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       Cursed Love: Cursed Love (Cursed, #1), p.1

           t. h. snyder
 
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Cursed Love: Cursed Love (Cursed, #1)


  Cursed Love

  The Cursed Series, #1

  By t. h. snyder

  © 2014 t. h. snyder (Tiffany Snyder)

  Published by t. h. snyder

  First published in 2014. All rights reserved. This book is copyright. Apart from the fair purpose of private study, research or review as permitted by the Copyright Act, no part may be reproduced without written permission.

  This book is licensed for your personal enjoyment only. This book may not be re-sold or given away to other people. If you would like to share this book with another person, please purchase an additional copy for each recipient. If you’re reading this book and did not purchase it, or it was not purchased for your use only, then please return and purchase your own copy. Thank you for respecting the hard work of this author.

  This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents are the product of the imagination or are used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual, locales or persons, living or dead, is entirely coincidental.

  Images Copyright

  Book Cover By Design: Kellie Dennis

  Cover photo by Stacy Michael Photography

  Acknowledgements

  Cursed Love is the beginning to a series that I've had saved in the back of mind for the past few months. I’m excited to present it to you and can only hope that you enjoy reading it as much as I have loved writing it.

  I couldn't have done this without the help and support of the following people…

  My FAMILY! Roberta M Rizzotto (Mom), Angela Minnich, Jim Minnich (Dad), and Marilyn Minnich. You guys are my personal cheerleaders helping to push me every day. Your words of encouragement make the long days and hours of writing well worth it.

  To my two wonderful KIDS, you are my world Raeghyn, and Mason. I love you both to infinity and beyond.

  My BETA GIRLS! Barb Johnson, Margaret MC, Joanne Schwehm, Karrie Puskas, Jennifer Maikis, Yamara Martinez, Crystal Rearick, Jamie Bourgeois and Amy Concepcion. Without you I’d be a hot mess. You let me throw ideas out there and never fear the need to tell me your honest opinions. I love you for taking time out of your busy days to read my stories.

  To the amazing BLOGS that support me and never flinch when I ask them to post my teasers and such. You’re all too good to be true.

  The READERS, well hell I wouldn’t be here if it wasn’t for you. I adore the messages you send me and all of your kind words. Knowing that I’ve touched so many of you with my stories makes my heart happy.

  My STREET TEAM, t. h. snyder & the pimpettes. You are a crazy cool bunch and I’m so grateful to each and every one of you.

  A special shout out to a few AUTHORS that I know and love very much. Without your support and encouragement, I’d be lost. I love you Margaret MC, Joanne Schwehm, Julie Morgan, Skye Turner, LL Collins, JM Witt and AD Justice .

  My long distance BFF…my rock and my go to girl. Christine Stanley you are my world. Without you my life would be boring and my four year old wouldn’t have anyone to Skype with at eleven o’clock every night. I love you and so glad we are a dynamic duo.

  My PA TEAM, t. h. snyder’s angels. Shawna Ortega and Raquel Lozano, you two are awesomesauce! You both came into my life to help me organize and take control over my social media, but what I found was two amazing ladies that are now my forever friends. Love you girls!!!

  Kellie Dennis, you are the most amazing COVER ARTIST a gal could ask for. No matter what I want or need you get the job done for me. I know this cover was one that you had way too much fun working with, but once again you created a masterpiece. I love you hard girl.

  Tiffany Tillman, you are a fantastic EDITOR and I love you long time. No matter when I say I have a project you always find the time to spend on my stories. I love you girl!!!

  Last but certainly not least, my COVER MODEL, Lance Jones. I can remember the first day I messaged you like it was yesterday. I was scared and nervous to approach a model, but you made building a relationship with you so easy. You may have a pretty face, but it’s your personality that drew me to you. You’ve helped me create a character that will stick with me forever. I couldn’t have chosen a better MUSE to envision as Linc in Cursed Love. You’re more than just a model to me, you’re a lifelong friend and I love you for putting your trust in me. We’re in this for the long haul….teamwork.

  Thank you all from the bottom of my heart.

  Prologue

  Sitting Indian style on my twin-sized bed, I fight through the final battle as Zelda on my Nintendo.

  I’ve been trying to beat this game for the past week and now I’m so close. I only have this one life left, I need to do this…I need to win.

  With my sword drawn out, my tongue darts over to the side of my mouth and I can feel my heart beating faster through my chest. As my sweaty hands hold on tightly to the controller, my thumbs work their magic to defeat the unsightly creature on my TV screen.

  One more spear to the torso should do the trick and I’ll be the Zelda legend. A smile forms across my face, and I know very well that I’m about to become ‘The Champion’.

  My eyes are glued to the colors flying across the screen as I hear my bedroom door creak open.

  For just a second, I turn my head to see my mom walking in with my tuxedo in her hands. I roll my eyes and quickly look back to the fight, but it’s a moment too late.

  “Mom!” I scream.

  I toss the controller toward the end of my bed and cross my arms over my chest.

  “Lincoln, this is no time to throw a temper tantrum,” she says with a serious look on her face. “You’re nine years old and you’re expected to act like a mature young man.”

  I look up at her with a pout, “Yes, ma’am.”

  She nods her head and smiles.

  “That’s better. Now get yourself off of your bed and get dressed. I’ll be back in here in less than thirty minutes and I want you dressed and ready to meet our guests for dinner.”

  “Yes, ma’am.”

  I watch as she hangs my tuxedo on the back of my bedroom door and exits the room.

  Tonight is one of the biggest nights for our family, not just for my dad. I know I need to act a certain way and be on my best behavior. It’s nights like this that I wish I was just a normal kid.

  Ever since I can remember I’ve been told to act like a gentleman, use appropriate manners, not to slouch, and speak up only when spoken to. For a kid my age, it really kinda sucks.

  I just wish I was more like my best friend Daulton. He’s the luckiest kid I know. His parents let him do whatever he wants, leave the house whenever he wants, and just be a kid.

  Not me, I’m a Minzotto. I’ll have to do as Mom and Dad say and follow in the political footsteps of my parents. My older brother and sister are already talking about their future careers, but seriously, I’m only nine years old. How the heck am I supposed to know what I want to do when I grow up? As of right now, all I know is that I’d rather play Nintendo than celebrate Dad’s election night for another term as congressman of our stupid state.

  I slump my shoulders and slide off of my bed. Walking toward my bedroom door, I take off my while polo and reach for the tuxedo shirt. Pulling it off the hanger, I make quick work of getting myself dressed before my mom comes back into my room.

  As I’m tying my shoes, I see my bedroom door open out of the corner of my eyes. Mom doesn’t say a word while she looks in on me with my brother and sister standing on either side of her.

  Mom stands tall next to my siblings and she looks very pretty in her long black dress. Her hair is pulled up off her shoulders and she’s wearing a fancy necklace that hangs down to the neckline of her dress.

  Shelton, my older brother,
is dressed in a similar tuxedo as mine and Mimi, my older sister, is wearing a long shimmery blue dress.

  I look down at myself and hope that I appear to be as presentable as them. Standing from my bed, I walk toward my mom. Not a word is spoken nor a glance of my siblings in the wrong direction. I follow them as the four of us walk down the grand staircase leading into the foyer of our home. As I reach the last few steps, I see my dad walking toward us.

  My eyes follow him as he leans forward to place a kiss on Mom’s cheek. A smile creeps across her face and his hand goes to the bottom of her back.

  Our parents turn to face me, Shelton, and Mimi.

  “The guests will be arriving momentarily and dinner will be served promptly at seven. I don’t think I need to remind the three of you that this is election night. It’s a night to celebrate and enjoy one another as a family; however, I still expect courtesy and manners amongst our guests.”

  “Yes, sir,” Shelton replies.

  I tilt my head to the floor and roll my eyes. Suck up. My sister nudges my side and I look up to see our father nodding his head as he leads us toward the formal living room.

  For what feels like an eternity, I stand around and watch as my parents discuss the evening with guests as they start to arrive.

  Collin, Dad’s campaign manager, calls for everyone to move to the dining room for dinner. I take my seat next to Mimi and enjoy the meal our chef has prepared for us.

  I find myself gazing off into space, not that it’s unusual during these kinds of events. I don’t know why it’s so important for me to even be here. My parents haven’t looked at or spoken to me since I came down the stairs. To be honest, I don’t know that they’d even miss me if I slipped out of the room and upstairs to play Nintendo.

  The idea of leaving piques my interest more and more as the conversations begin to turn toward the polls. I’m so bored I can’t help but yawn as I look around the table at all the men and women here to support the election tonight.

  I plot my plan in my head for the next few minutes. Daulton only lives about two miles over the bridge. If I leave after dinner, I should be able to make it to his house in less than fifteen minutes.

  My mind is made up—as soon as dinner is over, I’m ditching out of here.

  I may only be a nine-year-old boy, but I sure as heck know that I’m not needed here tonight.

  Once we’re excused from the table, I watch as everyone moves into the other rooms and I quickly make my escape through the open garage door.

  I can feel the sweat trickle down my back the faster I pedal my bike. In a few minutes I should be at Daulton’s house; I just hope he’s home.

  Rounding the last turn in his neighborhood, I see that the front porch light is on and the garage door is open with his mom’s car parked inside.

  I hop off of my bike and lean it against the side of the house. As I march my way up onto the front porch, I take off my jacket and hang it across my arm. I reach for the doorbell and wait for someone to come and answer the door.

  The front door swings open and Daulton stands in the doorway wearing a Skate or Die tee-shirt and black running pants.

  A smile comes across his face as he pushes open the screen door.

  “Dude, what are you doing here? Isn’t it like election night or something?” he asks, standing up against the door frame with his arms crossed in front of his chest.

  I look to him and punch him in the shoulder.

  “Yeah, it’s something alright. I was bored out of my mind and needed to get out of there fast.”

  “Linc, your parents are going to kill you. Are you sure you should be here?”

  “I’m sure, now let me in and let’s play some video games.”

  I make my way through the door and follow Daulton back to his room.

  The house is eerily quiet and dark. I know his mom is here, I saw her car parked in the garage. It’s really no bother to me, so I shrug it off and plop myself down on one of the bean bag chairs in front of the TV.

  Daulton loads a game into the Nintendo and hands me a controller. For the next hour or so we battle one another, each of us winning a game or two.

  Lights flash across his bedroom wall from the outside and I hear a car door slam.

  My ear perks to a noise coming from the front yard. It sounds like someone’s yelling, but I can’t make it out.

  Daulton grabs my hand and I follow him into the other room.

  He quickly closes the old, cracked, wooden closet door after us and we slide back to the wall behind the musty clothes and boxes.

  My body is trembling and I can hear Daulton’s teeth chattering in fear.

  What the heck just happened?

  All I remember is playing video games in his bedroom and before I know it, he’s pulling me into the guest room closet.

  I follow his lead, completely clueless as to what’s going on. A million thoughts are racing through my head.

  Is it his mom? His dad?

  Is there a robber in the house and we’re hiding so that he doesn’t find us?

  Is there a chance that something bad is going to happen and I’ll never make it home to see my family again?

  Daulton and I have been best friends since Kindergarten. We’ve played tee-ball together and even made the traveling baseball team this year. The two of us have been inseparable since we first met.

  He’s the one friend I can get along with and be myself. I don’t have to pretend around him, and I sure as heck don’t have to act like a congressman’s son when we’re together.

  No matter how badly we mess around or bully one another on the playground, I always know I’m safe with him…that is, until now.

  I rest my head in my hands and can feel the tears prick the back of my eyelids. I never should have snuck out of home and ridden my bike to Daulton’s house tonight. It was a big mistake and now I’m scared to death to be here with him.

  When my parents find out that I’m gone, I’ll be in more trouble than ever before. But one thing is for sure, being grounded for life is better than hiding in this closet.

  A door slams in the other room and I hear a muffled cry. Three loud sounds vibrate the wall behind us and I can only imagine what could be causing the thumping noise.

  Our bodies both jump at the clamor coming from outside the closet. I hear his mother’s scream and the sound of something slamming into the wall.

  Daulton moves his body further back into the closet and I look in his direction. All I see is pitch black except for the subtle light coming through the space between the bottom of the door and the floor.

  Sounds echo from the other room and more shouts and screams follow. I can’t make out what’s happening, but the fear coursing through my body tells me that something isn’t right in this house.

  A loud bang goes off…and then another. Daulton reaches his hand out to me and our bodies shiver together.

  Moments pass by—I’m not sure if it’s seconds or minutes—but it feels like a lifetime.

  The front door slams shut and I can feel my heart pounding through my tuxedo shirt.

  This has to be the worst night of my life and I can only imagine what’s going to happen next.

  Chapter 1

  20 Years Later

  Birmingham, Alabama

  The sirens are blaring, the police cruiser’s lights are flashing, and my eyes are filling with tears as I stare out onto the front lawn.

  It’s early November and the temperature is a mild sixty-five degrees, but my body feels as though I’m sitting on a block of ice. I’m freezing and I can’t stop my teeth from chattering.

  I’m standing on the front porch wrapped in an itchy blanket, waiting for my parents to come get me.

  My entire body is shaking like a leaf and I don’t know if I’m more scared of Dad or what I just heard.

  Men and women are rushing in and out of the house and I see Daulton coming toward me out of the corner of my eye. I turn my head to face him and I see his clothes covered
in blood. The pain in his eyes shows me that he’s just as scared as I am right now.

  I close my eyes to hide from the red and my body starts to convulse.

  A loud bang goes off in my head and I grab for my ears. The blanket begins to fall from my body and I desperately reach to grab it. I pull it up over my head to hide what my eyes see and the sounds that echo through my ears.

  The vision is still so clear in my head. I can’t stop the noise, the sight of all the blood, and the lifeless body that lay before us.

  My body flies up into a sitting position in my bed and I can barely catch my breath. My heart is beating a mile a minute and there’s a golf ball sized lump stuck in my throat. I’m covered in sweat, and as I look down toward my feet I can see that my covers are a tangled mess.

  It’s been so many years since that dreaded night and I’m still waking from the nightmare of what I saw. I try to pull the sheet out from in between my legs and climb out of bed.

  The hardwood floor creaks beneath my feet as I move from my bedroom toward the bathroom.

  Trying to regain some composure, I rub my tired eyes and move through the dark hallway. My body is still in flight mode from the visions of my dream and goose bumps cover my arms and legs. I run my hands through my hair and feel the dampness of my nerves that the nightmare left behind.

  Flipping the light switch in the bathroom, I turn to look at my pathetic and sleepless reflection in the mirror. My face is pale white and huge black circles surround my eyes. I haven’t woken with a nightmare like this in the past few nights. I thought I was free from it all, but as soon as I believe that the terrors in my sleep will go away, they come right back to haunt me.

  I’m a grown man for God’s sake; I need to get a grip on life and move forward. I’ve managed to deal with my issues to a point—well, I’d like to think I have. But nevertheless, I need to rid myself of this shit once and for all.

  I turn on the faucet; the water begins to run freely as I let the steam and heat of the pooling water melt into my skin. I stick my hand into the warmth and splash it onto my face.

 
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