Exclusive Cover Reveal for Runaway by S.m Knowles as Aubrey Kendall
At seventeen years old, Courtney McKenzey is fed up. With a dead mom and an alcoholic father that beats her every chance he gets, Courtney decides that enough is enough. Packing up only what she needs, Courtney leaves home without telling a soul and heads off to find her new life.
Life on her own is not exactly as she thought it would be. With nowhere to stay, Courtney finds herself sleeping on an old stoop in an abandoned apartment alleyway. A chance meeting with a new group of friends seems like a great beginning to her second chance at a real life. But everything is not as it seems
Tricked into a life she never wanted and fears, Courtney needs to run away, again. She needs to find a way out of this new and dangerous life. With the help from a man she doesn't know, will Courtney find her way out? Or will she find herself on the run from a dangerous past, and a hopeless future. Faced with a choice that will change her life forever.
The night was dark as Courtney tossed and turned in the night, sheets twisting around her legs with every toss, another bad dream no doubt. Her emotions frizzled and life moving down a slippery slope any young adult would love to stay clear of. Sitting up in her bed, she reaches for a glass of water situated on her table beside the bed. She takes a gulp feeling the cool water slide down her throat and into her stomach. The only satisfying feeling she’s felt in weeks, months, and years for that matter.
Looking at the alarm clock she realizes the buzzer will go off in another five minutes.
“Ugh.” Reaching over she shuts the clock off so not to make noise and wake her father who again came home late last night drunk. Slurring his speech and throwing things because his food sat cold in the microwave instead of heated up on the table.
Courtney looks at the broken plate lying by her bed and the food that still lay on top of her comforter. She will need to clean this up quickly before she leaves for school or surely another thrashing will happen. She removes the sheets from her legs before tossing them over her bed to stand up. Standing, she stretches her arms and legs as she yawns, finally moving to her closet.
Rummaging through her closet, she finds another denim skirt and jacket. Pairing the denim with a black shirt and socks, oh and of course, her favorite pair of net stalking’s she has her ensemble chosen for the day. Tip-toeing through the living room where her father lay passed out from the night before, she makes it into the bathroom. Slowly closing the door, she is careful to turn the handle so the latch doesn’t make a noise.
Success! She becomes excited as her father still sleeps. Removing all her clothes she quickly jumps in the tub and starts the shower. Jumping a little from the freezing cold water, but warming quickly, she leans against the back of the shower taking it all in.
Pieces of her skin hurt from bruises she’s endured the last few weeks. More than recently because rent is due and her father hasn’t made an ounce of money working. Well, none that Courtney sees. Most all of it spent on liquor or possibly a liquor store from the smell of her father each night. Stinking up the whole house.
She uses what little shampoo is left in the bottle. Remembering to pick more up in her school locker room later today. Luckily, they keep extra little bottles of soap for the girls to use.
“Four more months of school. That is all. Once I’m done I can leave forever and never look back.” Her smile becoming dreamy. Anything to be away from her father. The man who sees a servant instead of a daughter.
A hard knock beats on the bathroom door. “Courtney!” Another belt on the door.
Shutting off the water quickly, Courtney tries grabbing a towel as she puts her foot outside the tub. Her heel slides along the tub as she places her balance on it causing her to fall right in the middle on her groin.
“Owe.” She pushes herself off the tub in agony trying to wrap her wet body with a towel. “I’m coming daddy.” She slips again this time hitting her knee on the toilet. “Can this day get any worse?” she mumbles.
Another loud bang beats at the door. Her father growling as he begins to speak. “Courtney! You had best get your ass out!” He hits the door just right it bursts open, catching her ankle.
She looks down, watching a line of blood surge from her opened skin. A tear falls from her face. She knows what’s next. Her father is like clockwork. Immediately, she covers her head as her towel slips down her waist and she leans over trying to get as close to the floor as possible. If she can lean into the floor she won’t have to worry about her face bouncing, causing more bruising.
He begins pushing his way through the door. “God damn it girl! You get out when I tell you to.”
A hard punch to the back of the head. She shivers as she waits for him to hit her again, pushing her way deeper into the back of the toilet. Anything to keep him from hurting her. This time an open hand slap to her lower back. She jumps hugging the toilet. “Please,” she whimpers.
“Please, what? More?” He kicks her rear at that and her legs are the only thing exposed at this time.
She continues laying, shoved as far as she can get herself beside the toilet. Waiting for whatever else her dad might throw at her. Shaking uncontrollably, tears streaming down her face mingling with the snot coming out of her nose. More whimpers as she lays, waiting.
She holds her breath expecting another blow but this time she hears water entering the toilet. Her father pee’s as she lays hiding from his abuse. She knows better than to move and remains silent trying to soften her cries. More bruising and welts along with a necessary butterfly bandage will take her to school today.
“Stupid girl,” her father mutters as he leaves the bathroom shutting the door behind him.
Courtney slides out from behind the toilet trying to sit up. Every muscle in her back is sore to include her butt. Grabbing her towel she tightly wraps it around herself. Looking for her clothes, she realizes they lay in a mangled mess in the corner near the shower, where a puddle of water usually sits.
Dropping the toilet seat down, she gets into the medicine cabinet where not much remains. An old razor and a pack of band aids she had recently taken from the store. Stealing anything is against her morals but lately she ended up with more cuts and bruises needing something to hide them.
She put her towel under the sink getting it nice and wet to clean up her ankle. Plopping down on the toilet she wipes up the blood exposing the cut. “It looks a bit deeper than normal.” She lets out a loud sigh before trying to pinch her skin back together.
Drying off the area she takes the sticky piece of the band aid and rips it away from the cotton center. She does the same with the other side then places the sticky piece over her pinched-skin then places the other sticky piece on top. “I hope this works.”
Setting her foot down on the floor, she throws the towel to the side picking up her underwear. “I’m so lucky these aren’t wet.” Her face cringes as she picks her leg up to place it in the hole of her panties then does the same with the other leg. Pain obviously still surging through her body.
Her shorts got a majority of the wetness and just the sleeve of her black shirt. After fully putting on her clothes and brushing out her long brown hair she grabs the handle of the bathroom door and slowly walks out, hoping her father fell back asleep.
As she tip-toes past him, he lays with his arm hanging off the couch, mouth wide open. Her face cringes as the man she once adored has turned into a devil of some kind. A careless man who feels no need to take care of him, his house, or his daughter. A whiskey bottle lay between him and the back of the couch. She eyes it trying to decide if it would be worth the effort in taking it from him and dumping it, or just leaving it as is.
She looks at him again and whispers, “I desperately want my daddy back.” Slipping over to the couch she pulls out the bottle.
The tug is a little harder then she meant, as he is now turning to his side. She stands over him holding in her breath, eyes wide complete in horror that he might wake up. She sighs, relaxing her body, as he lies with another loud snore.
Suddenly his eyes open. She runs as fast as she can to the kitchen opening the top of the bottle. Swinging her arm over the sink she begins to pour his bottle of booze down the drain, until his arm grips her wrist tight.
“What made you think you could get away with this little stunt.” He pulls her arm towards him, taking the bottle out of her hand. Putting it up to his dried cracked lips he takes a big swig and whips away the moisture left on his mouth with the other arm. “Ahh. That stuff will put hair on your chest. Something you must need, messing with a grown man’s alcohol.”
He opens his hand parallel to the floor swinging it rapidly in Courtney’s direction backhanding her. She falls over to the floor grabbing her face trying to rub away the pain. But this pain, she will never be able to rub away. The pain of her father never truly loving her.