Authors: P. J. Belden
This is a work of fiction. Any resemblance of characters to actual persons, living or dead is purely coincidental. The author holds exclusive rights to this work. Unauthorized duplication is prohibited.
P. J. Belden, 2015
All rights reserved under the International and Pan-American Copyright Conventions. This ebook is licensed for your personal enjoyment only. This ebook may not be re-sold or given away to other people. If you would like to share this book with another person, please purchase an additional copy for each recipient. If you’re reading this book and did not purchase it, or it was not purchased for your use only, then please return to an online ebook retailer and purchase your own copy. Thank you for respecting the hard work of this author.
No part of this book may be reproduced, scanned, uploaded or distributed via the Internet or any other means, electronic or print, without permission from the author.
The unauthorized reproduction or distribution of this copyrighted work is illegal. Criminal copyright infringement, including infringement without monetary gain, is investigated by the FBI and is punishable by up to 5 years in federal prison and a fine of $250,000. (http://www.fbi.gov/ipr/). Please purchase only authorized electronic or print editions and do not participate in or encourage the electronic piracy of copyrighted material. Your support of the author’s rights and livelihood is appreciated.
This book was inspired by my son who fights with this every single day of his life. I write this book in hopes that I can bring awareness to those that have no clue what exactly these kids (and adults) suffer through daily.
To my husband who has been by my side for all the ups and downs and ridden every single one with me without fail. You truly are the love of my life and I pray our kids all find a man as good as I have.
To my incredible children, if there’s one thing in my life that I’ve done right, it’s you three. Words cannot express how proud I am to have you as my children. I love you all so much.
To my girls that are there for every bit of crazy book talk and new idea that seems to pop into my head daily. I love you both and I’d never have gotten this book done without you.
Finding An Angel
There are few moments that I can look back in my life and not see her. She’d been a part of my life from the moment my parents bought the house next door. She was my best friend.
But things changed.
We got older.
Our friendship changed.
We fell in love.
My life with Jessa Rawlins would prove to be the best life I could ever dream of. It will always show me how truly far and hard I could fall. Nothing was boring with Jessa in my life. And I’d take her no other way…
Well, maybe other than here…
Seven years old…
Standing at the window, I watch as a moving truck and a bunch of cars and trucks pull in next door. Mom and Dad told me yesterday that the house had finally sold and we’d have neighbors soon. I didn’t like it. In fact, I wish they never bought the house and would disappear.
Now, because of them, I can no longer run around outside in just whatever I wanted. No, now Mom picks out my clothes. She said that they had a son and some of the dress up clothes I like to wear outside to play pretend were not right for a boy to see.
Boys are nasty. They stink. They are mean. And they ruin all my fun.
Crossing my arms across my chest, I watch as a bunch of people start unloading things and carrying it all inside. There had to be at least fifty people moving over there. I don’t know exactly if that’s a number. Mom is teaching me, but we’ve only got to twenty so far.
We live somewhat in the country. We are the only two houses for miles. Each house has a lot of yard to it. Papa takes four days to cut ours. I may only be seven years old, but if you had all this land, why would you build the houses so close together.
Just then another car pulls up. Before it’s even stopped a boy jumps out.
Oh Papa would have grounded me for a week for that.
He’s got brown hair that bounces as he runs. The smile on his face is huge and he’s clapping his hands. That must be the boy that ruined all my fun. Making my mad face at him, I keep watching. He’s jumping around and his mouth is moving fast.
Why did they have to pick that house? It was supposed to stay empty forever. I don’t like people. Well, people don’t like me. No one does. No one accept my parents. I wish they did, but they don’t. Buster comes to stand next to me and look out the window too.
“We got new neighbors boy. Everything’s going to change now,” I grumble as I scratch my puppy’s head.
“Jessa Grace,” Mom calls from the kitchen.
Just as I was about to move away from the window, the boy turns around and sees me. He waves at me and I don’t know what to do.
He can’t see you stupid. He doesn’t know. All he sees is another kid about his age. When he sees you up close, he’ll laugh and point just like everyone else.
Tears fill my eyes, but I find myself waving anyway. Even if I wasn’t happy about them being there, I had manners. Mom and Dad would not be happy if I was rude.
“Jessa Grace Rawlins, I’ve been calling you.”
“Sorry, Mom. I was watching the new neighbors. Do you think they will stay away? What if they come around? What…”
Mom strokes my hair and kneels down in front of me. It’s then she sees my tears. “What are these tears for?”
“I don’t like anyone.”
“Baby, not everyone is the same.”
A tear falls and I wipe it away. “They are to me.”
“People love you, baby. They just…” her voice trails off as it always does when she tries to find excuses.
“It’s just that no one can handle me or looking at me. I know. Well, I don’t like being around them anymore than they do me,” I yell.
The fear, the sadness, it begins to take over me. My body starts to shake. Mama calls for Papa and continues to stroke my hair as she tries to calm me down. Papa runs into the living room and immediately lifts me into his arms.
“What’s got my baby so worked up?”
He did that on purpose. It’s his distraction technique. As much as I tell myself that next time it won’t work, it always does.
“I’m not a baby,” I pout and all the panic leaves me.
He smiles. “No, you’re not, but do you have to remind me all the time.”
I laugh even though I’m in a bad mood about having neighbors. Walking over to our chair, he sits me on his lap and he looks at me so lovingly.
Okay, so maybe I don’t hate all men. My dad is the best.
“Yup because you forget everything, even Mama says so.” I turn and look at my mom. “Don’t he?”
Mom chuckles with tears in her eyes. “Yes, he does. I think if he didn’t have a neck, he’d leave his head behind.”
That makes me laugh real hard. “And he’d run into walls and everything. More than he already does.”
“Hey, you two do realize I’m sitting right here,” Papa tries to act like he’s hurt and it only makes me laugh harder.
Papa’s tone is soft as he strokes my long brown hair. “Are you feeling better Sweetpea?”
Nodding my head, I smile. “Can we make them move though? I don’t like people,” I frown.
“No, honey, we can’t make them move. Hey, for all you know, these people could be the greatest people you’ve ever met.”
Frowning, I pick at the lint on his shirt. Words are hard for me. Everything is hard for me. Well, not everything. I love to draw. Mom says I’m really good at it. Dad gave me money for one of them and I bought my best friend Miss Molly. She’s my dolly I carry with me everywhere. Mom and Dad haven’t seen it yet, but she can really talk and she is a superhero. She protects me from the bad people that chase me all the time.
“No one I have ever met is great. Maybe to you guys, but not me,” I mumble.
“It’s because they don’t understand, honey,” Mom says stroking my hair.
“They don’t wanna either,” I grumble. “It’s okay. I have you guys and Miss Molly. That’s all I need,” I try to smile, but I can’t.
Mommy lifts my legs and sits on Daddy’s other leg, placing mine over hers. “Tomorrow, we’re going to go over and meet the neighbors. Do you want to come with us and see if maybe these new neighbors are different?”
Shaking my head so fast my hair flies everywhere. “No! No way! Please don’t make me. I’m better alone. Please.”
Daddy starts to stroke my hair and talks calmly. “You don’t have to come. Mommy was just asking to see if you did.”
“Nope, I don’t,” I state firmly.
“Okay,” Mommy says, smiling sadly at me.
Miss Molly and I walk down near the creek. The only reason I am allowed down here alone is because it’s very shallow and doesn’t move fast. Once though, I remember getting a lot of rain and the creek got real big and Daddy made me stay by the house until it got small again.
My favorite reason to come down here are because of all the flowers and the sounds of the water. It calms me. The bad people don’t know about this place yet.
“Miss Molly,” I say excitedly. “Do you see all the pretty flowers today?”
We should pick a lot and give some to Mom and Dad.
“Yes! Yes, we should,” I grin.
Carefully crossing the creek so I don’t get wet, I walk into the field of flowers. There are so many and each are so beautiful. My favorite ones are the pink ones. Pink is my favorite color. I have pink everything.
The doctor I used to see told Mommy and Daddy to stop buying me pink, but I can’t remember why. They told him that pink calmed me down and some other colors worked me up. I never saw that doctor after that day. The one I see now is nice enough, but I don’t like going.
Debra – she tells me to call her by her name since I’m called my mine – watches me closely when she talks to me and I don’t like it. It’s like she’s trying to figure out what I am. When she asks me questions, some of them I don’t want to answer because she might think I’m weirder than I already am. So, I just shrug my shoulders at her.
“Where would you like to sit Miss Molly? I know you want to enjoy the flowers before I pick them.”
Lay me down in that big patch of pink ones. We’ll pick those ones first.
“I agree,” I smile thinking about the pretty bunches we’ll be able to make.
When I pick flowers for Mom or Dad, I always pick more than the pink ones. They like a lot of colors. Mommy always cries when I bring her flowers, but she smiles when she does.
“I want to draw and paint this before we pull all the flowers up. It’s so pretty. Don’t you agree?”
“Yeah, it’s like something you see on a card or something,” comes a voice from behind me.
Screaming, I fall to the ground hitting my elbow on a sharp rock. When I look up, I see it’s the boy from next door. Holding my elbow, I try to keep the tears from my eyes.
“I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to scare you. My name is Hunter. Hunter Sandean. I live next door,” he smiles.
Hunter takes a couple of steps closer. My heart rate spikes. Tears build in my eyes as the pain in my elbow starts to throb. Never once do I take my eyes off him though. Mom and Dad would have told them about me, wouldn’t they?
“So,” he says when I still say nothing. “You like pink flowers? They do have a very, uh… What else do you like?”
He’s still standing a few feet away from me. Not quite in my danger zone, but pushing the limits a bit. My breathing quickens as I watch him look around.
“I like cars, climbing trees, swimming, running to nowhere and back, playing with my dog Dragon,” he smiles, but I see the look. It’s starting to form in his smile and in his eyes. He’s wondering what’s wrong with me.
“What’s fun to do around here?” He asks still trying to talk to me.
But then he does it. He takes that one step too far. That one step into my danger zone. Too close. People hurt you more when they’re close.
Shooting to my feet, I run as fast as my little legs will carry me and the tears start falling down my face as I hurry to get all the way back to the house before he catches me. He’s gonna hit me and push me just like all those other kids did. He’ll trip me and laugh when I fall.
The minute my house comes into view, I can see my parents.
“Daddy!” I sob as I run faster.
My dad is off the porch without touching a step and running to me before Mom even gets up off her chair. Once he reaches me, he gathers me in his arms and carries me up to the porch.
“She’s bleeding. I’ll get the kit,” Mom says from somewhere.
“Da…” deep gasping breath “…ddy,” I sob.
“I have you. It’s okay. But I need you to follow my breathing. Remember how we used to do it. Feel my chest. Copy it with your own breathing. Come on, baby, you can do it.”
Working hard, I begin to follow his breathing. My whole body is shaking. When I’m calmed down a little, Mommy has me take my medicine. I don’t like this medicine. It makes me tired.
Daddy tries to move me and I cling to him. He’s always been my safety. I need him right now. I can hear the bad people. They are wanting to get me, but Daddy keeps them away, even when he doesn’t know it.
“We need to look at your arm, Sweetpea. You’ve got to let go of me so we can do that.”
Shaking my head, but I don’t know. I see the look my dad gives my mom and he’s right. I’m in my bad place right now.
You’re nothing but a waste of air.
Eww, who let you out of the cage?
You’re worse than stupid. You’re a retard.
I shake my head at all the bad people yelling at me, reminding me what I am. They tell me all the time. Soon, though, my medicine starts to work and I go almost limp in my Dad’s arms. He shifts me, but cradles me against him while Mom fixes my elbow.
“I’m sorry, Jessa,” I hear Hunter’s voice and tense. “This is my fault. I, uh, I brought your doll and these.”
Forcing my eyes open, Daddy hands me Miss Molly and I see a bunch of pretty pink flowers lying on the table. He picked flowers for me? Why?