She dreamed of a life of freedom—one filled with love that didn’t come with a price…

Angel O’Hare fought to keep her family safe from the evil that threatened to overwhelm them. Keeping the danger that surrounded them a secret, she hid her pain and bruises, living a lie that everyone believed…until she met Jax, who showed her a love she never knew existed and a life she’d only dreamed about. But when reality surfaces, her dreams are shattered. With her life in tatters, she struggles to overcome her past before her abusive mother destroys everything Angel holds dear.

TAYLOR JONES SAYS: In If I Knew Then by Lynda Kaye Frazier, Angel is a seventeen-year-old victim of domestic abuse. Her mother is an alcoholic and when she drinks she takes her frustrations out on her children. Angel’s father is in the military and on deployment, and Angel is all that stands between her mother and her younger sisters. So Angel takes the brunt of the abuse. Along the way she meets Jax and thinks she has found the love she has always longed for, but has she?

This is a surprising change from Frazier’s first book, a romantic suspense, but it has a ring of truth that is both heartbreaking and thought-provoking—a book both young adults and their parents should certainly read.

REGAN MURPHY SAYS: If I Knew Then by Lynda Kaye Frazier is the heartbreaking story of domestic abuse and sacrificing all in the protection of those you love. Our seventeen-year-old heroine, Angel, promised her military father that she would take care of her sisters while he was gone. What he doesn’t know is that the main person Angel has to protect her sisters from is their own mother. But standing between her mother and her sisters means Angels has to sacrifice all of her dreams as well as her own personal safety.

If I Knew Then has an authenticity that is chilling—as if the author lived every word. While I can’t imagine a mother doing things like this to her own children, there is no denying that it happens. And if you are from a wealthy family with well-respected parents, you often have no place to turn. The people who are supposed to notice the signs of abuse, like doctors and teachers, seem reluctant to believe this could happen in such a nice family, so the victims are left without help. This is a book that young adults, parents, teachers, and doctors would all do well to read. It shows clearly that abuse can happen anywhere with anyone and when it does, it is always the innocent and helpless who suffer the most.

Chapter 1

Icy cold fingers tightened around Angel’s wrist, jerking her hand back against her arm. She gasped, and her eyes widened as her wrist cracked under the pressure. Her knees grew weak and she fell forward, grabbing the crushed velvet theater seat in front of her. Her fingernails bit into the fabric as her mother’s eyes blazed down at her. A high-pitched screech filtered in from the hall, and Angel’s heart pounded in her chest.

“That would be your sister unlocking the back door.” Her mother’s voice was hard, not an unfamiliar tone to Angel. Her mother’s fingers opened and Angel’s hand dropped like a rock. She grabbed it, clutching it to her chest. Her wrist throbbed and she couldn’t feel her fingers, but she knew it wouldn’t last. It never did. Her mother always knew when to stop.

“I want everything brought in and the boxes emptied on stage before everyone arrives. You only have an hour. Now, get moving.” Her mother rolled her eyes as Angel dropped her arm and shook her hand to relieve the pain. The tingling in her fingertips disappeared, and Angel opened her mouth but her mother just waved her hand, dismissing her, as she pointedly checked her watch.

“One hour, Angel. Not a minute more.”  Her mother turned on her heels then waltzed out the side door.

Angel’s fear subsided enough that anger took over as she stomped up the aisle. Her footsteps echoed through the dark musty theater, blocking all other sounds around her. One more year. Just one more year. She yanked open the front door, wincing as pain shot across her ribs–a faint reminder from the last time she disappointed her mother. Angel sucked in a breath, and the cold metal handle slipped from her fingers as she grabbed her side. They say time heals all wounds. Well, they really got that one wrong.

The slamming door vibrated across the floor, and she cringed.

“How many times have I told you not to slam that door?” Alice said, mocking their mother’s harsh tone.

Angel stifled back a moan and gritted her teeth. She loved her sister, and the throbbing pain she tried to rub away was a harsh reminder of just how much. Her dad had told her to take care of her sisters when his unit deployed last year. He just didn’t know who she needed to protect them from every time he left. She straightened and bit back the pain of her latest accident.

“Get your ass over here and help me, you little snot.”

“Oh, I’m telling Mom you swore.” Alice threw her arms across her chest and stuck her lip out like a three-year-old. How mature for someone who just turned eight.

Angel glared down at Alice’s smug face as her little sister’s smile widened. “Go turn the lights on and start going through the boxes for a costume while I finish unloading the truck.” Her tone was short from the pain, but she knew Alice didn’t care as she giggled and skipped toward the stage.

Angel shook her head and was just turning around when the door flew open. It threw her back, her head cracking against the wall. Stars flashed before her eyes, and she squeezed them shut to stop the throbbing. She swallowed to stifle the groan that threatened to break loose and opened her eyes to find the door pinning her to the wall. Her back was on fire as the spasm raced through her ribcage. She slowed her breathing to ease the burn but her fear heightened.

She shoved the door, but it wouldn’t budge, something on the other side holding it open.

“What the hell do you think you’re–” Angel froze as a head peeked around the door and her jaw dropped open. Blond curly hair fell past his ears and his eyes were chocolate brown that sparkled with specks of yellow.

“Oh hell. My bad. Are you okay?” His deep voice sent chills up her arms.

She couldn’t move. Her heart flipped, and her words got stuck in her throat. Oh no, this is bad. Get it together. He’s just a guy.

She clamped her mouth shut and blinked to break his hold on her. She glanced toward the two guys standing beside him. Michael Deaton and Dave Hicks, Cedar Ridge High’s golden boys. Football stars who only cared about one thing, being a player, on the field and off.

Her face heated when she realized they were laughing at her. What a bunch of jerks. “I’m fine.” Angel gritted her teeth to hide her aggravation. “Next time, try opening the door, not kicking it in. And what are you doing here? This is a private theater. You’re not supposed to be here.”

She straightened, trying to look a little taller than five-feet-four and older than sixteen.

She already knew she acted it, but their laughter still made her feel pretty small.

“Come on, Jax. We need to get the wood inside,” Michael said as he pushed the blond boy away from the door. “The girls are waiting for us.”

Michael’s uncle owned the local lumber yard and was donating wood for the play. Which wasn’t supposed to be delivered until next week. Mom’s going to have a fit about this.

Jax peered back at her and their eyes met. A shiver ran through her, and she rubbed her hands up her arms to hide the goose bumps.

“I’m right behind you, guys. Just give me a minute.”

Michael and Dave shrugged and pulled a sheet of plywood through the door. They leaned it against the wall and ran back out.

“Are you sure you’re okay? You look a little spacey.” His eyebrows arched. “I heard your head hit the wall. I’m Jax, by the way. Jax Deaton, Michael’s cousin. And you are?”

Her stomach filled with butterflies as she fought to stay in control. “Fine. Just a little headache. And my name’s Angel. Angel O’Hare.”

She stepped around the door and looked out toward the racket coming from the parking lot. Michael and Dave removed the rest of the wood, then shoved the tailgate closed as three girls leaned against the side, giggling.

Why do some girls act like brainless idiots around guys? Then she looked over at Jax and instantly had her answer.

He needs to leave, and now. She had no time for boys. She had to get ready for the exhibit. It held the key to her future, and nothing was getting in her way.

“Angel…I like that name. I’m going to be here for a few months. I’m sure I’ll run into you again.”

His hand rose toward her and she flinched. His eyes narrowed then the warmth of his fingers heated her face as he brushed the stray hair that fell across her eye.

“Your eyes are pretty. Don’t hide them.”

“This is the last of it,” Michael said. “You coming Jax, or staying behind? Dave and I don’t want to leave the ladies waiting.”

Angel blocked out Michael’s mocking tone, then frowned as Jax stepped back. He smiled down at her then turned and ran toward the parking lot.

Her heart raced, but stopped instantly when he grabbed Jenny Martin by her waist and lifted her up into the back seat. She was in Angel’s art class and did more painting on her face than a canvas. Angle gripped the door frame as they drove off. How could I be so stupid? He’s not interested in me. Ugh! She slammed the door closed and stormed to the bathroom.

“Where are you going?” Alice whined.

“I need some water. Did you find a dress? Mom will be here soon, and we need to have our outfits picked out before then, or she’ll do it for us.” Last year, they let her pick out their clothes and they ended up wearing dresses that looked like curtains. But not this year. Angel already had the blue silk one stashed away.

“I have a red one I like. Do you have one picked out already? All the others are ugly.”

Angel picked up her pace, trying to put some distance between them, but her sister stayed on her heels.

“Who was that guy? You know Mom doesn’t like you talking to boys she doesn’t know.”

Needing to get away from Alice’s chatter, Angel sucked in a deep breath and put on a fake smile, something she had grown good at over the years. “Just go get the dress. We need to rehearse. I’ll be out in a minute.”

“But what about this?”

Angel glanced at her sister’s hand and saw an I-phone, but not hers. “Where did you get that?”

“That boy must have dropped it. Should I call him?”

Angel shook her head at her sister. “You can’t, silly. You have his phone. I’ll get it back to him. Now, go.” She grabbed the phone and shoved the bathroom door closed without looking back at her sister. She just wanted to be alone, crawl into a corner, and die.

She glanced at the phone, wanting to pitch it across the room, but knew that wouldn’t solve her problems. Now I have to find a way to return it without mom finding out. If my life wasn’t hard enough. She rattled her brain, trying to figure out a way to get it to him, without actually seeing him. She would be lost without her phone and figured he probably felt the same way. Her phone was her lifeline to her one and only, honest friend. It was so hard to make true friends. Most just wanted to be a part of her mother’s world, not hers. She only had one person who truly accepted and understood her.

Angel shoved the phone into her back pocket then turned on the cold water, splashing it on her face. Straightening, she stared at herself in the mirror. Her pale green eyes were bloodshot from tears she refused cry, her straight black hair messy from her encounter with the wall. She looked so different than her sisters. They favored their mother, with brown curls and hazel eyes while she looked like her dad. It never really bothered her before today. Guys liked perky, curly haired, pretty girls, not ones that looked like they just walked off the reservation.

She shut off the water and pulled her hair back into a ponytail. Well, who needed them anyway?

“Hurry up, Angel. Mom’s here and she’s not very happy.”

Great, things just went from bad to worse. She took a heavy breath, trying to prep herself for her mom’s newest drama and her sister’s blatant lies.


Jax drummed his fingers across the tailgate as Michael and Dave chased the girls around the football field. It was too damn cold to be out here, and the girls’ constant giggling was giving him a headache. He was so tired of listening to them babbling about clothes, school, and how their parents didn’t understand them. They had it easy, not having to work for what they wanted.

He knew what it meant to work hard, knew that he’d be on the receiving end of beatings if he didn’t. Seeing the hint of fear in Angel’s eyes when she flinched at his touch, he recognized it instantly. The same fear he tried to hide for years. If it wasn’t for his mother, he would probably be in jail, or dead. She fought hard to keep him safe, and Jax made sure he worked for everything he needed so she didn’t have to.

He jumped off the bed of the truck as the group ran toward him.

“Hey, we’re going to the lake. You up for an evening of broads and brews?” Michael had his arms around two of the girls. As he pulled them closer, they laughed.

Jax rolled his eyes. If they only knew Michael had no intention of seeing either one of them after tonight. Michael was a love-them-and-leave-them kind of guy. No second dates, unless the first one didn’t get him what he was after. If his uncle hadn’t offered him a job, Jax would be at home. Now, he was stuck putting up with his cousin, who pretended to be his best friend so he could use Jax’s truck to get girls. What an ass. Oh well, you can’t pick family, and it’s only for a few months.

“No, man,” he said. “I still have some work to do at the shop and I have the early shift tomorrow. Maybe next time.” The stunned look on Michael’s face was priceless. Jax coughed to stifle a laugh as he walked around to the driver’s door. “Do you want a ride back? I need to get going.”

“Why don’t you let me take your truck and you drive Jessica’s car? We can switch out later.”

He sure has balls, Jax thought. He wants to take my truck and leave me the bright pink Volkswagen? I don’t think so. “I need to load the truck tonight. Sorry, cuz. I’ll tell your parents where you went. Catch you later.” He jumped in his truck and checked his rear-view mirror as he drove off, smiling to himself as Michael stood there, mouth open, eyes wide. He actually thought I would go for that? What an ass.

Jax settled back and knew who would enjoy this story, his mom. She always thought her brother spoiled his son too much. He shoved his hand into his pocket and grabbed–nothing. Damn, where’s my phone? Driving past the school, he glanced over to the community theater and it hit him. I must have dropped it there.

His mind wandered back to Angel. Something was different about her and it made him want to know more. She was so beautiful, and her smile made her face light up. Her emerald eyes spoke to him, but he also saw a sadness he was all too familiar with. That bothered him.

He turned into the theater’s parking lot and pulled up beside a sleek black Mercedes. Now that was one car he would kill to drive. He jumped out of the truck and rushed to the door as the wind whipped through his jean jacket. Doesn’t the sun ever shine in Oregon? Geez, it’s summer already.

He inched the door open and peered inside. No one was around, so he squeezed in. Music filtered into the lobby from the auditorium. He hurried toward the open door, and his stomach dropped. It was her. Angel was onstage singing, her voice as beautiful as she was. He crouched low to stay in the shadows and slid into a seat in the back. Her blue dress hugged the curves he missed seeing earlier. He gripped the edge of the seat and watched as she danced around on stage. Then the music stopped.

“What’s wrong, Mom? We’re almost done. Why did you stop the music?” Angel’s voice quivered as her mother walked across the stage.

He leaned against the seat in front of him, straining to hear her.

“You were off key in that last segment. I could hear you screeching from the office. And what’s with that dress? It makes you look like a whore.”

He bit back the urge to run up on that stage. What a bitch.

“Throw it away and find something more suitable.”

Now he knew where some of Angel’s sadness came from. He dropped lower as her mother continued to yell.

“Look at your sister. She picked out a beautiful dress that makes her look so elegant. You get rid of that thing and find another, or I will. Now, hurry. We need to have this song down by tonight.”

Jax’s blood boiled as Angel’s shoulders slumped forward, her feet scuffing as she walked off the stage.

How could her mother do that? He backed toward the door as she came up the aisle.

Seeing the surprise on her face, he raised his finger to his lips to hush her.

She grabbed his arm and pulled him into a small room off the lobby. “What are you doing here? If my mom sees you, I’m dead. Now, go.”

“Not yet.” He stood firm but let her keep hold of his arm. “She’s wrong, you know. You look beautiful in that dress, and you have a great voice. Your sister was the one who was off. Why is she–”

“It’s not important. Just go. I have to change and get back before she comes looking for me.”

He touched her arm, and she jumped. The spark from their contact shocked him, and the surprised look on her face told him she felt it to. Her eyes widened, her throat moving as she gulped and backed toward the door. She opened it and motioned for him to go first.

He moved toward her and lowered his head inches from hers. Her breath was warm on his face, and her dewy lips pulled him closer. He leaned in farther, and she stiffened. Mentally slapping himself, he pulled back.

“You have to go. Now.” Her raspy voice was filled with determination and he knew he’d blown it, but he couldn’t help himself. There was something between them, something he had never felt before. But the fear in her eyes told him he needed to get out of there, for her sake more than his.

“I’ll see you tomorrow.” He rushed to the door then stopped. The phone. “I lost my–”

“Phone, here. Now, go.”

He glanced at the phone in his hand. This isn’t mine. Then a smile lifted his face as he brought up her contacts. He entered his number into her phone, and made a mental note of hers, then handed it back as her face turned red.

Footsteps echoed from the hall, and she pulled out his phone from her back pocket. “Now, get out of here.” She shoved the cell against his chest, pushing him out of the door.

As he ran for his truck, his heart raced. Tomorrow he would make sure his uncle gave him all the wood deliveries to the theater.

He turned up the radio as her face flashed through his mind. He hadn’t felt this happy in a long time, and it was all because of a beautiful girl named Angel. His angel. She just didn’t know it yet.


Angel ran to the desk as her heart fluttered in her chest. Butterflies still raced through her stomach as she replayed what had just happened. What was she doing? She knew nothing about him. Her fingers still tingled from the jolt she got with his touch. She rubbed her hands over her face and groaned. This can’t happen. Not now. She couldn’t have a life here, not with her mother around. Her mother handpicked everyone they were seen with, and would no doubt pick their husbands if they let her.

Not this daughter.

Angel ripped through the costume box and found a simple black dress. Not beautiful like the blue one, but not an ugly curtain either. She moved to the door and pulled it open to find her mother standing on the other side, anger written all over her face. Angel backed up, stumbling into the chair as her mother stormed into the room. Sweat beaded along the back of her neck, but she sat up straight and planted her feet firmly on the floor in front of her.

“What’s taking you so damn long?” Her mother shoved her chair back and pulled the box closer, tugging out dresses and throwing them at her.

Angel held up the black dress, and her mother jerked it from her fingers. “I found one and was just going to change.”

“Are you kidding me? This one will stick to you like glue. I’ll not have one of my daughters dressing like a tramp. Put this one on and get back on stage.”

Angel caught the gray, shapeless sheet her mother threw at her and shook her head. Whatever. It doesn’t matter anyway. She pushed up onto her feet then gasped as her head jerked back, dropping her back into the chair. Her mother continued to yank on her ponytail until Angel’s eyes stung with tears. She blinked them away and looked up into her mother’s fiery stare.

“Your thoughts are easy to read,” her mother hissed. “Now, do what I say, or else.”

Angel felt the slack in her grip and jumped out of the chair. “This dress is fine. I’ll be ready and back onstage in five minutes. Alice will look great next to me. Don’t worry.” Angel’s voice was just above a whisper, not wanting to make her any angrier.

Always on the receiving end of her mother’s moods, it was the only way to save her younger sisters, Tina and Michelle. Alice, being the favorite, never did anything wrong. But that kept her safe, and Angel was okay with that.

“That’s my girl. Now, hurry. We have to get your song down before the rest of the cast gets here.”

Angel forced herself not to flinch as her mother pulled her into a hug and kissed the top of her head. She swallowed the bile that rose in her throat at the sickening display of motherly affection. Always the actress.

“I do love you, dear. You know that, don’t you?” Her mother sighed dramatically. “You just know how to push my buttons.” Her evil-tinged laugh made Angel cringe as she squirmed out of her hold. “You and I are so much alike. I think that’s why I’m harder on you. Now, your dad’s coming home this weekend, and he doesn’t like seeing me upset. So be a good girl and start behaving.”

Angel’s throat ached, closing as she tried to speak. She was nothing like her mother, and would never be. She refused. She coughed away the tightness. “Yes, Mom.” The only two words she could think to say, the two words that would always placate her mother. Knowing her dad was coming home made her pain subside a little, but she knew it would only be temporary.

Angel didn’t move until she heard the click of the door as it latched behind her mother. Then she loosened her grip on the rag she had to put on and let it fall to the floor. She looked at her reflection in the window and fixed her ponytail, then glanced down at the dress. It was big enough to cover her clothes, as long as she rolled up her jeans. She quickly jerked off the blue dress and threw on her clothes, shoving up her sleeves and adjusted the length of her pants before throwing on the dress. It was the ugliest thing she had ever seen, but it would work.

The lights onstage turned her dress into a sauna as they practiced. Their number was easy, with her sister singing most of it, or trying to. Her mother raved about how well they looked, and how their dresses complimented each other.

After their song ended, the rest of the cast filtered in for rehearsal and Angel grabbed Alice’s hand to pull her back stage. She tore off the dress and tossed it on top of the costume box. She wanted to go home, but couldn’t leave without Alice, and her sister wanted to stay and help build the background set. If Alice got her way, they wouldn’t get home until late and Angel was running out of time to finish her paintings.

She pushed through the crowd until she spotted her mother laughing it up with a group of men in the front row. Always poised, always perfect. Not a hair out of place. Her mother looked over at her, and her eyes narrowed. Angel glanced down and saw what had her mother so upset. She smoothed out her white blouse, tucking it into her jeans as she moved through the crowd.

Must maintain the image. She stood beside her mother, waiting for their conversation to end, when her mother grabbed her hand and pulled her close.

“Hasn’t my Angel just blossomed this past year? She’s just so stunning and smart. Her father and I have such plans for her future. She would make a fine catch for your son, Tommy. Don’t you think, Ken?”

Angel nearly gagged at the thought of dating Tommy Rogers. He’d slept with every girl in school, except her. He tried to get close in Chemistry once and felt the sting of the Bunsen burner when he brushed his hand across her chest. His scar from that day and the memory of his shocked face widened her smile.

“I do think Tommy needs an escort for the Summer Expo. It will be the biggest event to hit Cedar Ridge in years. I believe they’re even trying to get the governor here for the opening speech.” Mr. Rogers’s high-pitched voice grated on Angel’s nerves as she took a step back, stopping as her mother squeezed her hand until her fingers throbbed.

“She would love to go with him. And having the governor here would help draw in the cliental we need to raise the money for the children’s wing. I’m so excited.”

Angel couldn’t stand anymore. She had to get out before she threw up. “Mom, do you mind if I leave early tonight? I need to finish my chores and do laundry.” She knew her mother wouldn’t say no in front of others, especially if she played the obedient daughter.

Her hand ached as her mother dropped it, placing her own across her lap. “That would be fine. Make sure you get dinner ready and your sisters in bed. I’ll be late tonight.”

“Alice wants to stay. She said she would help you with the set.”

“No, take her with you,” her mother said, and Angel’s skin crawled at her terse tone. “I’m going to be tied up with Ken. We need to talk about the Expo.” Then she waved her hand, dismissing Angel like common help.

Angel glanced through the theater until she found her sister onstage. She rushed up the side stairs, calling her name. “Mom said you can’t stay, and I wouldn’t argue with her. Just get your sweater and let’s go.”

“I don’t want to. It’s cold outside, and we have to walk.”

“It’s not that cold and it will only take fifteen minutes. Now, move it. I’ll meet you at the back door.”

They walked home in silence until Alice’s teeth started to chatter. Angel pulled her close to warm her as a black truck slowed beside them. Angel looked up, seeing Jax as he lowered the window.

“Get in. I’ll give you a ride.”

Alice stiffened in Angel’s arms, and shook her head. “Angel, tell him no. Mom wouldn’t like us to take rides from boys she doesn’t know.” Her sister’s voice shook, and Angel pulled her tighter as Jax’s smile widened.

“She doesn’t know me because we haven’t met yet. I’ll change that right now if you want to wait here while I go back to the theater.” Angel stifled her laugh as Alice’s jaw dropped open. “I’m cold, too, and it’s just a ride to the house. It’ll be fine. Don’t worry. I’ll smooth it out with Mom if you really feel the need to tell her.” But she knew Alice wouldn’t dare say anything, so they climbed up into the truck and Angel gave the directions to their house. The truck was warm and Jax’s hand, resting on her shoulder, felt nice. She wanted to lean in, but her sister sat between them, which was probably for the best.

Their house was a two-story brick colonial that looked cozy and warm on the outside, but inside it was dark and cold. Angel helped her sister down, and Alice took off for the front door.

“Jump back in for a minute. You look cold standing there.”

Angel hesitated. This was so wrong, but she found herself climbing up in the truck anyway.

“Do I scare you?”

She turned toward him, wanting to say yes. It wasn’t that she was afraid of him, but rather of how he made her feel.

“No, I’m not scared of you. But I’ll get in trouble if my mom finds you here.” She reached for the door handle, but he took her other hand and entwined their fingers together before she could pull away. She froze as his touch warmed her all over. He gently tugged her hand, pulling her closer.

“Don’t go. I won’t hurt you.”

Her heart raced in her ears, and her tongue knotted. She felt things she’d never felt before around him, but knew what would happen if her mother found out.

“Are you always this quiet?” he asked.

She lifted her head, and their eyes met. Instead of seeing lust or disdain as she usually did in boys’ eyes, his were warm and caring. She blinked back tears from knowing she had to walk away.

“What’s wrong? Talk to me. I’m a good listener, and I just might be able to help.”

She dropped her eyes to the floor mat and stared at her shoes.

He can’t help. No one can. Only Mark knows the truth, and I need it to stay that way.

His hand moved over hers, and she glanced over at it then up at him. He smiled, and she felt her face heat up.

He pulled his hand back. “I don’t want to scare you, so I’ll stop doing that.”

The battle between reaching up and kissing him, or sliding across the seat and running, waged inside her. She didn’t understand how a stranger could make her feel so amazing. But she knew it wasn’t real. It couldn’t be.

He touched her chin and turned her head toward him. His hand cupped her face. She leaned into its warmth and closed her eyes. Her emotions raged inside her as his closeness sent a shiver through her. His lips brushed across her cheek and, instinctively, she tilted her face so her lips could feel their heat as well.

No. Her eyes flew open, and she jerked back. She fought to slow her racing heart as tears swelled in her eyes. Damn it. I am always so good at hiding my emotions. Why am I having such a hard time now?

“I’m sorry. I didn’t mean that. Don’t cry.”

She blinked back the tears. “I need to go. I’m sorry if I gave you the wrong impression. My mom wouldn’t–” She choked on the thought of what her mom would do if she found out about this.

“Wait. Don’t go yet. Talk to me. I can tell something’s wrong. I saw it, the pain in your eyes.”

She froze. “It’s nothing. I need to–” Angel shoved the door open, and the blast of cold air brought her back to reality, her stupid reality. She slid out of the truck and stopped, but didn’t turn around. “I like you, but this won’t work between us. Believe me, I know.”

She slammed the door and ran up the steps to the house. She didn’t stop to see what her sisters were doing, she just took the stairs, two at a time, up to her room. Slamming the door behind her, she ran to her bed, fell onto the pillow, and let the tears fall. Why does everything have to hurt so bad?

For the first time, she actually felt like she was special to someone.

She rolled over and grabbed her side as a spasm raced across her back. Shit.

She sat up and rubbed the tears from her face with the edge of her blanket. No use crying over something that’s not even yours to be sad about. Someday, someone would love her. She just needed to make sure she made it until then.

© 2015 Lynda Kaye Frazier