Only a few hours to go until THE GIRL & HER REN is LIVE!
Are you ready?
To get you ready here is the first chapter. 🙂
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WHEN I RAN from the Mclary’s, took a baby that wasn’t mine, and chose to keep her against all odds, I never stopped to wonder…how.
How did we survive all those years?
How did I keep myself alive, let alone baby Della?
How did one choice change my entire world—not only giving me a family of my own, but teaching me, before it was too late, that not everyone was evil.
Della Mclary successfully stopped me from going down a very dark and lonely path by forcing me to know the opposite of hate. I supposed, if someone were to judge the kid I was against the man I became, they’d say she saved me.
They’d say, without her, I would be a very different person.
Probably one a lot less forgiving, understanding, and most likely violent, angry, and dangerous.
They’d be right.
Those tendencies were still there, born from being abused and unwanted, forever a part of me whether I wanted to admit it or not. But I was also so much more, and those parts, the better parts, were stronger.
I chose kindness over cruelty, honour over disgrace, and propriety over indecency.
And it was the last one that made me leave.
The last one causing my current state of unhappiness.
It also made all those previous wonderings of how, completely irrelevant. Because who cared how it happened? Only that it did, and it was the best thing that could’ve ever happened to me.
But now I had nothing, and I couldn’t stop scratching at the scars, wondering what caused me to deserve seventeen years of heaven with a girl I’d give everything for, only to endure the worst thing I’d ever imagined by giving the greatest sacrifice I could.
She was my greatest sacrifice.
And I did it to protect her from so many, many things.
But the question was back. Taunting me. Tormenting me.
How did she get into that backpack in the first place?
It was night. She was a baby. I didn’t know where she slept, but surely, she had a crib with bars or a room with a door. The backpack was discarded where it always was by the door. It wasn’t a plaything for a child and it wasn’t sanitary for a baby.
But somehow, she’d ended up in it.
How had Della been in that bag at the exact same time I decided to run?
Was it purely coincidence? Did fate know far more than we did, understanding that Della wasn’t born for the Mclary’s but for me? For me to learn how to love. For me to have someone to hold. For me to protect and treasure and focus on rather than spiral into a place I shouldn’t go?
Or…had Mrs Mclary put her there?
Had she seen my test run the night before, watched me steal the meagre rations I’d managed, and somehow put her darling daughter in the stuffy, weathered ex-army bag?
And if she did, that changed my question from how to why.
Why did she give up her only blood?
Why did she tell her husband to shoot me and specifically mention what I could have in my stolen bag as I ducked and bolted through their cornfields?
The only two answers I could come up with were:
One, she wanted me and Della dead and figured she could kill two birds with one stone, blaming me when they walked to my gunshot body and noticed the bullet that killed me also killed their daughter.
Or two, Mrs Mclary wasn’t as evil or as complacent as I thought. Maybe she knew I was about to run and figured I was a better chance for Della than her husband ever was. The same husband who raped young girls when he believed his wife was upstairs asleep. The same husband who went to church and sang before God and donated at least an acre of produce every season. The same husband who was pure filth decorated in small town trust and lies.
Regardless of my questions, it didn’t change the fact Della ceased being theirs that night and became mine instead.
Every year from the first to the last, I loved that girl as if she were my very own blood, sweat, and tears. Girl made from my bones. Child made from my heart. Woman made from my soul.
The perfect mirroring piece that reflected everything I’d never had, loving me as unconditionally as I’d loved her, making me believe that questions didn’t matter when it came to us.
We were too important. Too perfect for one another. Too connected.
There was no argument. No denying. No elaborating the absolute truth. It didn’t matter if she was six or sixteen; our bond was unshakeable.
Which was why leaving her was worse than the worst thing I could do. Why walking away wasn’t just painful, it was suicidal.
I’d come alive the day Della became my family, and I died the day she ceased to be.
And it was my fault.
For so many years, I’d told myself my love was innocent.
I’d clutched onto my lies.
I’d hoped I could keep her, regardless of how my heart silently changed from protector to traitor.
But then, I woke up.
I saw the truth.
I understood the facts.
I tore out my godforsaken heart.
And my questions didn’t matter anymore.
Because all I knew, all I wanted, all I could bear was redemption from everything I’d done wrong.
And for the first time in my life, I wished she’d never been in my backpack, after all.
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