Ever since that horrific night, I"d shut men completely out of my life. I"d gone from the spunky, fun, Alex DeMarco to a broken woman terrified of intimacy. Easing me back into dating, my best friend sets me up with kickboxing lessons from my charming and perfectly sculpted instructor"Carter Maxwell.
Carter"s goal is to break through my emotional barrier and mold my heart just like he molds my body, but trusting men is a battle I"m not ready for. What"s worse is my ex fianc", Todd Livingston"the man who tore my heart in two"wants me back, and as much as I"d like to deny it, the feelings are still there.
Both men want what I can"t give"my body and my love"and neither are willing to give up the fight. But only one of them can unbreak this heart of mine.Books by Author:Betty Shreffler Books
I lay here teetering on the edge of my own sanity. My despair and fear have become a black hole from which I can"t escape. I fear the dark. I fear sleep. I fear what comes to me every night. Over and over. When morning comes, I gasp for air, drenched in sweat, my fists clenching my sheets. I remind myself he"s not here. He can never hurt me again. He"s dead, and I"m alive.
The pain you feel today is the strength you"ll have tomorrow.
The loud, obnoxious buzzing of my cell phone on my nightstand reminds me it"s time to wake. I only fell into an exhausted sleep three hours ago. Dragging my heavy legs off the bed, I stumble to stand and make my way into the kitchen. The cool tile floor feels refreshing against my warm feet. It"s the first thing every morning that jolts my body awake and reminds me I can still feel something"anything.
With the direction my life has gone these last several weeks, it amazes me I haven"t lost everything. My boss has taken pity on me and given me many passes, but it will only last so long. I need to get my shit together. I"m trying. I swear I am but surviving an attack in your own home isn"t something you recover from quickly.
Moving to a new apartment in Villa Heights was a way to cope. Every time I walked into my old apartment, I was reminded of that night. Leaving behind all of my furniture and telling my landlord to sell it or use it was an easy choice for me. The apartment had become a desolate cave, filled with despair, anger, fear, and disgust. It was no longer my home. I would"ve burned it down to the ground and watched it incinerate if given the chance.
The Keurig machine grinds and hisses, and I"m snapped back to the present. Pulling the mug from the base, I hold it between my narrow fingers and bask in the warmth before bringing the hot liquid to my lips. As it warms my throat, it sheds the last of the lingering night.
My hand curls around the white curtain and pulls it away from the floor to ceiling window, letting the Florida sunlight illuminate the room and fill every crevice of my apartment. After another sip, I close my eyes and concentrate on the sensation warming my skin. I need these little moments"moments where I forget the pain, the desolation, the loneliness.
Ever since the attack, I haven"t dated. I had a fianc", but the coward took off when I needed him the most. I can"t blame him though. I became a broken woman. I was no longer the spritely, kinky, fun Alex I used to be.
Now I"m the workaholic, structured, paranoid, can"t bring myself to love Alex. If not for my best friend, Jane I may not be here at all. Her spunk and loyalty gave me a string to hold on to"something to grasp onto in my deepest, darkest moments.
Glancing at the gym certificate on the table, I smile. After mentioning I wanted to take a self-defense class, it was Jane who left me a sparkly card on my birthday with a gift certificate for eight weeks of kickboxing and self-defense classes, all expenses paid. You see why I love her"
My first class is at nine and I don"t want to be late. After a quick shower, I carefully choose something comfortable. I"m not a gym enthusiast, but I do know I"m gonna need as much flexibility as my clothes will allow. Settling on a peach racerback tank and black, knee-length, athletic, yoga pants, I wrap my chocolate hair into a ponytail, grab my bag and keys, and head out the door.
As I pull up to the gym, I"m already feeling good about the place. It has large windows across the front of the building. With the sun shining, I can see inside clearly. There"s a class now, a group of women hitting and kicking bags with all their might. I take a breath, committing to my endeavor. It"s now or never.
Opening the door, I"m overwhelmed with nerves. The eyes that descend on me, the smell of sweat and metal, and the symphony of grunts do nothing to calm them. A pretty girl with short, wavy, dark hair gives me a toothy grin from behind the front desk.
"Welcome to Raise the Bar. What can I do for you""
I hand her my certificate.
"Oh great! You"ll be with Carter. He"s the best. He"s finishing up the eight a.m. kickboxing class. If you want to take a seat and fill out this sheet, he"ll be over when he"s finished."
"Thanks," I reply, taking the clipboard from her hand.
Moving to the small waiting area that blocks my view of the current kickboxing class, I listen to a guy with a smooth and authoritative baritone instruct the women to stretch and drink water before telling them they did a great job this morning. Filling in my name and information, I wait for the next class participants to arrive.