**This story was inspired by true events. If you liked the movie “Sleeping With the Enemy”, then you might like this story too. CONTENT WARNING: Violence, foul language, and adult situations. Not meant for younger readers.**
A ROMANTIC SUSPENSE NOVEL. No one knew a woman lived there or that she even existed. A monster, living in darkness…
At twenty-two, Nicole doesn’t even look human anymore. The beast made sure of that. So she hides. A monster, consigned to a life of fear and solitude. This is all she deserves, she is quite sure of that.
And then one day out of the blue, the autographed baseball caught by Brian Jensen at the latest Marlins game enters her prison and manages to turn her world completely upside down.
Temptation comes in the form of pity at first, and then perhaps something more. Does she dare to believe the things she’s told, that this is not the life she was meant to live? That being a monster is not her forever-fate? And will she be willing to risk everything, to reach out and accept the helping hands around her and share her deepest, darkest secrets? She knows only too well that hands can hurt. Finding out whether they can also heal is a risky proposition, especially when the beast is still out there. Looking for her.
Maybe I’ll get lucky tonight and he’ll cheat on me and sleep somewhere else. Nicole says that to herself as a joke. He definitely cheats on her, but he never sleeps anywhere else, probably because he worries she’ll decide to go out again. He should know better. She’s too well-conditioned to dare doing that again. Besides, the locked doors make it kind of difficult.
She glances over at the table by the door that’s lit with the streetlights’ glow coming through the transom window. The framed picture is there, mocking her. She’s tried to get rid of it several times, but the monster won’t let her. It has to stay, he says, to remind her of what she’s done.
The sound of a car coming down the street makes her entire body go tense. She’s gotten very good at detecting the type of vehicle that approaches by the sound of its engine. This one roars loudly, so she knows it’s a truck. She gets up from the couch, her body stiff, and shuffles towards the front window. Twitching the curtains to the side the slightest bit is enough to tell her. Yes. It’s him.
She twists around and looks at the clock behind her. It’s late. Where has the time gone? I must have been dozing off again. Dammit! He’s been to the local bar after work.
Rushing to the kitchen, she gets a beer out of the refrigerator and scrambles to open the drawer where the opener is kept. Her hands tremble as she fits it into position over the bottle and uses it to lever the cap off. As the top flips over, she loses her hold on it, and it falls to the floor in the dark kitchen, rattling around on the tile.
She puts the bottle down on the counter and nearly cries when some of the beer foams up and comes out the top to spill over the edge.
“Find the cap! Find the cap! Where are you, dammit?” She moans, patting the floor desperately with her hand, nearly weeping with relief when her fingers finally make contact with its jagged metal edges.
The engine goes silent. A moment later the truck’s door shuts with a muffled clunk.
“Shit, shit, shit!” she whispers, grabbing the dishtowel off the hook and hurriedly wiping the bottle and counter down. They cannot be wet, no matter what.
The sound of heavy footsteps on the front porch comes through the door.
She quickly hangs the towel on the hook, dropping the bottlecap into the trash on her way out of the kitchen. Positioning herself in the front hallway next to the picture, she takes a deep breath and lets it out as the lock turns and the door opens. Her entire body is trembling and sweat is coming from every pore.
The monster is home.