12 days left to nominate this book
Back to top

First pages

Chapter 1

The horrific pain I am now forced to endure is more than I can bear. The depths of my despair are beyond imagination. I am trapped in a grip as fierce as a lion’s jaws upon its innocent prey. I am as helpless as a newborn infant that is totally dependent on her mother. The trust I once had has been broken akin to a glass falling upon the floor and shattering apart in a hundred pieces. The shards shoot upward as if directing themselves into my torn and aching heart. I am wounded and forever broken. There are no options left for me, but one. The master of death is beckoning me, teasing me. The personification of death itself is revealed to me as a tall, slender, skeletal figure in a dark robe, slightly hunched over, scythe in hand, beckoning my broken soul with the bony skeletal index finger of his right hand. His name is aptly known as Death.

“Come to me, Nina. I’m waiting for you.” Death is calling to me in a sinister and eerie tone.

“Are you sure?” I ask hesitantly as I purse my lips, drawing my lower one inward.

Death cackles and taunts me. “Just do it, my child. You owe that much to yourself.”

The smooth steel of the right and left sides of the shiny, freshly-sharpened butcher knife feel welcoming as I caress the large and menacing instrument with my left hand. The knife’s blade is calling for the delicate flesh of my tender throat. One quick and deep slice is all it will take, and it will be over in a flash. I will finally be at peace after all my wretched heartache and misery, and finally become Death’s newest mistress.

“What are you waiting for? Hurry up!” Death is becoming impatient with me.

I sigh heavily. I can feel the strength of my heart beating as if it were in a marathon against all the other lonely, broken, and mangled hearts that have been deceived and deprived of love and affection, but still remaining in a last desperate attempt in life’s sprint to receive some form of even the slightest attention. I take pause as the sound of my beating heart temporarily trumps all of my senses, if only for a brief moment or two. I’m still alive. I’m still here.

“Now!” Death commands. “Do it now!”

I take another deep breath and successfully steady the uncontrollable shaking of my right hand. I try telling myself that my life is over. I have no future. Nothing will ever be the same again. I am worthless. I have no value. I am nothing. In the next moment, I immediately feel nauseous. I gently lay the knife on the floor and then jump up to run to the bathroom. I am only on my feet for a second, two at the most, when I inadvertently lose my balance, trip myself, and quickly meet the living room’s hardwood floor squarely with my left jaw. It all happens so fast that I don’t react quickly enough to cushion the fall with my hands. I lay upon the floor for what seems an eternity, but it couldn’t have been more than thirty seconds. I slowly push myself upward, my hands painfully stinging from the fall, into a semi-standing position. In the next instant, I gently cup my left jaw with my right hand and briskly walk into the bathroom. My mouth is full of blood. The salty taste of my blood jolts me to the realization that I do not want to die. I hold my lips tightly closed and lower my now aching head over the porcelain sink before emptying the bloody contents of my mouth into it. I slowly open my mouth, carefully inspecting it to see that my teeth are still intact. They are covered in a glazed film of dark red blood. I reach for the ‘Cold’ water faucet handle with my bloodied right hand and forcefully pull it toward me. I haphazardly fumble with and subsequently retrieve a yellow, plastic cup laying on the counter next to the sink and sloppily fill it three-quarters of the way full of icy-cold water. I swish my mouth with the liquid, spit it out, and repeat the sequence several times. I keep looking for tooth fragments in the sink every time I spit water out of my mouth, but luckily, I never see anything. When I can no longer see nor taste blood in my mouth, I carefully examine my teeth again one last time. Fortunately, I haven’t chipped or broken any of them. My jaw feels okay as well for the most part. I have been very lucky indeed. It is ironic when I think about it. In one moment, I am about to end my miserable life and in the next I am grateful I haven’t broken any of my teeth. Crazy.

Twenty long minutes pass before my mouth has finally stopped bleeding. At this juncture, I am laying on my back on an antique oak-stained four poster bed I had inherited from my maternal grandmother. I have three oversized down pillows propped behind my back, which manage to keep me in a fairly comfortable seated position. The air from the ceiling fan feels wonderful as it cools my still-bloodied face. I stare into a cheap, plastic purple handheld mirror and briefly roll my eyes from the ghastly reflection staring back at me. I grimace and shake my head from side to side in pure disgust. I have never looked so badly in all of my twenty-eight years of life. How could I have allowed things to go downhill so quickly? It was as if I had initially been a perfectly shaped hand-sized snowball: simple white, powdery, perfect, and pure. Mysteriously and unexpectedly, it is as if the snowball has been snatched and thrown down a steep hill. It grows in size before sliding off a narrow, rocky crag. Finally, it eventually transforms into a monstrous avalanche destroying and crushing everything in its path. My life has become the aftermath of that ghastly avalanche. My innocence has been stolen from me and replaced by a horribly disastrous nightmare. I sob uncontrollably for ten minutes. The intensity of my pain is unbearable. I have never felt so defeated in my entire life.

I am awakened by the sound of my iPhone X ringing. I grab my mobile device from the nightstand and glare at the number. It is a 740-area code and the caller is located in Steubenville, Ohio. I let the phone ring until my voicemail picks up the call. I don’t even know where in the hell that is located. I reside in Orlando, Florida, which is a far distance from Ohio. I ask Siri how far Steubenville is from Orlando and she tells me in her British accent that it is 987 miles by car. Uh, no. I won’t be taking any road trips to Ohio any time soon. I grab my hand mirror and carefully study my mouth again. The bottom of my left lip has swollen three times its normal size overnight. Upon closer inspection, I am horrified to see that I have bitten straight through my lower lip with two of my bottom teeth and part way through my upper lip as well. Two weeks earlier I had a temporary crown placed on my second to last molar as I had been in a fight with a piece of hard cinnamon candy and lost; the top portion of my tooth had completely broken off. I am due to get my permanent crown in five days.

“Are you ready yet?” Death seductively asks me. “I’ve been patiently waiting for you.”

“No.” I whisper under my breath.

“I can’t hear you.” Death is obviously waiting for me, taunting me, and all the while relishing in the possibility of our meeting one another in the near future.

“I’m not ready yet!” I yell. “Go away!”

“Don’t be so hasty, Nina.” Death is challenging my ever-so attenuating and compromised fortitude. “You know you want to join me. We can become great friends and there are marvelous things awaiting you on the other side.” Death yearns for me the way a lover hungers for her partner. I want to shake off Death’s grip, but the offer is morbidly tempting.

I fight back. “Go to hell, Death!” I angrily shout. “Not today. No, not today.”

“I’ll be waiting for you, Nina.” Death is teasing me now. “I’ve got all the time in the world.”

The more Death beckons me the more I resist. I had wanted to permanently check out and had come close to following through had I not felt so nauseous all of a sudden and messed up my mouth. Nothing lately has gone according to plan and this is just one of many examples of how Murphy’s Law has become my new reality. I thinks it’s shameful that I can’t even succeed in taking my own life. I just can’t do anything right.

Reluctantly, I decide to give Mom a call. She is the only living person I can completely depend upon and fully trust. She has unsuccessfully tried to save me from making a plethora of horrible mistakes. There have been many regrettable mistakes that I seem to continue to make one after the other. If only she can rid me of the terrible grip Death has on my soul.

Mom answers her phone on the second ring. “Nina.”

“Hi, Mom.”

“What’s wrong, darling?” Mom is ridiculously perceptive.

“I’m fine.”

“What’s wrong, dear?” Mom demands to know.

“I’m fine, Mom. Really, I’m okay.” I lie.

Mom isn’t having any of my bullshit for even a nanosecond. She proceeds to raise her voice a couple of octaves all the while she calls out my full name just as she had many years earlier when I had done something terribly wrong as a child. “Nina Marie Travis!”

“Oh, Mom! Mom! Mom! Mom!” My voice cracks as I hold back my tears. “Sebastian cheated on me with Laura. The engagement’s off.”

“Oh, Nina. No. No. Please tell me you’re kidding.” Mom gasps and takes in a deep breath.

“I know, Mom. I can’t believe it. I never would have imagined he’d do such a thing in a million years. We were the perfect couple. We had our whole lives in front of us.” The floodgates fully open, and I begin crying heavily. I feel as if I have been knocked down and overtaken by a huge wave. I become submerged with no real sense of direction, holding my breath, desperately seeking for some way to come to the surface and get some air.

“Nina. Nina. I’m here for you, baby.”

I try to respond to Mom, but words escape me. I let out a soft sob and frantically try to catch my breath. I begin to hyperventilate and am on the verge of passing out. I fumble for the empty bag of potato chips on the floor next to the bed, cover my face with it, and start to take quick, successive breaths. Beads of sweat are dripping off my forehead and directly into my eyes as I continue to repeatedly blow into the bag.

I can hear Mom frantically yelling on the phone, which I had placed on the floor next to me. “Nina! Nina! Nina! Pick up the phone.”

I remove the potato chip bag from my face and take a few more deep breaths. “I’m here, Mom. I’m here.” I say in a breathy manner.

“Are you okay, Nina? Do I need to call someone?”

No, no, I’m fine, Mom. I just had a panic attack, but I’m okay. Really.”

“I’m concerned about you, dear. Do I need to come down there?”

“No, Mom. Please, just don’t. Stop. I’m fine, now. Really, I’m okay. I need to lay down for a while. Can I call you later?

“Of course, Nina. I’m so sorry about you and Sebastian. Please call me soon.”

“I will. I love you, Mom.

“I love you, too, Nina. Bye.”

I can’t end the call fast enough. I lay the phone next to me on the floor and curl up into a fetal position. I bravely try to fight back the tears, but the damned floodgates open once again, and I cry for twenty solid minutes or more. I have never felt so defeated in my entire life. Never have I felt so betrayed, so hurt, so completely broken. Sebastian had been my Prince Charming. I thought about the first time I had met him in Paris on a modeling shoot for Vogue. It had been an exhausting day and there he was in a Parisian café. Our eyes locked and I could feel adrenaline surging throughout my entire body. Sebastian’s eyes immediately seduced me as if I were in an unbreakable, charm-filled trance. He could have taken me right then and there on the spot; it was both surreal and wildly erotic. No man had ever made me feel that way before; it was electrifying. I scarcely remember speaking with him. It was so pleasantly unexpected and had happened so incredibly fast. I felt like a giddy teenager meeting her favorite rock idol for the first time. Despite everything that’s happened, it’s a moment I’ll forever cherish. Our conversation had been brief, ten minutes at most, but it was love at first sight and he did cleverly manage to get my phone number, which is something I never gave to men upon meeting them through chance encounters. I vividly recall going to the bathroom after our conversation, gliding almost as if I were on Cloud Nine. It truly was one of the few magical moments of my life. My face felt flushed as I shyly glanced in the mirror. Upon entering one of the bright pink bathroom stalls, I chuckled when on inspection I noticed my white-laced panties were sopping wet as my hormonally inflamed imagination had taken me into a deeply erotic and sensual place. It was the most intense sexual excitement I had ever experienced in my entire life. That was back in 2013, when I was a naïve, twenty-three-year-old girl. Those were really happy times for me. I was making fantastic money with international modeling and I was in love with the man of my dreams. It’s funny how things can change so quickly. The sunniest day can be ruined by the most unexpected thunderstorm, darkening the sky and spoiling everything with its piercing rain, stinging the skin and menacingly clouding one’s vision.

Chapter 2

Three days have passed since my suicide attempt. I am still very depressed, but no longer suicidal. Fortunately, my network of friends is extensive and quite supportive. Mom has been the most help. I swear there are times that she knows me better than I know myself. It’s really uncanny when I think about it. The ultimate betrayal of my fiancé, Sebastian, is the hardest pill I’ve ever had to swallow. I literally feel as if there is a piece of food lodged in my throat. I sense myself frantically gasping for air, choking from a lack of oxygen. I can see myself flailing about as a salmon swimming upstream, accidentally throwing itself up against a cluster of rocks by the shore, searching for the river’s cool water all the while desperately gasping for air. The absolute hopelessness of the situation is overwhelming. I am still trying to convince myself that this is just a bad dream. I have tricked myself into thinking this is all just a bad joke and that it isn’t really happening. I alternate from being in denial about it to being angry to being in denial to being angry again. It’s just a vicious circle, a merry-go-round from hell. I remember taking a psychology class back in high school where my teacher spoke about a Swiss-American psychologist named Elisabeth Kubler-Ross and the five stages of grief experienced by terminally ill patients prior to death: denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance. I am not close to death but losing Sebastian to an illicit affair is similar to losing someone in real life. I am still grieving and stuck between the first two stages of the death and dying model. I remember learning that there are times when people may skip or repeat stages. I seem to be stuck between denial and anger like a bad 45 record repeatedly skipping over and over and over again. The record never stops skipping until someone intervenes and lifts the needle off the never-ending spinning record. This, too, was what my life has become. It is a series of spinning and skipping endlessly with no hope in sight. I feel stuck. I just want it to stop and I seriously don’t think I am asking for all that much. Am I?

Friends have told me that they had known about the affair for quite some time. Even my younger brother, Chase, knew about it. I just feel like such a damned fool. I wasn’t supposed to find out. Sebastian told me that he had still loved me and that nothing had changed. Really? How can he say that? What kind of bastard could think like that? He has betrayed my unshakable faith in him. He has forever compromised the pseudo solid foundation of trust we had built with one another over the past five years. Trust means everything to me and once that trust has been broken, there’s simply no recovering from it in my own eyes. I figure I can try to forgive, but like a scar on one’s arm, there’s a nagging and constant reminder that some kind of pain had been inflicted. Maybe it was an accident or maybe it was simply the result of a surgical procedure, but the scar in its blatant way still remains nonetheless. You can try to conceal it with foundation or even wear a long-sleeved shirt, but lurking beneath the surface, the menacing scar remains.

Laura and I had been best friends since first grade. Aside from Mom, she was the only other person, the one and only true friend, that I could share everything with. She knew my darkest of secrets and I knew hers as well with one exception. She was fucking my fiancé. That stupid bitch. She knows everything about Sebastian and made her own strength out of my weaknesses and vulnerabilities. What kind of best friend pulls that kind of shit? I’m not sure who I hate more. The double betrayal is more than I can bear. I can begin to feel myself becoming emotional all over again, and I have just got to keep telling myself that I’ve got this. I’ve got this. Much to my chagrin, I keep having these God-awful nightmarish images of myself drowning and gasping for air. It is downright disconcerting when I think about it. For some reason, I’ve had this intense fear of being on or around bodies of water as young as I can remember. There’s an actual term for my fear that I read about online a few years ago; it’s called aquaphobia. Yep, that’s me. I’m a bona fide aquaphobic. I saw the movie Titanic when it was released in 1997. I was just seven at the time and I was horrified as I watched the ship sink into the abysmal depths of the Atlantic Ocean. Jack’s death haunted me and I had nightmares about his drowning for months following my seeing the movie. Strangely enough, Sebastian had thoughtfully booked a surprise two-week Mediterranean cruise for our one-year dating anniversary, but I had flat out refused to go. It was the first time he had ever yelled at me; he was absolutely furious. In retrospect, I can’t blame him really. Yet, he eventually was successful in twisting my arm and convincing me to go to the Hawaiian Islands for rest and relaxation. I thought it was a good compromise and it turned out to be one of the best trips we have ever taken, even though flying for several hours over the Pacific Ocean had made be extremely uncomfortable and somewhat nauseous.

After a light lunch, I stare out one of the many floor-to-ceiling windows in my high-rise tower condominium unit at The Vue. It is located in the heart of downtown Orlando and my condo has a beautiful view of both downtown and Lake Eola. I have a corner two-story unit with the most spectacular views imaginable. Sebastian had purchased the condominium for me back in 2015, when I was still modeling, and I was absolutely thrilled since I so love being part of the city’s heartbeat. This was my place to get away from it all. Sebastian had hired an eccentric home interior decorator that was a little overly flamboyant in my opinion, but the decorator’s taste and finesse when it came to home decorating was spot on. I couldn’t have been more pleased with the way place has turned out. It is simply fabulous. I like nice things and Sebastian appreciates that immensely. I had been raised in an upper middle-class family, so I have always been used to being surrounded by the finer things in life. Anyway, I’m a Versace girl, so I have a Versace theme that is very tasteful and not overly done, but still pervasive in the furnishings and décor in my condominium. Everyone that has ever visited my place comments on how nicely it looks. The two- story windows are most definitely the piece de resistance.

Chapter 3

The following morning, I am both startled and unexpectedly awakened by a loud pounding knock on my unit’s door. Surprisingly enough, I can hear it on the second floor of my condominium where my bedroom is located. I throw on my bathrobe, race down the spiral staircase, and fling open the front door without thinking about who is on the other side. My heart sinks when I see Sebastian. He is standing there like a damned fool with a beautiful arrangement of 24 long-stemmed red roses adorned with baby’s breath. I immediately try to slam the door, but Sebastian has already forced his way into my kitchen before I have time to react.

“I love you, Nina. I’m so very sorry about everything.”

“Get out! How could you? How could you do this to me? And with Laura?” I can’t hold my tears or anger back any more.

“I love you, Nina— “

Before Sebastian can utter another word, I start hitting and punching him as hard as I can. Sebastian throws the flower arrangement on the floor, places his large right hand across my face, and forcefully pushes me down to the floor. I am at Sebastian’s complete mercy; he most certainly has more strength and muscle mass than I can compete with.

“You son of a bitch. You bastard!” My face is as bright red as a freshly boiled Maine lobster. “I hate you, Sebastian.” I swing my arms outward to try to swipe at my betrayer’s face, but in the process, I lose my balance and fell onto my left side. Sebastian extends his right hand to pull me upward, but I nastily smack it instead. I push myself into a standing position and find myself face to face with Sebastian.

He looks down at me sadly. “I love you, Nina. I’m so sorry. I’ll do anything to make this up to you. I’m in love with you and only you.”

I run up the spiral staircase, through the bedroom, and lock myself in the master bathroom. My entire body is shaking almost to the point where an observer would have thought I were having convulsions akin to an epileptic seizure. In the next moment and without any notice I regurgitate my lunch on the floor next to me just missing my bathrobe by a few inches. The putrid smell causes me to commence dry heaving, which results in me nearly hyperventilating and having another panic attack. Before I can get to my feet I hear pounding on the bathroom door.

“Open the door, Nina.” Sebastian’s yell is so loud it startles me, and I uncontrollably urinate a little in my panties.

“Get out of here or I’m calling the police.”

Sebastian is furious and starts pounding both of his fists on the door. “Open the fucking door now!” He fumbles with the locked door, but thankfully it is keeping him at bay—for now, anyway.

I am completely paralyzed with fear. “I’m calling the police right now.” I lie. My iPhone is still in the bedroom. “They’re on their way.”

Nothing happens for the next two minutes. I hold my breath. I am completely terrified. Sebastian came from a dark place I have never seen before. That in and of itself scares me. Sometimes you think you really know someone, but in reality you really don’t. I figure everyone has a dark side, but it seems Sebastian’s is in a league all of its own. I draw my knees upward and under my chin as I feel the cool tile of the bathroom floor on my bony bottom. I just want Sebastian to leave. I remain in the same position for about ten minutes or so.

“Sebastian? Are you there?” I call out. “Hello.” There is dead silence. I take a deep breath and exhale slowly. Maybe he has gotten the message. Thank goodness. I clean up the vomit that is on the bathroom floor, generously splash water over my face, and gargle several times with Cool Mint Listerine. I still haven’t heard any noise outside of the bathroom, so I figure the coast is clear. No sooner have I opened the bathroom door, when quite unexpectedly I find myself being flung backward as the door is being forced wide open with tremendous force. Sebastian’s strength is so powerful that my body has been catapulted to the opposite side of the bathroom. I hit the bathroom sink with my back before collapsing onto the floor.

“You fucking bitch. I’ll show you.”

I try to say something but can’t utter a sound. My back is throbbing. The menacing look in Sebastian’s eyes is similar to the stare a wild tiger gives its victim before pouncing on it and having his way. Sebastian grips my throat with both of his hands tightly. I have become completely paralyzed by fear. I can’t yell. I can’t move. Hell, I can’t even think straight. I am my aggressor’s prey. His chokehold has immobilized my entire being. Before I know it, Sebastian has torn off my panties and begins to rape me. His forceful thrusts cause an instant stinging sensation in my vagina. I still can’t move and in the next moment there is complete darkness.

Our minds are constantly active, even when we’re dreaming. Shortly after Sebastian had begun to rape me, I had been rendered unconscious. I figure it was probably a combination of his choking me all the while raping me as well as my being in shock. I had passed out, and for the first time in my life that I can ever recall, I experienced nothingness. There is a period of thirty minutes in my life that is unaccounted for. I have no recollection of this complete and total void. It’s frightening when I think about it, because as I’ve just mentioned, I’ve never experienced anything like it before. I wonder if that’s what it is like after you have died. Had I died? I don’t think so. I most certainly didn’t see any bright lights or loved ones in darkly lit tunnels while I had been passed out into oblivion. It was as if I had been locked in a room with no windows or doors and devoid of any sliver of light whatsoever. Maybe I had been in purgatory awaiting purification from the vile manner in which my body had been violated. I had been cruelly and horribly emotionally raped as well. I was now as fragile as a glass figurine precariously ever so close to toppling over and shattering into hundreds of pieces on a hard tile floor without even the remotest of chances of being reassembled. I myself feel broken, but somehow, I haven’t completely fallen apart yet. Each day has been a struggle. Fortunately, I am somehow managing to muster the inner strength to continue on and persevere. It isn’t easy, especially now that I had just been so violently raped.

I am awakened many hours later to the default ringtone beckoning to me from my mobile device. I pick up the phone and glance at it. The caller ID indicates that the call is originating from Topeka, Kansas. I don’t know anyone in Topeka or Kansas for that matter. I place the phone down next to me on one of my decorator pillows. It is a gold Versace pillow, of course. Somehow, I had managed to crawl into bed after my horrific ordeal, but I don’t recall doing that. At least this time I had been dreaming and hadn’t repeated the dark trance I had succumbed to earlier in the afternoon. I jump out of bed and hurriedly run into the bathroom as I have to urinate badly. I am still bleeding down there, and I feel a stinging sensation as the toilet paper gently wipes against my sensitive vagina. As I stare at myself in the mirror I have bruises all over my body. Sebastian had roughed me up brutally and he is going to pay for his actions. I have all kinds of crazy and random thoughts going through my head. It is difficult to think clearly. I fumble around the cabinet under the sink to find a tube of Icy Hot. My back is killing me, and I don’t care how badly that stuff smells, it really helps dull any pain I am experiencing when I use it.

The following morning I feel as if I had been thrown down a flight of stairs. I seriously think about reporting my rape to the police but decide against it. The main reason for not reporting the rape is I don’t think it will really accomplish anything in the overall grand scheme of things. Also, I simply don’t have the emotional fortitude to deal with everything involved from reporting it, to having a physical exam, to dealing with Sebastian, to, well, just everything.

Chapter 4

When things seemed they couldn’t get any worse they did. I have an unexpected visitor shortly after eleven in the morning. It is Laura.

I glare at her through the peephole. “You have some nerve, bitch!” I yell.

“Please, Nina. Let me explain.” I can hear Laura sobbing through the door. Pathetic.

“Laura. Please. Just leave.” I am fighting back the tears. I feel as if my whole world is caving in on me.

Laura continues knocking on the door to my condominium. “Nina!” She has become hysterical.

My proverbial fuse had become ridiculously short recently. I just can’t bear to deal with the situation any longer. I slowly open the door to my unit and motion for Laura to enter. We walk into the living room to talk.

“Nina, I’m so, so sorry.”

“Laura. How could you?” I stare at her completely disgusted, holding back my strong desire to smack the shit out of her right then and there. I can feel the intense anger welling up inside me like a molten volcano.

“I know you’re mad.” Laura held her hands up in the air with her palms facing outward. She clears her throat and takes a deep breath. “Please, just hear me out. That’s all I ask of you.”

I sternly glare at Laura. “I’m so damned disgusted with you. Why should I give two shits about anything you have to say to me? You’re just a fucking whore.”

“I deserve that and so much more.” Laura looks downward toward the floor in shame and I must add rightfully so.

“I just want to bitch slap you right now.” I do everything in my power I possibly can to restrain myself from laying my hands all over Laura.

“Just let me explain, Nina.” Laura is pleading with me. “If you never want to talk to me again I’ll respect your wishes. I just ask that you hear me out.”

I raise my voice and start to yell at Laura. It as if I am a wild and ravenous animal just released from its cage and eager to tear into the flesh of its closet victim. “I could kill you right now, Laura. I could fucking kill you and have no regrets whatsoever.”

Laura stares at me stunned as if she were a deer caught in headlights. She doesn’t dare move. She is visibly shaken and knows that she is skating on thin ice. “Nina?”

“Fuck you!”

Laura starts to stand up, but I jump out of my chair and forcefully push her back into the large oversized chair where she had just been sitting. “Speak, bitch!” I yell as I hover over her in an incredibly intimidating fashion. “I’m all ears.”

“Only if you sit down, Nina. You’re scaring me.”

I reluctantly reclaim my chair and continue to glare at Laura. “I’m listening and you’re only going to get one chance to say what you’ve got to say to me, so make it count.” I slyly crack a smile. I have never seen Laura this uncomfortable in a very long while and I gladly relish in the moment.

“I, I.” Laura hesitates. “Oh, my God! What have I done?” Laura looks downward, covers her face, and begins to cry. I can sense that she is being sincere, so I just sit there watching her break down. In a sadistic way, it is gratifying to see Laura being so distraught. She is a strong and beautiful woman; she is used to manipulating others, especially men, and getting her way. This weakened side of her is hidden from most people. Did I mention most people? Uh, yes, I did, but not me.

After several minutes of sobbing Laura starts whimpering and slowly lifts her head. Our eyes meet and she wipes her face with her left hand. “Nina, I have never been so ashamed in my entire life.” I can scarcely hear her. Laura clears her throat and raises her voice to a more audible level. “I’m going to tell you the whole truth. No more lies. No more deceit. Nothing, but the truth.”

I nod my head at Laura. “Thank you. Continue.”

“Sebastian has been pursuing me for years.”

“What?” I am in shock. I can’t believe it. “Wait a minute. What the —?” I stop myself in midsentence. I can’t believe what I am hearing.

“Do you want to know the real truth?”

“Yes, yes.” I want to know, but then again, I don’t want to know at the same time; however, deep down I desperately need to know the real truth. I need to know. Laura owes me that much.

Laura clears her throat again. “I’m not the only one.”

My heart sinks. I sit there with an absolutely stunned look on my face. Uncontrollable shivering momentarily overtakes my body. “What?” I am still puzzled.

“There have been other women, Nina. I’m not the only one Sebastian’s been with?”


AUTHOR Q&A

About me

Lewis P. Gravis began writing Nina’s Nebulosity after enjoying the experience of writing his second novel, Isaac’s Touch, last year. Mr. Gravis published his first novel, To Kill for a Fortune, that he had written as a teenager, last year as well. Lewis P. Gravis is currently a sociology instructor at Sampson Community College in Clinton, North Carolina. He resides in Fayetteville, North Carolina, with his wife, Tammy, and Siamese cat, Jax. Additionally, Mr. Gravis has an adult son named Blake.

Q. Why do you write?
A.
I enjoy writing because it allows me to express myself in ways I otherwise wouldn't share with others. Writing is cathartic to me, and it gives me great pleasure to share my creative side with others.
Q. Tell us about the cover and the inspiration for it.
A.
The cover is symbolic of the dual nature of the protagonist's struggle to understand herself.
Q. When did you decide to become a writer?
A.
I decided to become a writer when I was sixteen and wrote my first novel.

Next in:
Science Fiction & Fantasy
The Change
A teenage girl accidentally becomes a mermaid
The Last Offender
Black Mirror meets LOST in this twisted fic.
The Playthings
In ancient Egypt, a Chicago girl tackles Hell