Darkest hour, p.1
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       Darkest Hour, p.1

           Bella Jewel
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Darkest Hour


  DARKEST HOUR

  BELLA JEWEL 2018

  DEDICATION

  To Lance

  For believing in me and kicking my ass to keep writing even when I didn’t want to.

  For this awesome title. I suppose it’s pretty good ☺

  For always making me laugh, even if I occasionally snort.

  For loving me harder than I’ve ever been loved.

  For being the best damn thing to ever happen to me.

  This is for you.

  It’s always for you.

  ~*Darkest Hour*~

  All rights reserved. This eBook is licensed for your personal enjoyment only. This eBook is copyright material and must not be copied, reproduced, transferred, distributed, leased, licensed or publicly performed or used in any form without prior written permission of the publisher, as allowed under the terms and conditions under which it was purchased or as strictly permitted by applicable copyright law. Any unauthorized distribution, circulation or use of this text may be a direct infringement of the author’s rights, and those responsible may be liable in law accordingly. Thank you for respecting the work of this author.

  DARKEST HOUR

  Copyright © 2018 Bella Jewel

  DARKEST HOUR is a work of fiction. All names, characters, places and events portrayed in this book either are from the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously. Any similarity to real persons, living or dead, establishments, events, or location is purely coincidental and not intended by the author.

  Table of Contents

  Title Page

  Copyright Page

  ~*ACKNOWLEDGMENTS*~

  PROLOGUE

  -1- | THEN – CHARLIE

  NOW – CHARLIE

  -2- | NOW – KODA

  THEN – KODA

  -3- | NOW – CHARLIE

  THEN – CHARLIE

  -4- | NOW – KODA

  THEN – KODA

  -5- | NOW – CHARLIE

  THEN – CHARLIE

  -6- | NOW – KODA

  THEN – KODA

  -7- | NOW – CHARLIE

  THEN – CHARLIE

  -8- | NOW – KODA

  THEN – KODA

  -9- | NOW – CHARLIE

  NOW – CHARLIE

  -10- | NOW – KODA

  THEN – KODA

  -11- | NOW – CHARLIE

  THEN – CHARLIE

  -12- | THEN – KODA

  NOW – KODA

  -13- | THEN – CHARLIE

  NOW – CHARLIE

  -14- | NOW – CHARLIE

  NOW - CHARLIE

  -15- | THEN – KODA

  NOW – KODA

  -16- | NOW – CHARLIE

  THEN – CHARLIE

  -17- | NOW – CHARLIE

  THEN – CHARLIE

  -18- | NOW – KODA

  THEN – KODA

  -19- | NOW – CHARLIE

  THEN – CHARLIE

  -20- | NOW – KODA

  THEN – KODA

  -21- | NOW – CHARLIE

  THEN – CHARLIE

  -22- | NOW – KODA

  NOW – KODA

  -23- | NOW – CHARLIE

  NOW – CHARLIE

  -24- | NOW – CHARLIE

  NOW – KODA

  -25- | NOW – CHARLIE

  NOW – KODA

  Don’t worry, the story isn’t over! As you know, this journey just keeps on going. But who will be next? Mason? Boston? Slater? There are so many more twists and turns coming, and the next book will be in your hot little hands in April 2018. And not to worry, you’re going to see plenty more of Charlie and Koda yet. | And we’ll all see their happily ever after. | I promise!

  ~*ACKNOWLEDGMENTS*~

  As always, my heartfelt thanks to every single blogger, reader and author that has supported my journey. From reading my books, to sharing them, to raving about them, to being there for me. Thank you. My career would be nothing without any of you.

  A huge thanks to Kylie from Give Me Books for organizing my reveals and blitzes. You do such an amazing job. No matter how many times I use you, I am always blown away by how efficient you are. Nothing is ever a drama. Thank you for giving me so much support.

  A massive thanks to Ben Ellis from BE Designs for this gorgeous cover. Not only did you come in at the last minute, you did an absolutely incredible job. I honestly have no words to explain how grateful I am to you for all the help you put in. I’m forever in your debt.

  A big, heartfelt thanks to Ready, Set, Edit for doing this book for me at the last moment. I really appreciate the time you took to help me out, and how patient you were when my kids weren’t well!! Thank you so much, lovely.

  And of course, to my admin, MJ, for ALWAYS keeping my page running beautifully. I couldn’t do it without you, girly. I love your teasers and your passion; thank you for taking the time out of your life to help this poor girl keep everything running.

  To Lee Anna Dunk for coming up with this super incredible MC name. You’re amazing, thank you so much!! I hope you enjoy this book, lovely.

  And, last but certainly not least, to my loyal readers. To each and every one of you that picks up my books and give me a chance. To the reviews you write, good or bad. To the time you take to make me a better person. You make this real for me.

  PROLOGUE

  You know how it goes.

  We all do.

  It’s a widely known fact.

  Actually, come to think of it, I think it’s probably the most important part of human life. The most crucial. The part that either makes or breaks you.

  Your molding.

  Doesn’t seem like a big word—hell, it doesn’t even seem like a strong one.

  But it’s everything.

  The moment you take your first breath in this world, the molding begins. Do your parents hold you too much, or too little? Are you over loved? Under loved? Are you spoiled? Forced to work hard? It all defines you. It all creates little pieces of who you’ll become.

  Some doctors say the first two years of your life shape you. Those two years create the foundations of your personality, of the person you’ll become as an adult. That’s why it’s so important all the right things are done in those years. If they’re not, does that mean you’ll have no chance of becoming a decent human being? Are you forever ruined by a mere twenty-four months of your life?

  My answer is probably yes and no.

  I have my reasons for this. One, because I was molded by the worst. By a monster. By the darkest of the dark. The devil himself. Did that make me a bad person? Absolutely. At times, I’ve done things that I can’t even allow myself to think about now for fear they’ll ruin me.

  But, also, I believe I’m a good person. I want to help people. I want to be better. I don’t want to be like him. To live the life he tried so hard to fashion me for. So, the complicated answer is yes and no. People are molded from the moment they’re born, but that doesn’t always mean they’ll stay in the messy, ugly shape they’ve been carved into. Sometimes, they’ll run their own hands over the edges, smooth out what’s been damaged, and make themselves almost normal again.

  Almost.

  That’s what I am, I think.

  An almost.

  And I’m completely okay with that.

  -1-

  THEN – CHARLIE

  I stare at the cold, green eyes of my father. He can’t see me. But I can see him. He’s standing by the window, on the phone, barking into the mouthpiece. He doesn’t know I’m in here because I’m not supposed to be in here. His office is out of bounds, the one place in the house my mother and I are forbidden to go. So, of course, I came. Curious as to what made it so special, what made it such a dark zone.

  I didn’t find anything.

  Although, at seven, I can
’t really read very well and everything I found was all papers, and computers, and everything I don’t understand or even know how to use. To me, his office seems boring. I wouldn’t want to play in here anyway, so I’m not sure why he would tell me I can’t come in.

  But my father isn’t a nice man.

  In fact, I don’t think I like him at all.

  My friends at school tell me that’s not very nice because he’s my father, and I shouldn’t say things like that about my father.

  But they don’t know what he’s like.

  They don’t know how it feels when he slaps me across the face. My eyes water, and my face stings, and it sometimes makes my nose bleed. But mostly, it makes my mommy cry, and I don’t like to hear her cry. So, I don’t have to like him, I don’t think. I mean, girls at school don’t like the bullies because they’re mean. And that’s what my dad is, a bully.

  “What do you mean they’re coming—”

  My father yells loudly into the phone but then stops talking and spins around. My head whips around too, because I hear my mother scream. It’s loud, and she sounds really scared. My hands move from their spot on my lap and I go to rush out, but if he knows I’m in here, I’ll never be able to help. So, I tuck myself back behind the big lounge chair that’s hiding me, and I’m quiet. My heart hurts a lot, it feels kind of like it’s going to leap right out of my chest.

  I’m scared.

  Dad’s door swings open, and I peek my head around from behind the chair in the corner and see two big, scary men holding Mommy. She’s crying, and one of them has his hand over her mouth. I start crying too, because they’re hurting her. Why are they hurting her? Mommy isn’t mean, she’s kind and loving. Why isn’t my father doing anything?

  My knees are shaking.

  I’m so afraid.

  “How did you get into my house?”

  My father doesn’t ask them to let her go, he isn’t even looking at her. Why isn’t he saving her? In the books Mommy reads me, the prince always saves the princess. So, why isn’t he doing anything?

  “Tricked your silly wife here into thinking we were here to fix your broken stove. Stupid woman. You’d think you would have picked someone smarter.”

  My father looks to my mother now, and he looks angry.

  “You stupid bitch,” he spits at her. “You know better.”

  My bottom lip trembles.

  That’s a terrible word.

  Why is he being so mean to her? It wasn’t her fault.

  “What do you want?”

  My father’s voice is calm as he speaks to the two scary men who are holding my mother.

  “You know what we want.”

  “Don’t have it,” my father sneers. “And even if I did, I wouldn’t give it to you.”

  A big man, the scariest one, I think, has a bald head and I don’t like his eyes, they make me feel frightened. He smiles at my dad, like he thinks what he just said is really funny.

  I don’t think it’s funny.

  “It’s a shame you said that, Benjamin, because that wasn’t the answer we wanted.”

  “You’ll never get the answer you want, now get the fuck out of my house.”

  “Or what?” The scary bald man laughs.

  “You’ll find nothing here.” My father crosses his arms, staring at the two men.

  I’m scared to breathe.

  My hands are shaking now.

  Someone needs to help Mommy. She looks so scared. So frightened.

  “Ah, but we will find something. You can hide as much as you wish, Benjamin, but we will get what we came for. One way or another. I’m sure you’re aware of that. After all, why would you go to such lengths to keep us away if you didn’t have concerns?”

  “I want you away because you’re scum,” my dad spits.

  “Perhaps,” Bald man says, shrugging. “Either way, we’ve been told to send you a message.”

  He pulls out a gun. I know, because my dad carries them everywhere. My heart feels funny again, and I can’t stop crying. Why is that man holding a gun? Why is he smiling? Someone help Mommy. Father, why aren’t you helping her?

  “His message, to be clear, is simple. Destroy everything until he gives what we want. So, that’s what we’re here to do. Starting with your wife.”

  I look to my father, praying he’ll be running toward Mommy to knock that gun out of that mean man’s hand, but he isn’t. He’s just standing there. Staring. His face so hard, it’s scaring me. Why isn’t he helping her? I don’t understand.

  I look back to Mommy, and she’s shaking her head, tears running down her cheeks. No. Mommy. I’ll help her. I push to my knees, but the man puts the gun to Mommy’s face, and he pulls the trigger. I scream, but nobody can hear me because the gun makes a loud noise. Then there is blood. Everywhere. All over the ground. All over my father. All over the men holding Mommy. And I can’t see her face anymore.

  I can’t breathe.

  Someone help me.

  Mommy.

  Mommy.

  The man drops Mommy to the floor, and looks around. “Anyone else in here that we can send a message to? Children, perhaps?”

  No.

  The man wants to hurt me.

  No.

  “I have no children,” my father says, his voice the same. “And you have three seconds to get the fuck out of my house.”

  Why isn’t he crying? Like me. Mommy. Please. Mommy.

  “Or what?” the bald man says.

  I didn’t see my father move. Not really. Not once. But, suddenly, the two men he always has around, Darius and Popper, appear behind the other two men. And they raise their guns. I press my hands over my eyes and keep them there as the awful sounds make the room seem really loud. I’m crying so hard my body is shaking, but I can’t stop it. Not now. Mommy. I want my mommy.

  Silence.

  Then my dad’s voice. “Get rid of them. And her.”

  Mommy.

  No.

  No.

  Dad, don’t get rid of her.

  Mommy.

  “On it now, Boss.”

  I stay crouched behind the chair. I don’t want to come out. I don’t ever want to open my eyes again. I want my mommy. Is she okay? Is father taking her to the hospital? Will she be okay after the man shot her face?

  I stay there for a while, just crying.

  And then I hear my father’s voice.

  “Charlene, stand up.”

  I put my hands down and blink back my tears. Then I look up to see him staring down at me, his face blank. Mommy’s face was never blank. It was always warm. I want my mommy.

  “Mommy,” I cry.

  “Stand up. Your mother is gone, and she isn’t coming back.”

  No.

  I start to cry harder.

  “Stand up this instant! And stop your sniveling.”

  I push to my feet, my knees shaking so hard it takes me a while. When I’m standing, he takes my arm and pulls me out from behind the chair. I see a lot of red, it’s everywhere, all over the ground and the walls. But Mommy isn’t there anymore. She’s gone. Those men took her away.

  Mommy.

  “It’s just you and me now,” my father says to me, but it isn’t in a kind way. It scares me.

  I look at him.

  “Only nobody knows about you. That’s going to work in my favor. Welcome to my world, Charlene. It’s time you learned to be a part of the family you were born into.”

  But I don’t want to be a part of this family.

  I just want my mommy back.

  ~*~*~*~

  NOW – CHARLIE

  “Get. On. The. Bike.”

  To look at Vice President of the Iron Fury Motorcycle Club, Koda, would make any girl stop in her tracks and just stare in awe. He has the kind of face you dream about. The kind of body that makes yours come to life. He’s goddamned candy wrapped in leather, and he knows it. I don’t know if it’s the honey-colored eyes or the messy dark blond hair that sometimes falls over his for
ehead. Or if it’s that silky olive skin covered in tattoos.

  Hell, it could be just the fact that his body is bigger, and musclier, and firmer than any man I’ve ever laid eyes on. He has biceps that would make the best of us squirm, and a chest that’s wide, broad, and strong. All the same, Koda is every females’ wet dream.

  Until he opens his mouth.

  He’s filled to the brim with arrogance, and he’s not shy to show it.

  Yes, Koda might be worthy of being top of the list in my spank bank, but I can’t stand him. In fact, I despise him. And he knows it.

  They all know it.

  And that’s why they’re sending me to a cabin in the mountains, alone, with him, for my own protection.

  And they want me to get on his bike.

  On his fucking bike.

  With him.

  “I’d rather not,” I finally say, crossing my arms over my chest and staring at the tight-jawed biker already nestled on his rumbling Harley Davidson, ready to go.

  “You either get on,” he begins, his voice a whip, “or ...”

  “Koda,” Malakai says, his voice smooth, but firm. “Haven’t even left yet and you’re already throwin’ in the threats. Cool it, brother. Charlie—” He turns to me, and I stare at him. I like Malakai, only I’ll never tell him that. He helped me when I needed it, and he’s helping me again now. I’m grateful for that, truly I am. But did he really have to send me with Koda? “Do as you’re told.”

  “I don’t like him,” I point out, my voice smooth. “And don’t think I don’t know you’re sending me with him because you know I don’t like him.”

  “I’m sendin’ you with him because he’s the fuckin’ best. Don’t care if you believe that or you don’t, it’s how it is. You don’t have many options. You either stay down here and risk gettin’ a bullet to the skull when someone finds you and cashes in that hit, or you get on that bike and let Koda protect you.”

  “How can I be sure he won’t be the one to put a bullet in my skull? We all know he likes me about as much as I like him. Which, in case you haven’t noticed, is a big fat zero.”

  “Because I trust him, and that’s all there is to it. Call is yours. You trust us, or you go out there and try and hide on your own. Promise you, though, darlin’, that they’ll find you before you’re two towns down the road.”

 
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