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Authors: H.M. Ward

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Life Before Damaged, Vol. 1

BOOK: Life Before Damaged, Vol. 1
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Title Page


Title Page























Life Before Damaged Vol. 1

The Ferro Family


H.M. Ward


This book is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents are either the product of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously, and any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, events, or locales is entirely coincidental.

Copyright © 2014 by H.M. Ward

All rights reserved.

No part of this book may be reproduced, scanned, or distributed in any printed or electronic form.


First Edition: November 2014

ISBN: 9781630350512

Life Before Damaged Vol. 1




Sidney nervously twists her engagement ring on her finger and looks up at me. In that soft voice, the one she uses when she’s worried, she asks, “What’d you find?”

The pit of my stomach has been in freefall all day, ever since I opened that last box. It was hers—Gina’s. After everything we went through, I never realized Gina kept a journal, an account of everything, including vivid descriptions of the man I once was. Sidney knows about my reputation, but what was printed in the tabloids and what’s written in these diaries are two very different stories.

It’s strange being in love again. I thought I’d die alone. After I lost Gina, I had no aspirations, no hope. Then Sidney changed my life. Holding these books makes me feel my old self, still there, buried deep within. All the rage, the fights, the never-ending line of women who would do anything to fuck me—in these pages, the memories are vivid. As each remembered moment blurs by, I feel the impact, the void of the person I was screaming out from deep within. But that period of my life is over, lost to the past, and I force the echoes of who I was to be quiet once more.

Truth be told, I don’t miss that life, but I worry about what will happen when Sidney discovers who I was, what I was. Sidney thinks the best of me. She sees me as the English professor, the poet. But deep within, I’m not him. This part of my past lurks within me still. It reared its ugly head when Sidney’s ex tried to hurt her. I made him pay for that. My violence was justified, but it doesn’t matter. At the end of the day—even though I changed my name—I’m still Pete Ferro.

Glancing at the journals in my hands, I make the choice. She needs to know. If Sidney is marrying me, she needs to see the good and the bad. Reading it from a tabloid isn’t enough. Swallowing hard, I cross the room clutching the books tightly.

I look around the little house Sean gave us, thinking, yet again, how perfect it is—right down to the custom made perch for Mr. Turkey. Sometimes Sean acts so stoic I think he doesn’t give a shit about anyone or anything, but then he does something like this. I can’t figure him out. When I see Sean and think of his life, I wonder how similar we really are; I wonder if the only reason that I’m different is because I pretend to be.

Is that all it takes to change? Maybe I’m not different after all, maybe I just want to be. A different last name, a different life—one that isn’t etched with scars and faded dreams. When I look at Sidney I feel alive again. The ghost of who I was disappears and I’m real—every wish, every dream able to come true, all because of her. Showing these journals to her could destroy us, but hearing the truth about me from someone else would be so much worse. I won’t take that chance.

Sidney is sitting on the bed, solemnly waiting for me to speak, as if she can sense the weight on my soul. I’d thought my soul was irretrievably lost until Sidney sat down at my table and flashed that beautiful smile. Thank God for her.

“Sidney?” Although I try, I can’t hide my feelings from her, I never could.

“Peter, what is it?”

I sit down facing her, making the bed dip beneath my weight, and place the books on the comforter between us. “While I was going through my old things, I found these—they’re Gina’s journals.” My voice catches and I look everywhere except at Sidney. Sucking in air, I push through. I need to say this before the hole in my chest consumes me. It’s growing, adding pressure that wasn’t there a moment ago. It scolds me, urging silence.

She won’t understand, a voice says in the back of my mind. It latches onto times that I tried to tell the truth and it bit me on the ass. Ice forms, freezing my skin from the inside out, until I shiver.

Sidney places her palm on my hand. It’s warm and steady, firm and fragile. She looks up at me with those dark eyes and I want to melt into her. I want to shove these in the trash and run, but I can’t. No matter how hard I try, I can’t change who I was—who I am.

She has to know.

I manage a half-smile as I look down at her. “While I was unpacking, I found a few old boxes that I never opened after the last move. They were relics from an old life, a past that I didn’t want to remember.” I pause, trying to muster the strength to say the rest and hand over the books. My jaw tightens as if my body knows this is the fastest way to kill our relationship, but my heart protests. It speaks, forcing the words over my lips, “When I opened it today, I found these books. They’re Gina’s journals.”

Sidney’s mouth drops, forming a little O, as a whirlwind of emotions play across her face. Her grip on my hand tightens as she leans in. “Oh, my God. Peter, I’m so sorry. That must have been hard.” She reaches forward, taking my other hand, trying to comfort me, but that’s the last thing I want right now.

Tipping her head to mine, our foreheads touch. I quiet myself, holding her hands, breathing her in, allowing myself to get intoxicated with her scent—her touch. A smile plays on her lips and one of her hands reaches around my neck. She rests her wrist on my shoulder while her fingers play with the hair at the nape of my neck. It’s a Sidney motion of kindness, making me want to pull her to my chest and never let her go.

Ever since she found out that I was actually a Ferro, she’s been nothing but kind. With the upcoming wedding, Sidney didn’t even ask me to drop Gina’s last name. She would take Gina’s last name too if I asked her to, I know she would. Sidney understands loss in a way that many can’t. That’s why withholding this part of my life from her isn’t right. I don’t deserve her.

This is my only chance. It could backfire horribly, and yet, it feels right. Pulling back, I shove my hands through my hair and let out a rush of air. “The thing is, these diaries are about me, about who I was before we met. The guy in the papers doesn’t hold a torch to the asshole I used to be, and Sidney, he’s still here.” Leaning in toward the books, I tap one of the covers. “This guy is still part of me.”

From the look on her face, I know she doesn’t believe me. It’s not that she thinks I’m lying, but it’s compassion and forgiveness given unknowingly. I take her hand and absently toy with the stone on her ring. “This is something that you need to know. I’m not the man I was before, but he’s still here, buried inside. Asking you to read these is strange, I know. It has the thoughts of another woman and—”

Sidney reaches out, stands, and places a finger on my lips. My heart aches so badly it feels like it may explode. “Shhh. Peter, you aren’t the guy you were before. Anyone can see that. Hell, even Sean can see that and he’s an asshole.” She drops her hand and offers a small smile. “Everyone has a past, even me. We don’t have to do this.”

“Your past is different. You didn’t willingly, knowingly do bad things. I did. If you’re going to marry me, if you want to truly be with me and understand my shadows, my faults, and help me from slipping back into the man I was, you need to read these.”

My stomach twists into knots saying this to her. There’s a million different ways she could take this new information, and I have no idea how much detail Gina went into about how I treated her, what she saw, and what I did. I couldn’t bring myself to read more than a few pages. Each one was about how messed up I was and how much she hated me. I was cruel to her, and there was no reason, no excuse. Gina painted me as the perfect storm, glorious to behold and equally deadly, destroying everything in its path without remorse or shame.

Sidney takes the first book and nods. “I’d do anything for you Peter, but no matter what’s in here, it won’t change my mind about you, about us.”

“I wouldn’t be too sure about that.” Stepping back quickly, I shove my hands in my pockets and dart out of the room before she can respond.



, 7:33 pm

"I can't believe you talked me into this Erin!"

I'm screaming in my bestie's ear, standing in the middle of an old warehouse. A throng of wealthy twenty-somethings are laughing and dancing all around me. Well, suggestively grinding and rubbing up against each other to the unrelenting and deafening beat of the music is more accurate. It feels like a furnace in here, and the open windows don’t help. Beads of sweat drip between my shoulder blades, soaking the back of my perfectly pressed white sleeveless blouse. If I had decent breasts—which I don't—I'd probably have a river rushing through that valley.

Looking around, I let out a discouraged sigh. At least people are still somewhat dressed, with the exception of a few scattered groups of hardcore ravers. Spying them makes my jaw drop. The girls are dressed in two-piece latex swimsuits, of various neon colors, showing off way too much skin. But what makes my eyes bug out of my head isn’t their lack of clothing; it’s the huge, knee-high, furry leg warmers. I’m talking Abominable Snowman, fluff fest. Eskimo boots have nothing on these leg warmers. One girl even has a huge fluffy cat hood to match her furry paws, uh, I mean legs.

As for the men, lots of them are decked out in glowing baggy pants, with blinking lights, and glow-in-the-dark neon tattoos on their backs and chests.

Catwoman’s date has cat feet that poke out from under his baggy pants and he’s wearing a headband with cat ears… that twitch. WTF? I totally missed the dress like a lunatic memo.

In the hopes of pulling off the wallflower thing, I opted for blandness—jeans and a white blouse. But instead of blending in, I stand out like a nun in a whorehouse. My blouse glows under the black lights and since I’m wearing much more fabric than anyone else here, I look like a freaking glow stick.

Wait, it gets better. Some of these people are way over the indecent exposure line, and I’m increasingly worried that the sex police, or just the regular police, will bust down the doors and haul our asses to jail. My ass is too pretty for jail. Nerves flitter through my stomach as I clutch my cell phone tightly, hoping that it won't crack into a million pieces. If I had a nametag, mine would say: Hello! My name is: Neurotic Mess.

Truth is, I can’t get caught and I’m not badass enough to say fuck it and do whatever I want, like those chicks with the glowing boobs. Seriously? What the hell? Clothing isn’t optional, and I should know, because this is my godforsaken rave.

Erin, my BFF, is standing beside me, dressed in paint-stained denim overalls. A pink neon sports bra peeks out from under the denim and she’s got glow-in-the-dark bracelets from wrist to shoulder. She's even more of a sweaty mess than I am, but on her it looks great. Her dark, damp hair curls a little and hangs in chunks around her face. My hair has gone to frizz ball hell—so much for my perfectly curled hair from earlier this evening.

BOOK: Life Before Damaged, Vol. 1
5.23Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub

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