Exposing the Flesh
Love & Ink # 3
By- J.A. Howell
Published By- SideStreet Cookie Publishing
*Warning: Intended for 18+ only. Contains graphic language and sex, as well as depictions of violence and sexual assault that may be disturbing to some readers.*
Niall Donovan is a talented photographer. When it comes to women, he can have his pick and has. But beneath the flirtatious, joking smiles he's hiding long buried pain and traumatic memories. Memories that are breaking the surface once more. Memories that he’ll do anything to shut up. When suicide doesn’t work for him, he indulges in pills, drugs, and physical pain. They seem to help some, but they barely take the edge off.
London Black has been put through the wringer. Between a car accident that nearly killed her, months of physical therapy, and finding out the boyfriend she moved to Midtown for has been cheating all along, she’s done being the sweet wholesome girl everyone thinks she is. A one night stand with the sexy photographer she meets at a club is just the thing she needs to boost her ego. It does more than that when the explicit photos of them are the main exhibit at the local art gallery. Embarrassed, angry, and now without a prospective job, she confronts him on opening night. But when he offers her a generous deal with room and board in return for more photos, she accepts. Taking naked photos with him for a large sum of cash doesn’t seem like that horrible of an option, and besides they both intend to keep things completely professional.
When the shutter starts snapping, however, it’s hard for either to deny what's developing between them. Neither are in a good place and prefer those desires stay hidden in the dark, but the camera doesn’t lie. Baring it all may expose more than their bodies. But exposing their hearts may be more than Niall or London bargained for.
“But I don’t want ta go ta bed, mum.” I whined, despite the yawn that escaped and the fact that I was rubbing both my eyes. She frowned at me, though amusement played across her lips. “I’m not sleepy. Pwease, mum? Kier always hogs the telly when he’s here. Lemme watch one more show.” I pouted. She sighed and I knew I’d won her over.
“Fine. One more Spiderman cartoon, then ta bed with ya.” She smiled. I bounded toward Da, skidding on the wooden floor, the bottoms of my footed Spiderman pajamas nearly worn through with how much I wore them. Da caught me and patted the spot on the couch next to him as mum disappeared into the kitchen. I grinned up at him then turned my attention to the TV just as a loud thump came from the front door.
Mum peered her head out of the kitchen, looking at Da. I looked up at him. “Did Kier come back early from his sleepover again?”
Another loud knock.
“Richard, could ya see who that is?” Mum asked, a wary look on her face. I watched Da get up, pouting that he’d miss the beginning of the show, but quickly returned my attention to the telly. Spiderman swung through the city as another loud, impatient knock came. Mum came into the living room, watching Da in the front hall.
“What’s wrong, mum?” I blinked up at her, sensing her worry. She always gnawed on her bottom lip and squeezed the fabric of her pants or skirt in her hand when she was worried.
“Nothing, Niall I—”
She stopped as muffled voices spoke through the door. I couldn’t make out what they were saying but Da was using that stern voice he used whenever he caught me jumping on my bed.
“I can call someone fer ya, but it’s rather late. I’m afraid I can’t let ya in.”
I slid off the couch then and shuffled over to mum, wiping my eyes again, Spiderman forgotten as I leaned against her hip.
“Oh come on, Old Man. I just need ta call my cousin. He’s got a tow truck and can help me get my car off the side of the road.”
Da drew himself up, looked back at mum, and nodded, letting her know everything was fine. She rested a hand on my shoulder and I smiled at her touch.
“What’s yer cousin’s number? I’ll call him fer ya, let him know where yer at.”
A louder thump came, then a crack. I jumped, fists clenching mum’s skirt.
“Open the feckin’ door!” The man on the other side yelled.
“Mum? Why’s he being mean if he wants our help?” I looked up at her, frightened. To my surprise, she looked just as scared. “Mum?”
“Leave, now! I’m calling the Garda!”
Laughter broke out outside at Da’s words and mum stiffened next to me.
“Alice, go call the Garda! Now!” He ordered just before another loud crack came. Everything happened so fast. One minute I was standing there at the end of the hall with mum, the next I was in her arms as she raced ta her and Da’s bedroom. Another loud snap, then the front door slammed against the wall as shouting broke out in the front hall.
Da screamed, but it was cut short with a terrible gurgling groan and something fell to the floor with a heavy thump. Mum whimpered, her arms shaking as she put me on my feet and locked the door behind her. More groans. Someone gasping for breath. Cruel, evil laughter.
“Mum? What’s goin’ on?” I asked, my voice trembling and small. She put a finger to her lips and steered me toward the bed.
A deep taunting voice called out to us. “Hello? Anybody home? I won’t hurt you, I swear.”
I glanced toward the door, but mum pulled my attention back to her. “Go on, mo chuisle. Get under the bed. Stay there no matter what. Don’t make a sound.” Her voice shook as she kissed my cheek. I nodded, doing as she said, putting on a tough face, like the one Liam always showed me how to do. I didn’t want mum scared. I got on my knees and wriggled under the bed as she told me to. I watched mum’s feet as she went to the nightstand, then cursed.
“Shite, where’s the damn phone?” She whispered to herself then turned for the door.
“Mum?” I hissed. “Don’t go! Come under the bed with me. Don’t ya need ta hide too?”
She only got out a soft “shh” before someone kicked the bedroom door open with a thunderous crack. I covered my mouth to keep from shrieking as three sets of boots came into view in the doorway. Behind them I saw Da lying on the floor…but he wasn’t moving.
I stared at him as the boots moved out of the way, urging him to look at me. His eyes were open, but he stared up at the ceiling, wide-eyed.
“Well, hello beautiful! Why ya hidin’ in here, hmm?” A man laughed, moving toward mum. Everything in me wanted to spring out from under the bed and bite at his legs, hit him, punch him, but no. Mum told me to stay put. I clenched my teeth, watching as they cornered her.
“I’ve already called the cops. Leave!” Her voice was strong, but I heard the tremble in it. She made to move past them, then there was a slap and mum stumbled back against the wall. My eyes widened and I bit my lip. Don’t make a sound.
Another man punched her in the stomach and she doubled over with a whimper before they shoved her to the floor. Her eyes met mine then, tearful and pleading. I bit harder, the taste of blood on my tongue.
Don’t make a sound.
“Mum?” I mouthed to her. Her jaw tightened and she shook her head, her words ringing in my ears.
Don’t make a sound.
About the Author
J.A Howell is an office drone by day, and a writer by night. Her love of writing took off when she was eleven years old and decided to fill a composition notebook with stories to read to her friends. Many years (and notebooks) later, not much has changed. She still loves writing and sharing her works with others. When she isn’t writing, she can often be found trying her hand at whatever artistic pursuit strikes her fancy. J.A. Howell resides in Apopka, FL with her husband and their menagerie of animal children.
Amazon Author Page- http://www.amazon.com/J.-A.-Howell/e/B0092KDV8C/ref=sr_ntt_srch_lnk_1?qid=1380831530&sr=8-1
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