short line, and I’m thankful for that because Mac and Scout get antsy if they’re inside an idle car for too long.
“Welcome to Lewellyn’s!” the cashier says once we’ve entered. “What can I get you today?”
My eyes roam over the menu behind her and I shrug. “A dozen assorted donuts, two warm cinnamon rolls, an eclair, a chocolate chip muffin, and four large coffees. Three regular, one decaf.”
I watch as she punches our order into the cash register.
“Is that all?”
Bianca taps my shoulder. “Bree, I want a cake pop.”
The cashier and I meet gazes across the counter and, defeated, I give her a nod.
I hand over a twenty dollar bill and walk away, standing over to the side so the next person can go while I wait.
Once I’m out of the way, I see him.
He’s tall, about 6’2” at least, with sandy brown hair and startling gray eyes that for some reason…they look like home to me. He’s staring at me just as intently as I’m staring at him. He gives me a smile, but it’s not what I expect. Given his superhuman good looks, I expect him to carry more confidence in his stride, in his demeanor.
“Hello,” he says in a husky voice that completely melts my insides.
“Hello,” I reply shyly, grabbing the hemline of my Crane High School volley ball t-shirt and tugging it down.
This, apparently, is the wrong move. His gaze snaps to mine, and then it leaves. I feel his stare as it roams down my body. It travels over my breasts, to my stomach, which is barely covered by the baseball styled shirt, down my waist, and over my bare legs. All of a sudden, I feel like my shorts are incredibly short. When our eyes lock again, there is hunger burning in his. He gives an appreciative nod.
Glancing at him nervously, I realize he’s about to say something. He doesn’t, though, because his mouth snaps shut when a short blonde girl with shoulder length hair comes racing inside. She storms over to him and runs her hand over his forearm. He tenses at her touch, and he glances down at her. However, she’s no longer looking at him.
She’s openly gawking at me, her eyebrows raised. She grazes his arm again as she says, “Nic and Kyle are waiting. We’re going to be late for dinner.”
I look away from them and turn to face Bianca. She’s playing with her hair and bobbing her head to a song that’s playing on her iPod.
I force myself to continue to look away wh
“Miss? You’re all set to go,” the cashier calls out.
Bee and I head to the counter. She grabs the coffees and I grab the pastries. When we head for the door, I start to wonder how we’re going to get out of Lewellyn’s, let alone back in the car.
I stand in front of the door and attempt to balance the box with my knee. Just as I’m about to reach for the doorknob when he jumps in front of me and gives me another smile.
“Let me get that for you ladies,” he offers.
I give him an appreciative smile as he opens the door. Bee heads out ahead of me, waving to him without looking back. When I walk out the door, his hand subtly grazes my lower back and I turn to gaze at him.
“You ladies have a nice day.”
I want to say something back. I really do. But my entire body is on fire after just one touch from him. So I keep my mouth shut as I walk past him.
Then he does something even weirder than helping two random strangers while his girlfriend is inside.
He comes entirely out of the bakery and opens the car door for Bianca when she approaches the Tahoe. Once she’s inside, she gives me a Who-The-Fuck-Is-This-Guy look while he closes the door. He doesn’t get the chance to do the same for me, because Daddy hops out of the U-Haul and takes the pastries from me. He sets them in between us, right next to Scout, and I climb in.
I put my seat belt on. I lean out the window, Scout in my lap, eager to get some fresh air. My eyes are closed momentarily, and once I do, I see him standing just inside, watching as we pull away and head toward our new home.
WE’VE BEEN UNPACKING FOR HOURS. Bee and Daddy left to go pick up some pizza, and Mom and Gracie are inside feeding the dogs. Me, I’m sitting outside with my new cell phone and lounging on the front porch steps. It’s hot out, so I have my shirt up, and my sunglasses on as I attempt to get a tan on my unusually pale skin.
Across the street, there’s a group of boys playing shirts versus skins basketball, and the sight of them should make me salivate, but it doesn’t. In fact, I’m rather bored watching them. They’re extremely rowdy and loud, and they’re fucking up my Me Time. I tilt my head back and close my eyes when I hear a thud dangerously close to my head. My eyes snap open and I glare at the basketball that bounces on my new front porch. Jumping up, I snatch it and whirl around.
Tall, dark, and handsome is how I’d describe him. Dark black hair, exotic brown eyes that are so dark they’re almost the color of 12:01 a.m., tan skin, chiseled muscles on a tall, lean build. If I weren’t fucking furious at him right now, I’d think he was a God because no one normal looks that good. However good he looks, it’s wrong.
The only person in my head is Lewellyn’s Guy, with his pale skin, gray eyes, and tousled hair. This guy has nothing on him.
“I’m so sorry we almost hit you. I keep telling Jason that—”
I glare at him as he trots up the walkway, in all his shirtless glory.
I chest pass the basketball to him with all the force I can muster. He grunts as he catches it and flashes me a shy smile. Wrong. “What the fuck?!” I yell. “That ball was this close to my head!” I hold my thumb and forefinger about a centimeter apart. “Are you fucking insane?”
He tucks the basketball under one arm as his other hand comes up to scrape the back of his neck. “I’m sorry. It won’t happen again.”
Hands on my hips, I purse my lips. “It’d better not! Newsflash, every house on this block has a backyard. If you tried playing back there every once in a while, you wouldn’t have to worry about your great buddy Jason almost hitting the new girl on the block.”
He gives me another smile and he extends his right hand to shake mine. I gawk at it and scoff.
“Come on. Truce. We’ll set the hoop up in the backyard if you tell me your name,” he offers.
“I don’t even know you.”
“Maddox Bradley. Senior at Valley Public High this upcoming school year. Point guard. Youngest of two boys. Hoping to go to Duke for college.”
I roll my eyes. Typical jock. But, he’s being nice to me. And, I got a name out of him. More than I got out of Lewellyn’s Guy.
“Sabrina Matteo. Sophomore at Valley Public High this upcoming year. Middle blocker in volleyball and center forward in soccer. Oldest of four girls. Hoping to go to UCLA.”
We shake hands, and I feel the tiniest twinge of something when our hands meet. It feels like a series of small needle pricks completely taking over my hand.
He smiles at me and things look a little bit brighter.
But I can’t help it. I continue to compare Maddox to Lewellyn’s Guy.
With Lewellyn’s Guy, I didn’t feel something only in my hand. When he smiled at me, and even more so when he touched me, it was like every nerve ending in my body was on fire. The minute his eyes met mine, the entire world was alight.
Whatever Maddox thinks is going to happen between us is trivial compared to the fact that I feel a thousand times stronger for a guy whose name I don’t even know.
And I’m totally fucked because of it.
“DOING THIS FOR YOU GETS really old really quick, mijo,” Mama Quinn says, pressing an ice pack to my right eyebrow as her youngest daughter rinses out a washcloth with warm water to press to my lip. “When will you finally give in and let me bring you all here for good?”
I give her a small smile, but she should know by now that I’m not going to give her an answer.
As many times as my best friend Nickayla’s mom has let me and my siblings stay in her house over the years, we might as well move in here. But I won’t budge, not on this issue. Her home has always been a sort of haven for the three of us, but it’s impossible to leave the house we’ve grown up in.
My sister Dalis is upstairs somewhere, taking a warm bath—which is Mama Quinn’s go-to when we come over here. Cason’s playing video games with Nickayla’s twin brother Nikkolas. Me, I haven’t had many luxuries since my mother passed away from cancer six years ago. Most of my time in the Quinn household is spent just like this. Getting lovingly scolded and nurtured by my second favorite woman in the world.
“How long were you in the house before he did this to you?” Mama asks, her dark brown eyes softening.
“Fifteen minutes,” I admit.
She purses her lips and clenches her teeth, turning away from me.
She grips the edge of the kitchen sink, leaning over it. I bring my hands up to my face, because this is the last thing I want to see right now. I watch in agony as her shoulders begin to quake and her head lolls forward. I hate seeing her cry. It’s the hardest thing in the world to watch, especially when I know I’m the cause of her tears.
I amble to my feet and walk over to her. I drape my arms over her shoulders, and she turns around to face me. One more look at my face, and she only cries harder.
I honestly thought that after six years of this, she’d be used to it by now. But every time I knock on her door, and every time I explain to her what happened, her reactions get worse. If that’s even possible. But I know that she’ll never get used to it. She and my mom were best friends in high school. Nic and I have been best friends since childhood. When my mom passed, she was given a series of letters. Two for me, when the time comes, two for Dalis, two for Cason, and one for her to keep to herself.
The day after my mom’s funeral, Mama told me that she loved me so much more than my brother and sister. It sounds like a weird thing to tell a twelve year old, but I cherished that more than anything anyone had ever told me. She told me she loved me the most because I was the most sensitive of the three of us. I feel things stronger, longer and more intense than my siblings. But the main reason she loved me the most was because I look the most like my mother.
She was beautiful. She had long, silky dark hair that rained over her shoulders in soft ringlets, earl gray eyes th
“Don’t cry, Ma,” I tell her, patting her back as she continues to cry.
She shakes her head as she releases herself from my embrace and sits down at the table across me.
“I can’t believe that Andrew turned out this way. It makes me sick to my stomach, and I’m sure your mother’s turning over in her grave right now.” With a sigh, she wipes the tears from her eyes. “You promised me after what happened last year that this wouldn’t happen again.”
Yeah, there’re a lot of things that shouldn’t have happened. I shouldn’t have turned her down when she first offered us a place to stay. I shouldn’t have messed around with Belinda Moreno. I shouldn’t have gone to Big Springs and made a complete ass of myself. I shouldn’t have given my father any power.
I shouldn’t have let that girl in Lewellyn’s go without getting her name.
I don’t know how it always happens. I won’t even be thinking about her, and she’ll flash through my mind. Long ebony hair, short shorts on sculpted legs, bare midriff beneath a sports t-shirt, faded Chuck Taylors with the words “Butterfly You” written on the white toes—whatever that means. She was just so casually beautiful, and it seemed so effortless on her, I wouldn’t be surprised if she didn’t even know how perfect she was.
I don’t know why she remained in my head for so long. Maybe it was that timeless beauty and sophistication she had about her, or that look in her eyes like she knew me better than I knew myself. She reminded me of my mom.
“Brody,” Mama says, patting my hand across the table. “What are you thinking about?”
I shake my head.
There’s no way I can explain it to her when I barely understand it myself. So rather than tell her about how I’ve been pining over a girl who may or may not be around anymore for two years, I give her the easiest answer I can muster.
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