RUSH (Montgomery Men Book 1)By: C.A. Harms
I STOOD AT THE VANITY in my hotel room looking at myself in the mirror, and I felt nothing. It was as if I was in a daze, just floating through the moments, without thought, completely empty. Desolate.
I had no idea how long I’d been staring at the reflection before me, but I knew it had been long enough to cause my vision to blur. The woman I once was, the one I had been for my entire life prior to my marriage, no longer resembled the person staring back at me. On the inside as well as the outside.
That woman had been replaced.
My once-long, blond hair was now shorter and dyed a shade of brown that closely resembled chocolate. My ocean-blue eyes, which I once thought were one of my best features, now hid behind brown contact lenses. I wore more makeup than I had ever been allowed to do so before, in an attempt to hide the light freckles that trailed along my cheekbones and over the bridge of my nose. They too were a trademark of the woman I was leaving behind.
I could no longer be the timid and withdrawn Kinsley Hellman. The woman who placed her own needs aside for those of others and chose to ignore the hate she was surrounded by.
Because she was gone. She had to be.
I would now be Kiera Masterson, and I had the paperwork to prove it. I’d been recreated and given a new identity by people I was sure were operating illegally, but I couldn’t worry about that. They had helped me escape, and for that I couldn’t be more thankful.
I still don’t know exactly how I was able to get away, but I did. I definitely had an angel on my shoulder the night I fled the darkness Jase had inflicted on me for more than five years. I’ve lived in fear ever since. I was scared to sleep and scared to leave the safety of the hotel room I had confined myself to. Every noise terrified me. Even the silence left me paralyzed with possibilities, because that was where the monsters lived.
And Jase Hellman was the scariest monster I’d ever met.
Six months earlier
THE EXCESSIVE CLATTER OF WINEGLASSES, laughter from men that thought they were the rulers of the world, and cackles of women who were dumb enough to believe them.
All these things surrounded me.
Yet all I could focus on was Jase’s fingers as they dug into the flesh at my side, which my dress exposed, and the pressure made me sick to my stomach. I stiffened from the pain, yet did my best to hide my discomfort. Showing it would only drive him to squeeze even harder. At one point I had to bite down on my cheek to keep from whimpering, and now all I tasted was blood as I held my breath, hoping he would just let go, or even just loosen his hold a little.
“Appearance is everything, Kinsley,” he whispered near my ear before placing a kiss against my neck.
It was something a man would normally do for the woman he loved, but not for Jase. Instead, it was his way of showing his power over me. He made everyone around us believe he was a loving, devoted husband, but that couldn’t have been further from the truth.
“Smile and play nice, or later I won’t be so gentle.” His menacing whisper caused that familiar burn to rise in my throat. “I suggest you remember the lesson I taught you on that last evening you were difficult and decide if you would like a repeat performance.”
He chuckled, as if remembering the pain he inflicted on me only weeks ago. He was sadistic.
Grinding my teeth, I forced a smile, doing my best to appear unaffected by his words and the unwanted memories they brought. He led me through the crowd of people, nodding to them and showing me off as if I was a prize he’d won. It was all an act, his way of staying high up on that pedestal each person in this room had put him on. They treated him as if he were a god.
It was disgusting. If only they knew the truth.
He forced me to mingle with his group of followers and pretend I gave a damn about what they thought of me or the conversations they held. Most only talked to me in hopes of getting closer to him.
“That’s it, that’s my girl,” he whispered, and the sound made my stomach lurch. I hated his soothing tone almost as much as the menacing one.
Jase was a heartless bastard. A controlling, spiteful prick who got off on overpowering the weak, and he saw me as an easy target. He hadn’t always been the man I knew now though. He was once sweet, and on most days back then he made me feel as if I was the center of his world.