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       Cursed Heart (Cursed #2.5), p.1

           t. h. snyder
 
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Cursed Heart (Cursed #2.5)


  Cursed Heart

  The Cursed Series, #2.5

  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.

  Image Copyright

  Book Cover by Design: Kellie Dennis

  Cover Photo: Michael Meadows

  Acknowledgements

  Cursed Heart is a surprise addition to the Cursed Series and one that I hope you all enjoy.

  My FAMILY! Roberta M Rizzotto (Mom), Angela Minnich, Jim Minnich (Dad), and Marilyn Minnich. You guys are my rockstar cheering squad, thank you!!!

  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, Karrie Puskas, Jennifer Maikis, Jamie Bourgeois, Mary Lou Moench, Ashley Blankenship, Chrissy Bise and Amy Concepcion. No matter what I throw at you…you pick it up and love it.

  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. #teamdault vs #teamchrisitan all the way baby.

  My STREET TEAM, t. h. snyder & the pimpettes we’ve come a long way in a short period of time. You ladies make me laugh and drool every day, love you.

  A special shout out to an AUTHOR that holds a special place in my heart, my twin. Joanne you’re always there for me like no other…I’d be lost without our friendship. After you read Cursed Ecstasy you wanted to know more about Christian…this one is for you. Love you always and forever.

  My ROCK and BFF, Christine Stanley you already know how much you mean to me, this journey wouldn’t be the same without you by my side. You’re not only a friend but a long lost sister. I love you lots poopsie.

  Kellie Dennis, you are the most amazing COVER ARTIST a gal could ask for. This cover I threw at you last minute and BOOM you did it again…you kick ass and love you lots.

  My EDITOR Tiffany Tillman thank you so much for making this story a part of your life. I couldn’t have done this without you. Love you!!!!

  My PHOTOGRAPHER, Michael Meadows….we finally did it and have an amazing cover. Thank you for always trusting in me as an author, but more importantly a friend. I love you lots Boo Boo.

  Last but certainly not least, my COVER MODEL, Ben McKee. So I know we just met and this is crazy, but here’s my number…so call me maybe. Haha!!!! Seeing that picture of you from Michael Meadows Photography, I knew I found my Christian. You’ve been a tremendous support in such a short time; I can’t say how much I appreciate you already. Big things are to come for us and I look forward to this wild and crazy journey with you.

  Thank you all from the bottom of my heart.

  I’m feeling…tired, sick, and as if I’ll never be able to break free from the emotional struggles I’ve been facing my entire life. Waiting for my last patient to be finished with their CT scan, I cross my arms against my chest and stare across the hallway into a bleak white wall. I’ve been working at the hospital as an orderly for the past few weeks, it’s a job—one that I enjoy and helps pay the bills—but I want so much more. After earning my degree in biology four years ago, I’ve finally decided to put out some med school applications. Working here is a start and perhaps a way to get my foot in the door. I want to be something bigger, someone better than the man I’ve been for far too long. My past has cursed my heart, mind, and soul. It’s time for me to make a change, one that can alter everything I’ve ever known. Taking a step off the ledge will be huge for me, but unless I take the risks, I’ll never know what possibilities are out there for me and my future.

  I’ve been a loner, a man that has refused any emotional connection and attachment to another human being. After being tossed around in foster homes all my life, beaten, used, and abused, I’ve shut off all feelings of self worth. Rather than creating relationships, I’ve hurt everyone that was around me…I need to make a change. If only there was a signal, a light at the end of the tunnel shining into my eyes to tell me what direction to go, I’d move toward it and start fresh. For now, I just live my life day by day in hopes that a ray of sunshine will wake me up from my darkness.

  I’m torn with my own thoughts and emotions. I’m tired of hiding, yet I always feel lost.

  Maybe one day, I’ll have the strength to move on. Until then, I’ll continue working my ass off here at the hospital and start some counseling sessions. I saw a flyer posted in the employee lounge and it struck me…I need to do this. This could go one of two ways; it could help or just remind me of my past. Either way, it’s a step in the right direction; I just don’t know if it’s the right one. I’ve never sat down and told anyone my past or the feelings that rage inside of me. It’s so much easier to keep them bottled up…well, at least it was. I’m twenty-seven years old for Christ’s sake, if I want to have any type of a successful future I need to man up and do something…not just think about it.

  Chapter 1

  Today was another long twelve hour shift at the hospital and I’m exhausted. I enjoy my job, I really do, it’s just that today was busier than normal. The emergency room was slammed with patients that needed to be taken to various testing rooms. I felt like I was being pulled in a million different directions, not to mention that I’m still getting used to these damn meds the doctor prescribed. Thank God I have the next three days off; I sure as hell need them.

  Driving down the highway, my stomach begins to growl and my mind immediately alerts me that there’s absolutely nothing to eat at my place.

  Mental note, first thing tomorrow morning I need to get to the store. Looking along the side of the road, I spot a diner and decide to pull in for a quick bite to eat.

  Walking through the door, I scan the room. A woman in a short, black skirt greets me and asks me to follow her back to a booth along the far wall. There are not too many people in here, so my level of anxiety is at bare minimum. Letting out a puff of air, I take a seat and start to look over the menu as the waitress approaches the table.

  “Hey there, what can I getcha?” she asks while taking a seat across from me. Letting out a heavy sigh, she sets her tablet down and rests her elbows upon the surface.

  What the hell? She just made herself nice and cozy at my table.

  My eyes scan over her appearance from head to…tabletop. She’s looking back at me with tired, grey eyes covered in too much makeup. Dark brown hair surrounds a sad expression, her cheekbones set high, and those penciled in eyebrows, geez, they just about reach her hairline. Batting her lashes, she smiles at me as the bells along the door ring. Turning my head, my attention is pulled to the other side of the diner.

  My eyes are instantly set on a petite woman walking behind the hostess. Her bright green eyes meet mine an
d I can’t help but stare back at her. She looks to be distraught, but I can’t imagine why. Her blue hair is tousled on top of her head, bright colors of ink running along both of her arms, and those eyes…they’re amazing. I can’t help it, but I’m lost in her. She’s a complete stranger, yet all I can do it watch her every move. An ache begins to pull in my chest, and rubbing my hands together, I can feel the clamminess of my palms. I’m not sure what this feeling is that I’m experiencing. Is it a side effect from my medication, the fact that I’m starving, or that I feel a crazy connection to this green-eyed stranger?

  “Er…hello?”

  Fixing my gaze back on the waitress, I snap out of my fog. She’s looking back at me in confusion and turns her head in the direction I had been looking. She pauses for a moment before settling back in her seat and tossing me a wink.

  Oh dear god, the thoughts that must be running wild through her mind right about now. Crazy weird guy walks into the diner and can’t help but stare at the blue-haired goddess. Great, now my fucking mind is running to places it shouldn’t.

  Clearing my thoughts, I place my hands beneath the table and sit up straight. I need to pull myself together and focus on why I’m here…food.

  “Oh…umm…yeah, sorry, just a water and a bowl of your Irish stew for now.”

  “You got it, I’ll be right back,” she says as she gets up from the seat and walks away.

  I look back to the woman that just entered; she’s sitting in a booth and it sounds as if the waitress is giving her a hard time. With a group of men sitting in front of her, the atmosphere in the diner just turned from peaceful to intense. I can hear bits and pieces of their conversation and it doesn’t sound like it’s going over too well. There’s a guy sitting on the end of the booth, talking some shit, and it’s taking all that I have not to get up and punch him in the face. I don’t know what it is about this girl, but I feel the need to protect her.

  Wait…what am I thinking? I’ve never wanted to help anyone. Who is this person and why do I feel so drawn to her?

  For the next few minutes, I try to pay attention to the distraction on the other side of the room without looking like I’ve been eavesdropping. That guy is a fucking tool, and I can’t stand the way he’s talking to her. Have some respect, man.

  As I continue to listen, I eat my lunch that was just delivered by the waitress. There’s nothing I can do and no way in hell I’ll drudge up the nerve to butt into the conversation, no matter how much I want to. The man I was a few years ago would jump at the chance to start confrontation, but the man I want to be is holding me back. They’re better off dealing with their issues on their own; who the hell am I to bring myself into the mix? I’ll just get myself into a situation that I know without a doubt won’t turn out well for anyone involved.

  Tossing some money onto the table, I move from my seat and walk through the dinner. A pang of guilt hits me hard—it’s as if I know I should help her. But why? I’m nobody to her. I turn to face the back of the diner and my eyes meet hers one last time.

  I don’t know who she is, or why she was brought into this diner today, but I have to leave and get her and those eyes out of my head.

  Hopping into my car, I pull out of the diner’s parking lot and make my way home. All I really need right about now is a hot shower and my bed. A good sleep is calling me and I need it now more than ever.

  As I pull into my apartment complex, I park in my usual spot, grab my bag out of the backseat, and make my way up the stairs to the second floor. Opening the door, my senses are struck with the odor of stale booze.

  Glancing around, I see empty bottles of beer, Jack Daniels, and something else that I must have ravaged the label off of at some point. I really need to clean up my shit and make this place look more like a home that belongs to a sensible human being and not that of a crazed loon. This mess has been sitting around since the last time I had a few days off. It reeks in here, and to be honest, it’s fucking disgusting. Thinking back to that night, I don’t know how I managed to make it to bed. I was in a bad place, reminiscing through times of my life that I’d rather forget. I thought the alcohol would numb the painful memories, but all it did was create more of a mess and a huge hole in the wall.

  As I walk throughout my apartment, I begin to grab up the trash and take it into the kitchen. I can’t do this anymore; if I want to start fresh and create a new life, I have to do it sober. The numbness of the alcohol may provide a temporary release, but it’s not enough…I need more. Tying up the trash bag, I gaze around my apartment to see that it’s finally clean. I’m exhausted and can barely keep my eyes open another minute—my shower and bed are calling to me. While moving toward the bathroom, I shed myself of my clothes, step into the shower, and allow the steam to absorb in my skin. With closed eyes, I let the hot water and steam relax my tired muscles while images of those eyes fly through my mind.

  Who was she?

  Why can’t I get her out of my mind?

  What will I do if I never see my mysterious woman again?

  I can’t seem to let it go; there’s something about her that has struck me hard and I can’t seem to rid myself of her.

  Opening my eyes, I reach for the soap and make quick work of finishing my shower. I need sleep…that’s the only explanation for the way my mind is racing. After I’ve slept it off, my mind will be clear and I’ll be able to forget her.

  I shut off the water and pull the curtain to the side to reach for a towel. Quickly drying myself off, I move to the bedroom, grab a pair of boxer briefs, and pull them on before falling onto my bed. Punching my pillow into just the right form, I rest my head and close my eyes, allowing myself to fall into a restful sleep. The last thing passing behind my closed lids is an image of my blue-haired goddess.

  Chapter 2

  Two Weeks Later

  Sitting in my car, I remove my sunglasses and toss them onto the dashboard. As I let out a heavy sigh, I look through the windshield, glaring across the parking lot toward a tall, brick building. An ache begins to pull at my chest while the steady beat of my heart begins to increase. Running my hands along the length of my jeans, I feel the clamminess of my palms. I hate the way my body is reacting to being here, yet this feeling is nothing new to me; it’s how I know that I need to go inside and do this, I just don’t want to.

  I’ve been seeing Dr. Jonestown ever since I started working at the hospital a few weeks ago, although I don’t know what good it’s done. I’m a grown man who’s never been able to let go of my past; talking through it with a shrink honestly does no good. He can ask me as many questions as he wants, but I’ll never let down my guard…I can’t. I’m a stubborn man, this I know, yet I can’t find it in me to change. No matter who’s come in or out of my life, I’ve always felt as though I don’t deserve happiness.

  All my life, I’ve had this feeling that I’m not good enough…that is, until I saw her.

  I’ve only seen her once. It was only for a few short minutes at the diner, but there was something about the way her eyes looked into mine. I don’t know if I’ll ever see her again, but I’ll die trying to find her. The mysterious woman that I now see in my dreams could possibly be my soul mate. She could be the one woman to see through me, the one that could understand me and make me whole again. For all I know, it could be a lost cause, but I just won’t give up…I need her.

  Looking down to my watch, I see that it’s almost time for my weekly appointment. I have to go in there…it’s now or never. I can sit in this car all day and rehash the shit storm I’ve made of my life or go in and talk about it. I guess I’ll choose the latter of the two and suck it up for the next hour.

  Stepping out of the car, I move toward the building. I start to take in slow breaths as I try to calm my nerves. I know he’s going push me to my limit as he always does, and I’ll fight him…just like I always do.

  Maybe today will be the day I finally let go.

  Upon entering his office, the receptionist walks me back t
o his room. My heart is pounding, my palms are still clammy, and a lump is sitting in the pit of my stomach.

  As I walk into the still and quiet space, my eyes scan the room. Beige walls are filled with photos, and plaques and diplomas are hung perfectly in alignment with the black furnishings. Moving to the center of the large space, I take a seat on the dark leather chair and look straight at the wall. This place is one that I’ve stared into for the past few weeks, yet every time I come in and sit down, I feel the same way…lost.

  Dr. Jonestown is already sitting comfortably in his chair as I look in his direction.

  “Good morning, Christian, how are you doing today?”

  “Fine,” I reply, leaning forward with my elbows firmly resting on my legs.

  “You don’t seem to be fine. Why don’t you tell me how you’ve been since our last visit?”

  Taking the stylus pen out of his case, he opens the tablet and begins to touch the screen.

  My eyes wander behind him, to his desk, where a large photo frame sits. It’s a picture of his family. A sense of uneasiness stirs in the pit of my stomach.

  When will this ever go away?

  Feeling frustrated, I move to stand…just as I always do.

  “Christian, sit, talk to me. You know none of this will ever get easier unless you let it all out. There are demons within you that you have to fight. It’s time to break free once and for all.”

  I turn to face him, anger wanting to rage out of me. Letting out a deep breath of air, I fall back down to the chair and close my eyes.

  “Let it go, Christian, I’m here to help you. The only way I can is if you let me in.”

  Opening my eyes, I watch as he sets the tablet down on the coffee table and leans forward, giving all of his attention to me.

  “There’s not too much to tell you.” I reply, once again looking at the photo behind him.

  “I’ve seen this same look in your eyes for the past few sessions, Christian. I know what you want—what you need—but I can’t give it to you. You’re the only one that can change, isn’t that what you want?”

 
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