Monday, July 1, 2013


Scheduled for Release
before July 31st!
Chapter One Excerpt:
**This excerpt may not be copied or reproduced, in all or in part, 
without the express written permission of Kristine Cheney**
Jesse ignored the pleading in her eyes. Averting his gaze in blatant dismissal, he swiped his lunch from atop the sparkle of the costly granite counter. She pretended not to notice how the whooshed blunt crinkles of his brown paper sack were a dead-ringer match to his typical stiff, torqued off demeanor. Didn’t he care she roused early to appease him, in spite of nauseating pangs of morning sickness? She sacrificed her world for his sole benefit.

Shelby filled her husband’s thermos with steaming hot coffee. Assaulted by the rising malaise of her stomach, she swallowed the excess saliva that tickled the threat of retch. Surviving the aroma of his ketchup-coated meatloaf sandwich was miraculous, and so was chopping the ingredients of his ritzy, high-born salad without need of a single stitch.

Southpaws had no business in the kitchen.

“Jesse, please forgive me. How many times must I tell you that I’m sorry?” She pleaded through the distorted blur of tears for the umpteenth time. Falling upon her knees onto the hard Saltillo tiles, she begged for his acceptance of the baby growing deep within her belly. But Shelby wasn’t fortunate. Contrite behavior would never be enough to melt the hatred of his hardened, self-loving heart. Jesse’s preference for coldness took root long ago. The man was frigid as an iceberg.

Today’s demand for an immediate late-term abortion proved his penchant for cruelty had only grown worse; the reason she guarded her secret for several weeks. Standing her ground and defying his wishes was a first within their long nine years of damage. Christian conviction refused ability to entertain a death sentence for this innocent unborn child.

Shelby told him no.

The man expected sex when he was wasted. Jesse’s typical ritual was arriving home late, bumping against walls and tripping over furniture, creating a ton of racket. Stumbling into the retreat of their bedroom, his waking jostles were harsh and abrupt. Jesse’s ardor under liquor’s influence made rejecting his advances impossible. Shelby despised the stench of oak-barreled bourbon that lingered on his breath when he wanted her.

To deny her husband’s masculine needs made his lovemaking rough and painful; a lesson learned merely a week after their lavish, fairy tale wedding. Carrying his latest child wasn’t a shocker. The night she conceived, he’d ignored all of her pleas to insert her contraceptive diaphragm. Russian roulette was a frequent game Jesse played with her monthly cycle. Sadistic and controlling, he craved that Alpha rush. Hadn’t Dr. Riddick warned her plenty of times?

Desperate, lone doses of spermicidal jelly won’t prevent a pregnancy!

“Please kiss the children,” she sniffed. Don’t let them leave for school believing they’ve done something wrong to make you angry.”

Jesse pondered her tear-streaked face, much to Shelby’s surprise. The mask of fury haunting him relented. Angry lines that creased his brow visibly softened, allowing a faint glimpse of his young handsome cast; a shadowed impression of the man she chose to marry over dashing off to college. The muscled brunette with a vibrant gaze of blue ceased to be the prince of foolish dreams. Time now captured only tormented moments. Smiles of love had wilted into fears.

A mother’s concern forced the craning of her neck toward the little bodies seated at the table. Hovering over their character bowls in child-like earnest, Annabelle and Ezekiel gobbled up the last floating remnants in their bowls of fruity cereal. Shelby’s contemplation lingered with a mournful longing. Despite Jesse’s stoic, stormy protests, the empty chair beside them would be replaced by an infant’s high chair.

A brisk air swirled about her, forcing a chill of frost to roam her flesh. Jesse intentionally brushed hard against the hem of her skirt, crushing the fabric in his quest to reach the children. Planting his kisses upon their foreheads, he mimicked the doting of a perfect television father. Jesse’s scowl of hatred proved him a liar.

Shoving Shelby aside on his passage way back, Jesse ensured his wife would follow after him. For her, nothing was left but his war of punishment. The leathered taps of his expensive Italian shoes scraped to a halted silence. Without warning, he whirled an about face, causing her crash into his chest. Safe from view of the kids, he placed his hands on her. Jesse dug craters of contempt into the delicate skin of her upper arms. The burns of popping blood vessels promised there’d be fresh bruises. In the life of Shelby Bryant, what was another discolored blemish to add to her collection?

Why must the man she loved always be cruel?

“I meant what I said this morning. “Get rid of it!” Don’t force me to take matters into my own hands, because I swear you’ll be sorry. Be a good girl and make the blasted appointment. The cost of the procedure is of no concern to me, because I’ll gladly pay them double. I want this situation dealt with by Friday.” Jesse held her chin firmly, squeezing her cheeks until they pulsed with blinding pain. He refused her focus to set on anything else in the room but him. “Do you hear me?”

The sob in her throat almost choked out her whisper. She didn’t want the children to hear them fighting. Would he listen to reason? “Please. Think about this, Jesse. I’m almost sixteen weeks along and already I’m showing. I love you, but there’s no way I can participate in what you’re asking. Every child is a gift from the Lord. How can you expect me to—?”

Jesse jerked her back and forth like an unwanted rag doll, and forced her backward with several awkward shuffles. The muffling of her mouth with the cup of his palm was timely, stifling her cry that would give him away. Her backside knocked in impact against the happy yellow color of the kitchen wall.

Reeling from the blunt force of trauma, Shelby caught the aura of his spicy aftershave on his fingers. The jarring rattle of her jaw threatened to disintegrate. Would all of her teeth break in several enameled pieces? Radiations of fire spread throughout the expanse of her skull, spine, and hips.

“Listen, woman!” He emphasized the word of her gender as if it were some awful, wretched curse. “I’m the one in charge here, and am sick and tired of hearing the excuses about your God. If memory serves, I’m the one who puts the food on the table and money in the checking account. If it wasn’t for me, your debit card wouldn’t work. This crowns me the one you bow down and worship.”

To belittle her intelligence, Jesse tapped the nail of his forefinger repeatedly against her forehead. “Since it’s difficult for you to follow simple directions, I’ll speak in layman’s terms so you’ll understand that I am not asking. You-will-do-as-I-say-and-get-this-task-finished!” The warmth of his breath moistened her ear, making her skin crawl with disgust.

An acute conveyance of a bold empowering coursed within her spirit. It was the same electrified, static-filled jolt she experienced while standing her ground earlier. Despite the trembles of adrenaline-laced dread, Shelby mustered the courage to unleash the power that restrained her inner voice. “And if I don’t?”

His laughter was sadistic, whirling the staleness of his recent sips of coffee into her sinus cavity. The glands in her neck tightened in reactive, soured revolt. Her stomach churned, percolating its own concoction of bile-laden prenatal reflex. Saliva once again pooled in her mouth. The urge to gag aloud festered to the point of eruption.

“Then I will destroy you,” he spat with enough poison to require several doses of anti-venom.

The whooshed stealing of her breath was an act of shock. In the history of Jesse’s bullying, he’d never threatened with the loss of Shelby’s life. Every pulsed flow of her blood pounded terror within her jugular. The pinching slice of her teeth restrained her bottom lip, drawing pearls of blood. Refusing to the risk the chance of angering him further, she silently ruled the jerk she’d married was a monster.

Jesse spun on his heel and headed toward the foyer. A draft of relief had never blown so vertical. The rattled slam of the heavy front door reverberated through the house, shaking her core. Bleeding out wasted energy, Shelby resisted the urge to collapse and sob in misery. She cradled the gentle curves of her belly, recalling why her fictitious composure was vital.

Her babies sat in the other room.

Annabelle’s voice belied a knowing worry. “Mommy?”

Shelby stumbled toward the kitchen faucet, gasping to catch her uneven breaths. Cupping running water into the pockets of her palms, the zinging ice cold splashes refreshing the flushing of her face. She pat-dried her features with a clean flowered dish towel and skittered to the table. Difficulty was enduring the tall-tell scrutiny of her children. How did she believe they were too young to realize the truth?

Annabelle’s lashes fluttered in frightened, five year old reaction. “Mommy, why is Daddy mad?”

Ezekiel’s eight years of experience in the Bryant family proved he had it figured out. “Don’t be so dumb, Belle. Dad’s always mad.” His honey-hazel stare captured hers. “Mom, I feel sorry for you.”

“Why is that, baby?”

“Because you always have to put up with dad’s crap.”

“Zeke! Watch your mouth!”

“Well, it’s true.” He shrugged his shoulders, so fed up and matter-of-fact. “Why don’t you just leave him? That’s what Tommy’s mom did.”

“Tommy’s mom?” She never heard the mentioned of his name before.

“Yeah. Tommy’s a kid at school who eats lunch with me. He’s pretty cool.”

Shelby nodded, hoping Zeke’s new train of thought would get off him off the taboo subject of her wretched marriage.

“Tommy’s dad is really mean. He hits Tommy’s mom and gives him and his sister lots of spankings. One day his mom got sick of it and she called the cops—”

Annabelle’s piggy tails danced with the snapped turn of her little chestnut head. Her whooped intake of breath spoke volumes. The bottom lip of her heart-shaped pout began to quiver. “The cops! Does that mean daddy’s gonna go to jail? I won’t be his princess anymore?”

“Enough!” Shelby snapped at her eldest, much harder than she meant to. The span of a second adjusted her tone to where she desired it; softened and under the Spirit’s control. “This topic is not open for discussion. You’re scaring your sister.”

“But mom—”

“No more, Ezekiel. Momma said enough.”

Zeke’s pout now rivaled his sister’s for the trophy. “Sorry.”

Temptation was the fight to lose her sanity. Shelby overcame perdition and chose to smile; an effort to dispel the cross expressions that hijacked her children’s beautiful faces. “All is forgiven.”

Tousling her son’s sandy brown hair was soothing. Caressing the baby soft skin of her daughter’s dimpled cheek gifted joy. “You’ll always be daddy’s princess, sweetheart. No one’s going to jail.” She gazed into the pools of the prettiest blue eyes that were the spitting image of Jesse’s.

“Now go! Both of you grab your backpacks. We don’t want to be late for school.”
I hope you enjoyed your snippet!
Kristine Cheney