Guarded Heart (Dubicki's)

BOOK: Guarded Heart (Dubicki's)
12.18Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub




Guarded Heart



A Dubicki’s Novel



Lisa Andres





Copyright © 2014 Lisa Andres, Kindle Edition

This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, businesses,
places, events and incidents are either the products of the author’s
imagination or used in a fictitious manner. Any resemblance to actual persons,
living or dead, or actual events is purely coincidental. Any and all references
to songs, song writers, and/or singers in no way imply connection with,
relationship to, or ownership of any of these entities but are used as cultural
references within the time period of the piece.


All rights reserved. No part of this book may be
reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or
mechanical, including photocopying, recording, or by any information storage or
retrieval system, without permission in writing from the copyright owner, Lisa

Cover Design by Regina Wamba:

Editing by Patrick and April Durham:








Great. They’re at it again.

Carissa was tired of her mom and her mom’s revolving door of
boyfriends. For all of her 14 years she could remember, her mother had always
had some creepy-looking guy on her arm. She was used to feeling emotionally
starved by her mother’s neglect by now, and the creepier the guys got, the more
she was grateful for that.

Carissa’s mother was a runway model with a host of
addictions. She had a very expensive cocaine habit, and, thus, her choice of
boyfriend always had to help support her lifestyle in some way. Her latest
boyfriend, Ray, took the “seedy” award, and Carissa seriously thought he was a
drug dealer. At the very least, the guy had to have a rap sheet that rivaled an
epic novel. It was usually quiet because her mother and Ray were gone so much,
but when they were in residence, she either heard them having sex or fighting.
Tonight, it was clearly the latter. If the yelling didn’t convince her, the
broken dishes did the trick.

She put in the ear buds of her MP3 player in attempt to
drown out the noise. Ray had gotten her the gift for her fourteenth birthday
last month. Even though she didn’t like him and found the gift suspect, she
loved it.

She’d never known who her dad was. She doubted that her
mother even knew. It was frustrating. And embarrassing. One of her mom’s
boyfriends had beaten her mom so badly they’d had to move to another state.

Carissa wiped away a tear that had spilled down her cheek.
She felt like her entire childhood had been a prison, and she wasn’t going to
be paroled for four more years. On the outside, she tried to be so normal. She
wished she had more friends and would have loved it if she could stay the night
at a friend’s house every once in a while. Though sleepovers were not as common
as they were a couple of years ago, they would still provide the perfect refuge
from whatever chaos was happening in her own home. If it could even be called a

She dreamed of what her life would be like when she grew up.
She knew she’d find a college far, far away. Anywhere that would take her where
she didn’t have to live at home. She wanted to be a nurse or a veterinarian.
She loved animals. Most days they were easier to be around than humans.

Daydreaming, she closed her eyes and lost herself in the
music. She didn’t notice the door to her room had opened. Or that her mother’s
boyfriend Ray was creeping his way into her room and onto her bed.

By the time she realized what was happening, it was too
late. He was so much bigger than her that he overpowered her almost immediately.
Carissa whimpered and begged him to stop.

“Don’t worry, Cassie. This will be real good.”

When she tried to fight his hands reaching out to touch her
inappropriately, he slapped her. He seemed to like her fear; he told her that
if she fought him, he’d only hit her harder.

She closed her eyes and nearly gagged on her screams as the
innocence that held the last piece of her youth was taken from her.





Chapter 1



Carissa Hart was getting sick of this heat wave. Minnesota
was generally known for its cold climate, but, for as cold as it got in the
winter, it got equally hot in the summer. By August, she was usually praying
for fall just to end the oppressive heat waves of the summer. Her job as a
nursing assistant at a hospice and nursing home was demanding, and, on a hot
day like this, that basically meant she needed a cold shower when she got home.
She walked out of work at five o’clock and tried to refrain from pulling her
shirt off and ringing the sweat out of it. She couldn’t wait to get home and
out of the heat. Today she was thankful that she had a short commute. The
retirement home she worked at was in Roseville, Minnesota. It was technically a
suburb of St. Paul, but it also bordered northeast Minneapolis where she lived.

Carissa had been on her own since she was a teenager, which
made her mature for her 21 years. She’d been on her own so young because her
survival depended on it; now she was proud of the fact that she’d graduated
high school early and had obtained her nursing assistant certificate at 18
because of it. Her next career goal was to be a registered nurse, a dream she
knew would come in time. Right now, she was just happy to be on her own and to
have her own place.

Carissa walked in the door of her modest one-bedroom
apartment. It was in a turn of the century fourplex apartment unit. It had a
certain vintage charm with its old cabinetry and even boasted a stove that
looked like an antique that Carissa found delightful. She could sometimes hear
the neighbors through the walls, but they were mostly harmless. She still took
pride in that this was her very first home of her own.

She’d worked as a waitress for the first two years after she
moved out and then decided it was time to think about a career. She liked
helping people and thought that being a nurse was something she’d like to do.
She liked her job as a nursing assistant. It was sad working in a nursing home
with a hospice sometimes. There were so many of the seniors dying that had no
one to be with them. She spent a lot of her time there listening to them
because she knew what it was like to be alone.

As Carissa made her way into her apartment, she was greeted
by her cat, Cal. Cal was an orange and white tabby that she’d rescued the
previous year because she sometimes preferred animals to humans. She and Cal
were loners, and she loved having a kitty to spoil at home.

“Hi, baby. How are you today?” she said as she bent down and
stroked his head.

He greeted her with a purr and pushed his head into her hand
in appreciation. She got him a treat from the top of the fridge and poured
herself a glass of lemonade. Right then she was very grateful to have the
window air conditioner unit in her living room. She’d take a shower, make a
quick dinner, and then roll out the hide-a-bed sofa. It looked like she and Cal
would be sleeping in the living room in the air conditioning that night.

She liked having her own space. Living with other people
really had never gone well for her. She knew that isolating herself from the
world was her way of putting her guard up, but right then that worked for her.
Since she’d run away from home as a teenager, she’d had only one boyfriend
she’d let in, and he didn’t treat her well. He was verbally abusive and an
alcoholic, and it took her a while to wake up and not allow herself to be lost
in his problems and his addiction. He’d been older than her, and she now
thought her lack of a father figure was why she had been drawn to him. She put
up with him because whatever he did, she’d been through worse. When she finally
woke up to it, he didn’t take kindly to her leaving him. Since then, she’d
pushed away every male that had tried to get her attention.

To say she’d had a tough childhood would be putting it
mildly. Between her mother’s schedule as a model and her penchant for
narcotics, it left little time for her. Most of her childhood was spent
wondering where her mommy was, and she had always felt alone. One of her
earliest memories was of being around four years old and trying to get her
shirt off. She just couldn’t seem to get it over her head and felt like it kept
getting tangled. Like a four-year-old would do, she went to find her mother to
try to get the shirt over her head, but no one was there. When no one came, she
took matters into her own hands and got a knife to poke in the back of her
shirt to enable her to get it over her head. That episode had gotten her a scar
that she still had and probably should have had stitches in at the time.

She also had a pink circular scar on her arm that she told
people was a birthmark. In reality, it was from the cigarette butt of one of
her mother’s angry boyfriends. She’d been barely able to talk when that
happened, but she still remembered the pain as the cigarette seared a hole into
her little arm. She’d considered getting a tattoo to cover the spot up but
decided she liked the reminder of where she had come from and the strength it

In her younger years, Carissa and her mother had spent a lot
of time at her mother’s friend Marilyn’s house, whom Carissa later realized was
also a drug addict. Marilyn was a model and had two children: Tommy, who was
eight, and Izzy, who was four. Carissa had been around five when they’d all
met. In many ways, they’d grown up together. When you were brought up in a
childhood rampant with problems, you had two choices: you could either fall
victim to it and follow in the same footsteps, or you could rise above it.
Tommy grew up to be a drug dealer. He even sold to his mother and eventually
landed in prison. Izzy had ended up pregnant by the time she was 15 and getting
high by the time she was 16. Carissa hadn’t talked to either of them since the
night she ran away. She wondered what trouble she would have gotten herself
into if she would have stayed around; she was glad she never had to find out.

They’d moved to Minnesota from the east coast when Carissa
was eight. Her mom had said it was to get away from her family, but Carissa now
wondered if she had been running from a drug dealer or some other thug. When
Carissa had started school, all the kids had laughed at her for talking funny
with her New Jersey accent. They all said she sounded like she was from the
television show
The Sopranos
. At first they tried to correct her
speaking, but when that didn’t work, they just made fun of her.

Carissa had met her best friend Dana when she was in her
nursing assistant training. It was a short program, but they connected right
away. Dana had an abusive father, Carissa had an abusive mother, and they were
pretty tight from the get-go. Dana’s family was from New York State; Carissa’s
had been from New Jersey. What were the odds that they would both land in
Minnesota? Neither of them was particularly mushy or big believers in fate, but
if there was one thing that seemed oddly destined, it was for the two of them
to meet.

“Hey, lady,” Dana called as she gave a courtesy knock and
walked in the door.

Dana stopped by every once in a while after work. Since the
heat wave, she’d been over lots more. Her place didn’t have any air
conditioning. Dana was tall enough to look like she’d been the one that came
from a family of models, not Carissa. Carissa was petite in comparison. Dana’s
straight, chestnut brown hair always looked perfect. It was long but not too
long. One might think she had a personal hairdresser or something. She didn’t.
It was just naturally beautiful hair. It was a point of envy to Carissa who
worked at flat ironing her hair every day only to have it frizz out within an
hour on a day as humid as that one. She didn’t even know why she bothered.

“Hi! Just hang out for a second while I change out of my
work clothes,” Carissa yelled from her bedroom. Her long and somewhat unruly
dishwater-blonde hair frustratingly beyond hope was now up in a ponytail
artfully wrapped around her head like a bun.

“I brought you some tacos. I didn’t think you’d want to cook
tonight,” Dana said as she put a takeout bag down on the counter.

Carissa came out of the bedroom and smiled. Tacos were one
of her favorite things, and Dana knew it.

“So what do you want?” Carissa teased as she savored her
first bite of a taco.

“What do you mean, what do I want?” Dana said in a playful

“Oh, come on, Dana. You are trying to butter me up for
something if you brought tacos,” Carissa said as she grabbed some chips that
Dana had brought with the meal.

“Well, now that you mention it, I thought we could go out on
Friday night.”

“Out? You know I don’t really like going out. Are you seeing
a new guitar player or something?”

“No, not yet, but give me a chance and I’ll find one,” Dana
laughed. She was a highly intelligent woman that always made good decisions.
When she’d met the one guitar player that she’d dated last winter, all of the
good decisions that seemed to be part of Dana’s make-up flew out the window.
She now joked that she was somewhat of a groupie, but she wasn’t really that
bad. Yet. “Carrie and Melissa are going out and thought it’d be fun if we join

Lately, Dana had been encouraging Carissa to get out of her
shell. Carissa was kind of shy by nature. It may have been from feeling like
she’d been trying to hide or get away from her painful past for most of her
life. She was an adult now and didn’t have anything to worry about. At least
that’s what she tried to tell herself. Part of her would always be a fighter
that slept with one eye open, but she supposed she could let her guard down for
one night and try to have fun with the girls. Even if she called Carrie and
mean girls
behind their back.

It took some cajoling to get Carissa to consent to go out.
By the time Dana left a couple of hours later, she’d agreed. Dana reeled her in
with one of her “you deserve to be happy” pep talks. Dana loved giving her pep

Carissa worked a short shift Friday and, even though she
wasn’t much for bar hopping, was looking forward to a night out. Although
Carissa had reluctantly agreed at first, she began to get kind of excited. She
wasn’t sure for what, but it would be fun to see some of the city nightlife
this weekend with one of her best friends.


BOOK: Guarded Heart (Dubicki's)
12.18Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub

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