My 4th novel is finally completed!!! After several months and hours upon hours of writing, rewriting, editing, changing my mind (and scenes), the final draft is done and the book is ready for publication.
Some of you may have read one of my books, perhaps all of them. If you have, I give you a great big thanks for your support!!!
This book, while staying in my lane with my genre of writing that I prefer, is somewhat different than any of the others that I’ve written, in that it deals with an issue that is VERY real – sexual assault, molestation and the aftermath the victim has to deal with. In this book, there is a violent and brutal rape scene that was extremely difficult for me to write. In fact, I won’t lie, I cried while writing it. In my work at the juvenile correctional facility where I was employed for more than 11 years, I dealt with a LOT of kids who were victims. Nine out of 10 times the perpetrator was a family member. That’s what this book deals with.
Also when I write, there is a lot of profanity, yet in real life, I do not cuss. I am perfectly capable of communicating without using vulgarity. With that said, in every single writing class that I have taken, I have always been told to, “write from the heart and make every character as human and believable as possible.” So, that’s what I do.
Here is Chapter One of The Punishment Room:
That’s all it took to open the storage box inside Joey Sheffield’s mind that held old, painful memories that she’d struggled for years to put away and keep hidden, finally succeeding after what had seemed an eternity and an endless number of attempts – plus years of therapy. In the few short moments it took to answer the phone and hear her sister’s voice, every single scab from every single wound was picked away, reopening old sores and unleashing a flow of painful memories like raging flood waters crashing through a broken dam, resulting in the recall of deep, dark secrets that she’d rarely spoken of and had willed herself not to think about.
As a child, she’d been helpless in fighting against the wrongs imposed upon her, while her own mother stood idly by and allowed it all to happen without so much as lifting a finger to help or protect her because she’d refused to believe what she’d called lies coming out of her daughter’s mouth, dismissing the allegations as made up fairy tales and imaginative fabrications. In a way, Joey supposed that the fairy tale part was certainly true because there was a beast involved, a monster that had robbed her of her childhood and her innocence, never regretting an ounce of the pain that he had caused her.
As a teenager, she’d been stronger and brave enough to speak out against the personal violations against her, but not strong enough to ward off the evil that resided inside her home, an evil that had made her its main target and hardly let a day go by without reminding her of that fact. To avoid having to face her tormentor or be in the same room with him, when not working she’d hung out with friends as late as she possibly could without suffering dire consequences for failing to adhere to a set curfew. Her favorite hangout had been Nat’s Diner, a replica of what Nat referred to as “the old fifties burger joints.” It was the one place where she could go and relax without dwelling on the lecherous activities that took place in her bedroom at night. A temporary safe haven where she could laugh and have fun, but the joy and happiness were always short-lived and diminished the moment she stepped over the threshold and into that ice-cold mausoleum called home.
With money she’d saved up from working nights and weekends at the concession stand in the local movie theater, plus the part-time job Nat had given her after she’d begged him to let her work at the diner, she left home the day she turned eighteen, never looking back or lamenting her decision, vowing that if she ever had to face her tormentor again, she’d kill him.
She’d spent months on the road taking buses from town to town, staying only a few months in each one then moving on to the next. Rat and roach infested motels served as home in each city, but even those conditions weren’t enough to make her rue leaving home. Because for the first time in eight years, she could lay her head on the pillow at night without worrying about Mac invading her privacy or making unwanted and unwelcome visits to her room while she slept. Waitressing jobs came easily wherever she was, thanks to the training she’d received at Nat’s, but serving patrons wasn’t always pleasant. From experience, she had learned that no matter where she was or what size restaurant she worked in, there would always be a certain type of male who thought it was acceptable behavior to slap her on the ass every time she walked past his table, then hear him laugh about it to his friends while she gritted her teeth and fought against the urge to slap their faces in retaliation. Yet, no matter how uncomfortable or vile she found their actions to be, she’d tolerated it because between her small salary and the tips she’d collected, it’d given her the opportunity to save up enough money to get even further away, finally settling down in a small town in southern Indiana, working a full time job during the day and attending college classes at night, determined to make a better life for herself. After nearly four years of hard work and late-night studying, she’d earned her degree in nursing and was now employed in the cardiac care unit of the local hospital, where she was highly regarded and respected by all of her co-workers for her attentiveness and expert care of the patients under her charge.
She no longer had to live in disgusting, filthy motels, eating ramen noodles and crackers because that was all she could afford, or having to take buses or taxis to work and school because that was the only transportation available to her. After years of struggling to land on her feet with a fresh start at life, she was finally comfortable and happy, living in peace in her small, one-bedroom apartment.
All those hardships could have been avoided had she chosen to stay at home and remain in daddy’s will, obeying and bowing to his every demand like a good daughter should. But if remaining an heiress meant continuing to tolerate his abuse and sacrificing her own well-being for his demented pleasure, then she didn’t want a penny of his filthy blood money. No amount he could ever bequeath to her would be enough to make up for the childhood he stole from her and as far as she was concerned, he could take all his money and everything else he owned and shove them all up his ass. Her life, mental and physical health weren’t up for sale, regardless of the amount written on a check.
He was the reason she had little trust in men. Over the years she’d dated, but had never formed a lasting relationship with anyone, always ending them before any serious feelings could get involved. She’d been in love once, long ago, and had promised to marry him. But instead of tying herself down to Mason Abernathy and remaining in a town where she’d likely continue to have to see her father, she’d chosen instead to leave and had done so without telling Mason goodbye, breaking his heart, and her own, in the process. Hurting him wasn’t her intention but choosing to leave had been a decision that needed to be made because, the way she saw it, it was the only way she could ever completely rid herself of Macarthur Sheffield!
She had not been back home since leaving but had kept in phone contact with her two sisters. Physical visits with them were few and far between, but when they did get the opportunity to see each other, it was always somewhere several miles away from home and without the knowledge of their parents. As far as she was concerned, never seeing her mother again would be okay with her. It would probably be better for them both if she didn’t because she had nothing to say to her and shuttered at the thought of what she might do should she ever have to face her again. Unfortunately, that’s exactly what her sister was asking her to do.
“Joey, did you hear me?” It was Rosemary, her oldest sister, who had called her with the news.
“I heard you,” Joey answered groggily, glancing at the clock on the bedside table. She’d heard everything her sister had said, but all that followed after her first two words was meaningless. It was only her initial statement that was ringing in her ears, hanging over her head like a thick, black cloud.
“Are you coming?”
Joey hesitated for a moment, then finally spoke. “Rosie, I can’t believe you’d even consider asking me to come back there, especially with all the bad blood between me and Helen. I wouldn’t feel comfortable doing that.”
“He’s your father, Joey,” Rosemary stated flatly.
“I happen to know who he is and that doesn’t change my stance.”
“I really wish you’d reconsider your decision, Joey. Robin and I are staying with mom temporarily to help her get through this, so we’ll both be there, and we need you. Especially Robin. She isn’t handling this very well and I’m afraid that the stress might cause her to digress and pick up her habit again, and I don’t believe either one of us wants to see that happen, do we? We could use the moral support from our sister, but if you have more important things to do, then by all means, do them. Let me know if you change your mind.” And with that, she hung up.
Rosemary VanAllen, always the uppity one with the condescending tone who could make saying good morning sound like kiss my ass. Even her last name sounded snobby. She was her older sister and she loved her, but God knows the woman had always thought her shit didn’t stink.
Joey sat on the side of the bed, the phone still in her hand as she stared into the darkness of the room. Rosemary, like her mother, was aware of the abuse she’d suffered, but also like her mother, refused to believe a single word of it, always citing the fact that daddy was a good man, an excellent provider for his family and would never do something so atrocious. So much for familial support in a time of crisis!
And no, she didn’t want Robin to return to her opioid addiction since it had damn near killed her before she sought professional treatment for her problem. But if she did, it sure as hell wouldn’t be her fault now any more than it was the first time around, and she resented that Rosemary had insinuated that it would be if she failed to go home as she’d requested.
Joey shook her head as she got out of bed, placing her phone on the bedside table before going into the bathroom. Fresh memories flooded her mind once more as she stared at her pale reflection in the mirror, then closed her eyes tightly as she tried to put them all back inside the boxes of her mind where they belonged, swearing to never again allow them to rise to the surface and cause her any more agony than they already had. If only she could be so lucky.
With a single phone call and two spoken words, her normal and routine life was upended and thrown into chaos as she again was forced to face the hateful demons of her past, memories put there by the very man she was being asked to honor. On the bright side, if she did go, she might finally be able to bury the past and put it to rest once and for all, or at least that’s what she told herself as Rosemary’s words played repeatedly in her head.
The completed novel is about 75,000 words, which means, there’s a whole lot more to this story!!! 😉
Hope you enjoy reading it as much as I enjoyed writing it.
Until next time….
Take care and God Bless!!!