I wasn’t the one who broke her but I played my part.
She came to us when she was ten. I raised her. I loved her.
I taught her how to survive in a world of evil men.
But it wasn’t enough.
I wasn’t the one who saved her but I did my best.
She needed me as much as I needed her.
Bought and paid for on the auction block.
But not for the reasons you think.
She was my weapon.
I wasn’t the one who lied to her but I hid her truth.
She was broken before I got there.
Wild and angry. Defiant and bratty.
But she trusted me most.
She loved me best.
So I set her free.
Indie Anna Accorsi is a woman lost in her past.
A pretty little nightmare.
A gorgeous piece of misery.
A mess of lovely darkness.
She is creeping beautiful.
And now we want her back.
“Did you have a best friend when you were a kid, Adam?”
He didn’t look at me right away, just kept watching the football game. We had barbecued that afternoon. Hot dogs. I was still full from eating three.
But eventually his eyes found mine. “What do you mean? Like… McKay?”
“No. Did you have a girl like me when you were growing up here at Old Home? Or were you all alone?”
It came out sadder than I meant it to. Because I didn’t want to imagine Adam all alone. It made my heart hurt.
“I didn’t have a girl like you. Not until you came along. You’re one of a kind, Indie.”
I chuckled. Because I knew he was saying it to make me chuckle. But there was a stab of pain in my chest when he said that.
“I’m sorry, you know. For hitting you that day. I didn’t mean to hurt you.”
His eyes went sad then. And I wanted to take it back. But I didn’t take it back. I couldn’t take it back. I had been wanting to tell him that since he woke up on Nate’s living room floor covered in blood.
Finally, he sighed. “It’s just who you are, Indie.”
His reply hurt me more than it soothed me. Because… was that girl who hit him in the head with a candlestick who I was?
I gave him a brain injury. He almost died. And sure, by this time I had killed my share of people on different jobs. I had hurt more than that too. But I never wanted to hurt Adam. If McKay had not insisted on taking him to the emergency room, he would’ve died, or at the very least gone unconscious and never woken up again. His brain was swelling up and cutting off his oxygen flow. And even though he recovered, and by this time he was mostly back to normal physically, he had to have therapy for months afterward. And learn to say a few words all over again because his mouth didn’t quite work right.
I did that to him. And I was very, very sorry.
But the truth was… I didn’t actually remember doing it. I didn’t know how that candlestick got in my hand. I didn’t know how it struck Adam on the side of the head. I didn’t remember any of it. And that scared me. Really bad. And I wanted to tell this to Adam but I didn’t want him to worry about me or think I was losing it. Because I had heard Donovan talking to McKay and Adam over the years. He was always worried that one day I would ‘lose it’ and that’s why he’d been coming to talk to me since I was a little girl. So I didn’t lose it. So I could hold everything together in a tight, tight ball and never go insane.
But I didn’t know how to say that. I should’ve started with this train of thought instead of ‘I’m sorry’. Because now it felt like the conversation was over.
So I got up from my swing, walked over to Adam, and sat in his lap. And I hugged him. And then I was just… more sad than afraid. Because I had hugged McKay millions of times by this point in my life. And Donovan, a couple dozen, at least.
But I had never, ever, not once, hugged Adam. Or thanked him for saving me from that snake. Or giving me this home. Or making sure I was taken care of by McKay. For saving my life in the early days of those jobs. Or anything else that he’d done for me since I first became his more than seven years ago.
It took him almost a full minute to relax and put his arms around me, and hug me back. But when he did, something changed between us.
We both felt it.
And then his head turned and he kissed me on the cheek and pulled my face into his neck and whispered so softly, I could barely hear his words, “I love you, Indie. No matter what you do, I’m on your side, kid. Always and forever.”
I stayed in his lap. Enjoying this new closeness between us. But then he slapped my leg and said, “Get up. I gotta go inside. Got some work to do before I go to sleep.”
And I got up, and sat back down on my swing, and watched him walk away.
JA Huss is the New York Times Bestselling author of 321 and has been on the USA Today Bestseller’s list 21 times in the past five years. She writes characters with heart, plots with twists, and perfect endings.
Her new sexy sci-fi romance and paranormal romance pen name is KC Cross and she writes novels and teleplays collaboratively with actor and screenwriter, Johnathan McClain.
Her books have sold millions of copies all over the world, the audio version of her semi-autobiographical book, Eighteen, was nominated for a Voice Arts Award and an Audie Award in 2016 and 2017 respectively. Her audiobook, Mr. Perfect, was nominated for a Voice Arts Award in 2017. Her audiobook, Taking Turns, was nominated for an Audie Award in 2018. Five of her book were optioned for a TV series by MGM television in 2018. And her book, Total Exposure, was nominated for a RITA Award in 2019.
She lives on a ranch in Central Colorado with her family.