Sometimes, relationships can be deadly.
Terri thought she was marrying a strong, loving man, only to find that beneath that handsome face lies something cold, brutal, and dangerous. After years of abuse, her husband takes things a little too far, and Terri finally summons the courage to take matters into her own hands and make her escape.
But freedom comes at a price.
Forging a new life, Terri moves to a new town and tries to forget her past, but she can't help looking over her shoulder at every turn. When prison bars can no longer hold her husband, and her past comes knocking, Terri finds that the strength to trust again may be her only salvation. When her attractive new boss steps up to the plate and vows to protect her at all cost, she’s inclined to accept…but can she ever allow herself to trust her instincts again?
*Author Note: This book was originally released under J.C. Valentine's given name and was entitled "Spring Cleaning."*
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USA Today Bestselling author J.C. Valentine is the alter-ego of Author Brandi Salazar, whose enjoyment of tales of romance inspired her to branch out and create her own.
She lives in the Northwest with her husband, their wild children, and far too many pets. Having graduated with honors, she holds a degree in English, which she hopes to use to pursue her dreams of becoming an editor. Brandi entertains a number of hobbies including reading and photography, but her first love is writing fiction-in all its forms.
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The sun was set low on the horizon when Randy’s blue 4x4 rumbled up the drive. Terri sat among the growing shadows brought on by the failing light, perched on the edge of the black leather sofa she and Randy picked out in celebration of their first apartment together. Her stomach was a bundle of nerves. She stared absently into the mug of lukewarm coffee, trying to talk herself out of running in search of a hiding place. The brown liquid trembled beneath her fingers, miniature shockwaves radiating from the outside in as she listened for his response to seeing his belongings strewn about the lawn. She squeezed her eyes shut as she listened to the wild roar of his voice as he bounded up the walkway, his heavy boots thundering against the aged wooden planks with each raging step.
Terri placed her mug carefully down on the table, and stood on shaky legs. This was the part she had been anticipating since she rolled out of bed this morning. She’d given Randy his ritual parting kiss as he headed out to work, and then set about clearing the house of all his belongings. Now that he was furiously trying to work his keys in the new locks, she had a moment to reflect on her actions and almost felt guilty that she had gone about things the way she had.
What was she supposed to do, though? Given the situation, she could hardly be expected to tell it to him straight. It was too late now to change her mind anyway, she thought, cringing at the threatening baritone that seemed to fill the otherwise quiet neighborhood.
His gruff voice belted out a string of profanities when he realized that, after five years, his keys no longer worked, courtesy of Bob’s Locksmith Service. A thunderous boom against the door gave Terri a start. He’d kicked it. She wrapped her arms around her trembling body, instantly feeling sick to her stomach, listening as he made his way around the perimeter of the house, trying every door and window for a way in. A lone tear rolled down her cheek as she thought about the way things used to be, the way things should be. In the early days, she would have greeted him at the door. Then, after a shower, they would have had a nice dinner together and curled up on the couch to watch the drama unfold on some ridiculous reality show, wrapped in each other’s arms.
Angrily, she swiped it away.
Things would never be the same again. The Randy she knew was gone, replaced by some tyrant bent on her destruction. The only thing that haunted her now were the lingering questions;
Why did he do this? What had she done to deserve it? Why wasn’t she enough for him? Had she ever been? They were all questions she had asked herself a million times, and questions that she knew she would never get the answers to. The fact was he was sick, and he needed help that was beyond her expertise.
She barely flinched when the glass from the dining-room window shattered across the pale gray tile. Her favorite potted fern, the last memory she had of her mother, along with bits of terracotta and soil mixed with shards of glass, blanketed the floor. Surprising even herself, she calmly picked up the phone and dialed 911. She spoke in an eerily steady voice, relaying her name and address to the operator, and hung up, ignoring her requests for more information. In her experience, they would get there faster if she cut to the chase. She wouldn’t run. Not this time.
Terri rose to her feet, prepared to face her attacker…her husband.
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