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       Cursed Soul (Cursed, 4) (Cursed Series), p.1

           t. h. snyder
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Cursed Soul (Cursed, 4) (Cursed Series)

  Cursed Soul

  The Cursed Series, #4

  By t. h. snyder

  © 2016 t. h. snyder (Tiffany Snyder)

  Published by t. h. snyder

  First published in 2016. 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 Concierge Literary Promotions

  Cover photo by Foto Flair

  Cover model Brody Haight


  I want to THANK the following people for their SUPPORT and ENCOURAGEMENT throughout this journey.

  My READERS, I wouldn’t be here without you. Thank you for sharing in my stories and allowing your minds to live in the lives of my characters. I love receiving your words of encouragement and telling me how much you love the craziness that runs rapid through my head.

  Those AMAZING Indie Authors out there who INSPIRED me to do something I never thought was possible. You showed me that with a little motivation and imagination anything is possible.

  My street team #Pimpette4Life…I really don’t know what I would do without all of you ladies by my side. You SUPPORT my crazy and always PUSH me to my limits.

  My TWO fanflippintastic PAs Traci and Beth. I couldn’t do half of the stuff I do without you two. THANK YOU for taking so much time out of your days to SUPPORT me, PIMP me and LOVE me for who I am.

  My two very BEST FRIENDS. When times get rough and I want to bang my head against the wall (don’t laugh, true story), I can always count on my girls. Love you both long time Skye and Michelle #OverAnalyzeThisGirls.

  My ROCKS…you four are my sounding boards, my stress relievers and the ones I turn to when I feel like I have nowhere else to go. I couldn’t be me without you guys….LOVE YOU so much Stacey, Carrie, Kris and Jason.

  My long lost SISTERS, partners in crime, shoulders who are always there to pick me up when I feel down and the ones who make me laugh daily…I don’t know what I’d do without you women…Gabbie, Jaime, Melissa and Taylor.

  My #MamaBoo Judi Perkins, who LISTENS to my hours of rants, CALMS my nerves and created an amazing cover. Love you FOREVER woman!!!

  My incredible BETA girls Wendy, Ronda, Kim, Chris, Mary Lou, Nichole, Traci and Beth! You ladies tell me how it is without holding back. I LOVE and VALUE your opinions more than you know.

  My EDITOR Missy Borucki, I’m so glad our paths crossed and you were a part of another CURSED story. Talking with you is like talking to a long lost friend, you just get me and that means the world to me. CHEERS to a lifetime of friendship, I love you woman!!!

  My FAMILY!! You all CHEER me on every day telling me how PROUD you are of my ACCOMPLISHMENT. I couldn't have done this without you Mom, Angie, Dad and Mar.

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

  Chapter 1

  A Few Years Ago

  A loud bang thunders in my ears.

  My eyes snap open as the flashbacks of that night echo within my head pulling me from an uncomfortable slumber. Running my fingers through the greasy strands of my hair, I attempt to push back the thoughts of my past . . . yet I can’t. The memories coursing through my mind are like no other. Swallowing the bile rising in my throat, the hair along the back of my neck begins to stand. As I will myself to clear my thoughts, a chill runs down my spine.

  I need to get the hell out of here. I want a shower and I’m desperately craving a drink . . . a shot . . . anything to free my mind. I’ve been waiting in this dreary dark cell for who knows how long. The stale smell of alcohol, body odor, and filth is causing my stomach to churn as my eyes attempt to adjust within the darkness. Seconds pass, minutes linger while I scan the grey walls and charcoal colored bars. This is an all too familiar place; one I’d think would serve as my home away from home after all the trouble I’ve been through.

  This is my thirteenth, maybe fourteenth arrest, but it doesn’t bother me in the slightest. They have nothing on me to hold me here much longer. No matter how many times the cops try to bring me down, nothing . . . err, I mean no one will stop me.

  This is my life, my path and I plan to continue living the lifestyle of my choosing. I’m not an idiot, nor am I oblivious to the things I can hear people say when they think I’m not paying attention. I know what I’ve done and what I’m doing. I get it, I really do. This isn’t the best career path or the way any man should want to live his life. But it is mine. I’m a loser, a deadbeat— some may even say a worthless piece of shit—but I don’t care. None of it means anything to me, not anymore.

  Releasing a burst of frustration through pursed lips, I rest my head back against the cold wall of the cell and close my eyes. As my mind begins to wander, the thoughts of my past creep up on me. No matter how hard I try, when silence hits, they come back full force.

  Living in a one bedroom rundown apartment building, I was forced to sleep on a blanket-covered floor. Not only did I have the worst living conditions, the nourishment I needed to grow was scarce. My mother didn’t work. She was too lazy and for reasons I’ll never know, she refused to file for welfare. My father, the biggest piece of shit to grace the planet, was in jail. We went a few times to see him, but the visits were only for her benefit. “Friendly visits” are what she’d call them. No . . . they were more like “let me take you to hell and make you sit in a waiting area while I go fuck your convict of a father” visits.

  My childhood was hell. It was no way for a young boy to grow up, but it is what it is . . . I was left with nothing, but I didn’t know any better.

  After a few years, she stopped taking me to visit him. At first, I wanted to know why, yet deep down I knew it didn’t really mater. I didn’t really matter. Cliff Benjamin was the product of two junkies who cared more about their next fix than the child they were forced to deal with. Love, compassion, and nurturing were not aspects of life they knew how to provide. They were more worried about themselves, I was left alone.

  On my eighteenth birthday, I discovered the news that my father had passed away a few years prior. Some may have mourned, but not me. I never had an emotional attachment to my father. I wasn’t distraught, didn’t feel a sense of loss . . . nothing. My mother, on the other hand, was a constant emotional disaster and well on her way to an overdose, but no one and nothing could stop her. She was falling hard and fast to the lure of her demons.

  I needed to get away, find my own freedom and at last, I did. With no direction and having never left the state of Alabama, I bought myself a ride to Miami. This was my chance to break free and find a new life.

  The night I left, I wrote a quick note to her and placed it next to her lighter, spoon, and syringes. I knew it was the first place she’d look when her dumb ass woke up. Surprisingly enough I didn’t feel an ounce of guilt. She may have been the woman that gave birth to me, but that was all she ever was. I had no empathy or love for her. I was leaving her to her own devices. She was going to b
e sad and alone with her drugs until the day she died and I didn’t care.

  Without a shadow of a doubt, I knew my life could and would get better from the place I was born and raised. Little did I know at the time, the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree.

  Once I arrived in my new town, I walked the streets for hours in hopes of an answer, a calling or a sign to point me in the right direction. Nights turned into days while I moved around from one cheap motel to another. The short stash of cash I had earned was quickly dwindling and I needed to do something. I had to find work. With desperation, I found myself applying at a small, local restaurant for a dishwasher and busboy position. It wasn’t the most ideal job, but it would give me steady pay to afford the rundown motel down the street.

  After long days working, standing on my feet, I started to need something before bed to take the edge off and help me get rid of the constant pain that was in my back. I was too young to go out to the bars, so instead I’d follow the rest of the group back to Tim’s house. A few beers down and the pain slowly started to ease away. Weekly visits to hang out turned into daily nights of partying it up until the early hours of the morning. My pain may have slightly diminished while I was drinking, but each morning heading back to work it only intensified. I needed something to get by, I needed to work, and I needed the paycheck that gave me a place to rest my head.

  Tim knew I was miserable and offered me a way to forget the pain: a little white pill that changed everything. That one pill turned me into the person I never thought I’d become: an addict. Witnessing my mom’s suffering from her addiction, I swore I’d never become her. The weightlessness I felt from that one pill made me want to explore the rush even more. My pain was gone, my mind was free, and I couldn’t have been happier. It didn’t take me long to be rid the regret of who my parents were, I decided to see what the thrill was all about. I wanted to experiment. That one little white piece of heaven was exactly what I needed. I loved the way it made me feel, I was on top of the world and wanted more.

  A few weeks later, a guy stopped at Tim’s with a large black bag. Later that night, I found out that Tim was selling drugs for a dealer. Shocked . . . yeah, I’d say I was a bit taken by surprise. I was clueless, hell before that revelation. All I knew was that I wanted to be where the party was. Instinctively I was fucking scared to learn about a drop taking place in the same place I was getting my high. I was a stupid kid wanting a way to hide, not get arrested. I needed to get the hell away from all the temptations and get my head on straight. A simple high was all I wanted, becoming a jailbird like my father was not an option . . . or so I thought.

  My world quickly started to turn. I stayed clear of the guys after work, I would head home to the motel to try to figure out my life. Working at the restaurant wasn’t my long-term career goal, I wanted more. One night, I slipped myself a pill to take off the edge and sat in front of the TV with a pad of paper and pencil. Nothing caught my interest on the tube so I found myself doodling on the blank white sheet. The strokes of lead to the thin paper was relaxing, it allowed my mind to wander to a place I never knew existed. I don’t know if it was the effects of the drugs or the mere pleasure I felt holding the pencil in my hand, but for a brief time I felt at peace.

  The sun started to shine in through the windows and before I knew it, I had spent hours drawing. Looking through the dozens of pages, I was astounded at the images I created. Where the fuck did all of this come from? This wasn’t something I had ever done before yet it eased my mind, I felt free. Knowing I had to get a move on before I was late for work, I tossed the pages to the side and made my way on with the day.

  The drawings I created that night stayed with me, but I never picked up a pencil to draw with intensity like that again. When I got to work that day things changed . . . I changed.

  Taking the trash out at the end of my shift, I heard Tim and some guy talking behind the dumpster. Not wanting to get in to his business, I tossed the bags into the metal bin and started to walk back toward the rear entrance of the restaurant . . . until the sound of agony pulled my attention back to the dumpster. Tim’s voice was shattered and the noise made by impacts of a fist hitting flesh ricocheted through my ears. Without a second thought, I ran as quickly as I could to see what was happening.

  Shock splayed across my face as I saw another man punch Tim in the stomach. I quickly moved to his side to push them apart, but I was shoved by force to move out of the way. It wasn’t my business and the dealer made me well aware that if I knew what was good for me I’d leave, but I couldn’t.

  I begged, pleaded for the man to stop. He stared at me with rage in his eyes and made me an offer I couldn’t refuse. I had to help my friend and was willing to take the chance that this was my opportunity to make a difference. Tim was in well over his head and owed the man a lot of fucking money. I needed to help him; he had been there for me when I needed him the most. He helped to take away my pain with his drugs and no matter what, I knew I had to do something. Watching as he slowly stepped away from Tim, he shook my hand and said he’d be in touch. I was in shock, my body shaking for fear of my friend’s life.

  Days went by, my mind spinning with what I had gotten myself into. Anticipation surged through me as I waited to hear what would become of my future. I could only imagine the pros and cons, I was scared shitless and needed to know what was going down. This was not the wisest choice on my part, but I had to do it.

  The rustle of keys clanging together grabs my attention, pulling my thoughts back to the present. A burly man’s voice calls out that my bail has been set.

  Well, no shit . . . took them long enough.

  Standing tall, I glance around the small waiting cell. Looking back, had it not been for that moment behind the dumpster, I wouldn’t be sitting here. As I think back to the past few years, I know this is the life I’m meant to live. I’ve become the king of my men, bringing in more money for the boss than any other drug dealer and I refuse to stop the success I’ve built.

  As I turn to walk through the door of the cell, I mentally bid farewell, ‘til next time my friend . . . ‘til next time.

  With a smug smirk, I follow the guard through the hallways out to where once again I will be free.

  I may not have thought this would be my life, I never wanted to follow in my parent’s footsteps, but this is who and what I am and there’s no looking back. Too often I’ve heard people tell me there’s always hope for a change, but in reality I don’t see a need to change. Living life on my own terms is exactly how I like it.

  Chapter 2

  Present Day

  Stretching my sore muscles, a yawn escapes my lips while my eyes scan the parlor room. I’ve put away all of my equipment, wiped down the entire space at least a half dozen times and restocked the drawers and shelves. After triple checking that everything is ready for another busy day tomorrow, I think I’m ready to call it quits . . . for now.

  An electric surge of pride runs through my veins as I think back to each client who sat in my chair today. I transformed ideas into works of art. Skin turned into a canvas that I permanently etched with my own hands. It’s a thrill that will never get old, I missed it more than I realized. This is my skill, my talent and a trade that a few years ago I didn’t know existed. Shit, a few years ago I was one of the dirtiest drug dealers in Miami. So much in my life has changed and brought me to where I am today. There’s no way I could have done it on my own . . . no way. I have my crew to thank, especially Steve. He may say that I’m the one who saved his life, but without his friendship, I don’t know that I’d have been able to get through some of my own struggles.

  Fuck me . . . from living a hellish life with my mother, becoming a drug dealer, turning a corner and working as a delivery driver to all of this. I can’t help but laugh at myself . . . now that’s one hell of a resume.

  With a sense of accomplishment, I make my way out of the room and down the hallway. Walking toward the guys, I feel as though I have an extra
bounce in my step. I haven’t felt this good in a long time and I can’t remove the smile that’s plastered across my face. Today has been one of the most incredible days of my life. Our crew is together as one and Cursed Magic is back in business.

  Leaning up against the counter of the front desk, I relax for a moment to take it all in. As I glance around the shop, I’m still astounded by the amount of people we sat today. The buzz of our grand reopening spread like wild fire thanks to the girls and I couldn’t be happier. The feel of being in this building, sitting in my chair, and holding the ink machine is like no other. It’s been months since we’ve had this many people come through our doors. We’re finally back to the way things used to be. The way they always should be.

  Another yawn escapes me as I stretch my tired body. As much as I enjoyed every moment of the day, I’m tired as fuck and want to get home. Standing around with the others, we wait for Linc, Steve and Ashley to join us so that we can lock up for the night. Looking around the room, Etty bounces around like a schoolgirl hyped up on pixy sticks. Blue hair traces her face and the smile she’s wearing is contagious. I can’t help but smile back. My eyes scan over to Dault as he swoops her up in his arms just as Linc, Steve and Ashley walk down the hallway. Giggling, Etty squirms out of Dault’s embrace and stands perfectly still with her hands on her hips.

  “Y’all ready to do this all over again tomorrow?” she asks looking around the room.

  The crew all agree in unison as laughter fill the room. A sound, for once in a very long time, that makes me feel happy. These people standing before me are my life. They’re my family and the ones I know I can turn to for anything . . . well, almost anything.

  Maybe one day I’ll come to terms with the errors of my past. But until I’m fully able to forgive myself, I know I won’t be ready to share those moments with these people. It’s not that I can’t trust them, I know I can. I fear that they’ll see me in a different light. Each one of us has a past. We’ve all come a long way from the men and women we used to be, yet I’m still afraid to face the demons that have destroyed me and made me the man I am today. For all of us, it’s best if I just keep the mask on and fight my darkness when I’m behind my own closed doors.

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