Melanie has finally met the man of her dreams, but life is never easy for one who has suffered a lifetime of horrific loss. She was compelled to return to her hometown, sure that enough years had passed since the tragedy. But why does she keep having those same horrible nightmares? Was domestic abuse a curse that was passed on from one generation to the next with no escape?
And her boyfriend's mother Mrs. Harriet Cornelius seems to be a sweet person, but there's something about her that Melanie just can't put her finger on. A shameful family secret may just keep Melanie from becoming too deeply involved, yet she longs for the kind of life and love others have. Will she find a way to overcome her fears, or will she simply walk away?
EXCERPT: Her picture perfect life changed in an instant...
Ellen had met Nita the first night she’d arrived at the Oak Ridge Battered Women’s shelter, which was located about 15 miles outside of Hampton, South Carolina. That was the night three weeks ago when a bleeding Ellen had called 911. After five years of serving as a punching bag to her stressed-out husband, Ellen had known that she had to get out when her 4-year-old Melanie had jumped on her father’s back in a futile effort to save Ellen from the barrage of fists pouring down upon her. She would never forget looking over her husband’s shoulder and seeing Melanie’s horrified face as she screamed “No…no…no…Mommy” over and over again. Oblivious in his fury, her husband Sam had continued to pound her face and shoulders until a sudden snapping sound made them all freeze.
Sam had beat Ellen so hard that the knuckle of his ring finger had popped out of joint. It had long ago weakened from years of boxing. He looked from his fist to Ellen several times like a man waking from a deep sleep.
“Oh baby, I’m so sorry,” he moaned, his eyes welling up with tears. “You know I love you so much. I don’t want to lose you baby. I’ll do anything,” he said standing up abruptly, ignoring the thud as little Melanie fell from his back to the floor.
A has-been boxer, who’d fallen out of public favor after losing 10 fights in a row, Sam Hightower had begun using his fists at home. Ellen had tried her best to be supportive and pray for him and encourage him, but more and more often he flew into these rages. This time Ellen knew she had to flee, if not for herself, then at least for their child’s well-being.
“Baby, I’m gonna swing by the emergency room and get this hand looked at,” said Sam, ignoring Ellen’s rapidly-swelling eyes. “When I get back, I’m gonna take my two favorite girls out for some ice cream cones. How does that sound?” Sam looked at Melanie as if surprised she wasn’t jumping up and down with happiness at the thought of ice cream cones, one of her favorite treats.
Trying to divert his attention away from Melanie who was now cowering in the corner, Ellen spoke up and said, “Good. Ice cream sounds just fine.”
“Just fine what…?” Sam snarled as his eyes snapped back to Ellen.
“Just fine baby love,” answered a defeated Ellen. She could barely bring herself to utter the endearing term she had coined for Sam in their earlier and happier days.
“That’s what I like to hear sugar pie,” said Sam walking towards the door. “I’ll be back in a few if they don’t keep me sitting in the waiting room all night”.
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