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Authors: Harlow Stone

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Frayed Rope

BOOK: Frayed Rope
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Frayed Rope




Harlow Stone



The Ugly Roses

Book One


© 2015 by Harlow Stone






Frayed Rope

The Ugly Roses

Written by
Harlow Stone


All rights reserved.


Registered Copyright through the Canadian Intellectual Property Office. No part of this book may be reproduced, scanned, or distributed in any printed or electronic form without permission. Please do not participate in or encourage piracy of copyrighted materials in violation of the author’s rights. Purchase only authorized editions.

The Ugly Roses Series is a work of fiction. All names, characters, places and events portrayed in this book either are from the author’s imagination, or are used fictitiously. Any similarity to real persons, living or dead, establishments, events, or location is purely coincidental, and not intended by the author.

Trademarks: This book identifies product names and services known to be trademarks, registered trademarks, or service marks of their respective holders. The author acknowledges the trademarked status in this work of fiction. The publication and use of these trademarks is not authorized, associated with, or sponsored by the trademark owners.




©2015 Kate Kearns / Harlow Stone


Edited by Gregory Murphy


Cover : Rope image purchased from Shutterstock

Design by Kate Kearns
















A changed name, a different country, a new life.

Carte blanche, right? Perhaps, and I might have enjoyed it under different circumstances. But the bottom line is- he won't stop until I'm dead.

I've done my best to stay in the shadows. Laying low and only speaking when I absolutely need to. It worked well for me until Ryder walked into my life. Or more accurately, jogged.

The dark and broody owner of Callaghan Securities invaded my reclusive bubble when I least expected it.

Knowing that my time spent avoiding people could be coming to an end, I have an important decision to make. Am I able to open up about my past? Let him in, let him help? Or will I embrace the cold hearted bitch I have become and leave him behind like everything else in my shit life.

I was once a nice woman named Jayne O'Connor.

I’m not sure I know who that is anymore.







Chapter One

Chapter Two

Chapter Three

Chapter Four

Chapter Five

Chapter Six

Chapter Seven

Chapter Eight

Chapter Nine

Chapter Ten

Chapter Eleven

Chapter Twelve

Chapter Thirteen

Chapter Fourteen

Chapter Fifteen

Chapter Sixteen

Chapter Seventeen

Chapter Eighteen

Chapter Nineteen

Chapter Twenty

Chapter Twenty-one

Chapter Twenty-two

Chapter Twenty-three

Chapter Twenty-four

Chapter Twenty-five

Chapter Twenty-six

Author Notes













Five months ago




“Why won’t you scream?”


The warm liquid dripped down my spine and curved between my legs. I watched as it made its journey south, dripping off my big toe, slowly adding to the puddle of crimson on the concrete floor.




It’s the only warmth I’ve felt in this frigid fucking tomb that this sick fuck calls a basement. Or perhaps it’s the blood loss that’s slowly adding to the chill seeping deep into my bones.




I bite the inside of my cheek, grunting upon impact. He wielded what felt like a two-by-four, smashing it into the fresh wounds on my back. I suppose I should be thankful the wood absorbs some of the impact. If he’d chosen the steel piece of pipe on the other side of the room, surely I would’ve passed out or be dead by now.


“Scream you selfish fucking bitch because I’m not stopping until you do! Tell me what a selfish whore you’ve been when you should’ve been a good girl with me!” His rage comes to a climax once again, motivating him to deliver another explosive blow to my ribs. I can feel them break against the heft of his weapon. “Feel the same fucking pain you’ve caused me to feel!”


He works his way around to my front after a few more agonizing blows. His nostrils flare and his chest heaves like he’d just got back from an eight mile run.


Perspiration dampens his shirt. His smell is beyond nauseating. If he would just leave and take a shower, maybe I could work at getting out of this fucking place.


This man has practically lived in this hell hole with me since I got here. I can smell the rank odor of piss coming from a bucket—my bucket. I can tell he’s afraid to take his eyes off me. Afraid that if he can’t see me, I’ll be gone. He wanted me desperately and now that I’m here, he has no intention of letting me go.




“Look at me! When I speak you will look at me and show me the respect I deserve! The respect you should’ve shown me years ago when I was nothing but kind to you, when I tried to get you to see ME! Tried to look after you and make you mine! But you had to fuck that all up with that lowlife piece of shit you spread your legs for!  You’re nothing but a dirty fucking whore!”


He slaps me again across my bruised cheekbone. Saliva flies from his mouth as he yells and screams at me for what an ungrateful bitch I am after all he tried to do for me.


The kicker to all this? I still don't know his name. 


He’s what I’d call standard. Ordinary. Brown hair, brown eyes, medium skin tone, maybe five foot ten—not someone who stands out. Completely forgettable in his plain red polo shirt and Levis, he’s not someone you’d meet and remember long after the introduction.


Just fucking plain.


The only thing I’ll remember of him is the hate showing in his psychotic eyes. I consistently rack my brain but still have no recollection of ever meeting this man. All I can think of is that some kind of fucked up karma is making me pay my dues for not being taken with the rest of my family that day.


Maybe this is it. Maybe he’ll put me out of my misery. I’ve been down here for at least a day, maybe a day and a half. My shoulders ache from being hung on this beam for so long. The rope has rubbed my wrists raw and I’m almost certain my shoulder is dislocated.


The first beating he gave me when I got here was mostly a hail of blows to my ribs and face. I’m no doctor, but judging by the pain in my lungs I’m certain my ribs must be broken. My left eye is mostly shut from the swelling and judging from the amount of blood on the floor I’m certain my back looks like Freddy himself came out to play.


If he kills me, it’ll be over. The pain would be over. I don’t mean the physical kind, but the tragedy that left me cold and numb a year and a half ago. The life-changing day that took my once vibrant self and shattered her into nothing but the shell I am today.


I prefer to keep myself there, numb. It’s like a place I inhabit where the population is one. I ignore everyone because I don't want love, I don't want pity and I don't want hugs from people I don't know anymore. Who does that? Who gives hugs to strangers? In my mind I debated making a big sign to hang around my neck that reads, ‘DONT FUCKING TOUCH ME.’


As the months went by it turned out the permanent miserable look on my face and my bitchy attitude made its own sign. I know I could’ve been nicer to people. Shit, maybe that's why I’m here now. I understand it wasn’t anyone's fault my family was taken from me, but becoming a miserable bitch was out of my control.


When you lose what's most dear to you, it’s hard to sit around and tell yourself the old ‘think of the glass half-full, not half-empty,’ and let’s not get me started on the ‘everything happens for a reason’ bullshit. People drive me insane. No words will ever make my life better and they certainly won’t bring back what I’ve lost.


If he’d just kill me, I could sail on through to the afterlife to be one again with those I’ve lost. Forget this hate, the fury and this fucked up asshole in front of me. Forget everything that happened and everyone I want to hold responsible. Forget the blackness in my head, the empty bottles of vodka and the overflowing ashtrays of stress.


Forget it all.


Then the psycho’s voice pulls me out of my thoughts. 


“You’re still not listening! Maybe you’ll remember after a little nap, you stupid bitch!”


I see the two-by-four in his hands swinging toward my face.


Then all is black.












             Chapter One


“It’s great to see you again, Ms. Green. Let’s have a look at the progress you’ve made since last week.”


Doctor Revere studies me as he takes a seat on his customary black leather swivel stool.


“So long as we don’t see any excess swelling or signs of infection, we can get you on your way,” he says.


From the moment I met him there was a connection of some sort. As if he could sense that what I was here to do needed to be done. Not just because I wanted it, because I
He’s been a big part of my life these past two months. Those kind grey eyes couldn't harm a soul. His slight build and thinning light hair streaked with grey spoke nothing of the magic that was his hands. The man’s hands were as graceful as a dancer and kinder than a nun.


As kind as he is, I’m sure he still goes home at night to talk to his wife about what a troubled, miserable bitch I am. For weeks I was distant and horrible to the good doctor and his staff. However, paying a pretty penny to rent one of the clinic’s small townhouses, a personal shopper and their part-time nurse apparently grants you some sort of immunity to retaliation around here.


I’ve cursed a few staff members. They never curse back.


Money talks.


One would think after all the shit I’ve been through, I would’ve sought the kind of doctor that wields a pen like Doc Revere does a scalpel, and covets notebooks like he does his million-dollar hands. (
If I were him, I would have those babies insured. He probably does
). Truth is I have no interest in therapy. If I did I would have to admit to myself and someone else that something is wrong and that I’m broken enough to need fixing.


That's not going to happen.


The day I let someone pick my brain will be shortly after I’ve died and donated my remains to scientific research. Therapist? Not fucking happening. If a new shrink ends up anything like the phony bitch I woke up to in the hospital after my attack, I’ll hang myself.


I don't need therapy, I don't need a hug and I don't want any goddamn pity. What I needed was the incredibly talented Doctor Carson Revere, a leader in facial reconstruction, skin grafts and scar removal. He’s been my slightly bluer sky on a hurricane kind of day—or year; however you want to look at it.


I feel the bandages being pulled from my face. It’s not painful, just uncomfortable. Not once had I truly thought about surgery prior to the hell that has become my life. My face was okay before. High enough cheekbones, small nose, clear skin and bluish green eyes that popped against my fair Irish skin. I’ve never really been one to complain about looks. Not my face anyway.


If you would’ve asked me a year ago why I would need a cosmetic surgeon, my best guess would be to tame the stretch marks I could never get rid of. Other than
road map on my abdomen, I didn't complain. 
Shake what your momma gave ya!
That was my take on life. Not anymore.


Sure, my slightly wider nose was never quite as sharp as my mother’s and my stomach has a little jiggle if I don’t keep up on my Pilates routine, but that's life.


I’ve always been the ‘petite’ girl. I definitely didn't win any high jump competitions in school with my five-foot-five frame. Not a whole lot up top. However, my relatively small but still fleshy ass makes up for lacking in the tits department. Or so I tell myself. Either way, I never cared and my jeans fit me well. I’ve hovered around 115 lbs for the better part of my adult life and I’m okay with that and the rest of my appearance.


Past tense;
was okay with that.


Hopefully the good Doctor has granted my wishes. When I contacted him three months ago, he didn't seem eager to oblige me in my quest for a new face. The broken nose and excessive swelling from the facial fractures weren’t pretty. As cliché as it sounds, desperate times call for desperate measures. I needed a new face and a new identity if I was going to survive for much longer.


After numerous phone conversations, two Skype calls and a month of silence, he agreed to perform the surgeries. Doctor Revere is an incredibly busy man but I think seeing my banged up face on Skype really helped him with his decision. Or maybe it was the fact I offered him double to get the job done. That really got the ball rolling.


Now, three months later, I couldn’t be happier this is the man I chose to help me build a new life (
Not that I’ll show him my smile, it’s been missing for years).
My once wide nose is still the same size but much sharper. The slight pudgy crooked chin that never seemed to match my high cheek bones has been re-shaped beautifully and my jaw line is much smoother looking. To top the whole look off, my once beautiful blonde locks had been dyed the week prior into one of the darkest shades of brown they had and I’ve been ironing it pin-straight ever since. Add in the past few months of Nevada sunshine and we’re golden. 


“Everything looks absolutely wonderful to me Ms. Green; I could not be more pleased with the results. You’ve healed beautifully! If you don't have any questions or complaints, we can get your paperwork finished and send you on your way.”


He regards me with those kind eyes, always looking at me as if he’s waiting for me to say something so he can carry a conversation. It’s how everyone looks at me.


I hate it. 


This miserable bitch I’ve become doesn’t do small talk or platitudes unless it’s absolutely necessary. That's not to say I’ve lost my manners. Most days the please and thank you's are still as ingrained in me as they used to be. I just have absolutely no desire for idle chit chat. If it’s not important or doesn’t need to be said, I keep my mouth shut. I really wish others would do the same.


Talking is overrated. In a way, that’s always been my thought on the subject. Once upon a time, get a bottle of Grey Goose into me and the words would flow. It could be wine or a case of beer, I’m not picky. Consume some alcohol, throw on some music and add a few good friends. Now let the useless chatter begin.


That was then, this is now.


I regard the Doctor over the mirror as I look at the new woman I’m now supposed to be. Thirty looked pretty good, but not in an overly flashy way that would make me stand out. That's my new rule.
No flash
. No gaudy jewelry, no flashy hair-do, no bright colored or skimpy clothing. Not that any of this was really my life before, I just have to work extra hard at remaining as dark, drab and as un-interesting as I can be.


“You did an excellent job Doc. Other than the tenderness around my nose, I have no complaints.”


The Doc shuffled some forms around for me to sign.


“I’m thrilled you think so Ms. Green.”


Upon handing me the final few forms regarding payment plans he knows I don't need, I grab my bag from the table to retrieve his money. One of my deal breakers in this life is pretty much everything is cash only. If I can’t pay cash or it can’t be bought with a pre-paid credit card then no deal. I’m thankful a lot of people here are used to large amounts of cash. I don't know if it’s because we’re less than four hours from Vegas or if the good Doctor is familiar with this routine, but either way I look forward to cashing out and hitting the road.


A few months in one place without my new identity is too long. My cash service with the Doc was under a fake name I’d used,
Ms. Harley Green.
The thing is there’s no such Harley Green. Or if there is, it’s certainly not me.


I’d come up with the name quickly while on the phone trying to see Doctor Revere. Stuttering when asked, the beginning of my real name naturally wanted to spill out from my lips.  I thought fast to come up with a name that I could not only stomach, but would remember.


My daddy loved his Harley and my Irish roots are green


Thus I had created Ms. Harley Green from nowhere town who pays in cash, and pays extra not to ask for identification.


A few signatures later and my hobo bag quite a few thousand dollars lighter, I accept the demise of Ms. Harley Green and the birth of my next (hopefully for longer) alias.


“Hey, Doc?”


He looks stunned that I’ve spoken to him casually. Usually it’s small nods or a wave over my shoulder as I leave his office. Other than the few curse matches with some of the staff, he doesn’t hear me speak much. My voice is still raspy, mostly from lack of use. His eyes are wide with anticipation at what may come out of my foul mouth.


I relax my posture and look him directly in the eyes, committing this man to memory because I know it’s the last time I’ll ever see the Doctor that has helped change my life. I try for the most sincere tone I can deliver before parting.


“Thank you for your help. It’s appreciated.”


The gentle curve of his lips is the last thing I see before I round the corner en route to my new life.



* * *



The sun is hot on my back as I trudge to my car with the last suitcase. I didn't bring much when I came to this little townhouse in Phoenix. My clothing, my dog and my old self is all I have. That’s the thing I’ve learned about living and being alone. You don’t need much, and the less you have, the faster you can run without the worry of leaving something important behind. There’s very little that’s important to me anymore, but the thing one usually finds hard to part with after losing loved ones are the photographs and home videos. They remind you of things you’re bound to forget.


The brain can only hold so much before little by little old memories get pushed out and new ones take root. I cannot let them go like I did every other sentimental little knickknack in the place I once called home. There are a million memories still in my mind but I know with time things fade. The memories I once remembered so clearly started to get hazy in my mind and lack the once vivid detail.


This is what has me punching the address into my GPS—directions to my high security storage unit in Denver that holds what's left of my old life in a box. That’s it, that’s all I have; one bag and a box in a five-by-ten storage room. When you’re forced into a life on the run, you quickly learn what’s important in life that you need to hang onto and what can easily be let go.


I could’ve fit what's left of my life into a large safety deposit box at the bank, but that involves questions I can’t answer and identification I refuse to provide.


I take one last look at what’s become my home these past few months. The two-story cream colored townhouse sits beyond a modest front yard made up of rock and cacti, reflecting a typical desert landscape. A small stone walkway leads to the rust colored front door.


It’s a modest yet tiny abode that serves as a resting place for Doctor Revere’s high paying clientele. I could’ve found my own place; I certainly have the money to do so. However, it wouldn’t have come with the perks like an on-call nurse and a personal shopper close by. These things made my life easier while I was recuperating from surgery. The townhouse also lacked the sickening smell of disinfectant and antiseptic that I refused to fill my lungs with had I chosen the regular hospital stay.


Another plus to my temporary home was that it had been completely furnished. No worrying about bed linens and dish rags. The little home had it all. The selling point for me had been the back yard. Eight-foot privacy fencing surrounded the narrow but long back yard. Perhaps most people who stayed here took advantage of the outdoor Jacuzzi tub and the matching loungers under the gazebo. I took advantage of the fact that my dog Norma would have ample space to move around.


I grew up in a rural area and I’ll be damned if I would confine my innocent and large Pyrenees to a choker and chain.


The main level in the house boasted a living room-kitchen combo with a small island to separate the space. The open floor plan was perfect; a demi-circle orange sofa dominated the room and sat in front of a wall-mounted television. The earth toned tile floor was cool on the feet which was a blessing in the heat that I swore I’d never get used to.

BOOK: Frayed Rope
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